Café, culture, and community : re-establishing a sense of place in Little Havana's Calle Ocho
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] The goal of this study is to identify how the built environment in Miami, Florida's Little Havana, specifically in the commercial corridor of 8th Street (or Calle Ocho) between 12th and 17th Avenues balances the customs of Cuba in times past with the present needs of a changing neighborhood--one that is more diverse but still appreciative of Hispanic, and specifically, Cuban customs. Aside from the commercial enclave, which effectively recreates opportunities to buy the comfort foods and items including clothing and specialty cigars, the people continue to use parks as a meeting place where many resurrect the customs and memories of their past. Three research questions drove this research: 1) What environmental attributes do people of Cuban descent use to re-establish a sense of place in Miami's Little Havana, 2) how do Calle Ocho merchants transform the formal, semi-formal, and informal gathering places along their commercial corridor to reflect culture, and 3) what are the similarities and/or dissimilarities among Calle Ocho's Latin cultures that allow them to share this space and call it their own? Data triangulation was used to verify the validity of this study. The sources were 15 Cubans ranging in age from 44 to 89 with time spent in the US ranging from 12 years to as little as three months. They were given disposable cameras and asked to photograph meaningful scenes from the Calle Ocho to discuss in recorded interviews. This research documents their assimilation and/or acculturation as well as their continued longing to keep a sense of their cultural heritage in place. The research is qualitative and captures rich description provided by accounts of immigrant experiences, memories, and impressions, showing the value of their heritage and the need to protect it.
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