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Incorporation Palm: Reincorporator's Blog
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In conceptualing "Incorporation Palm" to mark the birthplace of the City of Miami, artist Xavier Cortada designed a "living" monument; one that honors not only those who brought the city to life but those who work today to keep it growing. SEE Through this performance piece, Cortada invites residents to rededicate themselves to building Miami and become its "Reincorporators." Reincorporators will be able to post their Incorporation Palm photo, talk about their commitment to the city, and exchange ideas on how to better Miami. What will you do to make our city grow stronger and taller, like the Incorporation Palm?


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Top tags: Incorporation Palm  Reincorporator  Carl Juste  Reincorporators  Thelma Gibson  Theresa Gutierrez  1  1 Flag  6  6 Flag  8  8 Flag  9  9 flag  City of Miami  Dr. Paul George  Historical Museum of Southern Florida  Hon. Ursula Ungaro  Honorable  Incorporators  Judge  reincorporatorsR  Seal  Ungaro  Ursula  Xavier Cortada 

"6 Flag: Carl Juste"

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Sunday, August 2, 2009
Updated: Sunday, August 2, 2009
"6 Flag: Carl Juste"

Fleeing persecution, Carl Juste and his politically active family left Haiti in 1965 and lived in New York City for several years before settling in Miami in 1973. Juste has been an award-winning photographer for the Miami Herald since 1991.  He has travelled to Afghanistan and Pakistan, which he covered for Knight Ridder. Juste is also a leader of the Iris Photo Collective, a group of minority photojournalists who are using their medium to explore and document how people of color relate to the larger world around them.

Tags:  6  6 Flag  Carl Juste  Incorporation Palm  Reincorporator  Reincorporators 

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"9 Flag: Hon. Ursula Ungaro"

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Sunday, August 2, 2009
Updated: Sunday, August 2, 2009
"9 Flag: Honorable Ursula Ungaro"


400 North Miami Avenue, 12-4 
Miami, Florida 33128 

Born January 29, 1951, Miami Beach, Florida
Professional Experience 
  • United States District Judge, Southern District of Florida, Miami Division.  Confirmed October 9, 1992  (Visiting Judge, Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, January, 1994) 
  • Circuit Judge, Eleventh Judicial Circuit, Dade County, Florida, July 1987 to November 8, 1992  (Visiting Judge, Fifth District Court of Appeals, June, 1991) 
  • Private Practice of Law, 1975 to July 1987.  My law practice was mainly in the area of complex commercial litigation, particularly securities fraud and other litigation under the state and federal securities laws, shareholder and partnership disputes, and sophisticated real estate litigation.  From time to time, my practice also included substantial health care, condominium, and professional liability litigation. 
Academic Honors and Publications 
  • Ursula Ungaro-Benages, Professionalism and the Courts, Vol. 8 St. Thomas Univ. L. Rev. 175 (1995) 
  • Note, Rulemaking and Adjudication Under the New Florida Administrative Procedure Act, Vol. XXCII U. of  Fla. L. Rev. 3 (1975) 
  • Law Review Editorial Board 
  • Undergraduate:
Smith College, 1968-1970 
        University of Miami, B.A. English Literature, 1973 
  • Law School: 
        University of Florida Law, J.D., 1975 

Representative Professional, Pro Bono and Community Service Activities 
  • Founder, Lawyers for Literacy, a Pro Bono Project of the Family Learning Partnership 
  • Women of Tomorrow, Mentor 
  • Member, Committee on Judicial Resources, Judicial Conference of the United States, (2000-2008) 
  • Member, Subcommittee on Judicial Statistics, Judicial Conference of the United States, (2000-2008) 
  • Member, Personnel Committee, Eleventh Circuit Judicial Council of the United States,  (2004-2006) 
  • Chair, Court Services Committee, U.S. District, Southern District of Florida, (2006-2008) 
  • Chair, Magistrate Judges Committee, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida, (1999-2008) 
  • Chair, Judicial Resources Committee’s Ad Hoc Committee Overseeing Court Compensation Study, (2003-2007) 
  • University of Miami Law School Inns of Court, Bencher, (1995-96) 
  • Speaker, Symposium on Professionalism, St. Thomas University Law School, (January 1994) 
  • Speaker, International Money Laundering Conference (sponsored by U.S. Dept of State), Quito, Ecuador (June, 1994) 
  • Speaker, International Money Laundering Conference (sponsored by U.S. Dept. of State) Caracas, Venezuela (March 1994) 
  • Instructor, Department of Justice Advocacy Institute, (1993-1994) 
  • Florida Supreme Court Race and Ethnic Bias Study Commission, (1989-1992) 
  • St. Thomas University Law School Inns of Court, Bencher, (1991-1992) 
  • City of Miami Youth Task Force, (1991-1993) 

Tags:  9  9 flag  Honorable  Incorporation Palm  Judge  Reincorporator  reincorporatorsR  Ungaro  Ursula 

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8 Flag: Thelma Gibson

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Sunday, August 2, 2009
Updated: Sunday, August 2, 2009
"8 Flag: Thelma Gibson"



Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson 



Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson is the sixth of fourteen children born on December 17, 1926 to Sweetlon Counts Albury Anderson and Thomas Theodore Anderson.  She is a native Miamian and the widow of the late Reverend Canon Theodore Roosevelt Gibson.   


Thelma received her formative education at   Coconut Grove Training School for Colored Elementary School, Coconut Grove Junior High School, and George Washington Carver High School, from which she graduated in February 1944. After graduation, Thelma attended Saint Agnes School of Nursing at Saint Augustine’s College,  Raleigh, North Carolina and  graduated in August 1947, as a Registered Nurse with a speciality in operating room techniques.  She then returned home with hopes of working at Jackson Memorial Hospital in the operating room where she had been approved for a position.  However, upon realizing that she was of Color, the alternative was to work on the Colored wards. 


Thelma continued her education in nursing by taking an advanced course from Florida A & M University taught by Dr. Mary Carnegie, Dean of Nursing, in a classroom provided by Jackson Memorial Hospital.   In the summers of 1954/55, while preparing to work in Public Health Nursing, Thelma took advanced courses at Catholic University, Washington, D.C.  Continuing on, during the summers of 1956/57 she attended the University of  North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where she took courses in cancer and communicable disease nursing.  From there, she took courses given through the University of Miami in 1957/58 out of the home of an instructor who lived in Coconut Grove at the corner of Main Highway and Lennox Avenue.  A course was also provided at Booker T. Washington Senior High School.  Finally, in 1959, Thelma attended Teachers College at Columbia University, New York and  earned her Bachelor of Science degree in nursing education. 


Thelma’s professional career  extended thirty-three years: first, as a Staff Nurse at Jackson Memorial Hospital, 1947-49; Clinical Nurse, E.J. Hall Clinic, Miami, Florida, 1949-50; Staff Nurse, Gallinger Memorial Hospital, Washington, D.C., 1950-51; Staff Nurse, Jackson Memorial Hospital, 1951-55; Public Health Nurse, Dade County Health Department, 1955-59; Head Nurse and Nursing Supervisor, Riverside Hospital for Teenaged Drug Addicts, New York City, 1959-1963; Nursing Supervisor, Dade County Health Department,1963-67; and, Nursing Supervisor and Part-time Social Worker at Mount Siani Hospital,1967-80. 


For more than fifty years, Thelma has been a trailblazer in education, mental and physical health, community and professional leadership, volunteerism and service to her church, community and family.   In August of 1997, she was appointed as Interim City Commissioner and served on the City of Miami Commission through November 1997. 


Thelma holds memberships on numerous boards, committees, and panels.  Some include; President of the Theodore Roosevelt Gibson Memorial Fund Inc., Founder of  the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Dade County, “GUTS”(Grovites United  to Survive), “BIDCO” (Black Investors of Dade County), Jackson Memorial Foundation Incorporated, Trustee  University of  Miami, Trustee Public Health Trust Jackson Memorial Hospital, Coconut Grove Cares, Mental Health Association, United Home Care Services, Women’s Guild University of Miami, Jewish Home for the Aged,  Friends WRLN, Bi-racial/Tri-ethnic Committee, Visiting Committee School of Continued Studies University of Miami, Visiting Nurses Association of Miami Dade County, Life Member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and Charter Member Nu Chapter Chi Eta Phi Sorority, Inc. (National Nursing Society). 


Thelma has received many honors, awards, recognitions, and certificates. She counts her membership as a Founder of the Jewish Home for the Aged, among one of the highest, as this honor resulted from the generosity of  Judge Irving and Mrs. Hazel Cypen. Additional honors include; the Silver Medallion awarded by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), the Jewish Home and Hospital Women’s Auxiliary Sacred Heart Award, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Drum Major for Justice Award, and the Jackson Memorial Hospital Image Committee Award. 


The most recent accomplishment to Thelma’s credit is authoring her autobiography, Forbearance, Thelma Vernell Anderson Gibson, The Life Story of A Cocoanut Grove Native, that was released in the Fall of 2000. Mrs. Gibson also sponsors the Gibson Health Initiative housed at the Theodore R. Gibson Building that provides free testing and assistance for HIV and AIDS infected persons.  Her latest project is the Theodore and Thelma School of the Performing Arts located on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove where the students receive academics with a focus on the Arts.  

Tags:  8  8 Flag  Incorporation Palm  Reincorporator  Reincorporators  Thelma Gibson 

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1 Flag: Theresa Gutierrez

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Sunday, August 2, 2009

"1 Flag: Theresa Gutierrez"


      Good Afternoon everyone, I would like to fairly introduce myself. I was given the name by a Saint, also known as my mother; the name my family chose for me is Theresa Gutierrez.  Though my parents and my sisters were born in Honduras, I, on the other hand was born in the sandy beaches of Miami Beach, Florida, on October 2nd,1991, the last of five sisters’ in the Gutierrez family.  After my parents got divorced, the ones who raised me have been my sisters. Though I grew up without my parents and dealt with difficult times, my sisters have become more than just sisters, more than just role models, more than just friends, but more like mothers and guardian angels.   

      Others that have brought much joy to my life are my 4 nephews and 2 nieces. They are the ones that always bring a big smile into my face. I am very family oriented; I love my family despite all the obstacles that might interfere in our lives. Many people consider me to be one of the friendliest persons they have met before. It’s true. I do care about others very much, I love listening to others and helping them when they are in need. One of my worst qualities is that I care too much about others and not much about myself.

      I spend most of my time in school and have fully enjoyed every bit of it. Ever since middle school, I have occupied myself in joining FCCLA, the Treasurer of CIA (Chiefs in Action) and the Treasurer of Shenandoah Middle School. Now that I am in my last year in Miami Senior High, I have become even more involved in school. For instance, I am the Vice President of Historical Honor Society, I participate actively in AWARE, I am the Corresponding Secretary of BETA, and the most  fulfilling achievement I have gained this year is that I am the SGA President of my beloved Miami Senior High.

Later in life I wish to become a successful writer, with my Ph D and plan to travel the world and learn about each country and its culture. One day I plan to write my own book and even one day write an article for the National Geographic magazine. I know that I will strive my best to reach my goal in life, I am an overachiever, making my dreams come true. 


Tags:  1  1 Flag  Incorporation Palm  Reincorporator  Theresa Gutierrez 

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Reincorporators commit themselves to building a better city

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Below:  After its dedication by the four community leaders, Dr. Paul George is the first person to walk to the Incorporation Palm and become a City of Miami "Reincorporator."   Participating in the art piece the historian commits himself to helping stengthen our City.

Image provided by Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Tags:  Dr. Paul George  Historical Museum of Southern Florida  Incorporation Palm 

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Notable Miamians dedicate the Incorporation Palm

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Incorporation Palm dedication: Four individuals "Reincorporate" Miami, bring its city seal to life on 113th anniversary of its creation

1 FLAG:  Theresa Gutierrez, Miami Sr. High School student body president

8 FLAG:  Thelma Gibson, Community leader

9 FLAG:  Honorable Ursula Ungaro, US District Court Judge

6 FLAG: Carl Juste, photojournalist

For more information please visit

Below:  Judge Ungaro plants the "9" flag,  Photo courtesy of the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.

Tags:  Carl Juste  Hon. Ursula Ungaro  Thelma Gibson  Theresa Gutierrez 

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Dedication of the Incorporation Palm to Celebrate the City of Miami's 113th Birthday

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dedication of the Incorporation Palm 

On Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 1:00 PM, four Miamians will come together at the Incorporation Palm site to become the city's first "reincorporators."

They will hear Dr. Paul George describe how the City of Miami was incorporated at that very location 113 years earlier.

Then, Miami artist Xavier Cortada will give them four flags to install at the base of the Royal Palm tree, each flag depicting a different number of the city's incorporation year: 1, 8, 9, 6.
  • 1:  Theresa Gutierrez, student 
  • 8: Thelma Gibson, community leader 
  • 9:  Hon. Ursula Ungaro, federal judge
  • 6:  Carl Juste, photojournalist

Each will then touch the palm tree with the palm of their hand and recommit themselves to growing the City of Miami.

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Incorporation Palm

Posted By Xavier Cortada, Saturday, July 18, 2009

On July 28, 1896, three-hundred and sixty eight men met in the room over ‘The Lobby,’ a building situated on what was then Avenue D,  to incorporate the City of Miami, organize its municipal government, and elect 26 year-old John B. Reilly its first Mayor. An article published in The Miami Metropolis three days later reported that among the items approved unanimously was the designation of the City of Miami seal:  

“[The] corporate seal of this municipality shall be as follows: A round seal two inches in diameter, with the words ‘The City of Miami’ arranged in a semicircular form, constituting the border around the base and the design of the Royal Palm tree in an upright position in the center of the seal, with the inscription ‘Incorporated 1896’ inserted just below the center of the seal.”

Incorporation Palm

To celebrate Miami's birthday, artist Xavier Cortada proposes bringing that municipal seal to life.  Cortada envisions the planting of a Royal Palm tree at the very location where the city was incorporated. This ever-growing green monument would mark the birthplace of the city, an important historic reference point for visitors and locals alike.

According to historian Dr. Paul George, the city's incorporation site --a stop in his historic tours of downtown Miami-- is now a concrete median at the base of the north side of the South Miami Avenue bridge in Downtown Miami (see map on left).

Cortada's conceptual piece references the past (1896) as a way of charting a course to a brighter future (the growing Royal Palm), the promise made by every generation that labors here.  During Miami's 109th birthday celebration, the Mayor and City Commissioners unveiled two murals at the entrance of City Hall.  Cortada stated that he created these two murals because he wanted "to educate residents about their City’s history and its multicultural origins. By learning about our past we can build a future filled with mutual respect and understanding." 

The Incorporation Palm, a living monument, aims to do the same.

Tags:  City of Miami  Incorporation Palm  Incorporators  Seal  Xavier Cortada 

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FIU College of Architecture + The Arts

Xavier Cortada
Florida International University
College of Architecture + The Arts
420 Lincoln Road, Suite 430
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Xavier Cortada's participatory art practice is based at Florida International University.


 Reclamation Project

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