In a place affected by climate change – with rising seas, scorching summer temperatures, and frequent street floods, Lake Worth Beach is also populated with neighborhoods and neighbors that care about the earth, seeing it firsthand in their backyard. The community employs solar panels on homes and businesses, butterfly gardens to attract healthy ecosystems, beach clean-ups, and restaurants with good food choices. Individuals in this community work hard, doing their share to keep this fragile planet alive.
“Think Globally, Act Locally,” is a motto many around the world observe. It’s the basis for the monthly changing window at the Flamingo Clay Studio at 15 South J Street, Lake Worth Beach. During the first weekend of each month, artist Saya Gayoso creates a themed window reflecting the themes of the months and the seasons. Some recent windows honor Greta Thunberg (Think Globally) and two local scientists/ecologists (Act Locally) who have made their life’s work saving enormous natural resources.
Greta Thunberg, now 20 years old, was only 15 when she took to the streets of Stockholm, Sweden to bring attention to the world’s climate crisis. Her persistence and words created a movement among the youth of the world but soon reached world leaders who -mostly- now acknowledge the science of, and threats to the planet, of continuing dangerous, archaic industrial policies.
In Lake Worth Beach, two resident city commissioners, have made saving the planet their life’s work. They are honored for their decades of tireless work.
Dr. Christopher McVoy is a soil and wetland scientist who has devoted most of his career to scientific research in support of Everglade’s restoration. Along with a colleague, he operates a research platform in the Everglades to better understand how water and sediment flow make the Everglades unique. Dr. McVoy’s earlier research, published as a book by the University of Florida, documented the Everglades as they were before the state drained them.
As Vice Mayor of Lake Worth Beach, Dr. McVoy focuses on solar power, enhancing the historic character, better conditions for bicyclists and walkers, and being a voice for the underrepresented.
Reinaldo Diaz is a Lake Worth waterkeeper. He advocates for the Lake Worth Lagoon and its watershed, a coastal estuary running along the eastern edge of Palm Beach County in South Florida. The watershed, which is considered the northernmost part of the Everglades, extends from Lake Okeechobee to famous beaches. He is currently tracking and tagging the Horseshoe Crab, addressing population and breeding concerns. He works with an ecology posse, a group of children known as the LaGoonies. A LaGoony is a person who acknowledges their ecological role. He understands that it is through learning and experience that one can envision a better tomorrow.
“So many folks come to take pictures (selfies) in front of the windows, we decided to do another for the Martin Luther King Holiday,” Joyce Brown, director of Flamingo Clay Studio says. “People were literally yelling at me as I took down the first window. They we actually angry. Our third window celebrates Black History Month. We printed out the postage stamps for all of the sheroes and heroes of the civil rights and abolitionist movements and glued them to the window- Sara painted around them. We also included Valentine’s Day.”
“March was Women’s History Month and Lake Worth Beach’s Gay Pride Parade. We took down the men’s postage stamps, left the women up, and added another dozen women to the window. Maya Angelou was our center panel, as the most banned book author in the world. We included the rainbow for Gay Pride.”
“And in April our window was about Earth Day (Month). The theme was Think Globally, Act Locally. It featured Greta Thunberg as Think Globally and our two environmental scientists/waterkeepers, commissioners Chris McVoy and Reinaldo Diaz as Act Locally. Chris’ research is on Everglades Restoration and Reinaldo is a waterkeeper, helping to save the Lake Worth Lagoon.”
Still, rules intrude on even the best of causes.
Joyce says “The city has cited us for code violations – including our windows. So… this month our painting will cover only 25% of our front window space. The new window will celebrate 4 of May’s events- Cinco de Mayo (or Mayan Culture), Haitian Flag Day, Mother’s Day, and Pete Seeger (Born in May 104 years ago.) Sara will paint this window. Sara Gayoso is an amazing and talented young mother who brings her 8-year-old with her as she does this. He reads or creates art while she works, and they often break into dance as she paints.”
“We will work with students from Palm Beach State College planning a Juneteenth day. They want Sara to paint a panel for their celebration so…this will be the last panel of this season. We will start again in October if we can work out the kinks around what we are permitted to put on the windows.”
“The windows have been a huge daytime draw to our street which is truly empty these days. Folks seem to love having their picture taken in front of them. We have seen people driving down the street suddenly stop and park and come over to peruse these windows.”
“In the flipbook I send out each week, I try to give context to the window – giving the history of each person or event portrayed. I try to tie in local groups and businesses, so they get the attention they deserve as well.”
“The artists on the street during the weekend festivals benefit from the attention. They are beginning to dwindle in numbers as the days heat up, but will all be back when we start again in October.”
For additional information visit flamingoclaystudio.org.
Headquarters for J Street Junctions – The West Side of the Street is found at the Flamingo Clay Studio and Gallery. The gallery is located at 15 South J Street in downtown Lake Worth. Hours are Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 8 AM-6 PM and Monday/Wednesday/Thursday 8 AM-3 PM