The final days of an art haven

courtesy The Firefly
courtesy The Firefly

For the past four years, the residents of the Firefly have opened up Miami to true DIY culture by fostering creativity in art, literature, music, theater and even bike riding.

Voluntarily run by the people who live in the Wynwood building, the space serves as a recording studio, a practice space and venue for musicians, a gallery for local artists, a theater for movie screenings and plays, a radical lending library and a bike collective.

“The space came out of necessity,” said 26-year-old Justin (Fiz) Barnett, who has lived at the Firefly for two years. “A space like that didn’t exist in Miami. I think it had a big effect on people’s lives. It was definitely a catalyst for good change.”

However, that will all come to an end Feb. 1 when the Firefly and neighboring buildings will be torn down by Braman Miami to build a lot for the company’s automobiles.

On the Firefly Web site, the tenants left a message that read: “To our land(slum)lord and Braman it’s just business… The threat of eviction was always hanging over our heads. But after all is said and done, it’s still really hard to swallow.”

To them, the hardest part of the sale will be losing the home where they have supported each other for so long.

“Primarily the space is a home for people. My friends live there. We have meaningful connections, and the majority of what we do is take care of each other,” Barnett said.

About 15 to 20 people have lived at the Firefly over the past four years, with around five to seven people living there at any given time. The residents have worked together to host fundraisers, workshops on bike repair and homebrewing, and homemade vegan dinners for guests, while ultimately serving as an open forum for discussing ideas.

“It’s been pretty amazing having a place in Miami like this,” said Tara M., a Firefly resident of four years who preferred not to disclose her last name. “There aren’t many DIY collective venues.”

Currently there are plans to relocate the lending library and the bike collective, and this Saturday will mark the Firefly’s final show. The performance will feature bands that have had some involvement with the Firefly, whether they lived or took the stage there before.

“It’s going to be our huge, great goodbye,” Tara said. “People from many cities who have had some part at this house or have lived here are flying in and driving in.”

Although this is the official end to the Firefly, those who have been inspired by the collective will continue to create and connect with their community.

“Just like anything in life, when something comes to an end the obvious thing is to move on and retain ideas from it. We need to start new projects and keep motivated,” Barnett said. “It’s definitely a rolling ball. Where it will go, no one knows.”

Alexandra Leon may be contacted at


The Firefly

Where: 219 NE 20th St. Miami, Fla.

When: Saturday starting at 3 p.m.

What: Potluck BBQ and show featuring Sloane Peterson and other local bands