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‘Unstoppable force’: Local activist is on a mission to protect beaches from our trash

·4 min read

Hollywood resident Catherine “Cat” Uden has a long history of volunteering and community organizing, but her real passion is beach cleanups.

Most mornings you can find her scouring a local beach for plastic.

Her journey has taken her from full-time elementary school teacher, for 15 years, to full-time ocean activist.

It all started when one day she realized she found more plastic on the beach than the day before. More of her time was spent picking up trash than racing in her paddleboard competitions.

“I’m on the ocean almost every morning and I feel a strong sense of connection to it. It’s my sanctuary,” Uden said.

She is now called an “unstoppable force” in her service as South Florida’s field representative for Oceana. So far the global group has “won more than 225 victories and protected nearly four million square miles of ocean.”

Through her grassroots team, Uden has helped lead the promotion and passage of countless environmental policies and plastic ordinances across South Florida.

When local legislators were presented with choices to either protect or threaten the marine ecosystem, she invited them on a paddling tour to show them all that the ocean has to offer their constituents.

And when Uden discovered a 40-year-old, never-before-enforced local ban on non-biodegradable containers, she rallied her community to demand the law’s full implementation.

In 2018, Hollywood became the only city in Florida where businesses and city-owned properties east of the Intracoastal Waterway are required to operate plastic and foam free.

In Miami-Dade County, Uden works with the Surfrider Foundation Miami Beach Chapter.

“We’ve helped to pass single-use plastic ordinances, including the ordinance to prohibit plastic bottled water on city property in the Village of Miami Shores,” she said.

“I’ve also helped to pass resolutions to oppose new offshore drilling in many cities, including Sunny Isles Beach, Bal Harbour, and Aventura,” Uden said.

“Since most of our campaigns are on the federal level, I meet with all members of Congress from the Keys up to Fort Pierce to ask them to support bills to protect our oceans and marine life.”

But she doesn’t just work with elected officials. She reaches into communities to educate and share information.

“Most recently, I showed the film ‘Sonic Sea’ in Coconut Grove at The Barnacle, and I did an online presentation for Miami-Dade Public Libraries about plastic pollution.”

It’s all worth it, she said.

When Uden goes out on her paddleboard in the morning and has encounters with manta rays, sea turtles, manatees, sharks, dolphins, and fish, she gets to enjoy what she is actually working for.

“I’m on this mission because I love the ocean. The health of our oceans is important to the health of the entire planet. I have two sons, and I care about the planet that future generations are inheriting.”

To get involved, visit https://usa.oceana.org/ and to help protect Biscayne Bay visit https://miami.surfrider.org/ You can watch “Sonic Sea” at https://www.sonicsea.org/

Dancer presents solo art show at Beach Garden

Miami City Ballet principal dancer Alexander Peters is showing his new paintings at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden Butterfly Gallery through Oct. 7. Credit:
Miami City Ballet principal dancer Alexander Peters is showing his new paintings at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden Butterfly Gallery through Oct. 7. Credit:



Alexander Peters, a resident of Miami Beach and principal dancer with the Miami City Ballet, was looking for a creative way to fill time after his husband went to Philadelphia for medical school.

Peters discovered that he loved painting, and his work is now being exhibited at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden Butterfly Gallery through Oct. 7.

“In the Waking Hour” features his interpretations of the first and last things he sees each day, all created in his hybrid studio space and bedroom. This is the first solo exhibition for Peters.

The Garden, at 2000 Convention Center Dr., is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5. Visit www.mbgarden.org to purchase tickets.

Guy Harvey’s Underwater World art at MIFA Gallery

The 21” x 40.5” Skinny Waters by Guy Harvey is included in the new marine expeditions art exhibit at the Miami International Fine Arts Gallery. A portion of the proceeds from sales of artwork will benefit ocean conservation.
The 21” x 40.5” Skinny Waters by Guy Harvey is included in the new marine expeditions art exhibit at the Miami International Fine Arts Gallery. A portion of the proceeds from sales of artwork will benefit ocean conservation.

Stunning scenes of marine expeditions around the world by artist and conservationist Guy Harvey are featured in a new monthlong exhibit at the Miami International Fine Arts Gallery.

Much of the original artwork on display is from Harvey’s “Underwater World,” his fifth book and most recently released memoir. A portion of the proceeds from sales of artwork will benefit ocean conservation.

“I am delighted that the MIFA gallery is hosting my first one-man show in several years here in South Florida,” Harvey said.

“I was fortunate during the pandemic to spend the time writing this book, for which I specifically painted several pieces of original art in all sizes, including large canvases and smaller ink drawings, watercolor paintings and mixed media. There is something for everyone in this exhibit.”

The gallery is at 5900 NW 74th Ave., and the exhibition is open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 30.

Visit www.mifagallery.com or contact info@mifamiami.com for more.

Write to ChristinaMMayo@gmail.com with news for this column.

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