Poems projected onto sidewalks and buildings


Summer evenings in downtown Opa-locka just got a lot more bright – thanks to a creative addition to an ordinary public safety feature.

Ten city streetlamps along Opa-Locka Boulevard have been transformed into poetry projection devices. The Opa-locka Light District was created by O, Miami and the Opa-Locka Community Development Corporation (OLCDC) to display original short poems written by local residents.


The project, a winner of a Public Space Challenge grant from the Miami Foundation, uses specially-designed outdoor projectors created by Maker Faire Miami and Moonlighter Maker Lab. Besides broadcasting the voices of Opa-lockans, the lamps also add additional illumination to the streetscape with the goal of increasing pedestrian safety.


“Poetry illuminates the heart and mind, and now we’re using it to illuminate the center of Downtown Opa-locka,” said OLCDC Chief Operating Officer Nikisha Williams. “As soon as the poems went up, residents and visitors began to spontaneously interact with them. We hope this project provides them with a daily dose of joy.” 


The poems were gathered by O, Miami through workshops in Opa-locka community centers and schools. They can be found projected onto the walls and sidewalks of several buildings including the Hurt Building, the City of Opa-locka municipal building, La Granja Grocery Store, and others. Each one addresses topics of light, democracy, public safety, transportation, and infrastructure. 


“We were thrilled to hear the voices of Opa-locka residents,” says O, Miami director P. Scott Cunningham, “and we’re grateful for the chance to broadcast them back to the community through a public art project that promotes safety and civic pride.”


The idea for the project was proposed by OLCDC employee Ashley Cover and was made possible through support from the Miami Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, via the nationwide Poetry Coalition convened by the Academy of American Poets.


A series of community events to celebrate the project are planned for later this summer.