The East Ridge retirement community in Cutler Bay has gained not one but two distinctive certifications. The twin honors are largely due to the efforts of Dr. Marjorie Brown, 91.
The entire 76-acre community that prides itself on a flock of wandering peacocks now carries official status as a wildlife refuge from the National Wildlife Foundation, and a certified standing as a butterfly sanctuary from the North American Butterfly Association.
“The natural beauty of East Ridge and its hammock area deserved the distinctions for preserving its grounds,” explained Dr. Brown after she had applied for the two certifications and received official notification of national accreditations.
While all 76 acres of the community carry the certifications, a two-acre Hammock Nature Preserve at the southern end of the East Ridge property is the community’s area specifically designated for non-development by Miami- Dade County for its natural plants and indigenous species of insects and animal life that abound in its “virgin and pristine” habitat.
A pathway leads into the hammock which has long been a native home for families of foxes and raccoons, rare insects, and both rare and endangered flora and fauna that also become subjects for paintings by artistic residents.
Dr. Brown, who became an artist of South Florida distinction during her retirement years, credits “a love of the beauty of plants and trees that we see all around us” for her artistic inspiration.
Her appreciation of the tropical landscape led to her role in creating the South Florida Tropical Botanical Artists, a group of equally enthusiastic painting hobbyists who exhibit at the Deering Estate and Biscayne National Park. A collection of their works now is in preparation for a February exhibition at FIU’s Frost Museum.
“Actually, becoming a certified refuge is not a difficult task,” the physician-turnedpainter observed. “Even a local homeowner may apply for the certification, providing certain requirements of providing food and water are met.”
A native of Southern California, Dr. Brown attended both UCLA and Marquette Medical School in Milwaukee, WI, before joining her late husband, Dr. Harvey Brown, in co-medical practices after moving to Miami in 1955 to raise a family of five children.
While she specialized in public health, primarily in the care of indigent children, her husband, who died two years ago, was a prominent rheumatologist and professor at the University of Miami School of Medicine at Jackson Memorial Hospital. The couple had retired to East Ridge in 2010.
While aging has taken away more ambitious painting ventures, Dr. Brown continues her artwork and environmental interests from her East Ridge home today.
“I plan to continue until our artist group makes me a member-emeritus,” laughed the premiere nature artist of East Ridge.