For Ben Brafman, Becoming A Leader In Mental Health And Addiction Meant Overcoming His Own Obstacles

It was supposed to be a normal day for one of Ben Brafman’s clients. But a simple trip to a meeting ended with the client in jail. The client, who was battling a mental illness, began acting out, which prompted a bystander to call the police. Brafman assured the officers that he just needed a few minutes to calm his client down and they would be on their way.

“They ended up arresting him for being loud and boisterous,” Brafman remembers. “As soon as they tried to handcuff him, he got aggressive, agitated.”

Brafman, 47, founder and CEO of Guardian Behavioral Health Foundation, says this incident and others aren’t uncommon in the arena of mental illness and addiction.

“We have a tendency to minimize things in society and not really put a lot of stock in it. We’re asking for trouble,” the Parkland resident says. “We need to crack some stereotypes and stigmas.”

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Glitz & Glam

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Photo by Emily Harris

Harken back to the glamour of the swinging ’60s with the newly opened ELV venue and reception space in Miami Beach. Originally designed by famed architect Morris Lapidus in 1966, who was also the mastermind behind the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels, the building recently underwent a $2 million renovation to restore the property to its former glory. Features include a first-floor cocktail reception room, an expansive ballroom with original chandeliers and a 4,000-square-foot commissary for in-house catering by chef Yung Ngo-Hong, formerly of Nobu. Located in South Beach near the Fillmore and New World Symphony, the venue is a hidden gem, that can now be enjoyed by couples who appreciate chic architecture and the city’s illustrious history. Venue rental from $8,000, 1723 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305.407.2266, elvmiamibeach.com

Originally published in Modern Luxury Weddings South Florida and the Caribbean

Making a Scene

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Music on Main Street (Photo by Kelly Coulson)

“Hip” and “trendy” have never been words that dripped off the tongue when discussing Oakland Park. But a mixture of ambitious plans from city hall, comparatively low rents and a handful of pioneering businesses are changing the place’s look and feel.

In one of the hottest brewery taprooms in the area, the game is on the TV sets, bartenders pull from Buddha beer tap handles, friends challenge each other to rounds of cornhole in the game room, and a crash of giant Jenga pieces crumbles to the floor.

Next door, Alberte’s Restaurant serves up authentic Caribbean cuisine. Across the street, hipsters wait their turn to play the favorite video games from their childhoods at video game bar Tenth Level Tavern. A couple blocks down the road, a server presents a plate of fried chicken at Kelvin 3200.

After a week of work, this crowd has chosen to spend their night in Oakland Park. Not Himmarshee, not Las Olas, not Beach Place.

“A couple of years ago, I was getting a lot of phone calls from different people who wanted to do stories, whether it be print or otherwise,” says Kathleen Margoles, Oakland Park’s community and economic development director. “I remember this one guy said to me, ‘When I was a kid, my dad used to take me out there on the weekends to buy hardware and parts in the warehouse in Oakland Park, and now I go and drink beer in one of the coolest places.’ To me, that really exemplified the change and it has been fast.”

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This ‘gas highway’ across the Southeast is angering everyone in its path

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Photo courtesy of Jim Tatum

When Jeb and Bob Bell’s mother was diagnosed with bone cancer in 1985, she purchased 100 acres of land in Mitchell County, Georgia, to grow timber on. She wanted her sons taken care of if she didn’t make it, and for them to have something they could pass on to their own children.

She survived the cancer, but a new threat to the land has emerged. Today, private companies want to build a natural gas pipeline through the Bell’s land to run south into neighboring Florida.

“In 2014 we received a letter saying they were interested in coming down through here and putting in the pipeline,” said Jeb Bell, a resource manager at Georgia State Parks. “I sent them a letter telling them to stay off my land. I did not want them on my land. Who in their right mind would want a 36-inch pipeline three feet under the ground in proximity of their house?”

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How to fix Florida’s unbearable, sewage-driven algae blooms before they get worse

MIAMI—When Nadia Smart and her husband moved from Okeechobee to Stuart, FL, last fall, they were looking forward to spending the summer kayaking and swimming.

A year later, they haven’t been able to do any of that.

“We bought our house here because we like the beaches, we like the waterways, and we can’t use them,” she said. “It’s just been a dead summer, it’s sad.”

For the Smarts and other residents on Florida’s Treasure Coast a few hours north of Miami, the summer has been marred by an infestation of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae.

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This is where orphaned baby elephants go after their parents are killed by poachers

Photo by Christiana Lilly

Photo by Christiana Lilly

NAIROBI, Kenya—It was October, 2014 on the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya when a tourist saw a horrific sight on the plain.

A herd of elephants surrounded a downed female with a poisoned spear wound in her cheek, her face cut open, and her two tusks missing. The elephants mourned their family member—especially a tiny, 10-month old calf crying over her mother and resting her trunk on her belly.

When the team at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which abuts Nairobi National Park, found out about the newly orphaned baby, they knew they had to rescue the calf, as she would die of starvation without her mother’s milk. They went into action, flying into the park, separating the calf from the herd, and taking her back to their center.

There, she was welcomed by more than two dozen other orphaned baby elephants and the staff named her “Roi.”

“They could have seen their mother killed before their eyes,” Rob Brandford, executive director of the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, said of the orphans. “They’re completely lost. They don’t know what’s happened, they don’t know where they are.”

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LGBT community grieves, pulls together in wake of Orlando slaughter

(Facebook)

(Facebook)

They called him Top Hat Eddie.

Eddie Sotomayor was witty, sarcastic, loyal to a fault, and he loved his top hat. On Saturday night, he posted a video to Facebook of a friend who had stolen his signature accessory while partying at the nightclub, Pulse.

“He said, ‘He’s trying to steal my top hat!’ And I just lay in bed and I laughed because he was so happy and he was so funny,” said Ryan Macauley, 27, who was scrolling through his Facebook feed before turning in for the night.

The next morning, Macauley’s phone woke him up when breaking news alerts went off — a mass shooting at Pulse. He jumped with shock and fell out of bed. He called Sotomayor a dozen times, but each call went to voicemail. No one else knew what had happened to him.

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World’s largest ivory burn creates stunning image of harm caused by poaching

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105 tons of elephant tusks and 1.35 tons of rhino horn were burned in Nairobi, Kenya (Photo by Christiana Lilly)

NAIROBI NATIONAL PARK, Kenya—Before a crowd of hundreds, white smoke and a crackling fire billowed from 12 funeral pyres, rising into the sky and blanketing Nairobi National Park.

On April 30, Kenya hosted the world’s largest ivory burning, sending a message to poachers, sellers, and consumers that it will not stand for the illegal practice.

“This trade means death of our elephants and the death of our national heritage,” said Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in a speech before the burn. “Ivory belongs to our elephants.”

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South Florida Springtime Music Fests

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Courtesy Tortuga Music Festival

What’s your musical style—spurs and cowboy hats, head-banging, a smooth sax, or getting lost in electric tunes? Is it new underground artists that pique your interest, or major acts touring the nation? Whatever gets your body moving and your toes tapping, South Florida’s endless springtime music festivals—big and small—keeps music lovers of all kinds happy.

39th Annual Calle Ocho

Considered the largest block party to celebrate Hispanic cultures from around the world, the Calle Ocho festival (March 13) on Miami’s legendary SW 8th Street, spans 19-city blocks in Miami’s Little Havana. Get your dancing shoes on to vibrate with the hip-shaking rhythms of Latin music from salsa, reggaeton, merengue to hip-hop, including street dancers and eight dedicated stages of performances.

Enjoy hundreds of international food kiosks simmering with authentic local and Latin flavors, sample the latest food from many national brands and more. Free admission. From 8th Ave. to SW 27th Ave., Miami.

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Culture Couture

A brides dressed in a colorful silk sari, adorned with sequins and beads is truly a sight to behold. It’s no secret that South Florida is a favorite destination for couples planning Indian fusion weddings. And Rupees, Inc, a Wynwood boutique specializing in traditional Indian wear, outfits bridal parties from head to toe. The owners travel multiple times a year to India to find the newest designs in silk and chiffon. “A lot of our clients aren’t necessarily of Indian heritage, but they are guests who are attending Indian weddings,” says Sachin Dhupelia, co-owner of Rupees Inc. “They want to become immersed in the culture and enjoy the whole experience.”

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