A review of the #MyMiamiStory Conversation hosted by MiamiGrid and Anima Domus.
Each year, the Miami Foundation asks people across the county to host a series of parallel conversation on Miami and our place in it. My 2016 My Miami Story conversation is what sparked me to start Miami Grid, and in that spirit, I was thrilled at the opportunity to host another. The conversation was broken into 3 sections: Resilience, Prosperity, and Fairness. Below is a summary of the thoughts shared in each of those sections among the 24 people in attendance, who resided all over the county.
This question was broken into 2 parts: climate change and crisis management. In the opening, members of the group expressed hope in Miami to withstand the effects of climate change. They also believe that a whole street by street raising plan in the city is not the only solution. Mitigation and floodable areas must be paired with hardening of infrastructure systems, in order to create a more resilient and livable city. There was also fear that climate change gentrification could push low-income persons into lower lying areas, while real estate in higher elevation areas would be desirable for those who can afford it. This can be solved through a pairing of mitigation and density increases in lower lying areas, in order to fund street improvement projects.
In terms of crisis management, the first thing on everyone’s mind was Hurricane Irma. A lot of people discussed issues with the city and red cross management in terms of evacuation zones and shelters. With a number of evacuation zones, and the inability to leave the county with such little notice, many turned to shelters and found them inadequate. FPL was also discussed, and the group agreed that, although expensive, burying lines is a necessary truth in the place we live. The group discussed the Miami Forever Plan, a bond issue on the ballot in November, as a good step towards mitigating flooding. Flooding is a concept which we are all too comfortable with in our daily lives, especially with King tide coming to a close. The group agreed that infrastructure must be put in place to fix this, as it cannot be a normal part of life here in Miami.
We opened this conversation with a stat from the Miami Foundation Report: Miami has the largest small business start-up rate of any comparable city. Many spoke about Miami’s connection to immigrant families, and how they are more likely to start new businesses. Some also questioned the stat as inflated, based on foreign capital usually utilizing the creation of a company for simple real estate investments.
We spoke of quality of life issues for a while, as these are connected to prosperity and economic development. The ones we reviewed were parks, transit, and culture. In parks, we discussed the unevenness around the county. Many areas that are wealthier or incorporated tended to have more programming and budgets for parks. Unincorporated Dade seemed to be the most underserved in terms of both programming and number of parks. Within transit, we discussed what goals were. Some were defeatist about Miami’s prospect with transit. Most felt that Miami would not truly be a metropolis if this is not fixed, and some were part of the Transit Alliance working to make a change. Finally, Culture was discussed optimistically. Although we discussed the lack of small cultural events, the group was hopeful that they are increasing, and ordinary Miamians are leading the charge.
Finally, we discussed fairness beginning with affordable housing. We agreed that Miami must be a place where everyone can afford to live. We discussed the county measure for upgrading density in exchange for affordable units as a good thing. We also discussed this in terms of transit. If there is affordable housing down south or out west, and it takes over 2 hours for someone to commute to their job on the beach, that creates an unsustainable city.
In the final moments, we discussed elected office and officeholders. Miami has a high voting rate, but some discussed that they’d like to see a change in their leadership. Through better knowing our leaders, and talking to them directly, many discussed ways in which a difference can be made.
We ended with the following message:
Vote, pay attention, plan cultural events, fight sea level rise, and keep talking.