So What Happened on “King Tide Day”?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but flooding is kind of a big deal around Miami. Live on the wrong street and a few minutes of rain may mean you are staying home tonight.  Some places just always seem to be damp.  And Miami Beach residents will tell you that $400 million dollars is worth it if you can drive down Alton Road during high tide.

Which is why Thursday October 9th was such a big deal here. Because it was ‘King Tide Day.’ The highest high tide of the year here in South Florida. And many people, especially those living on Miami Beach, wanted to know if the investment was worth it. The city and the media were all over it. Students from FIU and Mast Academy patrolled Miami Beach taking readings of sea level rise, and U.S. Senator’s Bill Nelson and Sheldon Whitehouse observed and spoke to the media and the students about the importance of taking sea level rise seriously. (lots of photos  here)

Senators Nelson (FL) and Whitehouse (RI) speaking about Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in Miami

Senators Nelson (FL) and Whitehouse (RI) speaking about Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in Miami

Well, the streets stayed dry – so we are safe, right? No more worrying about sea level rise? Storm Surge or anything else? The building boom can continue unabated – right?

Anything but. It is our desire to build, build, build here in South Florida that got us into this situation in the first place. Before our forebears tore out the mangroves on the shores of the bay, dredged, the Miami River, and dried up the Everglades we actually had fairly good protections here against sea level rise and storm surge. The Everglades could handle large influxes of water from times and storms and flush them down to sea. The mangroves created a natural barrier against erosion and rising tides, and a river and bay teeming with sea life created a stable ecosystem that could easily handle the occasional flood.
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Board Game Night Fun Coming to Sweat Records

October21,20148:00 pm — 10:00 pm

Emerge Miami Board Game Night at Sweat Records
Emerge Miami co-presents an evening of nerdy fun (now every third Tuesday of the month). We’ve amassed a huge pile of all sorts of games for all to play including Scrabble, Boggle, Jenga, Apples to Apples, Chess, Trivial Pursuit and more. Show off your skills! Make new friends!

RSVP on Facebook or Meetup.

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If you build it, they might not come.

One great thing about attending Emerge Miami meetings is getting to know folks of many different disciplines – all in their own way trying to make Miami a better place to live. One such group I’ve become well acquainted with is Code for Miami (CFM). They are Miami’s local chapter of Code for America, a legion of hackers, programmers, web and app developers who meet each week to address civic challenges with tech. At a recent meeting, Miami-Dade commissioner Juan Carlos Zapata made a surprise appearance to challenge the CFM crew to focus on transportation services.

Advocating for robust, diverse transit is at the center of everything we do at Emerge, so I jumped at the opportunity to ask the commissioner directly what the strategic vision is for public transit in the county. After a brief pause he responded, “I’ll be honest with you, there isn’t one.” Ummm, excuse me? If any body is responsible for a strategic vision for transit in Miami-Dade, surely it’s the County Commission, right? An infographic (designed by a fellow Emerge Member) comparing Miami-Dade’s transit infrastructure to other major cities immediately came to mind. (Side note: the County Commission has actually designed strategic plans – the most recent in 2012)

I think we can all appreciate the frank, honest answer from commissioner Zapata. Most politicians would dodge such a question with a wordy non-answer, but his response is troubling. As a transplant from New York City (albeit over 7 years ago), I can appreciate what expansive public transit does for a city. The Big Apple objectively has one of the best public transportation infrastructures in the world. It is multimode, expansive, (relatively) inexpensive and runs twenty-four hours a day. Whether by happy accident or design, that infrastructure is what allows NYC to keep moving. Combined with an established pedestrian-focused culture, New York and its surrounding boroughs hum with energy at the street level.

Other cities such as San Francisco, Minneapolis, Washington D.C., Boston, and Chicago with long histories and established urban centers also boast comprehensive transportation services. Those cities understand that mobility is crucial in developing vibrant and thriving neighborhoods. The simple fact is that all the investment and construction in our downtown will be for naught, if we don’t have the ability to quickly and easily move people in, out and around our city.

Miami is at a crucial turning point in forming the identity of its urban core. We’ve now seen two huge development projects, the Miami Worldcenter and SkyRise Miami, pass through general elections and the governmental bid review process. These massive, billion dollar projects are coming, whether or not their backers have the city’s interests at heart. (Personal note: SkyRise’s promotional video is particularly hilarious for selecting Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man as the soundtrack. The building’s intended function is anything, but for the common man:

At the upper levels of the 305 meter tall tower, a five star fine dining restaurant is accompanied by a ballroom, while an observation deck provides expansive views from the top of Florida’s tallest building.” (designboom)

However attractive the influx of cash might seem, it is our responsibility as citizens to make sure we hold these developers accountable for their promises to integrate with and support the communities that surround new developments. Miami is a city with plenty of bust and boom development history.
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Our City Thoughts and Emerge Miami: Thinking About Change

Miami is magical, there’s no doubt about it.

Our City Thoughts, the hub for change makers and visionaries across South Florida, had a wonderful sit-down with Emerge Miami to share our ideas about what it means to advocate for our city. Please follow the link and enjoy the conversation!

Our City Thoughts: Emerge Miami- Beyond the Ride

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Celebrating 100 Rides and Pedal Power

“Every time I see an adult on a bicycle, I no longer despair for the future of the human race.” -H.G. Wells

This year has marked many celebrations. Glee hosted their 100th episode; Chicago’s Wrigley Field turned triple digits; and the Panama Canal celebred its hundredth year. What’s next? With centennials near and far, we are proud to announce our own One Hundredth Emerge Miami Second Saturday Ride this October.

Emerge Miami kicked off its long-lasting relationship with bicycle advocacy and ridership in 2007, when, in addition to our ongoing community-building projects, our members decided to develop a monthly event that would get us and everyone else outside and active. Many of us have enjoyed a lifetime of riding, and bringing this joy into our work with civic engagement and organizing for the community was a natural fit.

Our first Second Saturday Ride- named ‘Critical Mass’ in solidarity with the international biking phenomenon- pedaled from Vizcaya Metrorail Station to the Grove Farmer’s Market. We brought out 100 riders in an array of costumes and positive attitudes and enjoyed a summer jaunt up Bayshore drive.
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Celebrate Diversity Miami Launches on Emerge Miami’s 100th Ride

October11,201410:00 am — 2:00 pm

Join your Emerge Miami friends to celebrate our 100th ride! We’ll be taking you on a tour of Miami to explore and learn about the community-building efforts of local organizations dedicated to creating positive social change in our neighborhoods. After our trip around town, we will visit Museum Park for a celebratory picnic in Downtown’s latest waterfront green space.

We’ll meet-up at 10:00AM on Saturday, October 11th at Government Center in Downtown Miami.

Special thanks to URGENT, Inc., the Miami Children’s Initiative, and the Little Haiti Cultural Center (City of Miami) for partnering with us during this milestone event.

Be sure to “Like” Celebrate Diversity Miami and/or follow @DiversityMiami on Twitter to stay updated on the new large-scale community engagement initiative with a mission to promote a deepened sense of connectivity between the culturally and ethnically diverse communities of greater Miami.

Posted in Announcements, Events

Rolling Forward

Miami has been becoming a more Bicycle Friendly Community for about five years now. This policy transcended two City Mayors, and has encouraged local municipalities to consider becoming more bike friendly, as well. Miami Dade County started Bike305 in 2013, to bring cities together under an umbrella collaboration promoting cycling.

While much of the efforts are subtle, such as planning and project design, what seems to be incredibly noticeable are the numerous regular community rides. If you review the Miami Bike Scene calendar, at any time there are a variety of rides for all types of riders.

These rides and the efforts of local advocacy groups has caught the attention of Bicycling Magazine, which in 2014, recognized Miami cycling by jumping us from #44 in 2012 to #29 this time around.

This trend is promising.
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