- What is your Day Job?
A high school literature teacher for 10th 11th and 12th graders.
- How did you come to Miami?
I’m a Miami native, I love it here. I’m the oddball in my family, everyone else is from New York, but I was born here. I lived in Massachusetts and LA but I’ve only felt at home here. I think I’ll be here ‘til I float away.
- What do you love about Miami?
There’s just this affinity I have for this place! I guess I had to live away from here to realize how much I love it in Miami. We are a young city, and because of that it brims with potential. My pitch for my friends who have moved away and hate on Miami is that in any city you can fall into a progressive group and just go with it, but in Miami if you can conceptualize, you can make it happen and see the change. It’s a great place to be inspired, test new ideas out and see what the traction is like. You can see the effect you have on the community in a much more immediate way.
- What is the hardest thing about living here?
Contending with apathy. I saw a bumper sticker once that said “Miami, sunny place, shady people” and I didn’t want that to be a motto for this place, but in spite of everything that I said about what I love about Miami there are lots of people here that just aren’t involved or seem to care about others. There’s also a transient component of Miami that affects even basic functionality. Property turn over is insane. I never get to know my neighbors because they change so constantly. That affects the real estate market, and everything else. You’ll see a sense of entitlement on the roadways, an unwillingness to accommodate others. Getting people to care has always been a discouraging challenge.
- Was there a moment when you knew you had to become involved?
There wasn’t a catalyst that made me need to take on an issue, but my friends started Emerge with some other progressives and about a year after it started I got involved with some basic organizing. After that, Emerge sort of organically evolved to deal with issues people like me were interested in- which weren’t many at the time. I was always into biking, but had never been a part of any formal advocacy groups. Emerge helps people activate their interests, so we started a Critical Mass bike ride in 2006, the second Saturday of every month. About a year later, City of Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and Commissioner Marc Sarnoff saw us on an Emerge Critical Mass bike ride to Legion Park. The mayor told us he was putting together a meeting for bicyclers and organizers in Miami and we ended up talking. That was really my first experience with civic engagement. That’s when we started the Miami Bicycle Action committee for the City of Miami, consisting of local organizers, city officials and staff. We put together a master plan for biking and all sorts of other things. I’d never met a politician before, but here I was meeting the mayor and commissioners and event planning. I got to see positive changes for the biking community. Ever since then, being able to have an idea and then watch it come to fruition has kept me going.
- What are you working to change about Miami currently?
Most of my work is with Emerge and therefore whatever Emerge is taking on. I think each of us has a sort of personalized pitch for what we do. I like to tell people that we are looking for creative ways to achieve common goals. So working with Miami-Dade College Live Arts, participating in the King Mango strut, those are all creative things we do and I think are great fun. But I’m really interested every Tuesday in hearing what people want to do and what their ideas are. I love that open canvas, hearing concepts and making things happen. What am I working on? Whatever you are working on, I can help.
- What’s your best “only in Miami” story?
That’s a hard one to come up with because every day is a story in Miami! I have two Instagram projects, one is Dogs of 305 (@DogsOf305), basically me taking pictures of people’s dogs and little giving narratives. Also, Miami Parking Heroes (@MiamiParkingHeroes) – purely sarcastically these are heroic acts of parking- people who leave their Humvees up on a parking island, or block entire sidewalks. I’ll take pictures and provide motivational quotes– and also people have begun to submit cars they’ve seen. Miami is awesome for both of those things: coddled dogs and inconsiderate parking. I’m not trying to shame the parkers– but, yeah, I’m totally trying to shame them. It’s hilarious and awful. I think our dog culture is the one thing down here that is recession-proof. Especially in the Brickell area, dog ownership is very fashion conscious and image aware. Lots of dogs in Brickell are in strollers. That space between where dogs are accessories and dogs are companions is really fascinating to me, and the dogs are always sweet.
- Have you ever been to Bayside without a visitor from out of state?
Yes! For three reasons:
1- To kill time waiting for other stuff to happen. For example, a mall walk while waiting for an event in Bayfront Park.
2- Going on a fishing boat that leaves from Bayside.
3- I had a friend who’s baby daddy was in a band, and I went to see him play some rock covers.
So yeah, I have non-ironically gone to Bayside three times in the last thirty years. I did not buy anything. Incidentally, there are lots of things there that you can get anywhere, literally anywhere. Even CVS.