This past weekend we officially launched our Miami office. Despite the city-stopping thunderous downpour of Friday evening over 50 people made it out to celebrate with us on Friday night at The LAB Miami where we showcased our inaugural cohort of 12 projects. These projects highlight the gumption, excitement and accomplishment that is coalescing here. Leaders in their own right, those behind these 12 projects are blazing a trail of citizen led change here in Greater Miami.
Then, on Saturday we participated in the second annual Philanthrofest and, we have to say, it was an incredible and impactful experience. The event’s organizers brought together over 200 of Miami’s most active and meaningful efforts and organizations alongside music and food trucks in a festival atmosphere, and then drawing thousands upon thousands of greater miami residents interested in becoming more civically engaged. We met so many great people, doing so many great things, in so many places — and are super excited about supporting those efforts.
When we started we really had no idea what to expect in Miami, especially on the heels of a report like The Tale of Two Cities. And while my own experience in Miami the past 2.5 years painted the beginnings of a more positive picture, it is always hard to make a distinction between your own experiences and the overall reality. But, since the announcement of the Miami office I have been inundated with interest and I have learned how deep and extensive the level of desire and action for a better, stronger, healthier and more encompassing greater Miami is.
Faced with as many obstacles, historic and new, to a healthily empowered and engaged citizenry, it is not surprising that every time you turn around there are more citizen advocacy groups working to address the needs of the places and ways they live. What is somewhat surprising — but welcome! — is how their efforts are echoed through the various municipal offices of greater Miami-Dade. There is a strong and growing understanding that the citizen is not the customer of the city/county, but a partner.
Part of my work here is to introduce ioby as a tool to potential project leaders and support them to take that leap into working directly on the problems they can solve. The other part is to partner with municipality and citizen to identify and remove the specific barriers to citizens doing this work. I am already making positive headway on a few issues, but the bulk of this work lays ahead of me.
Miami is no different from any other American City at this time, struggling to get ahold of a governance system and budget that has been warped over multiple generations by the pressures of sprawl development, mass consumerism and ever more questionable federal policy. There is still, and will continue to be for some time, much here that can be pointed out as unacceptable — not worth dealing with. But, Miami is quickly surging to the head of the pack of cities who are, nonetheless, overcoming its obstacles and building a brighter future for all residents.