Allapattah Town Hall

On April 7th, 2018 CLEO hosted a town hall for the community of Allapattah as part of our Creating Climate Connections program. 

As a co-host of the event, the Allapattah library manager talked about the services the library provides and its promotion of climate change literacy to the community. She also explained the difference between resilience vs. sustainability and their role in supporting the learning and educational needs of the community. She mentioned that in their efforts, they have three powerful assets:

·      People

There are a group of professionals and people who are engaged to help and provide interconnectedness with different people.

·      Place

Library supports multiple programs through Arsht Center, drums, activities for kids etc.

·      Platform

Library is part of the infrastructure of a community. They support and maintain the library as “the salon” of the community. They engage with so many people, working groups, NET Office, etc.

The conversation then shifted to emergency planning, discussing the monitoring of current conditions such as upcoming king tide events, advanced hurricane preparedness, and increasing self-sufficiency of vulnerable communities for the 72-hour period after the storm. The City of Miami’s Deputy Emergency manager also informed us about Miami-Dade County’s Operation Blue Roof program and the lack of knowledge about it. Which highlighted how important communication is, in getting information to residents. This is an ongoing challenge. City of Miami’s Office of Resilience recognized a need for better coordination between the City and County and a real need to work with grassroots level organizations to help build resiliency. 

An FIU Professor who attended the town hall created a map specifically for this event, showing the elevation projection of each property in Allapattah. Included in the maps were also the proportion of homes that are rentals and land value.  Rental Proportion is a good measure of vulnerability because renters have little choice when it comes to landlords making decisions to sell or keep their properties. This directly connects to the issue of climate gentrification and how renters in neighborhoods on high ground get pushed out when developers move in and buy out homes.  

The discussion continued and the following comments were made about adaptation and sea level rise/flooding:

·      Based on the maps presented, developers and residents will have to start thinking about relocation or raising their homes as flooding from the Miami River become more of a threat in the future. 

·      Everybody should know their elevation and therefore the threat of flooding during a hurricane or an intense storm. This information should be accessible to help citizens make better decisions in the future. 

·      Also noted was the rise of speculative costs and the increase in foreign investors who don’t live here but invest here. This also affects the prices of homes and is another way that locals are priced out of the market. This has led to a lack of affordable housing in Miami. The maps presented highlighted this. 

Climate change can affect neighborhoods in different ways. Allapattah may not currently suffer from major flooding events or even storm surge, but climate change is not limited to sea level rise. Climate gentrification can shape and change a neighborhood, as much as flooding can. Health issues that were discussed, such as Zika, can put many mothers and children at risk. With warmer, wetter summers, Zika and other vector borne diseases threaten all neighborhoods. 

One of the goals of the town hall is to get people to start a conversation and find solutions to some of the problems that are not being addressed in certain neighborhoods. Bringing people together can help foster creative solutions. Aside from the discussions and the maps, one of the great outcomes of this town hall is that new programming was suggested be created at the Allapattah Library, involving the City of Miami’s Office of Resilience and Hugh Gladwin, the FIU professor specializing in GIS. This free program would teach residents how to use mapping software. These are powerful tools, increasingly being used to demonstrate the impacts of climate change on a local level. This kind of program could build critical knowledge and capacity in the community and mobilize the community to demand better regulations on their behalf, increasing their resilience to the impacts of climate change.