Overtown Leader's Listening Session


On April 5th, 2018, CLEO held a listening session with Overtown leaders as part of the Creating Climate Connections outreach program. Caroline Lewis, our Executive Director, led the session by first doing a brief introduction about climate change and the major impacts expected. The presentation helped those present connect the dots on topics such as:

·     Health care, especially the Zika virus, heat stroke, etc.

·     Increase in crime due to increased heat, which causes more aggression

Following this presentation a series of questions were asked to begin the conversation on climate change in Overtown. One question posed was: what were some of the challenges each leader saw in their community in the context of climate change?

·     Forecasting hurricanes

·     People feel powerless 

·     Survival is a main concern and issues like climate change do not come to mind. 

·     How to bring problem to the children and plant a seed for the future generation.

·     Connection between storms and services. Why were the services so lacking in Overtown when during the last storm? 

One of the guests spoke about the resiliency of the people in Overtown and their ability to survive and deal with a lot of pressing issues.  This highlighted and helped clarify how CLEO’s approach in Overtown should like and what issues we need to focus on in order to get Citizens of this neighborhood engaged. Some of the challenges or issues we may need to deal with are as follows:

·     Community forums may not be the most effective setting to get the message across. Time to rethink strategy.

·     Come up with solutions such as:

-      Why was Booker T Washington’s leaking roof not detected before the hurricane?

-      Why wasn’t Gibson Park designated a hurricane shelter and status?

-      How to make sure people are accountable and prepared before the next storm.

-      Find out what should have been done on the County level for Overtown

·     New entry point should focus on hurricane preparedness instead of climate change.

·     To get to know the people/community, you have to be on the ground.

·     We need to get a list of resources available. Narrative is important.  Example, safety risk vs. open windows to cool the house. Ask officials how we would proceed with that.

·     What does Preparedness look like – come prepared to do this at our workshop 

·     Be informative – bring information.

·     Have representatives from City/County and address issues:

-      What does it take to get Gibson Park designated as an emergency shelter?

-      What about public transportation before a storm? Can we offer free bus fare or reduced bus fare for people to get to a shelter, etc., before a hurricane?

·     Find other organization that will rally behind one or all of these issues. Reach out to OCYC, Urgent Inc., Girl Power, Touching Miami with Love, etc.

·     Place posters on every bus stop 

·     Lifestyle change! It is important to note that anything that requires a life style change, will lead to overcoming hurdles first. An example, I may understand the benefits of becoming a vegan but if it is going to cost more money for groceries then I may have to stick with what I know because it is less expensive.

While we only had a few attendees at this listening session, we learned an enormous amount about Overtown and our outreach approach in this neighborhood. We are looking forward to shifting gears and taking an approach that suits members of this community and that will address their immediate concerns. We will help people connect the dots on climate change through emergency preparedness. 

“We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors—we borrow it from our children.”