Little Haiti

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The Listening Session: May 9, 2018

  • This listening session was held at the Lemon City Library in Little Haiti. The goal of this meeting was to get feedback from residents and community leaders on the issues that they feel are the most urgent in their neighborhoods, related to the changing climate. The event was facilitated by CLEO and Nancy Metayer; and was part of the 10 Days of Connections event, that ran between May 1 and 10th. In attendance were artists, community organizers, nonprofit leaders representation from Commissioner Edmonson’s office, the library manager and CLEO staff.  The main topics brought up and discussed were: Climate Gentrification, Health and Communication.

The Climate Training: May 23, 2018

  • On May 23rd, The CLEO Institute, in collaboration with Nancy Metayer and Konscious Kontractors, hosted and facilitated a community workshop as part of the Creating Climate Connections Program, to help people better understand how climate change is impacting their community and what they can do to take action. 
  • Nancy gave a brief presentation on how climate change issues and impacts are directly linked to racial and social injustices, especially in communities such as Little Haiti. She touched on the history of the environmental justice movement and how and what Little Haiti is currently experiencing as a result of new developments and politics. She also touched on other major climate justice issues impacting Little Haiti such as gentrification, food desserts, public health and disaster preparedness. Her presentation and the audience’s remarks highlighted the complexity of climate change issues and how addressing these problems in Miami requires a multi-faceted approach, involving everyone, including our elected officials. 
  • Konscious Kontractors (KK) spoke about climate gentrification and some of the root causes, especially as it pertains to Little Haiti and how our sense of identity is so closely linked to our homes and the importance of protecting those homes. KK noticed how much work was needed in the community and decided to help a lot of the residents before, during, and after hurricane Irma. They spoke about the purpose behind their work and expressed an urgent need for more leadership in our communities. They also talked about how we are unable to fix the issues that are hurting our communities by using band-aid solutions.  We can, however, focus on getting to the core of the issue in order to move forward in a positive direction that makes sense locally and culturally. 

 

The Town Hall: June, 9 2018

On June 9th, 2018 CLEO hosted a town hall for the community of Little Haiti as part of our Creating Climate Connections program. This was a follow-up to our listening session and our community workshop held the month before, where issues such s climate gentrification, health, communication and preparedness had been discussed. The goal of the town hall was to have an open discussion about how county and city can better serve communities like Little Haiti, that are experiencing rapid changes related to climate change impacts. Gentrification is a very complex issue that cannot be solved in just a few community meetings, but based on comments from the audience, it is clear that it impacts other aspects of community members’ lives. We also wanted elected officials to hear directly from the community on what they felt were gaps in city and county approaches to helping residents with these issues and during emergencies. 

Biggest Takeaways:

  • There is a need for more conversations between city/county and community members. There’s a disconnect between what city and county are doing to improve the livelihoods of communities like Little Haiti and how these improvements are being communicated. Citizens must have more access to understand what initiatives are underway and have an opportunity to talk directly with their elected officials. Community meetings hosted by CLEO and its partners are very helpful but are only one piece of the puzzle.  
  • While city and county offer some relief when it comes to hurricanes, such as sheltering before, during and after emergencies, citizens have to start building more community relationships among themselves; becoming their own advocates. Nancy Metayer discussed the Disaster Response Initiative which addresses some of these issues and aims to improve community readiness to emergencies. The Red Cross also mentioned that they offer classes and trainings to help people become more equipped to deal with emergencies. Volunteering at the Red Cross can also be a good way to get some training and understand the roles that different stakeholders play during an emergency. We need to build community networks that make sense.  
  • We must start thinking ahead when it comes to hurricane season. The kits that CLEO handed out were intended to help residents begin to think about preparedness. And to help them start building their own kits. We must think about these issues months before the season starts so we are not caught off guard.