Miami Design Charrette Tackles Global Warming: "We Bring the Issue Home"
Global warming is a major issue these days, affecting everything from an increased possibility of death and destruction courtesy of the next killer hurricane, to the seemingly improbable winter weather that turns entire stretches of the country into a scenic panorama that suggests we're entering a new ice age -- and even cheating spouses. Yet, for all the doubts and dismissals, the evidence is pretty clear that something is amiss with our environment. What else could account for the fact that huge chunks of the polar ice caps are giving way and leaving scarcely enough frozen tundra to refill the ice in our cocktail glasses on a Saturday night in South Beach?
Politicos can debate the cause and effect endlessly, but in Miami, one group is actually motivated enough to do something about this dilemma, and get the rest of us involved as well. On Saturday, June 21, the good folks in Wynwood are organizing a day of activities -- a "charrette," meaning "a collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem." In this case, it's a confab intended to shape a vision for smart and sustainable growth across Miami-Dade County, offering key strategies to cope with the imminent threats of our time, among them, rising seas, diminishing resources and an increasing population.
That sounds like a heady assignment, but the organizers also promise they'll be plenty of fun thrown into the mix as well.... including a welcome breakfast, a working lunch, a bike tour of Wynwood and -- the activity that attracted our interest in particular -- a happy hour at the conclusion.
We asked Celeste De Palma, Conservation Outreach Coordinator at the local Audubon Society in Miami, to give us some insight into the proceedings.
New Times: What inspired this idea?
Celeste De Palma: I've always been interested in growth and land-use issues. As the local grassroots chapter of the Audubon Society in Miami, we wanted to revitalize the Hold the Line Campaign that originally focused on preventing urban sprawl into the Everglades, and refocus it as an educational arm to address rising seas, aging infrastructure and a growing population in Miami-Dade County.
Thanks to a Fellowship by Audubon's Toyota TogetherGreen Program, I've been able to focus on revamping the Hold the Line Coalition.... [We've] taken a fresh take on climate change that focuses specifically on stopping urban sprawl into the Everglades and agricultural lands, and promoting public transit and sustainable growth as the means to preserve the environment and enhance our quality of life. This workshop seeks to introduce new people to the Coalition, and to bring people together to discuss climate change from a local perspective.
So how do you think this will translate on a practical level?
Once we break it down to the community level, climate change is an issue that is much more manageable. There are a number of solutions that we can apply to our communities that will make us more resilient. Take public transit, for instance. By adding more public transportation options we would be reducing our carbon emissions. This is one of the low hanging fruits to mitigate for climate change, and people can make that happen if they start approaching their local leaders in their municipalities.
What sort of activities can we expect?
We'll start the day with a "Bring your own Bike" tour of the Wynwood Walls by Wynwood Murals. Then we'll jump into a short expert panel that will set the stage for the afternoon design exercise. We have local experts presenting discussions of sustainability versus resiliency; an overview of Miami-Dade County and where we stand in terms of those issues; a regional look into where we could be if we implement good planning; the best practices that have been adopted around the world that we could easily adopt in Miami; and a presentation from a business leader urging entrepreneurs to take action on climate change.
We will then break for a delicious, organic lunch, and come back to work into six smaller groups for the design exercise. Each group will have a team of four moderators to help guide the conversation. The charrette will allow each participant to take the information and apply it to their own communities. By breaking down the county into bite-size areas, and by working in teams, participants will work together to identify the key resilient and sustainable practices their communities should adopt moving forward. This allows people to take matters into action and not feel overwhelmed with climate change.
After a long day of work we will close with a Happy Hour at Gramps Bar, which will provide the first drink on the house to the Miami Design Charrette participants!