As I walked across the street from a parking garage to a lush park in downtown Miami I was overcome with joy at what I saw. An amazing sight of colors and sounds that leads me to know that South Florida cares. More people than I’ve ever seen together in one place, at one time, with the common goal of attacking the serious issues of climate change and sea level rise.
As I wrote last month, it is my belief that the recent budget hearings for Miami-Dade County marked a turning point in our community because of the diversity of citizens who appeared before the Commission demanding that our local governement take action to combat sea level rise. But that turnout was nothing compared to the People’s Climate Movement March that took place last week here in downtown Miami. Over 1,000 people from all over South Florida, young and old and of every color and culture our incredible community enjoys marched together on the night of October 14th on the streets demanding change. And I was proud to be with them.
The night was inspiring and also a whole lot of fun. People chanted for ‘Climate Justice‘, a phrase I’d not heard of before but one that most certainly illustrates that people of all sorts of social backgrounds are being impacted by climate change and that if we do not act, many will be displaced.
We also chanted that ‘the seas are rising and so are we‘ and the governement could not have helped hearing us because the rally that proceeded the March took place in the park adjacent to the Miami-Dade Government Center building. County leaders including Commissioner Daniella Cava, Chief of Miami–Dade County’s Office of Sustainability Nicole Hefty, and the Mayor’s very recently appointed James Murley, Miami Dade’s first ever Chief Resilience Officer, amongst others saw the park overflowing with people demanding change and could clearly hear speaker after speaker asking for solutions. Signs and banners and even costumes helped drive home the point that people want change and we want it to start NOW.
I’ve never walked in a March before, but I must say that it was inspiring. Inspiring to see policitcal leaders from all over our community (Pinecrest’s Mayor Lerner was there, so too, was my friend and South Miami Mayor, Dr. Stoddard), renewoned scientists, business owners, educators, doctors, artists, activists, lawyers, musicians, farmers and farm workers, as well as children of all ages from all over the region came together for a common cause and concern.
It was also inspiring because of the energy that we, together, produced. Energy that I am now certain will result in change. Energy that represents votes and voices that will demand being heard and helped. The issue of climate change, and especially sea level rise in our community, can no longer be overlooked. The future of our community and our environment are at risk, but so too are political leaders who do not take the concerns of people, concerns based on extensive science, to heart.
To read an article from the Miami Herald on the March, please click here! To read a recent editorial about the March by my friend and mentor, the ever so encouraging and inspiring Caroline Lewis, founder of The CLEO Institute, please click here! On a personal note I want to share that from the look on her face, the happy tears in her eyes, that Caroline, a woman long on the often lonely front lines of our region’s sea level discussion, could also sense that things are changing for the better. She’d be the first to say that we have a long way to go, but that the March was a vivid sign of progress. On behalf of all of us here in South Florida, most certainly the youth that she so eagerly leads as an educator, thank you Caroline for your constant inspiration.
To all of those who marched with me last week, thank you. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your energy. Thank you for giving so many so much hope that, together, we can address sea level rise and, in doing so, protect our environment, economy, lifestyle and each other. There is much work ahead and most of the decisions will be costly ones, but I am confident that we can mitigate this problem while our world seeks solutions to end our dependency on fossil fuels. March on South Florida and, remember, ‘The Seas Are Rising And So Are We’.