What a busy weekend! Since it was a holiday weekend, I thought I would just hang out with Alejandra and relax. But between the news from Miami and the long conversations with Jess and Ermete, I was feeling restless. So I found plenty to keep me busy.
First of all, I have some good job news. I may be able to do some part time solar installation and energy efficiency work. I did similar work when I was fresh out of college, so I had the experience and training they were looking for. It’s not a permanent position, just me providing an extra pair of hands when big jobs come up or their full-time staff are too busy. For me, though, that’s perfect. It’s good work, it pays well, and when I’m ready to move back to Miami, I can just go without finding a replacement. No big deal.
I’ve also been talking to a big group of Miamians online called the Miami Diaspora. It’s mostly Miami refugees like me, but it also includes some Miamians who are still in the city and have internet access. We want to organize a national conference as soon as possible, but we’re thinking it should be online for a variety of obvious reasons like transportation costs, wanting it to be a carbon neutral event, etc. So we may just have a Miami Meetup in a few major cities with some telepresence rooms set up to give it the look and feel of a face-to-face conference.
On top of all that, ever since that panel discussion, I’ve had a growing number of local people talk to me about the situation in Miami. It started with one or two community organizers, but now it includes teachers, students, a few business people, even someone on the local city council. Jess and Ermete are both very active in the community, so they put me in touch with more people over the weekend. Most of it has been on the phone or online because it was a weekend, but Jess is going to take me to a meeting with some of her friends tomorrow.
There are a handful of other Miami refugees here in Carbondale, but so far I’m the only one who’s gone public, so people have a lot of questions for me. I’m starting to feel like an unofficial Miami ambassador. People are starting to recognize me on the street when I walk by. It’s strange. It reminds me of when I was growing up and my mom would have all these people calling her, texting her, visiting her, and so on because she was an organizer. Sometimes it was annoying, but as I got older, I respected her for it. She didn’t always know what to do, but she tried. I wish she were still around today to give me some advice, but she passed away while I was in college.
The closest Miami Meetup will probably be in St. Louis. In the meantime, there’s plenty to do locally. I’ve been very happy to see all of these people in southern Illinois who are connecting the dots between Miami and global warming. There are a lot of people here who are really eager to do something about global warming. You wouldn’t expect it at first because sometimes the culture feels like the South, especially outside of Carbondale. And we all know how some people in the South are still fighting the green economy, against all odds and common sense. But they have a long tradition of environmental advocacy in southern Illinois. Jess told me a little bit about it and it was really interesting.
Community leaders here are drawing connections between Miami and all of the droughts, floods, and incredible heat they experience locally. Everyone around here is worried about how global warming is ruining local agriculture. So when you add Miami on top of that, it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. And it’s an election year, so there are all of these heated political debates too. Sometimes it feels like a pressure cooker, everyone ready to just burst into a rant about something or other related to the climate, the elections, and so on.
Anyway, I’ve got to go eat some dinner and go to another meeting. I’ll post again soon with any news about local organizing or the Miami Meetups.