After all of the excitement of the Global Conference On Miami, the last few days have seemed calm by comparison. I haven’t been spending as much time with Alejandra lately, so the two of us had dinner and drinks together. It was good to sit down with her and talk all about the crazy weekend. Sometimes she’s the talkative one, but she’s also a very good listener when I need someone to talk to. I really appreciate that.
It’s going to take some time to figure out how much of an impact the conference had. I’m sure that seeing millions of people around the world marching for the climate has made some of the politicians and business leaders take notice. Many local and national governments are also discussing specific proposals for how to take action on the climate crisis in their city. It will take time for the wheels of bureaucracy to turn and any actual changes to come through. The fact that elections are coming up here in the U.S. is a big factor. We have to wait two years for the next presidential election, but anyone in Congress who tends to oppose climate action must be sweating bullets right now. As the coasts are eroding, so is the support for denialist politicians. Their money can only keep them in power for so long if everybody insists on some serious action in response to global warming.
Big changes are on the way. In the meantime, there are plenty of smaller things to do around here. Gaia House, Southern Illinois 350, Illinois South Solutions Project, Shawnee Green Party, Shawnee Group Sierra Club, and a lot of other local groups are working together on plans and projects related to global warming in general and Miami in particular. In fact, that brings me to the main thing I wanted to talk to today.
I’m trying not to get my hopes up about this until the details are settled. But during GCOM, I talked to a lot Miamians. Some are in the city now and others plan on going back soon. It’s still rough there, but it’s reached the point where they’ve figured out some decent and fairly reliable solutions for the necessities of life: electricity, food, shelter, even running water in some places, although that may just involve collecting rainwater. The old systems for delivering these things are mostly gone, but people are coming up with creative solutions. There’s still a lot of debate about this, but some of us think it’s time to go back to Miami.
I was feeling very torn about this. More than anything, I want to go back and help with the recovery. But I haven’t had enough time to save up much money. The trip out there alone would eat up most of my savings. Then I would have to be sure to have some way to survive out there, otherwise I could end up stranded in the city somewhere or herded into the refugee camps. Even with the improvements, the city is still considered a disaster area and the government is actively discouraging anyone from returning unless they are directly involved in relief and rebuilding. And it would be hard to leave Alejandra and Jess and Ermete behind so soon after such an amazing weekend.
So before GCOM, and even on the first day, it didn’t look good. I thought it would be months until I made it back to Miami. But then I heard about two groups of people who may be able to help me make that happen much sooner.
The first group was local. On the second day of the conference, we found out that a few local donors were willing to fund a special project to send a few people from Southern Illinois to Miami to promote socially just and ecologically sustainable solutions. This is a pretty amazing offer given what the economy around here is like. Most people simply don’t have the money to spare. But there are some people here who quietly support green projects by making donations and sharing their advice and vision with the organizers. Jess tells me that they usually focus exclusively on Southern Illinois. But in this case, they’re making an exception because of the situation in Miami.
There are some crazy people out on the streets of Miami right now — gangs, shady businessmen, mysterious outsiders, well-meaning but totally inexperienced entrepreneurs — who are basically just grabbing up property through a mix of legal and non-legal means. With just a few thousand dollars, or a few boats and guns, you can get your hands on buildings that would have cost millions just a couple of months ago. The remaining police force is so strapped for cash and personnel that they mostly just patrol the city and make sure that nobody’s getting blatantly murdered, abducted, mugged, and so on. The people from Bastion are supposedly there to help, but they’re just mercenaries. What do they care? As long as they get paid, they don’t care much about the details. And it’s not entirely clear who’s paying them anyway. They’re supposedly deputized, so the government must be involved in some way. But there may be private funding too. If there is, who knows what their goals are.
Anyway, the local donors here in Southern Illinois see the potential for major green projects to get started while the situation is in flux. It’s a risky idea, but they say it’s worth the risk because of what stands to be gained. What if a major American city could be rebuilt from the ground up as an example of urban ecological design? They have some very good ideas for projects in Miami, and they want to send some people from Southern Illinois to get these projects started. If it works out, these people will learn important skills, gain important contacts, and maybe even bring some money back to Southern Illinois. But they need at least some people who are currently in Miami to help get it all started.
That’s where the second group comes in. Some of my contacts in Miami Diaspora are trying to start green projects but they need outside support. In theory, it’s a perfect match. But it’s going to take a couple of weeks to figure out the details. There are several possibilities for projects that would meet everyone’s goals and visions. I can’t talk about it in too much detail yet because we’re still figuring it all out and the people involved don’t want to go public until we settle on the details. But I’ve introduced a few of these people to each other online and it seems to be working out well.
I’ll post more information as soon as I can. In the meantime, it’s good to know that my prospects for making it back to Miami have just improved dramatically.