The past few days have been filled with important conversations and decisions. Some have happened online, some on the phone, some here at Alejandra’s place, some on campus or in town. We’re still working out the details, but one thing is clear.
I’m going back to Miami.
The Integral Ecology Initiative is coordinating the effort to send a team from Southern Illinois to Miami. There are many local groups supporting the effort, including those donors that I mentioned. We’ll be sending a group of about fifteen to twenty people with specialized skills related to the work we’ll be doing out there. My three main qualifications are my familiarity with Miami, my recent organizing work with Miami Diaspora, and my experience with photovoltaic installation.
Now that we’ve definitely decided to do this, the two biggest decisions are who’s going and what we plan to do when we get there.
First, I want to talk about the what. I can’t go into too much detail because like I said earlier, we don’t want other people to take our ideas. We have a few plans finalized, a few plans in the works, and a willingness to entertain other ideas. The basic overview is that we want to experiment with various solutions to the many problems facing Miami now that most of the city is underwater. If our experiments are successful, we’ll be doing our small part to turn Miami into a demonstration of green solutions to inundation caused by global warming. Ironically enough, we may also be able to take some of the lessons we learn in Miami and bring them back to other cities that haven’t gone underwater. For example, learning more ways to conserve water and energy is a useful lesson in any city.
If you have any ideas, please share them in the comments or send me an email using my contact form. I prefer to communicate in the comments here on the blog because I want to create some dialog about Miami and global warming and all things related. But I do accept private messages too.
So that’s the what. Now, let’s talk about the who.
I’m definitely going. I’ve known since the moment that I started walking out of Miami that I wanted to come back as soon as possible. It’s funny how sometimes you don’t really appreciate something until it’s gone. I’ve always known that I liked Miami, but you know how it is. You complain about the weather, the traffic, the crime, the politicians, and so on. But then when you have to go, you get homesick. That’s how it is for me, anyway. I love Miami.
The big question is who else is going. There are already about a dozen other people who are definitely going. Others are still considering it. Keep in mind that this is a big commitment of time and energy for litle or no pay. It’s also a trip into a potentially dangerous situation. Lots of people want to go because they care about global warming, or they want to help Miami, but not everyone is sure they can do it. Two of the biggest question marks in my mind are Jess and Ermete.
Ermete sounds confident about going. He says he needs to see if he can find other people to pick up some of his work here in Southern Illinois. He’s a genius with all things eletrical and he would leave a big gap in the clean energy and information technology communities here if he went to Miami. But he also says he’s a traveler at heart. He’s spent most of the past year or two here in Southern Illinois. That’s a long time for someone who likes to travel. It’s time for his next adventure.
Jess, on the other hand, is feeling very conflicted. She and Ermete and I have become inseperable over the past couple of months, so it’s hard to imagine us going our separate ways. But it’s also hard for Jess to imagine leaving Southern Illinois for months if not longer. She grew up around here, and after some time out of state, she came back here because she loves the place. But one of her greatest passions nowadays is taking action on the climate crisis. She says this project is a big opportunity to get people thinkimng about Resilience and Resistance. But she also worries that the fossil fuel companies may make another attempt to invade Southern Illinois while she’s gone. Local people have fought very hard and bitter battles to keep that dirty coal and oil and gas in the ground. They’ve had some victories, but there’s always the risk that the companies could try again. Of course, she could always come back if that happened. So maybe she can go to Miami for a while and come back later in case of emergency.
I really feel close to Jess. When I came here, I didn’t realize it at first, but I was anxious and depressed about leaving Miami and the difficult experiences I had in my last days there. Alejandra gave me a safe haven and some much-needed comfort, but it was Jess who helped me snap out of it by getting me active and involved in all of this community work. She says I helped her to get active again too because showing me around gave her a renewed sense of enthusiasm and hope. That was good to hear.
I really hope Jess comes with us on this trip so that we can continue to spend all of this wonderful time together and support each other in our work. I’ve been teasing her about it and making comments to entice her down to Miami. If she doesn’t come, though, I will definitely understand and support her. Southern Illinois is a beautiful place and she grew up here. It’s like me and Miami. If she stays here to protect this place, I’ll be proud of her, and I’ll come back to visit as soon as I can.
As for Alejandra, I invited her, but she says she won’t be coming. She says she likes it here in Southern Illinois and doesn’t have any special skills in green technology anyway. She has a point, but I still wish she would come anyway. What will I do without mi prima? Who will go out to the restaurants and bars with me or sit with me at the end of the day to talk about everything that happened in our lives? I suppose she’s making the right choice for herself, but I will still miss her. I remember missing her sometimes from Miami even before all of this started. After all that we’ve been through in the past couple of months, though, I’m sure we’ll do a better job of staying in touch this time.
That’s about all the news I have for now. There’s something else I want to talk about, but it’s not at all related, and it deserves its own entry. In the meantime, feel free to post comments or contact me with any ideas you have about the trip to Miami. I don’t know when exactly we’re leaving, but it will be soon.