What a week! It hasn’t even been a full week since my last post, but it feels like it’s been forever. I should post here more often. But so much is happening that I get caught up in it all and hardly find the time to write about it. We’re trying to make history here, so I really should be doing a better job of keeping a written history. Harold says that’s how it always is with “activist types” — too busy working to document the history of their own movements. I didn’t used to think of myself in that way, but I guess watching my city sink beneath the waves had an effect on me. Spending time with Jess and Ermete had that effect on me too. Jess tends to be more political, but both of them are always thinking in terms of how to fix broken systems and create new systems that actually meet people’s needs. It inspires me to do the same.
Now that we have our group name, we’ve decided to rename the building. One Broadway is now officially known as Synergy Central. The original owner supports the name change and has even started getting more involved with Miami Diaspora. It took some time to convince him because getting involved with Miami Diaspora is seen as very political. But he’s seen what we’re doing here and is fully supportive.
So what are we doing here?
The biggest news at our newly-christened Synergy Central is expansion. We have to be slow and careful about expansion because our resources are very limited and we want to be sure we can feed everyone who comes here. But the building is mostly empty, and it will still be mostly empty once we finish converting some of the rooms into greenhouses and workshops. So we may as well fill up that extra space with people who can join us in our efforts!
Our recruitment focus right now is on people who have special skills and don’t currently have a stable place to stay. Every day at noon, I spend an hour or two meeting with new people who want to join us. So far, we’ve had about twenty people apply and have accepted seven. We’ve been working with the Liminals to secure better access to outside sources of food so that we don’t have to rely on a handful of overpriced food boats and renovated grocery stores. When we first got here, Jess went off on a big rant about how all the food sources left in the city were engaging in price gouging, which is apparently when you raise prices really high in order to take advantage of a bad situation like the flooding of Miami. Sure, it costs a lot more than it used to for them to bring food into the city. But it’s gotten to the point where even some simple dry beans that used to cost five or six dollars a pound now cost twenty or thirty dollars a pound. We can barter for some things, but usually not food. Thank God the pizzeria downstairs gives us a couple of free pizzas every week. I’m not as crazy about pizza as Jess is, but it’s good to eat something other than beans and rice and scavenged canned vegetables.
We’ve also started what may be one of our most important projects right now.
The SmartBuoy system was Ermete’s idea. It’s a surprisingly cheap and durable little solar-powered buoy that floats around the edges of the flooding. It measures how deep the water is and has a little electric motor that it uses to move around and find the points where the water is getting too shallow for boats. That way, we won’t have so many boats getting temporarily stranded or damaged because they went down the wrong street and started scraping bottom.
It’s going to be a great system. Ermete has already built the first three prototypes and deployed them not far from here. He calls them his “smart boys” and dresses them in cute little raincoats and hats before setting them loose. They have simple AI that allows them to communicate with his tablet to share their location and a few other things. He can give them commands to change depth, move, take a nap, or make their way home.
In the short term, it doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal. People seem to think of it as Ermete’s pet project that he’s doing for fun. But the goal is to get funding from the city and maybe private investors in order to deploy a whole fleet of SmartBuoys. They would make travel in and around the city go more smoothly. Online mapping programs aren’t very helpful anymore because they don’t show you the water depth on city streets. But this would allow us to see the water depth in real time and plot a course that suits the size of your boat. Ermete believes that information should be free, so as long as somebody can pay us for the actual buoys, the labor, and so on, then everyone in the city will have free access to these helpful tools.
That’s some of the biggest news. On a less happy note, our little speedboat, Clover, was damaged by gunfire. On Monday night, someone shot out half of the windshield and damaged the hull with automatic weapons fire. They didn’t damage the motor or batteries, thank God. We always keep the boat parked within site of our guards when we’re not using it, but someone was bold enough to zip down South Miami and open fire on the boat in full sight of the guards. They got away, of course, because why would we expect someone to do a drive-by on our boat in the middle of the night? That’s just crazy. We were able to patch up the damage to the hull, but we still haven’t replaced the left windshield. It’s not essential enough to be worth the trouble at this point.
So who did it? Your guess is as good as mine. It may have been Bastion trying to get across the idea that we need protection. Or it may have actually been some criminals who don’t like what we’re doing and know that Bastion isn’t protecting us. Either way, it’s not a very comforting thought. This time it was just vandalism, but it was vandalism with guns. It might escalate. We’re peace-loving people, but we will defend ourselves if necessary. If it comes to that, I’m really not looking forward to it. But we will do it. We will protect ourselves and our home.
Anyway, whoever it is, I’m not going to let it get to me. We’ve got a good thing going here and won’t be intimidated so easily. Hopefully if we keep growing in numbers and keep helping our neighbors, we’ll get a good reputation. Maybe even the criminals will leave us alone. I don’t know if it necessarily works like that, but we can always hope.