We know that a community’s level of civic engagement is directly tied to its prosperity and overall health. So, how to build attachment? Well, you encourage citizens to volunteer, give, vote, talk to a neighbor, find their own ways to engage.
Yet according to studies, Miami’s civic involvement is dismal, and our excuses are plentiful: it’s a transient community, we have a dearth of political leadership, we are too fragmented, and so on.
As the “least engaged” of the 26 communities served by the Knight Foundation, Miamians have a lot of work to do. But it’s doable. We are diverse, but we share common ground, including the desire to make our community a better place to live, work and raise our families. We don’t have to accept this designation.
With co-chair Katy Sorenson, a former Miami-Dade County commissioner and CEO of the Good Government Initiative at the University of Miami, we are working to redefine and enhance civic engagement. We are launching an effort to identify and map our civic engagement assets. Powered by Catalyst Miami, the civic-mapping project will provide the foundation. This is exciting because it will enable us to look at what we already have, which is substantial, and build from there by identifying opportunities for further involvement — through arts and culture, participation in one of our many governments, on environmental issues, through philanthropy, volunteering in human service organizations and other ways yet to be imagined.
That will be the best product of the summits, the execution of “doable deeds” that will engage our community and put us on a new kind of list: the global greatness list.
So what does Miami need? All of us. Volunteer, give, share, vote, learn more. I invite you to join me and “Engage, Miami!”
Modesto A. (Mitch) Maidique is a former member of the faculties of Harvard, MIT and Stanford and president emeritus of Florida International University. He currently heads the Center for Leadership at FIU.