Art of Cultural Evolution’s mission is to make environmental education accessible to the public. Over a year ago, we leased a vacant lot in Midtown Miami to develop a Sustainable Land Lab, dedicated to demonstrating to residents what is possible in their own back yards.
We fed, in the growing season, about 15 families with free organic produce shares grown on site. There are demonstrations of three types of composting, solar energy use, rain water harvesting and, more importantly, soil restoration.
The soil restoration led to the restoration of the local ecology, and populations of birds, bees and butterflies have increased. With the growing of food in the garden, the nutrition awareness of the neighbors has risen and they are planting their own gardens.
In the middle of the lease, the landowner sold the property, without informing us, to a businessman in Dubai who wants to cut down 60-year-old mango and avocado trees. These trees produced so much fruit that we fed ourselves, the neighbors, the homeless and Miami Dade College’s Philanthrofest.
In short, the new owner intends to move out every resident on the block, pour concrete, fracture the community and rid the area of native ecology and food. In fact, he doesn’t even have the heart to grant us an extension to move our plants to a new location.
Miami is the most climate-vulnerable city in the United States. How can we be resilient in the face of sea-level rise, storm surge or any other disaster when we honor money over sustainability? This will be Miami’s demise if we do not protect our communities and year-long residents. A man from Dubai doesn’t care about the Everglades or the salinization of our aquifer, only about realizing his business venture.
We may often feel disconnected, but community is here in the Magic City.
I have seen residents who devote their lives to protecting all aspects of South Florida from transit, food, water and education. Organizations like Tropical Audubon, CLEO Institute, Transit Miami, Urban Paradise Guild and all members of the Environmental Education Providers are examples of energetic communities bringing awareness and connecting community to sustainable futures.
What is the point of your condo on the beach, when the ocean water is full of algae blooms and flesh-eating bacteria?
It’s because of developers like AB Abundance LLC, which intends to cut down an ecological paradise, developed in part by my organization and the residents of Wynwood and Edgewater, for short-term monetary gain that Miami will be left uninhabitable and stripped of all its natural resources.
Blair Butterfield, director,
Art of Cultural Evolution, Miami