Miami Beach

Beach Buzz: Rising Above summit luncheon focuses on Miami Beach sea level strategies

Business leaders gathered at the W Hotel in Miami Beach for the Exchange on Sea Level Rise Adaptation & Community Resilience environmental summit on Friday, March 27th, 2015.
Business leaders gathered at the W Hotel in Miami Beach for the Exchange on Sea Level Rise Adaptation & Community Resilience environmental summit on Friday, March 27th, 2015. ACT Productions / / Mitchell Zachs

To cap off its week-long centennial celebration, the city of Miami Beach hosted “Rising Above,” a Community Resiliency Summit and Awards luncheon March 27 at the W South Beach. The event focused on strategies being used in Miami Beach to mitigate and adapt to rising sea levels — and how these solutions can be used by other cities around the world.

The Summit featured opening remarks by Mayor Philip Levine and Al Roker of NBC’s Today, with closing remarks by City Manager Jimmy Morales. Discussion panels included members of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce Sea Level Rise Task Force, The Greater Miami & the Beaches Hotel Association, Sustainable Hospitality Council and The Coca-Cola Sustainability Program.

A major segment of the program focused on the need for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math initiatives in Miami Beach schools. The groundbreaking STE(A)M program World Ocean Watch (WOW) — being piloted at Miami Beach Senior High – was presented by the program’s co-founder, Dr. Barry Rock.

Other speakers included Dr. Mike Heithaus, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at FIU, Charles Waldheim, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Dr. Benjamin Kirtman, associate dean for Research, UM Rosensteil School, and Ken Berlin, president and CEO at Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project.

The luncheon segment recognized 10 honorees (selected by City Commissioners) for excellence in environmental science, civic activism and education, (including this columnist, who was honored as a founding member of the City’s sustainability committee and recycling advocate). Each received a framed piece of modern art with an engraved plaque by FIU artist Xavier Cortada.

Event co-producers were Patxi Pastor and Betsy Wheaten, Miami Beach’s Environmental Resources manager.

Sponsors included the W Hotel, Royal Caribbean and Gibson guitars, who donated three electric guitars to the Beach High “Rock Ensemble.” Additionally, FIU donated a four-year scholarship to Beach High freshman Rebecca Rauch-Thane in recognition of her exceptional work in STE(A)M.

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Speaking of the environment, the fourthh annual Miami & the Beach Environmental Film Festival (MBEFF) takes place April 14-19.

Hosted by ECOMB (Environmental Coalition of Miami & the Beaches), the fest features a variety of films around this year’s theme (climate change awareness) at venues throughout Miami-Dade, as well as a youth forum on climate change and water at 5-9 p.m. Thursday at the University of Miami.

Opening night speaker (April 15, 6:45 pm at Miami Beach’s Colony Theater) will be Mike Eman, prime minister of Aruba. Aruba recently partnered with the Carbon War Room (CWR), a global initiative founded by Sir Richard Branson, to transition the island to 100 percent renewable energy. A free screening of the award-winning documentary Pump will follow.

For tickets and information, visit or call (305) 534-3825.


The fourth annual O, Miami Poetry Festival happens throughout April — with more than 30 events and 23 projects — an effort to deliver a poem to all 2.6 million-plus residents of Miami-Dade County.

“O, Miami tests the limits of what’s possible when circulating poems among a community,” says Executive Director Scott Cunningham. “Miamians should watch out for poems on buildings, on fences, in the mail, even in the bathroom.”

The second annual Poetry in the Park at Miami Beach’s Soundscape Park begins at 4 p.m. Sunday with performances by DJ Le SPAM, New World Symphony members and, at 7:45 p.m., a high-definition Wallcast poetry reading featuring former U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan. Free and open to the public.

O, Miami Poetry Festival is supported by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. For a complete list of happenings, visit


Talk about betting odds. The Final Four basketball game took on special meaning for Miami Beach’s Pardo family. Adrienne and Stevan Pardo have twin 19-year-olds: Daughter Carly is a sophomore at Duke University; son Daniel a sophomore at Michigan State.

The entire family — including son Joshua, a 10th-grader at Ransom Everglades — traveled to Indianapolis to watch the two teams battle it out for a spot in Monday’snational title game.

Carly, a psychology major, obviously rooted for the Blue Devils; while Daniel — a political science major, cheered on the Spartans. Mom Adrienne remained neutral — sporting a jersey featuring Duke on the front and Michigan State on the back, while dad Stevan clearly favored Duke, where he earned his undergraduate and law degrees.

In the end, ultimate bragging rights went to Carly and Stevan, as Duke beat Michigan State 81-61. The team went on to beat Wisconsin for the national title.

“It’s been an incredible Final Four experience with my family and that much more spectacular witnessing Duke win the 2015 National Championship,” said Stevan Pardo.

Beach Buzz appears every other Sunday, focusing on people and businesses throughout the Beaches, Aventura and Miami. To reach Debra K. Leibowitz, call 305-531-7887 or email, or become a fan of her Beach Buzz page on Facebook.

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