A Miami Reclaimed
What if the rich fled Miami, and the Everglades reclaimed herself and transformed the concrete to swamp?
This post publishes new illustration work, and provides background to its creation. Subscribers to my Patreon can access the behind the scenes of this illustration, and links to the brushes I used.
Everyday of my commute I drive my car from South Dade, through Downtown, gazing at the city skyline and the metal river of personal vehicles all of this infrastructure was designed around. I drive past the forever-unfinished construction sites and wonder how the workers feel about their work. I wonder if they too imagine what this all will look like 50-60 years from now.
My commute feels like a ritual. Some days, the dial of mourning and grief is all the way up and I find myself in tears, and some days my feelings are at bay and I can bring myself to snap a picture and sit in awe, taking in that this view won’t last forever.
A recent report in Newsweek, citing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, projects that “by 2100, Florida could see sea levels rise between 2-6 feet, with over 900,000 properties at risk of being underwater.”
Early February, The Nation published, “Should We Start Preparing for the Evacuation of Miami?” which laid out arguments for and against a “managed retreat” of Miami’s residents. I recommend reading in full, but here’s the gist:
Co-author Daniel Aldana Cohen argues yes,
“We can’t build a multiracial working-class movement against eco-apartheid by playing defense. The wealthy are on the march. We need to beat them to the higher ground.
while co-author Samantha Schuyler argues no, not yet.
“At some point, if South Florida doesn’t change its approach to navigating climate change, evacuation will be necessary. But by withdrawing from Miami too soon, we will lose a vibrant city that could have become a training ground for learning how to adapt to the planet’s future.”
In response, City of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, joined Fox News to desperately insist that Miami is as profitable as ever, and investors and developers shouldn’t fret about all this climate nonsense.
"Believe the private sector," he said. "They just grew Miami by 12 percent, which is the second-most growth in reported history, so they are themselves betting on the long-term future prospects of our city…”
A daydream on the 836 prompted me to wonder what if instead of rivers of metal vehicles and concrete, there was fresh water? What if the rich fled Miami, and the Everglades reclaimed herself and transformed the concrete to swamp? What if the high rises and skyscrapers that once represented the wealth built on the backs of our communities were expropriated for social housing and refuge for those who decided to stay?
In a city dominated by the ideas and structures that uphold property rights and capital above humanity, it’s difficult to access moments of radical imagination. To say, in spite of all that is up against us I believe that we deserve something different, and in order to preserve our dignity and protect the land we must continue dreaming and fighting.
As I recently heard someone say, “if it is necessary, then it must be possible.”