In mid-November 2013, community members from various parts of Miami Beach and Miami joined in on a large scale participatory art piece spanning several Miami neighborhoods. The mission at hand: to draw the projected sea level rise line, using a soccer-field chalker, along the streets of each respective community.
This demonstration project was HighWaterLine|Miami, and it proved to be a powerful tool for helping individuals visualize what the impact of sea level rise could be as climate change accelerates.
The HighWaterLine project's impact, however, did not end there; it also proved to be an invaluable tool for community building and creating new connections among diverse individuals and organizations.
As the chalking was happening, curious residents, business owners and passersby stopped to ask what was happening. Each time, the person chalking also stopped to engage in the conversation and explain the premise of the project. Reactions ranged from astonishment, to disbelief, to support, to even more curiosity. In Miami Beach questioners often did a double take as they were shown how flooding will predominately come not from ocean side, as one would expect, but from the bay side.
In Miami, reactions were mixed as communities members came to terms with what we were showing them through a simple chalk line. "So my neighborhood, my home, is pretty much gone," was a response echoed several times over throughout each community.
Indeed, many homes and neighborhoods are in danger, but the goal of the HighWaterLine project is not to incite fear or panic, but rather to inform communities of what is already happening and empower them to take the necessary steps to respond and overcome to those threats. After all, many of Miami's communities have been built by tremendously resilient people that have overcome incredible challenges to build a life in this city and country.
The HighWaterLine project, and Resilient Miami moving forward, seek to amplify that inherent strength already present in our communities in order to continue building a strong, vibrant, livable and resilient city.
Anneliese Morales, a community leader in Little Havana had this to share:
“The HighWaterLine project made me realize how important more environmental education, particularly awareness about sea level rise, is to the communities I work with. Though this initiative, we are talking more about the issue and teaching folks how to cope, instead of panic. Moving forward, we have realized different ways we have to inspire simple changes in our neighborhood one day at a time, with better results overall for the future.”
To stay informed of what we are doing, and learn how you can help, please connect with Resilient Miami here.