If you’re a regular Beached Miami reader, then you know about Emerge Miami and all the good work they do to make our hometown a better, more bicycle-y place. This weeks marks the group’s fifth anniversary, and, in signature Emerge style, they are celebrating by hosting a really fun group bike ride (details, link below). To mark the occasion, I asked Emerge member Adam Schachner to contribute a post commemorating the group’s half decade of local activism. Cue Adam:
There’s no subtle indication that Miami is a culturally and ideologically fractious city. Miami’s communities vary as significantly as our landscapes, from club culture on our globally iconic neon Deco-ized beach, to our sprawling suburban enclaves of the western-most swamps along the Urban Development Lines. The encouraging challenge and bittersweet bane to an eager South Floridian activist is to see these gaps in communities, interests, and possibilities combined into a cohesive effort that proclaims: “This is Miami. Love it.”
So here’s Emerge Miami: a collection of activists, professionals, organizations, and all-around savvy Miamians claiming diverse heritages from the spectrum of municipalities and progressive endeavors. You may have seen them at Hands Across the Sand, professing solidarity against offshore oil drilling on Miami’s behalf. Or maybe you had to wait a few minutes at a US-1 stoplight while they crossed the intersection, leading a small legion of bicyclists clad in homemade superhero costumes in order to promote after school reading programs with local non-profit ComicEd. You may have even seen the photos from Emerge and Beached Miami’s collaboration for the first-ever Miami Bike Hunt, in which riders covered South Beach in a scavenger search, following a list of absurd and distinctly Miamian challenges.
Enthusiastically closing the schism between activism and entertainment, Emerge Miami works towards building a network of progressive initiatives, maintaining its open-mindedness and devotion to community-building all under its founding banner: “Organizing Chaos Since 2005”. In that year, a small cadre teamed up with the freshly-opened Sweat Records to screen The Corporation, a provocative documentary and commentary on industry and human rights abuse. Since then, Emerge has regularly hosted workshops, bike rides, and networking activities to bring Miami’s progressive initiatives together.
Emerge stands by its name by championing “emergent behavior”. Founded on the premise that ideas and voices can be heard while independent of a core organizational hierarchy, Emerge functions with no board of directors or institutional management, and sustains itself on a minimal budget supplemented by donations, volunteerism, and general good will. The group is unincorporated, progressing purely by the combined interests of those who are available to participate in each of its numerous projects.
Observers of any Emerge meeting (held every Tuesday night at Sweat Records) will quickly get both the group’s gist and an insight into what makes the formula work so well. Levity and occasional juvenile humor pervade a tight schedule of reviews, upcoming event plans, and whimsical ponderings on how to cultivate Miami’s emergent potential. New participants and their ideas are always welcome. The camaraderie and productivity intertwine consistently, from preamble and socialization before the meetings start, to dinner on the town after the meeting wraps. All of this demonstrates one of Emerge’s primary tenets: All participants are friends before activists and organizers.
With five years behind us, you might be wondering what is next for Emerge. Well, after half a decade of fun-filled bicycle activism, we think its time for a major celebration. On Saturday, we’re hosting our second annual Sweet Treats Ride, which will feature the best taste bud tourism Miami has to offer, because our ongoing effort to facilitate a community of activism, group organizing, and creative frivolousness is best celebrated with an ice cream cone in one hand and a bike helmet in the other. For full event details, head over to our Facebook page.
In the longer term, Emerge’s future depends a lot on YOUR vision of an emergent Miami. As always, we will be here to help make it a reality.