Catalyst Miami is a community organization intent on identifying and launching innovative community building strategies. Its mission is to develop and support individual leadership and strong organizations that work together to improve health, education, and economic opportunity in the local community. The organization connects low-income families to preventative healthcare options and basic needs services, and provides financial services like free tax preparation, credit building, and saving. Through their CATALYZE programs, Catalyst Miami works collaboratively with partner organizations to activate networks and coalitions for change. They also teach people how to be advocates and leaders in their communities through trainings and practice opportunities for youth and adults in advocacy and public policy.
Low-income communities are being hit hard by Miami’s changing climate, particularly by storms, flooding, and extreme heat. Residents face regular flooding and often have to wade through puddles to get to work. In response to these challenges, Catalyst Miami offers a course that builds community capacity to participate in climate planning processes.
The course provides an overview of the effects of climate change in Miami—the impacts of which are already evident—where sea levels are projected to rise 15 inches by 2045. Miami-Dade County currently experiences about six high-tide flood events every year, and this number could increase to 380 in the next 30 years. The region faces not only sea level rise and storm surge, but also sunny-day flooding due to the porous bedrock on which it sits. Saltwater intrusion into the county’s Biscayne aquifer is impacting the agriculture industry and threatening the livelihoods of small farmers.
Additionally, the course reviews adaptation strategies from around the country, and offers public speaking training for residents to prepare them to effectively communicate with public officials. Participants also learn community asset mapping, focused on identifying the existing characteristics of their neighborhoods that could build climate resilience. This course allows Miami residents to understand climate challenges affecting their communities directly, and participate in decision-making for a more sustainable future.