Ask any real Miamian what words come to their mind when they think of their city, and most would say: community, culture, diversity.
Out of all the things I love about Miami, the people that live here are my favorite.
As a journalist in Miami, I get to see first hand the foundation of how the city is structured, based on dreams, goals and ambition. When I look into the eyes of the people I interview, when I listen on end to them rave about how they’re creating a new initiative for Miami community, how they are opening up their doughnut shop, or how an event or resource may be ending because of lack of funds, sonically, I’m front row and center at the way Miami will look in the future.
It’s no wonder that when I reached that place in my life when I had to decide what my writing beat was going to be, Miami community ranked number one on the top of my list. Since then, I’ve paved my career writing about the alternative side of Miami and the locals who are cultivating the new, refreshing and most times, uncharted way.
There is something about community and people, who are often unrelated by blood, working together for the greater good of the collective, occasionally without any direct or personal benefit. The phenomenon of community or what I consider the most amazing part of it is the ability for people to work together, putting aside race, politics, gender, and socioeconomic status, in an effort to elevate each other and create a better sense of life for one another. In a mortal setting these worldly social notions could create a division or separation, but the beauty of community is that in many cases, reservations of who people may be, how they choose to pray, or who they choose to love are suspended and for the time being humans relate on a deeper universal level.
Lately Miami has been experiencing rapid changes affecting everything we grew up to identify with. With all this exciting development happening everywhere you look, it is important to remember that some of the changes can come as a threat to our innate local individuality, and in the worst cases at a cost to the most vulnerable members of communities. I hold Miami people and their journeys close to my heart and want to invite everyone to become inspired by the stories of amazing locals and support their work to keep Miami uniquely local. After all, the foundation of community is our unity and this is what keeps me going.
Photo: @PopPhotography for Miami New Times
Christian Portilla is the writer behind roamfreewrites.com. She’s been documenting Community, Culture and Lifestyle in Miami and began her career with the Miami Herald. Programs like Big Night in Little Haiti were continued because of her articles and she continues to spotlight community cultivators with her bi-monthly podcast project #MeetThemMondays. Follow her @RoamFreeWrites on Instagram and Twitter and to collaborate with her you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org