In opening remarks to a group assembled for a capital absorption workshop at the Beacon Council on July 11, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava proclaimed, “When we do this right, we will not only have solved transportation problems, but will also have built economic opportunity—and will have done it in a way that addresses resilience challenges in Miami-Dade County.”
Facilitated by the Center for Community Investment and coordinated by local leaders Gretchen Beesing of Catalyst Miami and Shekeria Brown of the South Florida Community Development Coalition, the workshop brought together a cross-sector group of Miami-Dade County leaders to consider how to move forward with the Strategic Miami Area Rapid Transit Plan (SMART) in a way that aligns with their community priorities.
This workshop followed on previous work by a smaller group of Miami leaders who participated in CCI’s 12-team capital absorption workshop in Las Vegas last November. In Las Vegas, members of the group agreed that the SMART Plan implementation was an ideal opportunity to not only build a transit system that works for everyone in the community, but to do so in a way that helps mitigate the effects of climate change and helps people with low incomes access opportunities.
Participants in the July 11 meeting included representatives from the city and county, philanthropy, nonprofit, and private sector—stakeholders that don’t often gather to solve problems, even though they work on overlapping issues in the same geography. It was the ideal setting for the group to think, “not about what has been done, but about what we can imagine can be done,” as expressed by Levine Cava.
To kick off the workshop, Center Executive Director Robin Hacke reminded participants that to achieve different results than what we typically see—results that truly reflect the values of the communities in which we live—we must organize ourselves differently. She encouraged participants to reflect on what it would take to break away from the path of least resistance and to see themselves in the community investment system.
After engaging in a series of exercises to define community priorities, discuss a series of developments in the pipeline, and map the enabling environment, many walked away energized. Having built new relationships, the group identified a set of next steps to continue work on access to transit alongside economic development.
Capital absorption workshops are designed to help individuals and institutions working on complex issues dealing with investments in the community examine the components of a community investment system that are often challenging to see and identify. To learn more about what capital absorption workshops look like, take a look at this video of a past event in Austin, TX.