Imagine Miami Changemaker Conference II Placemaking at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus 7/18/09

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How Local Residents Can Create Better Parks, Beaches, Blocks and Other Public Spaces “Placemaking” is Focus of Upcoming Imagine Miami Changemaker Conference II

The second in a three-year series, the Imagine Miami Changemaker Conference II on July 18, 2009 focuses on the power of place. Local residents will learn how to create and sustain the public spaces that build community, from community gardens to family-friendly parks and city blocks. Presented by the Human Services Coalition (HSC), the event will be held in downtown Miami at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, in the Chapman Conference Center, from 9:30 am – 5:30 pm. To pre-register (deadline July 10), residents can go to www.imaginemiami.org or call (305) 576-5001.

“By bringing together more than 200 aspiring, emerging and seasoned community leaders from diverse backgrounds, including participants in HSC’s civic programs,” says Imagine Miami director Corinna Moebius, “we’ll cross-fertilize good ideas and practices and inspire people with real-life examples of how residents are transforming local places. We’ll also help people connect with each other and with specific opportunities.”

Participants will learn to use innovative place-related tools and approaches for advocacy, resident engagement and community development, including community mapping and GIS, asset mapping, and placemaking tools developed by Project for Public Spaces (PPS). PPS (pps.org) has worked in 2,000 communities in 26 countries around the world, helping people turn their public spaces into vital community places, with programs, uses, and people-friendly settings that build local value and serve community needs. Hands-on workshops will be led by Cynthia Nikitin of PPS (pps.org), Dwayne Marsh of PolicyLink (policylink.org), Delia Caderno of Partnership for Community Transformation and Jacqueline Sartan of the University of Miami. In the placemaking workshop, residents will break into groups and use the PPS Place Evaluation tool to evaluate specific sites in downtown Miami.

Conference attendees can win $500 for their local place-based project (like a community garden). Local groups have until July 1 to submit a one-page proposal to create/improve a local public space. During the conference, attendees will vote for one of ten semi-finalist proposals. The three finalists will have five minutes each to pitch their project during the conference, with additional time to answer questions from a panel of judges and conference attendees. Judges include Charles Auslander of The Children’s Trust, Kris Smith of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities, Cynthia Nikitin and Corinna Moebius.

Funded by The Children’s Trust and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the conference is designed to be family friendly. Eco-educational activities for kids will take place all day, led by Kiki Mutis (Director of the Community Science Workshop at Citizens for a Better South Florida) and environmental educator Sofie Geckler. Near the close of the conference, kids will share their own ideas for better neighborhoods with the rest of the attendees. Parents can bring children 5 and up for no extra cost, and up to 80 parents are eligible for a discounted $5 registration fee if they apply by July 3rd . The regular conference price is $25.

Other conference highlights include a keynote presentation by Cynthia Nikitin, a World Café dialogue on creating family-friendly neighborhoods, hands-on demonstrations of online mapping tools (e.g., policylink.org and the Children’s Trust’s KidsMap), exhibits showcasing local place-related projects, a video Story Booth (courtesy of WPBT’s uvuvideo.org), and a culminating drumming activity led by local artist/activist Lela Lombardo.

Following the conference, participants can continue their connection and collaboration with local changemakers via our “Community Cafes”: neighborhood-based dialogues led by local residents trained in community dialogue techniques. They can also connect via our online civic network (imaginemiami.ning.com), and continue building skills, awareness and connections via HSC’s advocacy and leadership programs and workshops.

About the Changemaker Conference Series
HSC launched its three-year series of Changemaker Conferences (two a year) in response to the success of its 2008 Imagine Miami Summit on Arts, Culture & Civic Engagement, which South Florida residents described as uplifting, connecting, energizing and transformative. The series is part of HSC’s broader strategy to cultivate networks of trust (social capital) and increase residents’ capacity to be catalysts for participatory, community change. They are also an important vehicle for connecting the emerging leaders participating in HSC’s civic programs, including Public Allies Miami-Dade, Parent Leadership Training Institute (PLTI), Advocacy Corps Training (ACT), Neighborhood Leadership Program, Creative Impact and Imagine Miami. Through the civic programs of HSC, single parents, minority youth, immigrants, low-income residents and others have become leaders in their communities.

The conferences build upon each other, and each increases awareness and knowledge of particular techniques, success stories and opportunities. The first conference (April 4, 2009) focused on asset-based approaches (leveraging community strengths); storytelling for social impact; and community dialogue techniques. By 2011, we expect at least 1,000 local residents to become champions for civic engagement and community involvement in South Florida.

A committee of hard-working and dedicated volunteers, interns and contributing HSC staff has been meeting weekly to help Imagine Miami director Corinna Moebius plan the conference. Core volunteers include Sam Van Leer of Urban Paradise Guild, Linda McGlathery of the Garden Project, Harold Silva of Miami Dade College, Roger Horne of Belafonte TACOLCY youth center, Brad Knoefler of the Omni/Park West Redevelopment Association and Luz Agudelo, an HSC Public Ally who works with Little Havana residents. Interns include Alexandra Torres and Julia Atkinson.

In-kind support is provided by Miami Dade College and uVu (www.uvuvideo.org, the community video project of local public TV station WPBT).

About the Human Services Coalition (HSC) and Imagine Miami
Founded in 1995, the Human Services Coalition (HSC) identifies and launches innovative strategies to help people and communities thrive. HSC works through a network of partner organizations, linking people with financial education, healthcare information, public benefits and educational and economic opportunities. HSC’s programs promote economic self- sufficiency, participation in civic life and respect across many divides.

HSC inspires people to get involved and prepares them to step up to leadership roles that lead to long-term community transformation. As we learn to live and work together, we find common purpose and build a more just and inclusive society.

The Imagine Miami (IM) initiative was founded by HSC President and CEO Daniella Levine, and has grown into a “civic network” of local changemakers. IM connects people through the Changemaker conferences and other workshops, its online civic network (imaginemiami.ning.com), and special guides to local resources (see www.imaginemiami.org).

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