I Am MIA Street Festival: Twister, Dance, and Art Reimagine Miami's Public Spaces

A park in downtown Miami is going to get a much-needed shot in the arm with the I am MIA: Miami in Action Public Space Festival. The festival, kicking off today, aims not only to bring life back to a neglected park, but also to bring inspiration and an activist spirit to all who attend.

Melissa Hunsberger, the Community Outreach Lead with I am MIA, said that I am MIA's event came about through a partnership between several organizations, including the U.S. Green Building Council's South Florida Chapter and the Miami chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

"They got together along with a number of other organizations and entered the Miami Foundation's Public Space Challenge, which is all about ways to improve and activate public spaces in the greater Miami area," she said.

Hunsberger said that the the goal of the partnership was to activate the park west of Downtown Miami's Stephen P. Clark Government Center. After winning the grant, the organizations developed their idea even further. "The idea developed into [activating] that space and show other people how they can then go back and activate a park that might be in their neighborhood," she said. "It's about...inspiring residents and...employees of the county that are there and then connecting them with tools and resources [to activate] a public space near them."

IamMIA from Paradise Key on Vimeo.

Like at any festival, there will be tons of activities and things to eat. "There will be food trucks, there will be an athletic field for people to engage in that kind of activity and there will also be these temporary installations," said Hunsberger. "There will be a grafitti wall [and] a living wall made of plants[.]"

But this festival also hopes to people to give back to their communities with their time and inventiveness.

"[P]eople can really get an idea of ways they can go back to their neighborhood or to a public space that they like and activate it. They will really be able to see the idea in action and we will be connecting them with like-minded people who want to do the same thing and also to the resources and tools to make it happen."

Some of the resources include information on necessary permits and fees, tips on filling out proper paperwork and other ways to implement their ideas. Also, at each installation, there will be commitment cards on which event-goers can check off which of the projects they're interested in. Or, if they are really creative, they can write in their own. The cards will be collected and entered into a database around which committees will be formed.

The installations and games I am MIA plan on implementing also show their goal of bringing the community together, what with Twister games or a life-sized version of chess, story time with the main branch of Miami-Dade Public Library, signage that encourages guests to tour downtown Miami, dance lessons and an athletic field ready for kids or classes to have fun with sports and sustain healthy lifestyles.

The purpose of the event is to inspire community pride and activism, and while many could be inspired to think of new ideas and neighborhood projects, not everyone will be ready to start beating the pavement towards creating new initiatives. Even still, Hunsberger believes that one of the festival's goals--to prime people's minds to think more communally--will be met.

"Even if people come to this and they don't go back and implement any of these ideas, I think the first step is to plant seeds," she said. "If someone has the idea, then they start to talk about it with their friends and colleagues and they start to make connections and then go and take action. So it's inspire, connect and then empower people to take action. That's our goal for this particular festival."

If you're interested in getting some ideas to take back to your neighborhood, come to the festival, which is taking place at the park near the Stephen P. Clark Community Center (along NW 2nd Ave. between NW 1st St. and 3rd St.) at 11 a.m. The free event lasts until 7 p.m. Visit facebook.com/miamiinaction.

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