Since the first settlers sank a boot into the swampy expanse of Florida's Everglades, the area has been under near-constant threat from environmental issues. These days, under the not-so-watchful eye of Florida's governor, the assault continues. From lowered water standards being legally challenged by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, to aerial spraying of harmful chemicals to combat Zika, to the blue-green algae overtaking many of the state's bodies of water, Rick Scott's tenure as our governor has resulted in multiple environmental catastrophes for the Sunshine State.
It's to be expected from an administration that does somersaults through flaming hoops to avoid using the words "climate change." But where government fails to protect the state's fragile ecosystems, there is no shortage of concerned citizens eager to step in and do what they can.
Enter activists such as C.D. Flash, one of the coordinators of the ninth-annual Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert, returning to Gramps this Sunday. The eco-minded shindig will be hosted by Ploppy Palace Productions and Love the Everglades Movement and will feature performances by Spam Allstars, the Baboons, the Medicine Box, and many others. Admission proceeds will go toward funding for the Love the Everglades Movement's ongoing projects.
Asked for an example of one of those projects, Flash points to something called Biodiversity Brings Life, which was "submitted to the City of Miami Beach as a prototype for taking out invasive species in public spaces, adding native plants, and utilizing more diversity with different species." The project was initially rejected by the city but was up for reconsideration September 14.
The Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert is one example of Love the Everglades Movement's continued efforts to include the larger Miami community in its fight to protect the state's most precious resources. "We really try to bring the community together through these different events and provide the means for direct interaction," Flash says.
"Before each of the bands go on, we'll have speakers so people will meet some of the people in the community who are doing the work." Some of the guest speakers include state Rep. David Richardson and South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.
On the artistic side, "we're aiming for positive artists that have good music," Flash says. "We're not necessarily saying that they all have to have environmental songs — they just have to have that positive vibe." Aside from showcasing music, the benefit concert will also feature poets, dancers, live painting, and other entertainment. "It's really multimedia," Flash explains.
Love the Everglades Movement organizers are also striving to make the event more family-friendly this year, keeping in mind those who are years away from legal beer-drinking. So this year's concert will have a kids' activity zone and free admission for those budding environmentalists under the age of 12.
Adults pay only $10, which, Flash says, is very generous considering what that money buys. "Ten dollars for an 11-hour show is a pretty good deal, especially with three stages and 30 different acts going on. It's a nice mix of some really creative people doing something that is for the environment and using that as a beacon to build up discussion and build up more awareness of the Everglades."
And that's important whether you realize it or not. Flash offers a reminder that neglecting the health of the Everglades can result in neglecting the health of the people in our community. "A lot of people don't consider that it is our water supply and it is threatened and it is having policy issues affect it, such as the blue-green algae, the threat of fracking, and dealing with the notion of saltwater intrusion and sea-level rise. It's all tied together."
In the shadow of environmental and public policy disasters such as Flint, Michigan, these are reminders South Florida can't afford not to heed.
Ninth-Annual Everglades Awareness Benefit Concert. 2 p.m. Sunday, September 18, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Tickets cost $10 at the door.