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Plus, how you can get involved.
The New Tropic

🎥 Meet the Miami filmmakers imagining ways to Save the Bay

Plus, how you can get involved.

By Zach Schlein

Welcome to Wednesday.

Today’s newsletter looks a bit different, but for good reason: The New Tropic has teamed up with Oolite Arts for a look at how Miami creatives are doing their part to keep Biscayne Bay pristine.

Luckily, you, our dear readers, can also help in nursing our beloved bay back to health. Wondering how? Wonder no more...

🗣 What Miami artists are saying about saving Biscayne Bay

Meet five of the filmmakers participating in Oolite Arts’ Save the Bay initiative. | Want to see your own picture in this space? Tag either #thenewtropic or @thenewtropic to be featured in our Instagram of the Day. (📸: Courtesy photos) 

📽 Cinema carries a transformative quality unlike any other artistic medium. Although it may go underappreciated in our age of constant saturation and infinite content, film’s capacity to immerse viewers in perspectives other than their own is massive, carrying the potential of leaving audiences with not only lasting impressions, but new insight, understanding, and empathy about the world they inhabit.

That’s why Oolite Arts recruited some of Miami’s best and brightest creative minds for Save the Bay, a video campaign dedicated to raising awareness of how locals can help preserve Biscayne Bay. Last week, the org staged a YouTube Live broadcast spotlighting PSAs by Shireen Rahimi, Milly Cohen, Helen Peña, Jayme Gershen, Alexa Caravia, and others on ways Miamians can do better by our troubled natural wonder.

Although it’s important to watch these PSAs and gain new perspectives on protecting Biscayne Bay, Oolite Arts is now inviting viewers to weigh in themselves: Now through Wednesday, August 11, you can rewatch these shorts (scroll to the bottom of 👉 this page) and vote for your favorite. The winner will be announced on Friday, August 13, when they'll receive an honorary People’s Choice Award along with a $1,000 prize.

In honor of Save the Bay, Biscayne Bay itself, and the power of cinema, The New Tropic spoke with five of the filmmakers involved with the initiative. Their answers probe deep into the social responsibility of art, what it means to live alongside fragile ecosystems like Biscayne Bay, and the intertwined fate of Miamians and our natural resources. If you enjoy the selected snippets below, you can read the full Q&As and learn more about Oolite Arts’ Save the Bay campaign at The New Tropic website

The New Tropic: What’s your personal connection to Biscayne Bay? Do you have any personal formative memories that took place there?

Shireen Rahimi: I live in Miami, so my life revolves around the bay. I go kayaking in the bay; I go running by the bay; I SCUBA dive in Biscayne Bay National Park; I drive over the bay with my windows rolled down, blasting Afrobeat and watching the sunset behind the Miami skyline, awed by this beautiful city and the underwater ecosystems managing to survive at its shores. The bay is one of the many natural environments that cradle metropolitan Miami, supporting its infrastructure and the livelihoods of all of us who live here. I am grateful for the bay and all of the beings living with it.

What can you share with us about your PSA? What were the driving concepts or ideas that informed it?

Jayme Gershen: For my PSA, Captain BayWatch, I wanted to make a PSA that was as inclusive as possible. The bay’s issues ultimately affect all of us, and I wanted the short to reach tourists and locals alike. Captain BayWatch, played by Jeano Michel, is such an excellent character for that purpose (in my humble opinion). He’s charming and fun, speaks English, Spanish, and Creole, and gives our audience clear, actionable steps that they can do. 

I was inspired by American Airlines’ in-flight safety video where the flight attendant walks through a warehouse with mirrors, crew members, flight props, etc. It’s really creative and engaging. I wanted to make a PSA that was playful and memorable in that way while also letting its seams show. We made props out of recycled materials, showing the hands that brought the props into frame, the c-stands holding up the giant photo of the mangroves, etc. I mixed that idea with a Don LaFontaine-style voiceover (“In a world…”), in order to keep the PSA engaging and fast-paced while still incorporating a bunch of information.

How do you think art can help inspire folks and shape conversations around pressing issues like climate change?

Alexa Caravia: At best, I think art encourages us to empathize with one another. It has the power to bridge gaps and connect us more deeply to each other and the world around us. From there, a space for conversation is created. In my PSA, I wanted the viewer to see that life underwater is sustained similarly to life above water. Just like us, marine creatures need food and oxygen to survive. And I wanted to show that we’re directly connected to their supply. It’s a crucial and powerful responsibility. 

When it comes to environmental issues that require our immediate attention like climate change, I think the most important thing to remember is that we can’t shame people into action. Instead, we can use our tools as filmmakers to build awareness, engage, educate and offer solutions. But most importantly, we need to lead by example in real life. Take a walk with a friend, pick up a stranger’s dog’s poop, and take one for the bay; you might just encourage them to do the same.

What do you hope viewers take away from your PSA or how they might be inspired by it?

Helen Peña: Capitalism is the most life-threatening disease on the planet. 

After June Jordan, “we are the ones we have been waiting for.” After Fanon, “every spectator is a coward or a traitor.” Injustice is happening here, there, and all around us. We have to be active participants in shaping the world we want to see. No one is coming to save or rescue us. It’s up to us to rebel against capitalism and protect life, for the sake of us all.

Whether in the short or long term, what are the most immediate steps people can take to help Save the Bay?

Milly Cohen: It’s important to keep in mind that all things that happen on land eventually end up in the water. So we need to immediately stop polluting the land and leaving harmful things like fertilizer and dog poo lying around. 

I recommend looking into the Biscayne Bay Task Force and their accompanying recovery plan. They are the leading team tackling the recovery of the Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County, and their initiative lays out the solutions for water quality, governance, infrastructure, habitat restoration, marine debris, education and outreach, plus funding that is all required for a long-term plan to restore Biscayne Bay.

Whether in the short or long term, what are the most immediate steps people can take to help Save the Bay?

Milly Cohen: It’s important to keep in mind that all things that happen on land eventually end up in the water. So we need to immediately stop polluting the land and leaving harmful things like fertilizer and dog poo lying around. 

I recommend looking into the Biscayne Bay Task Force and their accompanying recovery plan. They are the leading team tackling the recovery of the Biscayne Bay in Miami-Dade County, and their initiative lays out the solutions for water quality, governance, infrastructure, habitat restoration, marine debris, education and outreach, plus funding that is all required for a long-term plan to restore Biscayne Bay.

Promotion from Miami Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs

SMDCAC's New Season is Swinging!

Get your tickets today

🎨 Join the club and take an intimate art tour

Take a closer look at the late Asif Farooq's installation during an exclusive Club New Tropic tour of the art exhibit “Where there is power”. (📸: Image by Pedro Wassan, installation courtesy of Asif Farooq's estate and studio.)

Meet the members of Club New Tropic during a complimentary private tour of Oolite Arts’ new summer exhibit, “Where there is power,” this Sunday, August 8, from 1-2 p.m.

The tour will be led by the exhibit’s curators, Réne Morales, chief curator at Pérez Art Museum Miami, and Amanda Bradley, programs manager at Oolite Arts.

This is the first in a series of IRL perks just for our supporting members. Not a member yet? Join Club New Tropic today to get that warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with supporting local journalism plus more exclusive perks!

Today

💻 Talk tech with Miami Hack Week and Rapyd during a #miamitech happy hour at The Freehold to network with the top developers, entrepreneurs, and investors in the 305 (Wynwood)

🎨 Join Locust Projects in-person or on Instagram Live for an intimate conversation about sugar between artist Victoria Ravelo and the esteemed Dr. Marvin Dunn, moderated by Darwin Rodriguez (Miami Design District)

Tomorrow

💃 Enjoy the eclectic musical selections of artist, DJ, and serial record label founder Mike Simonetti alongside Miami's own Jonny From Space and DJ Ray (Downtown)

Friday

🇨🇺 Listen to a panel discussing the intersection of art and activism in Cuba vis-à-vis the San Isidro and 27N movements(Online)

🎭 Get real with bold comedienne and dance theater artist Sara Juli as she delves into the comedy and tragedy of a failing marriage — catch the Friday show, one of the two Saturday performances, or the Sunday finale (Cutler Bay)

😀 Take a break from the summer heat and enjoy some stage magic with Miami Theatre Work during their production of the cheekily named "[title of show]"(Coral Gables)

Sunday

🎧 Grab your headphones, brew up some calming tea, and tune in to a relaxing sound meditation experience (Online)

Monday

🖥 Learn about web development for free during this intensive lab that combines tech savvy with life and career readiness skills(Opa-locka)

☝️ One more thing… 

In case you're not convinced and could use yet another reason to protect Biscayne Bay, check out this in-depth Miami Herald article about a team of UM researchers who discovered that a stretch of the bay may be an essential nursery for hammerhead sharks. Marine science and preserving endangered species; this stuff speaks for itself, folks.

Besos,

Zach at The New Tropic

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