The environmental keystone of the South Florida ecosystem, the Everglades, remains the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States, and a landscape of almost mystical power. "Grassy Waters," the Seminole first called it; "River of Grass," the Anglos later said.
Now under attack on many fronts -- and greatly shrunk from its original expanse -- Everglades preservation rests in the hands of environmentally aware citizens. Late this month, if the planners of Love the Everglades succeed, a broad network of activists, artists and academics will gather to celebrate the great landmark and foster unified action on its behalf.
The brainchild of Houston Cypress, a spiritually oriented, multi-media threat, and Jean Sarmiento, an artist and filmmaker, LTE's Summer Symposium 2014 will include a day of presentations, workshops and airboat tours at the Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center and a day of planning future action, at Florida International University's Modest A. Maidique Campus.
"There's so much fragmentation among Everglades advocacy groups." Cypress told New Times. "We're trying to bring people together under a common umbrella. Also understanding that everyone has their own priorities. There's places where we'll disagree but also places where we'll find common ground. We're all about cultivating community concern with Everglades matters."
While the Miccosukee Tribe is hosting day one of the gathering, and have a strong interest in Everglades preservation, the Symposium is not officially a Tribe effort. "We listen to what they say and we put that forward," Cypress said. "But they don't have anything to do with our decision making or planning. We're just respectful of what they say."
LTE's outreach is broad enough to include the Artopia Art Center, the Christian Cultural Development Fund, the Medicine Signs Spiritual Center, Sierra Club of Broward, the South Florida Audubon Society, the Everglades Law Center and the Virginia Key Grassroots Festival -- though Cypress doesn't promise everyone of those groups will participate in the Symposium.
He does promise the gathering will be fun, as in the airboat excursions, and enlightening. "The Everglades is a place of healing," he said. "There's fun to be had out here and healing to be had. There's awakening to be had. We want to share that vision."
Love the Everglades: Summer Symposium 2014 Saturday, July 26 - Sunday, July 27 Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center; FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus FREE Details here
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact Fire.Ant@BrowardPalmBeach.com.
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