Solution Sessions

  • FIU staff and community members at solution session

Consistent with the whole FIU Commons for Justice approach, community engagement is designed to give “space” to community voices concerned with risk and resilience and not restricted solely to narratives but open to expressions through art, poetry, movement, and music. These efforts can be seen though the community storytelling events, the oral history collection and archiving, and the ongoing “solution sessions.”

Sessions

The “Solution Sessions” are designed to give local community leaders and FIU faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to come together in an open, safe, and supportive space to articulate and exchange findings, views, perspectives, and solution options.

On Friday, February 10, 2023, Lowman Consultants principal facilitator Imani Fredricks- Lowman, conducted the first pilot ‘Solution Session’ for Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative with thirteen actively engaged participants.

The purpose of FIU-CFJ is to “build a research-analysis-awareness-voice-solutions program to identify, illustrate, and address the deep racial and ethnic inequities in pre-event disaster exposures and vulnerabilities and in post-event resilience resources and capacities.” This, as well as subsequent ‘Solution Sessions’, are designed to give local community leaders and FIU faculty the opportunity to come together in “an open, safe, and supportive space to articulate and exchange findings, views, perspectives, and solution options.”

The goal of the Pilot ‘Solution Session’ was twofold:

  1. To understand the objective of FIU-CFJ ‘Solution Sessions.’
  2. To create a framework for future ‘Solutions Sessions.’

The facilitator designed interactive process to ultimately achieve the aforementioned goals.

On Friday, April 28th, 2023, Lowman Consultants principal facilitator Imani Fredricks-Lowman, conducted the first ‘Solution Session’ for Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative with ten participants who were all actively engaged.

The purpose of FIU-CFJ is to “build a research-analysis-awareness-voice-solutions program to identify, illustrate, and address the deep racial and ethnic inequities in pre-event disaster exposures and vulnerabilities and in post-event resilience resources and capacities.” This, as well as subsequent ‘Solution Sessions’, are designed to give local community leaders and FIU faculty the opportunity to come together in “an open, safe, and supportive space to articulate and exchange findings, views, perspectives, and solution options.”

The February 10th, 2023 Pilot Solution Sessions focused on three main themes: (1) Advocacy (2) Sustainability and (3) Agency. This session, therefore, aimed to explore collaborative advocacy and the resources needed for sustainability. The session was entitled, “Community Advocacy in a Polarized System.” The facilitator devised an interactive approach to engage participants in discussion on these topics.

On Friday, June 15th, 2023, Lowman Consultants principal facilitator Imani Fredricks-Lowman, conducted the second ‘Solution Session’ for Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative with 14 participants who were all actively engaged.

The purpose of FIU-CFJ is to “build a research-analysis-awareness-voice-solutions program to identify, illustrate, and address the deep racial and ethnic inequities in pre-event disaster exposures and vulnerabilities and in post-event resilience resources and capacities.” This, as well as subsequent ‘Solution Sessions’, are designed to give local community leaders and FIU faculty the opportunity to come together in “an open, safe, and supportive space to articulate and exchange findings, views, perspectives, and solution options.”

The April 28th, 2023 Solution Sessions focused on three main themes: (1) Moving from a competitive to collaborative mindset to foster sustainability (2) Preserving African-American history given the current political climate and (3) the recognition that sustainability requires strategies that involves the entire community. Hence, the objective of this session was to generate actionable ideas that promote the development of intentional intergenerational communities. This solution session was, therefore, entitled, “Building an Intentional Intergenerational community.”

On Friday, August 25th, 2023, Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, the principal facilitator at Lowman Consultants, hosted the third ‘Solution Session’ for the Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk, and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative. The session included 10 actively engaged participants.

The purpose of FIU-CFJ is to “build a research-analysis-awareness-voice-solutions program to identify, illustrate, and address the deep racial and ethnic inequities in pre-event disaster exposures and vulnerabilities and in post-event resilience resources and capacities.” This, as well as subsequent ‘Solution Sessions’, are designed to give local community leaders and FIU faculty the opportunity to come together in “an open, safe, and supportive space to articulate and exchange findings, views, perspectives, and solution options.”

The Solution Sessions held on June 15th, 2023, centered around three main themes:

  1. Building an intentional intergenerational community requires addressing the culture of

distrust among the diverse communities we serve.

  1. Ensuring the sustainability of the group’s efforts beyond the grant period involves

transitioning into a community of practice.

  1. Recognizing the importance of intergenerational work while staying mindful that

passing the baton is a two-way exchange, not a one-way transfer.

The goal of this solution session was to close the knowledge gap and develop practical ideas and plans to assist the community in addressing extreme heat challenges.

On September 20th, 2023, Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, the principal facilitator at Lowman Consultants, led the fourth ‘Solution Session’ as part of the Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk, and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative. This session brought together 8 actively engaged participants.

The primary objective of FIU-CFJ is to establish a comprehensive program focused on research, analysis, awareness, advocacy, and solutions to confront profound racial and ethnic disparities in pre-event disaster exposures and vulnerabilities, as well as post-event resilience resources and capacities. These sessions serve as platforms for local community leaders and FIU faculty to collaborate openly, safely, and supportively, sharing their findings, viewpoints, perspectives, and potential solutions.

The Solution Sessions, held on August 25th, 2023, revolved around two core themes:

  1. Understanding Extreme Heat: Delving into the scientific aspects of extreme heat, the

sessions explained the causes behind this phenomenon and explored its social implications, especially its impact on vulnerable communities.

  1. Diverse Responses to Extreme Heat: Recognizing that responses to extreme heat are influenced by factors like socio-economic status, geographical location (whether in the United States or abroad), and resource availability. What might be commonplace for one person could be a luxury or an impossibility for another.

The objective of this Solution Session was to further bridge the knowledge gap and formulate practical ideas and plans to support the community in addressing the challenges posed by extreme heat.

On October 27th, 2023, Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, the principal facilitator at Lowman Consultants, led the fifth ‘Solution Session’ as part of the Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk, and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative. This gathering included 11 actively participating individuals.

The core objective of FIU-CFJ is to establish a comprehensive program that delves into research, analysis, awareness-building, advocacy, and the implementation of solutions to address profound racial and ethnic disparities in both pre-disaster exposures and vulnerabilities, as well as post-disaster resilience resources and capacities.

These sessions offer a collaborative platform for local community leaders and FIU faculty to openly, securely, and supportively exchange their findings, perspectives, viewpoints, and potential solutions.

On December 15th, 2023, Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, the principal facilitator at Lowman Consultants, led the sixth ‘Solution Session’ as part of the Florida International University Commons for Justice Race, Risk, and Resilience (FIU-CFJ) initiative. This gathering included 10 actively participating individuals.

The primary objective of the FIU-CFJ initiative is to establish a comprehensive program encompassing research, analysis, awareness-building, advocacy, and the implementation of solutions. The focus is on addressing profound racial and ethnic disparities in pre-disaster exposures and vulnerabilities, as well as post-disaster resilience resources and capacities. These sessions offer a collaborative platform for local community leaders and FIU faculty to openly, securely, and supportively exchange their findings, perspectives, viewpoints, and potential solutions.

The Solution Sessions held on October 27th, 2023 (Solution Session #5), provided a comprehensive exploration of the preparations, challenges, and effective strategies employed both before and during a hurricane.

In the pre-hurricane phase, meticulous preparation was emphasized, involving the acquisition of essential supplies such as food, water, propane, first aid kits, flashlights, and batteries. Protective measures, including the installation of shutters and the clearing of yards from potential hazards, were implemented. Ensuring the functionality of generators, setting refrigerators to the highest settings, and freezing water bottles were vital steps.

Evacuation plans were carefully devised, encompassing destinations, gas acquisition, and important contact numbers. Portable chargers and the gathering of non-perishable items were highlighted. Practices such as cooking versatile foods, completing household chores, and ensuring cash availability were deemed crucial. Managing challenges like long gas lines and coordinating grocery store trips with family were also discussed. Additionally, addressing issues like price gouging and the unavailability of local shelters for vulnerable communities was brought to the forefront.

During the hurricane itself, the discussion covered both successes and challenges. Participants shared how they transformed crises into family events through storytelling and board games. Practical strategies included using a bucket of water for toilets and elevating belongings to prevent flooding. Boiling water for baths without electricity and utilizing sandbags for protection were effective measures. Participants minimized fridge openings and relied on radio updates for crucial information. Swift responses to challenges such as boredom, power outages, and home damage were highlighted.

Estimating outage durations and planning activities for both children and adults emerged as important strategies. Addressing issues like depleting food supplies, shower challenges, and gas odors was crucial. Coping mechanisms, such as having a charged phone and watching movies, were implemented. The community played a significant role in tackling emotional stress, safety concerns, and health issues through various initiatives.

Overall, the Solution Session provided a wealth of insights into comprehensive hurricane preparedness and effective strategies for both before and during the event.

On January 26th, 2024, Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, who is the principal at Lowman Consultants, hosted the seventh ‘Solution Session’ under the Race, Risk, and Resilience initiative by Florida International University Commons for Justice (FIU-CFJ). This event saw the participation of 10 individuals, comprising representatives from Florida International University and leaders from the community.

The primary goal of the Florida International University Commons for Justice (FIU-CFJ) is to create an extensive program focused on research, analysis, raising awareness, advocacy, and applying solutions. This program aims to tackle significant racial and ethnic inequalities that exist before disasters occur, as well as the disparities in resources and abilities to recover after disasters.

These sessions provide a cooperative space where local community leaders and FIU faculty can freely, safely, and constructively share their discoveries, insights, opinions, and possible solutions.

The Solution Sessions conducted on December 15th, 2023, centered on examining the impact of hurricanes, addressing community challenges and needs, and discussing important insights gained from these experiences.

The difficulties encountered by individuals and the community following hurricanes include:

• Insufficient preparations to support elderly residents, who frequently find themselves in poorly maintained buildings with unresponsive landlords. These individuals often struggle to obtain necessary food and medication.

• Economic inequalities worsen after hurricanes, as not everyone can afford to stock up on supplies or buy hurricane kits.

• The restoration of electricity is not prioritized in less affluent neighborhoods, which also face issues like looting, price gouging, and environmental pollution.

Community Needs:

• The community’s needs varied significantly due to the unique challenges posed by hurricanes, with recovery efforts affected by disparities created by municipal boundaries.

• There was a heavy dependence on spontaneous community action in the immediate aftermath of hurricanes, often due to a lack of faith in local government assistance, which was seen as more of an obstacle.

• Gentrification was identified as a critical issue, undermining community bonds essential for effective response and recovery, coupled with a post-COVID trend towards isolation and the absence of communal gathering spaces.

• The study of historic houses that survived hurricanes, along with the importance of soil quality, drainage systems, and the conservation of natural vegetation, was highlighted as key to understanding and improving community resilience.

Valuable Lessons:

• Identifying crucial strategies to enhance disaster readiness and response is essential. This includes creating communication checklists for small businesses and utilizing phone trees for streamlined information dissemination.

• Prioritizing proactive measures for the preparation of senior residence buildings is critical to effectively safeguarding vulnerable structures.

• Making flood warning systems more user-friendly and comprehensible is necessary, requiring clearer terminology to distinguish between advisories and warnings. This aims to boost public understanding and prompt appropriate action.

• Swift implementation of these measures is imperative to improve community preparedness and response to hurricanes, ensuring a well-informed and effective strategy for future events.

On March 22nd, 2024, Florida International University Commons for Justice (FIU-CFJ) conducted its eighth ‘Solution Session’ as part of the Race, Risk, and Resilience initiative. Dr. Imani Fredricks-Lowman, the principal consultant at Lowman Consultants, facilitated this event. The session was attended by 15 participants, including Florida International University representatives and community leaders.

The Florida International University Commons for Justice (FIU-CFJ) aims to establish a comprehensive program dedicated to research, analysis, awareness-raising, advocacy, and the implementation of solutions. This initiative targets the profound racial and ethnic inequalities present prior to disasters, along with the inequities in resources and recovery capabilities that persist afterward.

The sessions organized by FIU-CFJ offer a collaborative environment. Here, local community leaders and FIU faculty members can openly, securely, and productively exchange findings, insights, views, and potential solutions.

The seventh Solution Session, held on January 26th, 2024, aimed to highlight and enhance the roles and leadership of community members in Miami’s Climate Action Planning. This session, titled “Community Driven Action Planning: Hurricanes and Flooding,” emphasized the importance of tackling climate-related challenges, specifically hurricanes and flooding, through initiatives led by the community. The strategy for this session was to create practical action plans that reflect the visions, needs, and priorities of those involved in the CFJ-Collaboratory. During the discussion, various important aspects were brought up concerning the creation of specialized tools for addressing hurricanes and flooding. They are as follows:

1. WhatsApp Training for the Elderly: The importance of teaching elderly community members to use WhatsApp for communication was highlighted, recognizing its prevalence in multilingual communities for staying connected.

2. Supplies and Tax-Free Holidays: The group discussed the necessity of raising awareness about tax-free holidays for purchasing hurricane survival kits and coordinating with community leaders to distribute these supplies effectively.

3. Use of Local Historical Spaces as Shelters: Utilizing local historical buildings as shelters was proposed, given their structural resilience to hurricanes and the additional benefit of preserving these sites.

4. CERT Training: The importance of CERT as well as mental and mindfulness training for the community, especially the elderly and vulnerable groups, was emphasized to ensure mental preparedness before, during, and after hurricanes.

In the discussion several key points emerged regarding community lead policy changes. They were as follows:

1. Creating a Comprehensive Database: This high-hanging fruit involves developing a database to support elderly and special needs individuals during evacuations to ADA- accessible shelters, proposing a public-private partnership to leverage more vehicles for efficient evacuation.

2. Disaster Education Day: Identified as low-hanging fruit, this concept envisions a day dedicated to disaster education across school districts, where students of all ages could learn about hurricanes, flooding, and other disasters from experts and receive resources like first aid kits and informational pamphlets. This initiative aims to instill knowledge from an early age, leveraging local meteorologists and university experts to make learning engaging and informative.

3. Emergency Alert System Improvement: As a middle fruit, enhancing the clarity and understanding of emergency alerts was discussed to ensure that people know how to respond appropriately to different warnings. This includes incorporating this knowledge into the Disaster Education Day, enabling children to share critical information with their families.

4. Funding for Local Emergency Response Training: Another middle-hanging fruit, this idea focuses on allocating funds for local CERT-type teams and hurricane response training. The discussion highlighted the need for more accessible training locations and the potential for local governments to receive federal funding to support these initiatives.

Aim of Solution Session #8:

We will continue our discussion, focusing on the four actionable items identified for community and policy development. Our ultimate goal is to choose one of these four items and create a detailed plan to achieve the specified objective.

Thank you for your patience, more information coming soon

Thank you for your patience, more information coming soon