ADRIANNE GONZALEZ, WLRN

Connect Miami founders: Roberta Shevin (MCCJ), Nancy Ancrum (Miami Herald), Stephanie Sylvestre (The Children’s Trust), Rebecca Mandelman and Matthew Beatty (The Miami Foundation), and Claudia Grillo and Tammy Klingler (United Way of Miami-Dade)

Just one walk down the streets of Little Haiti, and you can experience the deep rooted Caribbean culture through galleries, family-owned stores and restaurants. Calle Ocho is no different, allowing  both Miami residents and visitors to experience the Cuban culture through hand-rolled cigars, boutiques, and cafecitos. These are only two of the many cultures in Miami, and still,  some residents feel that there’s not enough connection -or conversation- between the many communities in the city.

Connect Miami wants to change  this  by inviting Miami’s diverse communities to immerse themselves in each other’s cultural landscape.

“We noticed an anecdotal plea from the community. There seemed to a toxic atmosphere causing an inability to listen to other people’s opinions.” said Nancy Ancrum, Miami Herald’s Editorial Board Editor and partner with Connect Miami.

Seven individuals, throughout five independent organizations, all noticed this separation in culture throughout Miami-Dade County. Roberta Shevin (MCCJ), Nancy Ancrum (Miami Herald), Stephanie Sylvestre (The Children’s Trust), Rebecca Mandelman and Matthew Beatty (The Miami Foundation), and Claudia Grillo and Tammy Klingler (United Way of Miami-Dade), gathered and designed a plan to kick start their initiative. It begins with the 10-Days of Connection Challenge.

“I believe this event will allow people to take a risk, be bold, and reach out to someone who may be different from themselves.” said Ancrum.

The 10-Days of Connection Challenge runs ten consecutive days, from May 22nd  tuntil May 31st, with over 40 events challenging Miami residents to step outside their comfort zone.

Events such as “Connect to Dance” and “Connect over Affordable Housing and Video Games!” are just a taste of the wide-range of activities and conversation this challenge will bring to participants.

Locations for each event are distributed throughout iconic landmarks in Miami, each with its own history and personality. Connect Miami is also supporting Miami residents to host events themselves, allowing their mission to keep moving forward.

“Stereotypes create an image and expectation in social interaction, but if you take the time to sit and talk to someone, you can see their journey.” said Roberta Shevin, Executive Director of MCCJ (formerly Miami Coalition of Christians and Jews), and one of the Connect Miami founders.

To see the full schedule of events, click here.

To be reminded of upcoming events, follow Connect Miami on Instagram here.

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