You and every Miamian has a story … how you got here, why you stay here, and what you want for the future. Life in Greater Miami is captured in these stories of the 2.6 million people who call this place home.

That’s what My Miami Story is all about: bringing Miamians together to connect around their experiences and the issues they care about, whether it’s making sure our kids get a good education, finding a safe, affordable place to live, or landing a job that’s close to home.

On October 18, we’re inviting 100 Miami-Dade County residents to kick off My Miami Story conversations by hosting their own. These small gatherings of 6-10 residents create a space to link up with friends, old and new, who feel the same way about this community (and maybe some who don’t) and to discover how we can, together, make Greater Miami a better place to live for everyone. Miamians can come together over breakfasts, mid-morning breaks, cafecito, dinner or any time throughout the day. We want to make sure all voices are heard.

There is already important work being done to improve Greater Miami’s quality of life. My Miami Story seeks to create a launch pad, allowing residents to talk about the issues and, more importantly, explore their role in solutions to them. That’s why the question “What’s your Miami story?” is intentionally left open-ended because your experiences will drive the conversations.

My Miami Story gets people talking about issues in the Our Miami Report. The biennial secondary-research report provides a community snapshot based on key quality of life issues shaping Greater Miami’s vitality: arts & culture, civic engagement, economy, education, environment & public spaces, health & safety, housing & affordability and transportation. It helps tell Miami’s story as a community, using information that shows how life compares to other major U.S. cities like New York, Chicago and Houston. The Miami Foundation worked with local advisors to find intersections among the issues, display important successes, challenges and opportunities, and offer a framework for solutions and action. On October 16, we invite you to see what we learned in 2016 at ourmiami.org.

To help get conversations going, hosts will receive some fact cards about Greater Miami based on the Report in their Host Toolkit. My Miami Story conversations help put the data into human context and shine a light on what daily life in Miami-Dade County truly feels like for the people who live here. By simplifying these issues and putting the information in the hands of residents, we can spark community solutions and, together, take action.

My Miami Story conversations are an opportunity for people around the table to discover how they can personally help shape the community they want to live in. They’re about sparking ideas and small actions for individuals to make a difference. Pairing the data in the Our Miami Report with the lived human experience makes it more relevant and impactful when presented to local decision makers addressing the issues.

Talking about how to make Greater Miami an even better place connects us to each other. No effort is too small and no idea too big. How you take these conversations as a spark and ignite change in Miami-Dade County is up to you. If you are interested in hosting a conversation, sign up at mymiamistory.org. We look forward to hearing your stories and, collectively, shaping the stronger Greater Miami we all want to call home.

Javier Alberto Soto is the former president and CEO of The Miami Foundation.

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