(SFGN, 7/2/17)

It has been a while since I have written about “community”, my overarching theme for this year. In this column, I will refresh memories of where we have been, and show where we will be headed over the remainder of 2017.

The New Year brought a new regime into power nationally. Because of that, I argued that whatever side of the political spectrum you were on (if any), the notion of community would have great salience for you this year and in the future.

If anything, events of the last six months have indicated the correctness of this assessment, even more than I was expecting. “At-risk” groups – including the LGBTQ+ community – have become more unsettled with each executive order, Congressional vote, and court decision. On the other hand, those who support the new direction – including a significant cohort in the LGBTQ+ community – are, given the polling data, relatively satisfied.

I continue to argue that an enhanced, systematic and intelligent community-building process here in South Florida is one way to turn the current situation to its greatest advantage, for everyone.

At present, though, the number of “community cores” found here in South Florida is vanishingly small. This state was founded on cheap energy and the automobile. Yet as I have shown in the previous columns, we can work with what we have. And where the underlying structure does not exist, we in the LGBTQ+ community are uniquely qualified to begin the process of envisioning and creating it.

As we move into the second half of the year, it will be time for me to update my Broward’s Real Estate Yearbook for 2017 (the past two issues can be found at issuu.com/JamesOaksun/docs). The analytical process will, in part, focus on the core communities (or potential communities) that I identified earlier.

In the second phase, and building on the work in my “Fabulous? Or Basic?” column from the real estate issue, I will extend the process into both Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. To build and expand community, we must be willing to think outside the box a little bit, and consider opportunities elsewhere in South Florida.

And as we create and expand these communities, we have an opportunity to use them to mitigate other societal challenges like traffic, water usage, and carbon emission, as well as experiment with new forms of governance. But as the National Association of Realtors preamble states in its first sentence: “Under all is the land.” So that is where it must begin.

Just a couple weeks ago, I joined with many of you in celebrating Stonewall Pride on Wilton Drive. As always it was a wonderful display of what can happen when people with common interests come together, work together.

Such things can happen in microcosm, and more subtly, as we strive to build community throughout South Florida and beyond the rivers that surround the Island City. Yet, as the late investment giant Sir John Templeton was fond of saying, “opportunities often come dressed in work clothes.”

It won’t be easy, but it can happen. Over the rest of the year, I will share more detailed ideas about “where” and, perhaps more importantly, “how”, from both a real estate and a financial perspective.

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