The 2016 resolution redux: Malik Benjamin says Miami’s still gotta find its genius

Last year we asked leaders in Miami’s neighborhoods, from urban planners to developers to preservationists, to share their aspirations for Miami’s neighborhoods in 2016. Eleven months later, we asked them to think about what worked, what didn’t, and where we’re headed.

Malik Benjamin is the inaugural FIU Changemaker Fellow, coordinating and promoting FIU’s social innovation and entrepreneurship strategy for faculty and student researchers.

He is also the managing director of the Institute of Collaborative Innovation LLC and a full-time faculty member at FlU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts. Lastly, he hosts CreativeMornings/Miami.

Last year:

“We had a brain drain. Then we had a brain gain. Yet not much has changed. We’re on the same course in regards to transit mobility, economic mobility, impoverishment, quality of life, and education.”


We’ve only taken one step, the first step. There’s been a lot of leadership changes with Mark Rosenberg being the head of the Chamber of Commerce, focusing on transportation at a regional level. Jaret Davis is now sitting over the Beacon Council. We’re moving services and people around.

It’s one of our strongest assets and we’re building a better ecosystem because both leaders are brand new and both understand how ecosystems are built. We have promise for a more improved quality of life, and an improved transit system. It’s not guaranteed until fruition.

One downside is that we still haven’t embraced newer technology. We had to fight for Uber and Lyft, and for good reasons. But we have to look ahead. Autonomy is on its way, Pittsburgh has driverless vehicles already.

Seventeen million people in the U.S. will leave their jobs because autonomous vehicles are coming. Miami should be the first city to embrace that and figure out what we do with people who used to be drivers.

Now, the state allows autonomous vehicles and we’re poised to embrace that… so we’re ahead in the law, but in execution we’ve done nothing.

Last year:

“Smart Miami needs to find its genius. Dumb Miami needs to get smart, and everyone needs to get their hustle and bustle on.”


A half-yes on that. There’s been interesting collaboration among youngsters at Prism Creative Group and at The New Tropic (Editor’s note: We didn’t make him say that). For example, we had a solar initiative backed by energy companies [on the ballot]. It was an issue with lots of dollars and people who didn’t understand the jargon. But then these young bucks went around and educated people to explain the initiative. …

But, I feel like I know all of the geniuses here. If I know everyone, then what kind of city is that? There’s got to be a million people out there. We need to find the geniuses we don’t know and operate and let them shine.

Whats a key prediction you have for 2017 in this coming year?

I think Jaret Davis, the head of the Beacon Council, is going get pushed into the political arena.

He usually operates behind the scenes because that’s where all the hard work is, but more and more people want him to be a public leader and this might be the year where he’s pushed into the spotlight. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met and he’s from Miami and is a heavy investor in Miami and in no way is he daunted by what would otherwise be competitive collaborative reality. Every city is always competing with other cities for talent, jobs, people, and resources.

There’s only so much you can do from behind the scenes. Every time we lose a talented person who can’t get around the city or a family who can’t afford the city, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. The sunshine and good weather is only going to last so long. Davis knows how to make decisions that will be globally significant for Miami.

So, I’m going heavy on leadership this year.

Read his full 2016 resolution here.