Today marks the rollout of our latest local section, HuffPost Miami. Yes, like generations of snowbirds before us (and a certain basketball player from Cleveland), we are heading down to the Sunshine State -- and not just for a few months on South Beach. We're here to stay.
Miami is, after all, one of the most dynamic and diverse cities in the world -- and, thanks to scores of South Florida-set movies and TV shows, ranging from Flipper to Scarface to Miami Vice to Ace Ventura to (gulp) Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami, one of the most recognizable.
HuffPost Miami will, of course, bring you the stories and images that have long defined Miami in the popular imagination -- from airboats gliding through the Everglades to Bentleys cruising down Ocean Drive; from the clatter of dominoes on Calle Ocho to the crack of the pelota at the Jai Alai fronton; from D-Wade, LeBron, and the Heat throwing it down on Biscayne to David Caruso's Horatio Caine pulling off his shades and delivering a mordant zinger; from the skyscrapers of downtown to the kick-back vibe of Coconut Grove and the Art Deco hotels on South Beach.
But we'll also dig deeper in an effort to tell the stories of all the people who make up this unique city -- one that is a combustible blend of the old and the new, the glittery and the grimy, the transient and the entrenched. Our coverage will include the struggles that are familiar to cities all across the country but that have hit Miami particularly hard. Indeed, in many ways the city is emblematic of post-meltdown America. In Miami-Dade County, one in five mortgages is in foreclosure, and the unemployment rate is 10.8 percent -- nearly 2 percentage points above the national average. And Miami is among the top five American cities that have witnessed the exodus of young people in recent years, while Florida is home to one-third of the country's homeless population.
At the same time, South Florida remains a beacon of opportunity in the American immigrant tradition; nearly half of those living in Miami-Dade were born in another country. The city's burgeoning art scene includes Art Basel (which kicks off tomorrow), the emerging Wynwood Arts District, and the Adrienne Arsht Center, the country's second-largest performing arts center behind New York's Lincoln Center. And Miami's culinary scene has exploded in recent years into a thriving outpost of celebrity chefs, homegrown stars, food and wine festivals, and food trucks.
With a combination of original reporting, comprehensive curation, and a group blog, HuffPost Miami will function as a virtual public square for the city's diverse voices. And HuffPost Miami will be working especially closely with HuffPost Latino Voices to ensure the best possible coverage of Miami's robust Cuban, Caribbean, and Central and South American populations.
Among the original stories by HuffPost reporters and editors we're featuring today: Cristina Costantini takes a look at how Spanish has become integrated in Miami compared to other cities with high Hispanic populations, and Matt Sledge reports on the body blow delivered to Miami-Dade county's finances by the NBA lockout.
Like all our sections, HuffPost Miami features a group blog where some of the city's most compelling voices -- both prominent and unknown -- weigh in on the issues and ideas, both big and small, they care most about. Be sure to check out our launch day blog posts, including University of Florida ecologist Frank Mazzotti on how protecting the Everglades is both a moral imperative and a good business plan; Miami-Dade County Commissioner Xavier Suarez on why he didn't support Mayor Gimenez' budget; food writer Ellen Kanner on an organic farm whose feasts draw hungry locals and star chefs alike while raising money for local children's programs; businessman and philanthropist Stuart Paskow on how Miami can reestablish itself as a leader among cities in charitable giving; and University of Miami professor Dr. Casey Klofstad on why changing attitudes in the Cuban-American community haven't yet "turned Little Havana blue" at the ballot box.
HuffPost Miami is edited by Janie Campbell, a proud Florida native who previously worked as deputy web editor at NBC Miami. She has also served as an editor at The Feast and SB Nation, and has written for NBC Local Media and a slew of irreverent sports blogs. (And its first loyal reader will be Roy Sekoff, HuffPost's founding editor, who was born in Miami, graduating from Coral Gables High and the University of Miami, and whose wonderful mom and dad, Leah and Arthur, have owned and operated Book Horizons bookstore on South Dixie Highway for the last 58 years. His dad, by the way, is the sharpest evaluator of my hair whenever I appear on TV -- good or bad, he lets me know it.)
So check out HuffPost Miami, and use the comments section below to let us know what you think. We hope you'll help make the HuffPost Miami community a big part of the editorial mix -- suggesting and submitting stories, voting on polls, uploading pictures to interactive slideshows, and posting on the all issues that matter most to you and most impact your life.