Yo Tu Pana, Tú La Mía: How A Small Idea Became a Local Movement

Just like so many ideas came to be, the first spark of inspiration for Pana MIA was on a humid Miami night. A bit buzzed and floating in a chlorine- laden pool, Annette turned to me and proposed extending our deeply influential support of each other into a community effort. After years of living in South Florida, we had both become disheartened by the capitalistic hustle culture that cultivated a constant feeling of competition between everyone we met.

What if, instead of a constant need to be successful as an individual, there existed a collective of artists and vendors from all backgrounds thriving together? What if, instead of keeping resources and knowledge as a coveted secret, people who wanted to begin their journeys as artists or businesses could lean on others who had experience? What if, there were one centralized place you could go to locally source anything and everything you could want?

South Florida has garnered a sort of reputation for its integral belief that there “isn’t enough room for everyone,” which upholds a culture plagued by gatekeeping and competition. Instead of allowing oneself to be happy for others’ successes, the mindset of the society has ingrained in us to envy others, even if we are both striving for the same things– recognition, love, and encouragement.

Pana MIA was created as a way to push against these notions.

It manifested as a mission to create an openly accessible platform for the public to directly engage with the local economy and community. Attract those that want to support local to the local artisans, businesses, artists and organizations that are painstakingly trying to reach them. It was a learning process for us both, and we began feeling completely out of our depth at the face of this immense project. But the more our vision developed in real life, the more people began to understand what we were trying to do, and became invested in the concept of a community that genuinely wanted to see each other reach their potential.

Something we noticed soon after we began our community organizing project was that there are many groups doing very similar things to us, but in various niches that didn’t often intersect. So what became an objective for us was being the web that connects all these various groups so there can be active collaboration, exposure, resources, and audience perception. Note: Our goal isn’t to merge all the groups in South Florida into one, super-group, but instead establish a strong support system between them to reinforce their strength.

As Anette describes: the coral reef and algae have a symbiotic relationship.

The algae provides shade from the harmful sun, and in return, the coral provides nutrients for the algae. We want a similar relationship to be formed between our movement and the South Floridian local economy. Local businesses, creatives, and grassroots organizations  are fundamental to the social-cultural ecosystem that is South Florida!

Of course, while there are some who are resistant to this movement of ours, our reception into the South Florida community speaks for itself. In one year, we have successfully onboarded 400 local creatives, entrepreneurs and organizations into our Local’s Directory. We’ve put on 4 successful shows with exclusively local artists and vendors, collaborated with 14 local venues and organizations, and we’ve interviewed 25 local changemakers and artists on our podcast. Our growth feels in part attributed to the sense that we are meeting a need for connection in this landscape. We are only as successful as the panas (Latine slang for friend, homie. In Pana MIA a Pana is a member of our directory, a local South Florida creative, business and/or organization) that make up our collective, and we are just getting started.

To get involved, become a Pana or donate to our initiative visit www.panamia.club We are constantly evolving and creating more ways to serve our community- the more we grow, the bigger impact our mission can make.

Yo Tu Pana, Tú La MIA.

This Sunday, September 24th at Dear Eleanor, 148 NE 28th St, Miami, FL 33137, we’re throwing “El Igor y Sus Panas”,  from 4 to 8 pm.

Imaginate that it’s Sunday afternoon, and you’re chilling with the homies. The vibes are immaculate thanks to the illuminating tracks of DJ Luna and Rolling Royce. A line-up of your soon to be favorite local acts including El Igor, Zephaniah, Bella Lavish, El Gato, Sasha Camille and promise a decadent and indulgent afternoon. Soon the air is filled with electrifying bass and your ears are tingling. As you hit the dance floor, you find yourself singing along to lyrics you can’t quite understand. It’s a tantalizing blend of cultures, a healthy fusion of sounds—it’s what we like to call a Cultural Salad.

Ahora levantate, ponte hyper! We’re here to celebrate the diversity that makes Miami so…Miami—transcending boundaries from street culture to urban hip-hop y más. Bring the panas, everyone is welcome.

Secure your spot by purchasing tickets on Shotgun for $15-$25.

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Claribel Avila

Claribel Avila is a Florida Native and the co-founder of Pana MIA Club. They hold a degree in Economic Policy from Northeastern University and currently work in the creative industry and as a community organizer in South Florida.