How do you create a community?

In many places it happens organically, with people building relationships over time; the connections layering upon each other onto a rich, deep, history.

But what about a city that’s emerging, hungry, transient, and impatient? How do you create a community in Miami?

The answer is far from clear, but hints of it can be seen in the Arts + Entertainment District. In just a few years the group has built the foundations of both a physical neighborhood — sandwiched between Edgewater, Downtown, Wynwood, and the Design District — and a broader tribe of artists/musicians/chefs and people who love art/music/food.

The motivations aren’t purely altruistic — the organization is part of Canvas Miami, a real estate development — but that doesn’t make the results any less impressive. Through a series of smart, engaging events — concerts, outdoor movies, s’mores nights, morning speakers — the Arts + Entertainment District has built sizable support in a short period of time.

The success of of this effort can be seen most clearly at The Miami Flea. This regular event brings together dozens of artists in a large, open-air, showcase. At the most recent Flea, hundreds of people wandered through the tents — filled with everything from vintage clothes to handmade jewelry and organic dog treats — and snacked on eats from local vendors. At the front of the space live bands rocked out while volunteers from the Miami International Film Festival and Bakehouse Art Complex flanked them on either side.

What’s great about the Flea is that it feels like a chill, fun, friendly, artistic, gathering of like-minded people. In other words, it feels very much like a community.