Activist of the Month Interview with Ivan “Dynamo” De Jesus
By: Alina Celeste
Each month we bring you a profile of an Emerger or local activist doing great work in the community. If you want to meet one of these inspiring agents of change, or are interested in getting involved in Emerge Miami, join us at our weekly meeting every Tuesday evening from 7:00-8:00 PM at Sweat Records!
This November, we introduce you to “Dynamo.”
Ivan “Dynamo” De Jesus is a Miami native and local activist with a passion for goal-achieving and adventure seeking. Besides being an active member of Emerge Miami, he is also the founder of Axen Club – a multi-city goal setting support group.
Q: What is your Day Job?
Dynamo: I’m an entrepreneur in the insurance industry. I work with doctors and insurance companies, helping doctors enhance their business practices.
Q: How did you come to Miami?
Dynamo: By way of my mothers womb.
Q: What do you love about Miami?
Dynamo: The culture of Miami, the neighborhoods that only speak Spanish or Creole. The glitz and glamour, the sun, the people. Gas station restaurants like “El Carajo,” cheesy pot and pan slapping celebrations, the steak sandwich at a laundromat called “Mary’s Coin Laundry.” All the things that are uniquely Miami that make this a quirky place to live.
Q: What is the hardest thing about living here?
Dynamo: Wage disparity and cost of living. There are very few real industries that create jobs besides tourism, healthcare and real estate – the latter of which is inflated by international investment and also greatly increases the cost of living. Miami can be an economic quagmire for the individual who doesn’t have a clear, self-determined path to financial freedom.
Q: Was there a moment when you knew you had to become involved?
Dynamo: I was just looking to meet new and interesting people. I’m not particularly political, I focus on what I can control. Emerge has taught me that activism can impact real change and has led me to become a better and more informed citizen. I actually knew the track record of the judges and commissioners at the last election, and so I was the most informed I’ve ever been since I started voting. I felt knowledgeable, whereas before I was apathetic to the matter.
Q: What are you working to change about Miami?
Dynamo: I want to plant more trees in Miami. It’s a beautiful city with a lot of sun and some extra shade wouldn’t hurt! The wealthier neighborhoods (Coral Gables, Gables Estates, Morningside, etc.) have amazing and beautiful trees, but unfortunately the poorer neighborhoods don’t. I didn’t know this, but the city of Miami and the county of Miami-Dade give out free trees to people; we can decide where to plant them, it’s not that difficult.The government doesn’t have enough employees to implement an aggressive urban forestation project. We just have to go out there and do it.
Q: What’s your best “only in Miami” story?
Dynamo: Every neighborhood has one. Be it chickens in the street, religious statues in front lawns, pots and pans after sports game victories or the death of Latin dictators. My favorite is the “ventanita” experience that’s uniquely Miami — walking up to a building and ordering “Cafe Cubano y dos croquetas” from a window.
Q: Have you ever been to Bayside without a visitor from out of state?
Dynamo: Yes, but by accident most of the time. They sometimes have live music and it’s a convenient place to walk around after eating at a nearby restaurant like Ceviche 105. I feel like it’s important for me to disclose I’m totally using this interview as an opportunity to get free food by name dropping all these great food spots.