Five years ago, a movement of sorts was born in Miami. It was born out of a need, and a desire. A need for community, and a desire to feel accepted.

When I moved back to Miami after college, what I found in tech down here was startling. There was no sense of community in South Florida tech. It was all about who you were and what can you do for me today. Thus, the genesis for Refresh Miami was born. A place where the creative and tech community can connect and engage.

Over the years, the purpose of Refresh has evolved and the need we originally saw has been largely fulfilled. The number of smaller groups that have emerged from the audience at the tech events fills my heart with hope. These groups could have emerged on their own, but it wouldn’t have been as easy for the founders to meet and feel the vibe or energy of the community. What was originally meant to fill a void from a lack of community has managed to surpass that, and now enables the creation of new niche communities. Refresh has fulfilled its original goal of sparking the creative fires in our respective bellies, now it must find a new raison d’etre.

So what should Refresh 2.0 (for lack of a better moniker) be? My dream is to see Refresh help more people than it has in the past. The hundreds of jobs it has helped fill, the thousands of friendships that have emerged, the millions of dollars in economic windfall its brought to the region — they are the tip of the iceberg. Refresh needs to refresh itself. The new Refresh will be less about individual meetups and workshops organized by us, but rather it will be about fostering events you want to setup, new relationships, and new opportunities for the community.

In the coming year, my goal is to see anyone from a javascript enthusiast to a final cut aficionado to a ruby guru be able to find, connect, and engage with other like-minded individuals and groups throughout South Florida. Refresh will be there to help you connect with others, and share your knowledge, your passions, and your love for tech. I’d like to see Refresh find more people jobs this year than in the past 5 years combined.

The people in the community I’ve spoken with have all mentioned the need for action and forward movement in our community. If we want to create the community we want to live in, raise our kids in, work in, and have fun in, then we have to take action. We cannot expect others to fulfill our dreams for us.

I’m asking you, the designers, developers, marketers, artists, business guys, teachers, consultants, bloggers, etc to take it upon yourselves to stand up and engage the community. If we don’t all participate, then who are we to blame but ourselves when the community isn’t there?

Thank you all for the last five years, they’ve been incredible. Cheers to another five!

If you’d like to get more involved in shaping the future of the tech community in South Florida, please let me know.

* Worth reading: Foundations of a startup community