Underwater HOA marker
‘Underwater HOA marker 8’ in front of artist’s studio in Pinecrest Gardens, Florida. (Photo credit: Xavier Cortada)

As the ice sheets of Antarctica melt, seas are rising, threatening cities like Miami. For resident and artist Xavier Cortada, the reality sank in when he traveled to Antarctica.

“I was horrified to understand that the very ice that I was standing on was the ice that threatened my city,” he says.

To get people back home talking about the problem, he started painting yard signs for people who live in his neighborhood. Each sign features a large, ornate number that indicates a home’s elevation in feet. The numbers look like they’re partially submerged in water, as many properties could be within decades.

Participating homeowners meet monthly to talk about sea-level rise and how to adapt. The group is called the Underwater Homeowners Association.

“At the beginning, the people who were involved were the people who were most concerned,” Cortada says.

But he says the signs have also helped raise awareness among people who previously did not worry about how climate change would affect them personally.

“So now they’re talking about the issue because they feel more vulnerable or more impacted by it as opposed to something that felt like it was in a horizon far, far away.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.