Ah, the Emerald Coast

I just couldn’t help myself.  I saw this article and I was hysterical.  I was instantly inspired to write about it.  Upon further reflection, I thought JHK would do it better justice.  I ripped off an e-mail to JHK and was delighted this morning to see a reply.  Not that I didn’t think he read his e-mail, but I certainly had the impression he had quite a bit of it to wade through.  Because I read JHK every day, hope to see him in person at some point in my life and love his satirical, punchy and descriptive prose, I had to post our short correspondence…for the archives.

Dear Jim,
I am an avid reader of Cluster*uck Nation and thought you’d be interested in this article.  Well, not really interested, or surprised really, it’s just another absurdity of our times.  “Realtors Pray for Better Times” http://www.nwfdailynews.com/article/6725, just a few short miles from Seaside, FL.  Huh??  I guess they haven’t read The Long Emergency or don’t connect the real estate bust with maybe someone upstairs is trying to tell us something.  Maybe instead of praying for a resurgance of house sales and well, let’s face it, more destruction of the planet, they should be praying for another way to feed themselves.  Hey, I’m in this growth industry as well and you better believe I’m working on some other skills to survive the long emergency.  The world and especially the Emerald Coast has too many realtors and designers (myself included) as it is.  The lull in the housing market isn’t hurting my feelings, Im spending more time in the garden and getting acquanted with my neighbors both human and otherwise.  When will these people get a clue and how can that preacher seriously lead a prayer asking God to allow these realtors to continue their profession by exploiting this planet some more.  It’s simply mind boggling.  Ta-ta and I hope you get to Seaside some day again soon.  I’ll be there!

His reply:


Hey, thanks for this.  I just posted it on “The Daily Grunt” http://www.kunstler.com/ That part of Florida has just exploded beyond all limits. Seaside and Rosemary Beach were great things.  But all the wannabes and copycats maye have come to the party too late.I hope they don’t get whacked by storms on top of this.

“It’s All Good”
(“Va Tutto Bene“)

Fun stuff.


PCB Airport vs Ivory Billed Woodpecker


Now, ain’t that a fine How’d’e do this morning?  In the eleventh hour, 2 environmental groups based in D.C. no less and a local pilot’s association have filed a law suit in NY aimed to stop the Bay County Airport from being relocated to West Bay.  If this doesn’t cause a major upheaval in our area in the months to come, I don’t know what will.  Of course, this could just as quietly and quickly disappear as swiftly as it was brought to the table with little fanfare, news coverage or local awareness like we so often see here in nepotism/good ol’ boy/St. Joe land.  I’ll be following this one for sure.

More thoughts to come on the subject….have some work to tend to.

I don’t really have a solid opinion on the new airport, but one thing for certain is that it’s become the shining star for many a contractor, subcontractor, county official, retailer and property owner in Bay and Walton Counties.  Our area has experienced the luxury of being exempt from the fall out of the dot com bubble and 9/11, though NOT from the housing market slow down that’s currently rippling across the country.  In an area that relies predominantly on tourism and second home construction, the airport NOT opening would be a potential cause for alarm as to the sustainablity of our local economy.  On the other hand, just because “they” build it, doesn’t mean “they” will come.  No matter what anyone argues, the numbers say we are swimming in a sea of housing glut, two to three years of inventory.  A lot can happen in 2-3 years.  The new international airport claims to bring people from far and wide to our little piece of paradise often affectionately referred to as the “Redneck Riviera”.  Nice, huh?  And supposedly, all those people who travel from the corners of New York, California and Europe will buy up that housing supply and will demand even more.  You might think I sound a bit cynical for someone who is in the field of designing houses and should be fighting tooth and nail for the arrival of this great airport.  Maybe, maybe not.

Now, what of this Ivory Billed Woodpecker?  Well, there is a local man by the name of MC Davis that has declared over 53,000 acres of his property to be set aside for private conservation.  The land, Nokuse Plantation is a critical piece to a larger tract of connecting land rich in biodiversity that include wetlands, uplands and fresh water communities.  These communities of swamp bottomland happen to be the natural habitat for the ivory billed woodpecker, though the woodpecker is believed to have become extinct, logged out of existence since the 1930’s.  Over the last year, there have been claims of sitings of the great woodpecker and further research by Auburn University has indicated that there may indeed be an Ivory Billed Woodpecker in ‘dem dare woods’.  This is excellent news for Northwest Florida.  Birders from all over the country are traveling to the area in hopes of spotting this wonderful treasure.

Back to the airport.  The environmental groups claim that the FAA may have violated the federal Endangered Species Act due to the spotting of the woodpecker.  Also, they contend the environmental impact is too great and the current location is the best environmental choice.  Wouldn’t you know it, one of those SoWalers says, “It’s just a bird…”  That was probably the same SoWaler that declared (s)he had the right to build whatever beach armament necessary to protect their property from storm surge regardless of sea turtles lives because sea turtles don’t pay taxes.  Nice, huh?  And you wonder why it’s called the Redneck Riviera…

All this, right in my back yard.  Oh, speaking of woodpeckers and the back yard, once again recall my pine trees infested with pine bark beetles.  Well, those trees have attracted a few red bellied woodpeckers that come to feast on the beetles.  It’s almost sad to think that the pine trees will have to go soon.


So, here I find myself in D’Iberville, MS.  Yesterday I spent traveling down highway 90, pulling over at random streets to check out the neighborhoods.  It’s strange here and oddly familiar with the beautiful majestic oaks that have grown twisted from the storms.  The gulf is just a few yards away and to the North is the remnants of the devastation that was here a year ago.  Slabs and stairs that go no where mark the place of homes of yesterday or B.K. (Before Katrina) as I like to refer to that time.  Most everyone you talk to prefaces conversations with “before the storm” or “after the storm”.  That is the mark in time similar to a water line left from a storm.  In one breathe I’m asking myself “what am I doing here?”, then the next I’m convincing myself with the mantra “this is good.”  Whatever.  I think it’s really just whatever I see and want it to be.  I could stay in Santa Rosa Beach and continue to make a go of it while the real estate market corrects itself or I could attempt to try something new, become a pioneer again, if you will.

That’s where I was 2 weeks ago, D’Iberville, a little town just North of Biloxi, which was also devastated by flood waters from Katrina.  When I set out to travel to MS that morning, a grey catbird flew into our sliding glass doors and died on my porch.  I immediately thought it was a sign not to go, that danger was ahead.  It was suppose to rain that day, it was a long drive and I had planned on camping.  Then as I was driving along I had another thought that the bird represented the death of something from which new life springs forth.  Anyhow, when I arrived in MS, I headed right to the state park in Gautier (pronounced go + shea, like shea butter) where I was informed that there was no camping because the whole park was now converted into a mini-village of tradespeople.  Ditto for all camping & RV parks nearby and the other state park in Waveland was erased from the map.  So, I went on to D’Iberville to meet my friends that had just bought an office building there and I camped in the office w/ their dog, Bailey, a beautiful Bernese moutain dog.  We spent that day and the day after looking at property, discussing possible building projects, and looking at the master plan for the city of D’Iberville.

I was basically mesmerized by this process of death and renewal and how the city repairs itself and new opportunity is born out of disaster.  The people that remain and call this city their home, seem to welcome outsiders and the resources they bring to help restore some sense of normalcy.  Certainly, the whole coast is still in flux of what to do and how to proceed and wondering if they even should.  When you’re living this close to sea level and this place is the only home you know, it’s not easy to just pick up the pieces and take root elsewhere in a foreign place.  The thought that keeps coming to mind is that this could be our (Walton County) reality very soon.  We can build stronger and more sustainably but will that even matter?  It’s almost like the subject has to be approached as something that’s temporary.  Build for survivability yet knowing full well that we don’t have a product that will keep mother nature out completely.  The fact is that modern technology has made living year round on the coast a possibility.  Prior to air conditioning, screening and hurricane warning systems, living on the gulf coast was typically reserved for people who made their living by the sea.  I for one recognize that as our resources begin to dwindle, this environment is not one I would choose to habitate year round in my present structure.

Um…collusive insanity revisited?

This is going to deviate a bit from my normal writing style.  I have an urge to do a little random thought – stream of consciousness writing that will just ramble from subject to subject.  Was that redundant?

For starters, another portmanteau, grood (great & good).  Lauri, I’m still trying to figure out sigther.  My significant other is typing a response to a recent comment on one of his posts.  He’s been at it for an hour.  I find this funny.  Can’t wait to read it in the morning.  I hope this doesn’t ruin his wordpress experience.

About this peak oil business, I’ve grown tired of the books I’m reading.  It seems it’s nearly impossible to make heads or tails of what this expert said versus what that expert said.  I’m going for affirmation in the “relocalization” arena.  Regardless of what catastrophe may head our way, relocalization I believe will minimize our pain and suffering.  What catastrophe you ask?  Well, it seems we (Americans) have been afforded the luxury of having conveniently forgotten the likes of events like the Great Depression, with ample reason.  Our rise to such industrial and capitalist heights will likely not last forever.  If we look around at current events, it’s apparent we are in the beginnings of a waxing and waning decline.  Decline – not in a negative sense.  Really what I mean to say is a transition to another era.  Decline will be the cry of those who choose to fight it.  Really, there is nothing else I can say regarding Peak Oil that hasn’t been said already by more astute followers.  Check out some of my links.

Now about sustainability (green living, eco-friendly, etc).  I really don’t care for the word much.  To me, it’s a tag that allows me to connect with like minded individuals.  I really don’t believe true sustainability is achievable, though I do believe it’s a worthwhile goal.  Living life conscious and accountable for our actions, now that seems more realistic.  Like Gandhi said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

I spoke of embodied energy in building materials previously and it seems to get a lot of inquiry.  Seriously, there are so many factors to consider when measuring the appropriate use of a material based on its embodied energy, it’ll make your head spin.  I believe true intent of use needs to be considered in those factors.

Finally, I just picked up  Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants of Eastern and Central North America and I’m relieved to know there is an abundance of edible plants right in my back yard.

One more thing, speaking of food, my mixed (surprise) bell peppers from Bountiful Gardens are finally bearing fruit.  They got a late start.  And you wouldn’t believe what color they are…puurrrple.

purple pepper 

Collusive Insanity

I must give credit where credit is due.  That credit is due to a reporter from the Beach Breeze that interviewed me following a local workshop I presented on the subject of sustainability.  What does collusive insanity have to do with sustainable design?  Follow along as I attempt to recall how this particular reporter summed up the move toward sustainability as collusive insanity.

He was a friendly reporter with a nice smile and plenty of knowledgeable questions.  Though, all along he would interject with his own obviously cynical remarks.  Often alluding to the hypocrisy of it all, to which I would reply, “we have to start somewhere.”  All and all, he put together a nice article.  During our follow-up interview he threw out the phrase “collusive insanity” as a description of the path to reaching sustainability.  Collusive meaning a secret cooperation to deceive others.  I guess he could be implying that the government et al. are deceiving us with their facts and figures regarding global warming, peak oil, etc.  No surprise there.  Insanity meaning irrational.  We/ they continue to do the same things over and over, expecting different results.  For example, we now have scientific proof that CO2 in our atmosphere is accelerating global warming, but the government continues to support big oil…collusive insanity.

I really just liked the way those words fit together.