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This Wonderful Life

August 27, 2009

This Wonderful Life: Interestinger and Interestinger

I grew up in a town - heck, and entire state - that relies heavily on tourism and retirees for its economic health.



While my hometown is in Northwest Florida, rather than that vast stripmall/ amusement/park/ nightclub we liked to call “the other Florida,” the town still catered to the tourists who brought their vacation-driven need to spend and retirees who brought handsome next eggs.



The powers that be considered the future of the town, and decided to outsource, relying on people and money from other places to keep its economic engines running. The town had a long tradition of outsourcing its future, from it’s earliest formation as a Spanish colony (or is that in-sourcing?) to the town it had become when I left - a town which eagerly planned a waterfront sports attraction while its teachers were some of the lowest paid and its students some of the lowest performing in the nation. We had a saying in Florida: Thank God for Mississippi.



The problem with outsourcing your future has become pretty evident over the past year. It doesn’t take much (just a few dozen bank closures, is all) for nest eggshells to get a little brittle and for people to start scaling back their vacations.



Suddenly, the restaurants and theaters are empty, while the car lots are full. The newspaper where I used to work - a paper that had served the community since the late 1800s - now operates on a skeleton crew and can’t even afford to run its own press any longer. It sends its pages 60 miles away to be printed on a former competitor’s press.



I hate to say it, but I’m glad I’m not there to see what’s happening. And I hope that all the buzz about supporting local food, services and goods will take root in my hometown, and they’ll start investing in their most precious local resource: People and ideas and ingenuity.

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This Wonderful Life
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    November 25, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I wish someone had told me Disclaimer: Because my son more or less demanded that I stop using him and his life as material for my column back when he was 12 or 13, I want to make it perfectly clear to all my readers (and any legal professionals who are now retained or may be retained at some future time by aforementioned son) that this column is not about him. It’s about me. The fact that he happened to turn 21 on Saturday is mere coincidence. So help me God.

    November 19, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A view through bare branches Every morning, Bee and I stand at the end of the driveway waiting for her bus and we look up into the branches of the elm tree that arches over the drive.

    November 5, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: To Posey on her fourth So here we are, on the other side of 3-years-old, and it seems we both survived it intact. It wasn’t easy, but perhaps it made us both stronger.

    October 30, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A Posey by any other name... A few weeks ago, Posey gave us all new names. Or, to be more accurate, Posey gave us all one new name. Rose.

    October 8, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Are pork chops really that good? If it seems unlikely for a vegetarian (that would be me) to own a couple of table- bound pigs, it probably seems downright absurd that their names should be Tender and Delicious.

    October 2, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: I sssssseeeeeee you there The first thing you should know is that I used to suffer from a snake phobia. The operative word there is phobia. It wasn’t just a matter of disliking snakes. It wasn’t a fear of being bitten. It wasn’t a simple reluctance to touch their impossibly dry, nimble bodies.

    September 24, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: What’s so funny? My kids, I hope In my experience as a three-time parent, there is something absolutely, spiritually magical about the first time your child cracks a joke.

    September 17, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: Who are these little girls? There are two children in my house who bear a striking resemblance to my daughters. They are adorable, smart and energetic.

    September 10, 2009

  • This Wonderful Life: A harvest that’s good for the soul Signs of harvest are all around. The afternoon sun glows amber over the fields and the farm stands are filled to overflowing with vegetables and fruit. We’re lucky to live in a place where we can have such an immediate connection to the food we eat.

    September 3, 2009