We watched this documentary in the office today. I was consumed by a combination of nostalgia for my days as a solid waste educator and policy analyst, as well as ragey feels over the images of sea life stuffed with bottle caps. Some of those are my bottle caps.
The upshot was that Tara DePorte, friend and former colleague, made a surprise visit on the screen for a moment. Nope, wait, thats gut wrenching nostalgia again. My bag.
Down here not so many people use the social media. Typically, if there is an event that you would like to attend or promote, you seek people out and talk about it. Alternately, you can look for small posters that people put up in storefronts and bathrooms. It took me a long minute to figure out this new/old way of navigating. You mean there’s not some email list or Facebook group I can get on? I really go down to Tipsy’s and check the chalkboard? Yep.
Since people are mostly out on the sidewalk talking to each other instead of tweeting from across town, that means there is a lot of free hashtag space.
Up in New Bedford, MA, I participated in a terrible/awesome hashtag, #peopleofnewbedford, which pulls up a feed of people publicly misbehaving in the unique style of Southcoast Massachusetts. So when I arrived here in coastal Georgia, I scanned the social medias for hashtags that might provide some revelations on street life, secret domestic spaces or (important one) food. For work I started appending tweets and instagrams with #georgiacoast, a straightforward catalogue of local vistas. Lots of marsh and fishermen with their prizes…but no #peopleofbrunswick and none of that intimate humor that sometimes (when its not being horrible) social media can deliver about a place. The only thing I have followed so far is the hybridization of the popular bumper sticker brand #saltlife to reflect localisms like #hicklife #blufflife and (my favorite) #skifflife.
In addition to the above, I have been impressed by the hand-painted signage around town, and so I started documenting it under #paintedsignsofbrunswick. I was hoping that some viral effect would result, and a small army of #georgiacoast-ians would set out scouring the town in #skifflife trucks snapping the hundreds of colorful storefronts emblazoned hand painted content. So far its just me.
Although I would like to crack the code and become an Instagram superstar, for now I am satisfied with my quiet curation of local ephemera. There are plenty of things that are considered normal here that land with me as totally unique, and this is one of them. When I have time, maybe I will try to get a few more going: #tortoiseonthecauseway #seaislandproblems #bugbiteolympics #cakeraffle
I haven’t quite got the balance of continuing to write here during periods of busyness IRL. This morning the current events of the day have populated my brain with thoughts that don’t seem to belong anywhere else.
Coming down the coast on SY Tranquility this past winter, Fabio and I comforted ourselves each time we left a place that we loved by imagining our triumphant return. We imagined this trip as a first pass, a fact finding mission that would enable us to perfect a course up and down the unique communities and landscapes of the East Coast.
Thinking this way was the only way we were able to leave Manteo, Beaufort, Southport, and so on.
During our time here in Georgia (#georgiacoast), we have relaxed this idea a bit, unfurled, and dug a bit deeper. We’ve become involved. I have been working with a coastal conservation organization that has led me into research on climate change and sea level rise impacts that continually juxtapose the relative safety of GA’s marshy curve to the extremely vulnerable communities of, for example, the Outer Banks (#obx) of North Carolina.
In Georgia, the conversation (and its a fascinating one) is about where and how the hundreds of thousands of acres of salt marsh and its teeming inhabitants will migrate and (severely) contract. How can we anticipate the downstream impacts to economy and society? And so on. The stakes are high, and the planning horizon is essentially one generation, but the professionals here have a lot of solid information to work from and they are making good use of it. My spirits are buoyed with each conversation.
When we were in Hatteras, the “most sticky-outie part” of the Outer Banks (please pardon my technical jargon) I caught a glimpse of a paper NOAA map of sea level rise predictions for the area. Much of the Outer Banks, a cherished string of popular vacation spots, natural areas and singular coastal communities, was simply gone.
In the news of late, I have been loosely tracking the reports of real estate interests lobbying local representatives in North Carolina to deny available models of sea level rise on these wispy barrier islands. No comment.
OK, so thats the swirling mass of background thought. This morning I’m singing a song for Harkers Island. I’m lifting my heart for the fine folks of Okracoke. The “high tiders” who have weathered many storms, retreated and rebuilt with their kids, houses and cemeteries in tow. Hardy coastal families, more recent mainland castaways, speaking obscure dialects and practicing seafaring traditions that represent a precious and threatened human aspect to sea level rise, even in places where elected officials might deny its very existence.
I don’t have my own roots there, but these places left a deep impression on me and Fabio. We are so grateful that we traveled this route off season, and we hope for everyone’s safety and resilience.