By Karen Moore, publisher
I’ve never had the opportunity to witness the birth of a town. As I’m writing this, there’s a period western on the television in the other room, complete with a rousing western theme. And as we drove through the beginnings of the Babcock Ranch “settlement” last week, my thoughts had drifted back to a time when townspeople came together to do a “house-raising” for a new neighbor—just like in the Old West.
More recently, right here in Southwest Florida, when Hurricane Charlie “came through town” 12 years ago, our neighborhood was left relatively unscathed—but everyone was without power for a week or so. It was August so it was HOT. With no air conditioning there was no relief from the heat in or outside of the house. No electric light at night—just candle light in most cases. I sent my husband long distances just to get a few bags of ice that we threw in the tub because we were using the tub as an “ice box.”
When I was a kid, we didn’t get air conditioning till I was about 10, so to me, Hurricane Charlie “forced us” to open the windows and the doors—like it was when I was a kid. And we all spent a lot more time outside—like it was when I was a kid. There were cookouts every night and everyone was sharing what they had with everyone who needed it—like it was when I was a kid.
The self-built “walls” came down and we became neighbors again. Real neighbors—just like the kind many of us grew up with.
These are the thoughts I had as we drove through the beginnings of Babcock Ranch last week, the New Hometown, I think they call it in the brochures, which talk about big porches, parks and bike trails, a local market and an ice cream shop. And building this “stuff of dreams” creates jobs, a phrase that is still music to the ears of Southwest Floridians who are still climbing out of the depths of the Great Recession.
So let’s bring on the “new hometown,” a solar community with an old-fashioned “feel.” Let’s welcome new neighbors like they’re old friends, and let’s keep creating jobs to get Southwest Florida growing again!