Strength, I typed. It seemed to be what my community needed, and it seemed to be what I was finally feeling after all of the doubt I’d exhibited over the last few days. We’d just been hit by one of the harshest hurricanes to visit this coast in a long while, and clean up was still going on. And after the real estate crash, it seemed that Sarasota had a void that needed to be filled. It was my hope that my community would have the strength to fill it, and that I would have the strength to communicate it.
Sarasota used to be an Artist community. Back around the time of the Great Depression, a group of artists found this patch of sugar sand beach on a little coastal island and decided to call the place home. Artists traveled from far and wide to come here, soak up the sun, and find inspiration for their next great work. It was Bohemia before bohemian was cool. Then the tourists came and changed all of that.
You see, these weren’t ordinary tourists. These were explorers. These were archeologists searching for the mythological fountain of youth. They arrived on the same shores of that sugar sand beach, felt the vibrancy of the community pouring out through pencils and paintbrushes, and decided to call the place home as well.
In so doing, Sarasota became what most of what coastal Florida has become, a retirement community, or as we locals affectionately call it `God’s waiting room.’
The transition wasn’t all bad, nor was it all inclusive. Artisans of all kinds still thrived in the community and sometimes even prospered. The retirees brought with them all sorts of money and the newfound prosperity afforded ample architecture and a heightened infrastructure that lured new businesses to the area. With more live theatres and art galleries per capita than any other county in the state, it has since become known as Florida’s Cultural Coast.
The commitment that I was making was to herald the transformation of Sarasota into a marketing mecca. Breathing deeply, I imagined what that would look like. I saw in my mind’s eye a collective of people who were devoted to developing opportunities for themselves and the community at large through their talents, skills, and enthusiasm. I imagined business owners and employees taking pride in the jobs that they performed and enjoying the tasks they were given for the benefit of those that they served. And I saw my role in it to tell their story. For my community, I knew, could imagine great things.
I blanched momentarily when I considered the ambitious nature of my project. I was trying to inspire an entire community to embrace a vision that they may or may not even be able to see. Yet as I considered the possibilities, I felt a fire in my belly that filled me with excitement. It was a spiritual sense that gave me the strength to hope for greatness in my community. It was the idea that if I could imagine it in myself and find the drive to plan for it, then surely I could imagine it in my neighbors. For my community, I sensed, had a strong spirit.
I considered the resources available to me, for my community was indeed rich with manufacturers, entrepreneurs, visionaries, and artisans of all kinds. I realized that the apparent downfall of the real estate market was just an opening for more
opportunities that had been overlooked while so many people had tied themselves up with the buying and selling of property. I considered all of the intellectual and creative properties that were available in my community, and how many resources were at our disposal if we could only realize them. I realized that there were already so many ideas that had been made manifest in my town, and that we had so many great building blocks to work with. For my community, I felt, was masterful.
I felt truly inspired as I considered the dedication that it would take to pull this off. But before I could even doubt the possibility, I realized how wonderfully it was already happening. I thought about all of the organizations that had already formed throughout the area that called for excellence in finances, in philanthropy, in networking, in technology, in environmental stewardship. Seeing all of the great strides that had already been made in my community, I realized that they were already dedicated to the cause. I realized that my role in this wasn’t going to be as daunting as I’d once imagined. For my community, I saw, had excellence in their hearts.
I knew that it was one thing to rise to the ambition of being Florida’s Cultural Coast, but it was another entirely to acknowledge that title as the truth of our being. But I felt in my very being that we had the strength to do it.
This is an excerpt from How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. Come back weekly for the next part or order your copy in ebook or paperback today!