By Sam Burnham
A final few takeaways from the trip to 30A.
I was able to make many observations of this area, both in the book and on the ground. So many of the towns along the coast have lost the real identity of what they were. The charm of the little Southern towns are gone. All that remains are modern edifices of the real estate market - condos, strip malls, and chain restaurants.
But along 30A I found more than a pleasant strip of sand and some decent seafood. I found something real and the hope that this can happen in other places.
One of my favorite things about the trip was seeing the beach towns by bicycle. Our beach house came with a few bikes and I took time in the mornings to grab one and do some exploring. Some of the times I was alone. Different family members joined me on other outings. 30A has an excellent bike path that travels along the right of way between each town. The scenery along the path is beautiful and each town is bike friendly. Taking a bike encouraged me to look around and little more in each place. Most of the pictures that have been featured in this series were taken from that bicycle.
Perhaps one day we will have a few rural towns in Georgia that are connected by bike so that residents and visitors can easily venture to nearby towns to enjoy shopping, dining, or entertainment with the neighbors.
People actually live in these towns. As bizarre as it may sound, many of these houses are full time homes. This is not just a vacation get-a-way. There are schools, churches, and businesses for the benefit of permanent residents. Some even have their own post office. The parades, the boat races, the festivals, all this is in the keeping of community and the love of the hometowns. These towns are what they are because people love them, care for them, protect them, and do what they think is best for them. They've rejected the kind of development that might take away that charm that many of the others lost long ago. They haven't sold out to developers or chain stores.
This would be good to see happen in some small towns as well. I'd love to see several of them thrive and grow healthily while avoiding the sort of generic development that has marred so many Southern towns. If people enjoy living there and people enjoy visiting, that should be a sign of success. Develop wisely and in ways that fit in to what is already going on in that town and don't bulldoze every hint of nature. Let beauty live there.
30A has shown me that the trick to revitalizing small towns will be to not lose the sense of community. The people who already live in small towns must never be overwhelmed in their own homes. The idea is to benefit them, not run them off or price them out of their own market.
So 30A is a bit of home on the beach. Harvey Jackson said people go to the coast to do things they can't do back home. Maybe one day we'll be able to bring a little of that stuff home with us and enjoy that sentiment all year long.
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire