Sam Burnham, Curator
My interest in pro golf is typically limited to April. When the golf world focuses on the best course in the world, I focus with them. Full disclosure: I’m partial to Bubba Watson and fellow Gamecock Danny Willett and I’ve never been a huge fan of Tiger Woods.
On Sunday, however, as the last grouping pushed into the later tee boxes, it sort of hit me what was happening. It was a minor epiphany and I had a moment when I connected with him. I understood.
Several years ago we saw his life, his entire world, collapse all around him in a very public manner. Without reciting all of his transgressions, he lost his marriage, his home, his career, his health, everything. The rumors weren’t much worse than what we heard on the news. He had several instances when his “comeback” was heralded but one thing or another always intervened and nothing happened.
But what we saw Sunday in Augusta was akin to the Tiger of old. But there was something different. He’s older, perhaps wiser. He’s not the bright eyed kid who wowed the world 22 years ago on that same course. That kid is now balding and has several back surgeries behind him. He’s got kids of his own - kids old enough to remember the fall but not the previous ride to the top. They deserved to see their dad triumph.
When they got to Amen Corner I was counting the strokes. The announcers were recalling that his history is one of having a lead and keeping it. There were certainly those who suspected he’d pull his back or double bogey his way through a bunker but that wasn’t what his face was reading. He was patient. He was calm. He was calculated. I haven’t heard him say it but I think he knew at that point that he was going to win.
That's the factor that has been missing in the other comebacks. We haven’t seen that intellectual and psychological edge he brings to the course. We haven’t seen that all-business determination that has had him described as cold, perhaps inhumane. We saw it today.
That was the moment I became a Tiger fan, at least for today. I wasn’t cheering for an aging golf legend, I was cheering for a middle-aged man who has apparently gotten his mind and his life back. How could I not cheer for that?
After today, I don’t even care if he wins another Masters or even another tournament. If he has won in that perilous competition with himself, then he’s already won the big one. And if he can win that one, we all can.
Sam Burnham, Curator
One of my dreams that help drive ABG is reviving struggling or abandoned small rural towns. Reversing the many pressures that have pushed people to larger cities can be reversed. But there are things that must happen to make this a reality.
I recently had a conversation that has me even more hopeful that a farm town renaissance can become reality. Michelle Moore is the CEO of Groundswell, a 501c3 non-profit organization that actively supports community solar, a revolutionary way to provide locally-sourced electricity to neighborhoods and even small towns. We just had the first of what I hope will be many conversations on helping small towns become energy independent.
In the community solar concept, an electrical co-op installs solar panels either on the rooftop of a community building or on the ground in an open area in the community. So the roof of a school, church, hospital, fire station, or community center becomes a small power plant. The solar panels work in conjunction with energy storage units (big batteries) that provide power during times the sun isn’t shining and recharge when it is.
This set up means the co op buys less power from large and distant generating plants. That creates several benefits.
- The co-op, and therefore the residents and businesses have reduced electricity costs.
- Storage units can be placed near essential services like hospitals, public safety facilities, etc. During widespread outages from tornadoes, hurricanes, or snowstorms, these locations have immediate access to power. With a local power source, there is less infrastructure to get back online to restore power to the community. The lights come back on quicker.
- In Georgia the potential for solar power is substantial. We have a lot of sun and utilization of that energy source cuts out transportation costs and potential delays or disruptions. Spikes in the price of coal, oil, or natural gas don’t matter nearly as much.
- Clean energy cuts pollution and makes the community cleaner and healthier.
All of these advantages can be used to draw businesses and residents. As Georgia electrical co-ops have been recently authorized to offer broadband internet service, energy and connectivity mean people can live in South Georgia and telecommute for work - a big city income with a small town life.
That's just scratching the surface. It’s just an introduction. Sometimes saving something old and traditional requires harnessing something new and revolutionary. The rural renaissance will require us to employ cutting edge methods and technology to provide and old fashioned way of life. To go back we have to go forward.
Sam Burnham, Curator
With the news that the disaster relief bill has stalled out in the Senate, we sit here scratching our heads. With much of South Georgia still struggling to recover from Hurricane Michael as well as tornadoes that damaged small towns and agricultural infrastructure, farmers were counting on federal disaster relief to make repairs, buy equipment, and to be eligible to secure loans for seed. And now planting season is upon us and those who lost last year’s crop to weather have lost this year’s crop before they even had a chance to plant it. Many may lose everything they own.
As Washington becomes more and more divided and the two major parties make moves only in the interest of gaining or maintaining power, the pawns become odder. This is not a frivolous topic. Sure, agriculture is the livelihood of those affected but their livelihood is the most important one on Earth. It’s not only the biggest industry in Georgia, it’s where we get our food and it’s what drives our industries. It is all of our livelihoods.
The Judge, Augustus Romaldus Wright, put it this way:
"Agriculture is the foundation of all production absolutely necessary for the use or comfort of man. He must eat and be clothed, to live, to think, to modify matter into ten thousand forms for his use. By locking up the soil, you dry up the fountain of life and being."
This failure is locking up the soil. That’s not an option we can accept. We cannot allow this to happen. It also seems that we cannot expect to change what goes on in Washington. The only option that leaves us is to start conversations on how to never be at the mercy of Washington. We have to be able to handle this at the state and local level. That requires us to develop sustainable systems of finance, energy, agricultural practices, and disaster relief that are completely independent of Washington. The answers will be local, local, and local.
I don’t have answers and don’t claim to. I’m saying we gotta start talking about these answers among ourselves and with anyone in Atlanta who will listen. And we might have to talk a little louder to those in Atlanta who won’t listen.
Washington is not the answer. We were fools to think it was. Our survival depends on a future with limited influence from Washington. If we don’t count on them, they can’t fail us. It’s time to count on us and to set the example for other states to do the same.
Got any ideas?
Historian, self-proclaimed gentleman, agrarian-at-heart, & curator extraordinaire