Many traditional neighborhoods and historic urban cores provide a desirable public realm that the public at large is proud to connect to and care deeply for into the next generation. In many neighborhoods, families and friends gather in parks for play dates, form community gardens to nourish and feed themselves and simply pass time watching daily life go by. These places are significant to their inhabitants who seek to experience and preserve their beauty while providing the daily dose of meaningful connections to nature and the outdoors.
Communities which have been planned with the pedestrian in mind provide a safe habitat for children and give many their first opportunity to experience personal freedom, physical boundaries and responsibility. The holiday town of Seaside located in northwest Florida offers a shining example of a community where thousands of children have navigated its narrow streets stretching southward to the Gulf. They are enchanted by the sandy, pedestrian footpaths that weave throughout the town.
Community is also shared through the daily rituals, special events and festivals that bring people together. Beyond the chance encounters that human-scaled development brings lie countless opportunities to celebrate heritage and culture. Here in Beaufort we celebrate the rich Gullah and African American heritage with the spring time Gullah festival. Port Royal provides a hub for citizens to purchase quality produce and foods at the Farmers Market nearly each Saturday morning of the year. We honor the tides and abundance of water each summer during Water Festival and celebrate the Fall Harvest in Habersham. In countless other ways Beaufort celebrates its people, heritage, culture, art, music, beaches, waterways and architecture.
A final ingredient of many communities is the opportunity for a fully informed civic life through multi-disciplinary arts and a source for continuing education. Beaufort serves as a prime example of this interconnectedness, showcasing the educational opportunities provided by USCB and TCL and the various historic and cultural arts groups all within the City’s boundaries.
Like a Lowcountry boil, every community has its own recipe while sharing a few key ingredients. Many new towns across the country foster community by hosting farmers markets, concerts, plays, art exhibitions, yard sales, parades, holiday tree lightings and more. All of these additions are framed by the built environment and its effect on human behavior and creation of a sense of community. Here in Beaufort there exist many treasures to care for and to share with one another.
This article was written for Lowcountry Weekly by the Congress for the New Urbanism – Carolinas Chapter. For more information, visit www.cnu.org