January 31st, 2011

#SeasideAt30 Inspired Me

This weekend a of group people passionate about New Urbanism convened upon Seaside, FL to discuss the future of New Urbanism. In addition, it was a time to reflect on 30 years of Seaside. Many of the New Urbanism founders were in attendance: Robert Davis, Andres Duany, Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Peter Katz, and several others.

I was not able to attend the event, but I did have the opportunity to visit Seaside in 2005. On our visit we stayed in a house with two other couples, and it was an amazing place. We were actually there with a larger group, and together we explored every square foot of town. We only ventured to the shoreline once because the town is truly captivating.

Thanks to the forward-thinking and social media savvy mind of Steve Mouzon, I was able to experience the Seaside at 30 event as he did a tweetcast for the rest of us. What’s a tweetcast? Steve and several others would tweet comments from the event throughout the day with a Twitter hashtag – #SeasideAt30. As a result, you can easily search over on Twitter using the #SeasideAt30 hashtag to view everyone’s tweets on the topic.

The tweetcast really got me thinking about my visit to Seaside and how it inspired me to continue promoting New Urbanism as much as I can. There were so many good tweets from the day that I created a “Top 5″ list of my favorite. So here’s my top five tweets from the #SeasideAt30 tweetcast.

Tie: 1. Robert Davis sold his first Seaside lot to buy food -Andrés Duany,#SeasideAt30

Reason: That’s how all this NU stuff started? Feels very practical to me.

Tie: 1. Architects have largely divorced themselves from practice and craft -Hank Dittmar #SeasideAt30

Reason: The massive lack of vision and courage among most architects is an epidemic and the reason they are becoming less relevant to our society.

2. Never discuss of a name change again. New York has never considered changing it’s name. -Lizz Plater-Zyberk #SeasideAt30

Reason: Well said, and a later tweet talked about “new” being accepting of change.

3. Brick streets in seaside because you could buy 200 feet of bricks. The asphalt guys don’t get out of bed for that. -Duany #seasideat30

Reason: Humor and true.

4. now I realize that while Celebration is a better place to walk your dog, it hasn’t changed the region at all -Peter Katz, #SeasideAt30

Reason: I respectfully disagree big time with Peter Katz on this one, but it’s probably a strong enough statement to make people think about regional impact. I feel that without Celebration we wouldn’t have Baldwin Park in Orlando. In addition, Baldwin Park and Celebration are part of the region’s DNA and the metro area government talks about it and references New Urbanism as a result. Celebration and Baldwin Park are impacting the region, just not as fast or with the results we would like.

5. My wife spent years in medical school, she has years of medical training. She is our kids over educated chauffeur. #seasideat30 ~Rick Geller

Reason: A very accurate picture of life in suburbia. It’s a shame. As a country we have so much knowledge, but our built environment is holding us back. In addition, Rick Geller is a fine addition to the NU cause.

Seaside Style Book Cover

This is a book review that I wrote for New Urban Living Magazine. The review was originally published in the September/October 2004 issue.

Despite the title, Seaside Style, by Eleanor Lynn Nesmith, is not only about an architectural style or interior decorative theme, it offers more than that. It also depicts a lifestyle – a lifestyle of living comfortably and satisfyingly along the Gulf Coast and enjoying what coastal life has to offer. It begins with a description of this lifestyle and Seaside’s physical locality that is so strong the reader can almost see, hear, and feel the sights, sounds, and salty breezes off the Gulf. The Introduction also includes a brief but detailed account of Seaside’s early stages and the development of its set of guidelines and codes which are based on engaging and complimenting the landscape rather than simply building on it. [...]