This column often focuses on the nuts and bolts of building a stronger local economy. I write routinely about zoning, connectivity, density, urban design and related issues.
But good connectivity doesn’t come only from our built environment. We need people and organizations that strive to bridge the economic, educational, racial and cultural divisions that plague the city. We need to unleash more of the energy and creativity of the talented young people all around us.
Deep Center has been doing that work since 2008, and the organization will celebrate its first decade with a big party this weekend.
Deep Center’s website details the organization’s modest beginnings. In its first year, Deep conducted creative writing workshops for 24 young people in an effort “to address the detrimental effects of poverty on literacy in Savannah.”
Since then, Deep has expanded its programming and its influence.
The Young Author Program, which serves as the foundation for more specialized programs, directly addresses the needs and talents of public middle school students.
Deep’s impressive Block by Block program encourages young writers to “discover Savannah’s past and unfolding stories, find their own stories’ place in Savannah and society at large, and use their creative writing to speak out on critical issues facing their families and communities.”
In a 2015 White House ceremony, Michelle Obama honored Deep Center with a National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award.
Deep’s profound impacts have not been limited to the participants. Many of my friends and my Georgia Southern University students have found tremendous rewards through volunteering with Deep.
Deep will celebrate its 10th birthday with a party from 4 to 7 p.m., Oct. 14 at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, 460 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
The event will include awards to young authors, BBQ with homemade side dishes, birthday cake, dancing, spoken word performance and activities for kids.
The suggested ticket price is $25, but Deep is offering a “pay what you can” option for those with limited resources in addition to optional higher levels. Check out Deep’s website, Facebook page or Ticket Tailor (https://www.tickettailor.com/events/deepcenter/198654) for more information.
New storms, old lessons
The National Hurricane Center issued the first public advisory about Tropical Cyclone Fourteen on the afternoon of Oct. 6. The NHC issued hurricane warnings for portions of the Gulf Coast on Oct. 8.
Strengthening beyond most expectations, Hurricane Michael roared ashore on Oct. 10, just four days after the first notice that a “disturbance” had formed near the Yucatan Peninsula.
This is the nightmare scenario: a hurricane that forms, strengthens and makes landfall with relatively little time for evacuations and other preparations.
The Savannah area largely avoided Michael’s wrath, but many schools and colleges throughout the area closed for one or two days, visitors canceled trips, restaurants lost business and commerce was generally disrupted.
Immediate economic impacts from hurricanes are largely unavoidable. And the long-term impacts, which could be severe, will be hard to avoid too.
The expectations for future growth in the Savannah area have largely hinged on the prospect of new development to serve a growing population. Many Savannahians, including me, have for years assumed that our area is perfectly positioned to attract new businesses and lure retiring baby boomers from other parts of the country.
But people will be thinking twice about expanding into coastal areas. Rising seas and more frequent storms will reduce home values and put the brakes on some new developments. Some properties will be difficult, even impossible, to insure.
With each hurricane and each near miss, we should be reminded again on the simple logic of concentrating people and commerce on the high ground whenever possible.
General Oglethorpe and the first English settlers knew that the 40-foot bluff was their best bet for the long-term success of the new colony, and it is imperative that we show similar foresight today.
Last week, I made a number of arguments in this space for fairly dense, largely residential development for the arena site at the Civic Center, but I did not emphasize the long-term advantages of making maximum use of the highest ground in town.
As I said after Hurricane Florence, I will be exploring the broader impacts of increased hurricane activity on coastal development.
City Talk appears every Tuesday and Sunday. Bill Dawers can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org. Send mail to 10 E. 32nd St., Savannah, Ga. 31401.