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The Seaside Institute Fall Update

Posted on Oct 30, 2019 in The Seaside Institute , Fall 2019 , Events 2020 , November-December 2019

The home belonging to Lebron Lackey, who spoke at Transforming Communities on Sept. 15, made national news because it withstood Hurricane Michael. Lackey and his uncle built the home to withstand a hurricane in excess of 200 mph.

The Seaside Institute has been busy in 2019 as we redesign our programs and develop a quality list of speakers on topics that affect us all. The first outcome of our efforts is the Seaside Symposium Series, which kicked off Sept. 14 with a stellar line up of 12 speakers from throughout the world. The subject — “Transforming Communities Through New Urbanism After a Natural Disaster.” Recovery is clearly in front of mind as we pass the anniversary of Hurricane Michael.

Michael was an unprecedented category 5 storm. It formed quickly and hit hard with winds reaching 160 miles-per-hour, killing 74 people and causing $25.1 billion in damages across the Florida Panhandle and Georgia. The storm was swift, but recovery is not.

The September symposium provided attendees with information about the rebuilding process after a natural disaster. Speakers discussed the built environment and how we can turn a devastating situation into an opportunity to reinvent and revitalize our community and neighborhoods.

Natural Disasters are not unique to the Southeast. Guests from all around the country, Indiana, Virginia, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and of course, Florida spent three full days with experts on recovery and rebuilding. Each day of the symposium focused on a different aspect of recovery — The Built Environment, Economic Recovery, and the Government Role.

Each speaker brought a different yet knowledgeable perspective on recovery, rebuilding and restoration after a natural disaster.

The opening speaker, Victor Dover, is the principal and co-founder of town planning firm Dover, Kohl & Partners. He has an extensive background in implementing plans for livable, walkable, and sustainable communities. Rick Hall is CEO of Hall Planning and Engineering with 22 years of experience in planning and preliminary engineering, street design and community plans. Dover and Hall are currently working with Panama City’s city manager, Mark McQueen, on the reconstruction of the Panama City downtown areas after Hurricane Michael. Their first-hand accounts of the process, challenges, and successes were genuinely enlightening.

Dover explained how the rebuilding process as similar to a layer cake of responses after the disaster. Dover also referenced other communities and natural disasters, where time and experience have taught us lessons and have found demonstrated success. Hurricanes, floods, fires, earthquakes and drought all have significant effects on our lives, even if the event doesn’t occur in our area.

In the aftermath of a disaster, the real character of our neighbors is evident. Support rushes in from all over the country. News coverage seems constant and compassion unending. Yet, although our kind-heartedness is swift, our attention spans are short. One year later, Panama City, Mexico Beach, the surrounding communities in the Panhandle and Georgia are still reeling from the devastation, physically, financially and emotionally.

The damage can be so significant and overwhelming that we are paralyzed. The relief is slow to come as we wait on aid money. It will take more than a decade to find our way back to a pre-Michael state.

The “rules” of recovery are not simple, nor are they supportive of our emotional state at such a time. The first step is to find basic needs, such as safe housing, food, clothing, and medications. Next is financial aid, which is a plethora of filling out forms and bureaucratic regulations and processes; all of this is challenging on a good day, and even more so when you are in shock after losing most, if not all, of what you own.

Although we need to get back to normal, emotionally speaking, quickly, the process of physical recovery is not conducive to easing stress. The method of healing is much more than repairing the damage to buildings and roads. It includes navigating the nuances of insurances, finances and government support, paying your bills and feeding your family while in turmoil. Sadly, finding some sense of normalcy in a situation that is anything but simple can be more stressful than the main event itself.

The Seaside Institute believes we should get ahead of the recovery curve with proactive information and planning. We took our first step with “Transforming Communities” to understand the planning and building processes, as well as the realistic timeline in rebuilding our communities. The institute will hold a follow-up symposium in 2020 that will focus on what we as individuals, business owners and families should know about navigating recovery before the need arises.

We must take steps toward individual recovery. If we knew how to traverse the necessary bureaucratic resources, including Insurances and Claims, FEMA, Financing, Communications, Government’s role in advance the process with some advance knowledge, the path will be less stressful. It’s more likely one will retain information before a tragedy rather than after we have lost everything and need to absorb this information while we are in shock after our loss.

The next segment in “Transforming Communities” will focus on the individual’s journey through a disaster. Stay tuned for dates, speakers, and times as we develop a roster of speakers that will bring the best information to you so you can prepare before the next storm.

The Seaside Institute continues to explore the topics that matter to you and apply nationally.

The Seaside Institute Fall Update

Mexico Beach, Nov. 18, 2018. Seaside Institute leadership tour the area destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Photos by Beth Carr

Upcoming Events 2019

Mobility Stakeholders Meeting

The Seaside Institute is hosting a select group of community leaders and agencies to take part in the Mobility Summit on Nov. 18 and 19.

This summit will convene key stakeholders, including the 30A Alliance Advisory Board, to discuss and review the solution concepts that address transportation issues along 30A and in South Walton County.

These solution concepts are part of the county’s mobility plan effort and have been developed by the firm NUE Urban Concepts, which was hired by the county to complete this plan and establish an associated impact fee dedicated towards the implementation of the plan.
The first step in hearing the public’s voice was the Sept. 13 forum held at the Assembly Hall at the Seaside Institute. 30A Alliance representatives will be forwarding a survey to collect input from locals, which is vital for the November summit.
The institute, in partnership with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), is planning a public event, which will be open to locals, residents and visitors. The event will engage the opinions of the people who use and are affected by the 30A corridor. Our planning process for this event is well on its way; dates and details to be announced.

On the Horizon for 2020

• Transforming Communities (Part 2)

• Aging with Grace

• International Travel Program resumes in May of 2020

Finally, the 2020 Seaside Prize will occur on March 6, 7 and 8, 2020, honoring Michael N. Lykoudis, FAIA, Francis and Kathleen Rooney Dean School of Architecture University of Notre Dame.

Join us on our journey to help people create great communities. For more information or tickets, please go to our website at

If you are interested in helping the Institute fulfill its mission contact us at or call us at (850) 231-2421.

There are a number of ways to get involved. Become a member and enjoy early registration for events hosted and produced by the Seaside Institute; and reduced rates for select paid events. For more information on our benefits visit

We work with our mission and the greater good in mind. We don’t sell a product you can take home, we depend on your generous support of our mission. You can make a donation directly to the Institute, sponsor or choose to attend a paid event.

As a small organization, we use volunteers to augment our staff, help us at events and work together in engaging the community in the mission of the Seaside Institute. All skill levels are needed and we are happy to train our new volunteers.

Advocating for a mission is one of the easiest things one can do in support of an organization, especially when you are passionate about the mission. If you have a passion for education, a strong sense of community and want to improve the quality of life for friends, family, co-workers, and acquaintances, working with the Seaside Institute is a terrific and convenient platform.

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