2086: Today is my 100th birthday. I’m sitting in my front garden looking across a lower estuary to the east, reflecting. It’s an accomplishment to reach 100 years old, especially to have the people I love around me. A blessing I’ve never taken for granted.
The coast is still very dear to me. It completes me in a spiritual form. I’ve always been drawn to the coast. It is my life and forms part of me as I am part of it. I remember my first childhood memory visiting the beach, collecting shells, playing in the sand and listening to the sea. Maybe the coast holds my secret to still have good health at 100 years old. Although being baptised in the ocean and having my feet washed by the sea is of a lesser experience today than it used to be, the sound and smell still calms and excites me. More so, balances me.
Being a coastal advocate was a given path for a salty soul such like mine. Where love integrated with action, passion followed. Action through a cause to support a need gave me light. Once I heard the coast call for action, I was there.
It began on the dunes. I’ve planted millions of dune plants, one at a time. Soon with a little luck, the plants flourished across the dunes. Building beaches along the way and those who could sense, watched canvases turn into masterpieces. Someone once said to me, “This is your canvas. What you choose to do is up to you. Though, why not make a masterpiece”. Such words still resonate within me, more than 80 years later.
Being a coastal advocate opened many interesting opportunities. Where love and hatred were tested. Despite good experiences in my more youthful years, it’s unfortunate the 2100 vision didn’t make it. I’ve somehow outlived the 2100 benchmark. Though a benchmark I didn’t really ever believe existed. Rather a line in the sand drawn by decision-makers to calm concerns and claims.
It’s a real shame as I used to think we had the best beaches in the world. I remember having to pinch myself every now and then to really appreciate working along some of the most priced coastlines. Even being awarded incredibly prestigious awards for coastal achievements, where communities took effective control to achieve coastal sustainability.
I now have more time to reflect on what happened along the way. Maybe we can pause for a moment and learn from hindsight – this time round. We had a vision for everyone to enjoy a beach experience. Set in stone in 2013, I remember discussing what this meant as everyone’s beach experience will differ. So will everyone’s vision of a beach.
I started to call this a lost vision, rather than a coast vision. As I am a picture person, this drew an issue. How could we visualise everyone’s beach experience? Place making was discussed, though, left for the academics to ponder and model.
I had a coast vision. I wrote about it. Spoke about it. Where I could, I shared it. Though, mustn’t have been a fruitful one? Decade’s later frustration heightened, along with the sea. Leaving me to wake on each tide, as the sea seemed to be nearing. Somehow conversation didn’t motivate conservation.
Being a coastal advocate, for many years I thought it was about being brave enough to share, learn, care and act on behalf of the coast. Living on a coastal planet with 71% ocean and 29% land and where the coast amounts to 1.63 mill km of coastline, such distances would seem to call for action. Looking back my ideology was wrong. Hopefully those thereafter I will find the missing link.
What I’ve come to realise it that my slice of coast became a victim of its own. Only to represent 0.002% of the world’s coastline, some wanted more – more, more and more. What the vision didn’t translate was that less would bring more.
Today I am 100 years old. Though, still feel the same as the dune girl once on the now lost dunes. As each grain of sand is important for the sustainability of everyone’s beach experience, my coastal philosophy remains the same. As it was when I used to plant on the dunes – warriors trying their best to hold and build beaches.
Now 100 years old and with wise words, it’s true to say the coast needs to be treated as one, boundary-less. A balanced coast should have been the vision.
2013: When we act with good intentions, less will bring more and a beach experience for everyone.