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Key West Reactor column
[Published in Key West The Newspaper on December 16, 2011.]
Why we need Last Stand
Let’s take an imaginary road-trip to the olden days….
You drive your ox-cart to the end of the road at the end of a small valley, to a nice little village. You’ve visited it in the past, love it — and decide now to settle down there. From time to time other villagers move away, so the population is pretty stable and most of the villagers get to know one another.
Eventually a few long-time villagers and a few well-off newcomers acquire significant properties in the village. And some of them get a “fever” to acquire more and more. And more. To make matters worse, tycoons from other towns hear about the beauty of your village and are also struck by the fever. Even some of those without much to show for themselves find that there are money-lenders willing to stoke their feverish flames.
The less greedy villagers see the rapid increase in dwellings (both size and quantity) and the rise in population driven by their availability. They see the impact on the streams and the pond and the hunt. They worry about the increasing wear and tear on the long road into the valley, and about congestion on that road when they must flee streams flooded by excess snow on the mountains above.
So they take their concerns to the village council, but find that the council sides with the fevered as often as not. Even when the council acts wisely, the fevered hatch schemes to bypass council edicts. Or they seek solace in proclamations from nearby Dukes (who have also caught the fever) and have powers and forces to threaten the small village aldermen.
Fortunately a small band of villagers has been able to organize, acquire resources and dedicate the time required to plan strategies to slow the fevered land-grabbers. The band seeks out backing from other less-fevered Royalty who can counter the Dukes. The band encourages (sometimes forcefully) the often lackadaisical aldermen to enforce the established edicts being ignored by the fevered. They lobby for NEW edicts to further protect the town. And when the fevered fight back the band doesn’t back down.
Without the help of this band and other concerned villagers, the once peaceful and beautiful village would have long since become a dense quagmire of hovels surrounded by diseased forests and polluted streams. But with the encouragement of that band, the non-fevered in the village takes initiatives to stem the inevitable tide of greed.
They take a STAND.
At this point I must add a disclaimer: I’m a member of the Last Stand board of directors — have been for four years. And I’m proud of what we have been able to accomplish. That said….
Why do we need Last Stand?
Primarily because we need a WATCH DOG. Keys developers, like so many everywhere, seem not to have learned the lesson of that goose and its golden eggs. Too many want to get what they can and get out, and are willing to take actions that will ultimately turn our Keys into that village quagmire. They’ll be long gone with the money in their pocket before it gets that bad, but they are willing to move us inexorably in that direction. SOMEBODY must keep our eyes open and watch for them. Or sniff them out. Last Stand sees this as a primary mission.
We also need a BODYGUARD. When an overzealous developer or even a mixed up government agency oversteps its bounds or makes a bad call, and subsequently refuses to back off, SOMEBODY must be willing to spend the capital to fight back. Last Stand has not been unwilling to step up to such challenges when they arise. We do have financial resources available to pursue the actions required, and have taken issues to the courts a number of times over the years with good success.
Perhaps most importantly, we need a TEACHER. Last Stand regularly produces forums (the “Keys In The Balance” series, and our “Neighborhood Information Forums”) on topics of utmost importance to our quality of life. We write editorials and letters to the editor and do radio shows. We work with the schools, and participate in events. We feel that an educated populous will SAVE us a lot of work.
Last Stand has been doing the above for 25 years now. It’s no flash in the pan — we’re in it for the long haul. The City Commission and Country Commission and the planning boards and other city and county boards LISTEN when we speak, because they know we take the time to fully understand the issues and don’t go off half-baked. We are always looking for new board members, so if you wish to help our community as we are doing, come to our meetings and get involved. Details at http://Last-Stand.org
If you’re reading this on Friday (12/16), drop by the BottleCap Groove Lounge on Simonton this evening during happy hour (5pm-8pm) for Last Stand’s Holiday Celebration and find out more about Last Stand. Food and entertainment provided…
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