shorebirdsIt was barely 8 a.m. when we hit the beach near Fish Haul Creek on a cold January morning. The wind was howling out of the north at 25 mph, making our eyes tear and faces sting.

The dry surface sand of the beach was moving swiftly past our feet like a white river that we were wading through; if you watched the ground as you walked, you were overtaken by a feeling of vertigo.

Better to look ahead, to peer through the fog of blowing sand and try to locate the reason we were subjecting ourselves to these very un-tropical conditions.

“People think local and short-term. When you tell people in Chicago this winter was a very warm winter around the world — the eighth warmest winter on record — their response is that they are scraping ice off their cars in mid-March.”

That’s the view of Rear Admiral David W. Titley, who recently spoke on “Climate Change and National Security” at the World Affairs Council of Hilton Head. 

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In his talk, which covered the history of climate change within the budgetary, policy and political perspectives of the U.S.

Drew-LaughlinhhiOne way to illustrate the state of the Hilton Head Island is to envision a driving or bicycle tour.

Let’s start our tour from the southern part of our island in the waters in and around Harbor Town.

The iconic Harbor Town Marina and nearby Braddock Cove area have finally been dredged so boating access and docking improves, and RBC Heritage aerial photography coverage is enhanced. (A short time ago, RBC and Boeing stepped-up to sponsor the Heritage, and Town Council immediately made a five-year funding commitment to fill the remaining need and ensure the continued presence of an event that generates $84 million per year to the local and state economy.)

Lisa-Sulka-blufftonAs with our personal lives, it is important to take time to stop, reflect and focus on who we are, what we do and where we want to go. As a town, that was our task in the beginning of 2014 as Bluffton developed a brand for itself.  

Beyond the marketing benefits of a new brand, the process also reminded each of us why we do what we do and gave us a philosophy which guides Bluffton forward in each project and policy.

That process crystalized the mission of Bluffton to further evolve our town into a progressive, innovative municipality, while never losing sight of our town’s historic, artistic and coastal culture. As in our personal lives, when we are clear about our intentions, it’s amazing how other people’s focus also becomes clearer.

For more than three years, architect Tom Crews has led a committee through a methodical study of Hilton Head’s existing land management ordinance, which regulates development and growth on the island.

He then guided the LMO through a total rewrite of the document to meet today’s needs.

Architect-Tom-Crews

“It hasn’t been an overnight study,” Crews stressed during an interview in his New Orleans Road office. “This is the first true rewrite since the town’s original land management ordinance was adopted in 1987. It’s been revised, but this is the first time that we’re going to completely eliminate the old and adopt the new. Always in the past it was revisions to sections.”

Charles-Simmons-JrHis home had no running water and no electricity, and there were no paved roads, no stoplights, no marinas and no bridges anywhere on Hilton Head Island. But there was food on the table, friends to play with, school to attend and work to do every day.

This was life on Hilton Head Island in the 1930s, not just for Charles Simmons Jr., now 85 years old, and his family, but for all of the other native black islanders as well.

It was a good Gullah life, a life apart from the big wide world around them, except for the occasional trips to Savannah by boat for groceries, clothes, and socializing with family and friends.

For many, Hilton Head Island and Bluffton have provided an alternative from the fast pace of metropolitan areas, offering friendly, familiar faces and a strong sense of community. The way of life and pace here is relaxed, casual and easy.

Life-Lowcountry

The draw of Hilton Head has lured many visitors to trade their one week of the year for a lifelong vacation. The abundance of activities and diversions are endless.

Living in paradise certainly doesn’t eliminate commutes, deadlines and Monday mornings, however it offers happiness and fulfillment outside of routine; it keeps the focus centered on what is important in life.

It’s written on the side of the truck, but for Dan Fuller and the dogs of Urban Search and Rescue, it means a little more.

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To you, it’s a beach. It smells like a beach. Maybe you catch some salt in the air, but otherwise it just kind of … smells like a beach.

dog-loving-community5Hilton Head Humane Association dogs in Canines for Service program

The Canines for Service program provides a service dog to approved veterans, helping empower those with disabilities to attain a high level of independence and improve their quality of life through these special service dogs.

The training to become a Canines for Service graduate takes 10 months to a year. During that time the dogs learn more than 90 commands that range from all levels, the easiest being the basic obedience skills.

Some dogs go above and beyond for their people. Just ask 9-year-old Lea Sheeran.

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Those of us who are “dog people” know that life is measured in dogs. There was the shaggy protector who sat watch by your childhood bed during thunderstorms. The pooch who would come bounding out the door when you’d visit home from college. The curious puppy who greeted your first born with an apprehensive sniff and a face full of kisses.