If you were asked to describe the ideal community, where would you begin?  Would you talk about the physical and natural beauty of the place?  Would you talk about the streets and squares, the schools and churches, the shops and festivals?  Would you talk about the history of the area’s settlement, or the moments in time that made it what it is today?  Would you talk about the people that make up the place, and how they live and work and play and learn together?  Would you talk about the character of the community and the values that they hold dear?

Sea Islands 2050 envisions our special region as a comprehensive community.

We begin with the precious gifts that the Sea Islands hold for each of us.  We begin with our unparalleled natural environment, full of plants and wildlife begging to be understood and respected and enjoyed.  We begin with our rich and revered history, where exploration and revolution and civil struggle and strong society all intersect.  We begin with our vast natural and developed resources, the abundance of sun and wind and water, the bounty provided by our land, the generations of dearly passed traditions, the beautiful blend of rich and rousing cultures, the long-standing and long-revered institutions -- our military and charities and academies.  We begin with our people’s undeniable spirit, to take care of our own and to respect our special heritage.  These gifts are what inspired each of us, whether we are comeyah (Gullah for “come here”) or binyah (Gullah for “been here”), to call the Sea Islands our home.

But Sea Islands 2050 doesn’t stop with what we have now.  We envision what the Sea Islands can offer our children and our children’s children.  We envision a future of ongoing prosperity, where our community is constantly improving without changing its cherished nature.

We are committed to making this vision a reality.

When we consider our community’s future, we see society at a troubling crossroads.  The nation’s finances struggle under the weight of our industrialized global-scale economic practice, global climate crisis increasingly impacts our way of life, and we require national defense solutions to ensure access to the foreign resources we currently depend on.  Just as many throughout the South, our state faces education rates that rank nearly worst in the country, unemployment rates that mark almost 10% of working-age adults without jobs, and poverty rates (particularly those among children and seniors) that are an inevitable byproduct of the two.  Our local natural resources are being compromised by the unintended consequences of our past decisions, our local food system reflects an entirely inefficient practice of exporting what we make and importing what we need, and our energy is produced hundreds and even thousands of miles away while untapped sources surround us on all sides.

We see un-sustainability.  We see environmental, economic, and social impacts that future generations won’t possibly be able to bear.

Yet out of all of this, Sea Islands 2050 also sees opportunity.

In our community, a movement is stirring.  It is a movement built by community members, for our community’s future, and with the resources we have right here around us.  It includes local governments, businesses, organizations, institutions, and concerned citizens.  It is a movement that, in many ways and with many players, is collectively working toward the sustainability of our region, each step building a dependable and resilient community for our generation and for those that will come after.

This movement can be seen in many of the distinct yet interrelated efforts already taking place.

It can be seen in the grand vision of Beaufort County to create a municipally-integrated Form-Based Code that will provide predictability of urban environment while promoting market demanded flexibility of use.  It can be seen in a regional approach to economic strategy and development, in the form of the multi-county work of the Lowcountry Economic Alliance.  It can be seen in the collaborative efforts of the Metropolitan Planning Commission, working together and learning from each other in addressing the complex planning issues that face our community as a whole.

This movement can be seen in the strategic investments of our region’s cities and towns.

In the City of Beaufort, its Comprehensive Plan has not only been developed and approved, but the Council has had the foresight to provide for its implementation as well.  Utilizing the local Office of Civic Investment, the Beaufort Civic Master Planning process is establishing the principles and standards that all public and private development will follow into the future, identifying and promoting investment and reinvestment opportunities while respecting the unique history, character and physical attributes of the City’s neighborhoods.  In the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Mayor’s Task Force for the Island’s Future has taken a critical look at the island’s core values, building on its Comprehensive Plan in providing key strategies that will guide the town into the future.  Under this charge, the Task Force has developed Vision 2025, documenting the strategic elements its citizen leadership sees as necessary for a successful future, notably including the creation of a Sustainability Advisory Committee.  Other municipalities are following in Beaufort and Hilton Head’s footsteps as well.

But most specifically, this local movement toward sustainability can be seen in Sea Islands 2050.

For the past two years, a diverse collection of concerned citizens has been meeting regularly to discuss an entirely new, full-spectrum sustainable, trajectory for our community.  Out of these discussions, Sea Islands 2050 has grown, an organization dedicated to the vision of a resilient community prospering into a sustainable future.  We won’t pessimistically accept that future generations are simply going to be worse off than we are today, but we also appreciate that their future lies in our present and we intend to act on that heavy responsibility.

Sea Islands 2050 is a coalition of engaged parties with a vision for our community.

Our mission is to develop, advocate, and implement the goals and supporting strategies needed to achieve full-spectrum sustainability.  Partnering with local organizations, parallel initiatives, key stakeholders, and fellow communities, Sea Islands 2050 cultivates collective investment in a common vision, focusing on the critical environmental, social, and economic issues impacting the long-term potential of our region and its citizens, present and future.

Our focus is on civic participation, arts and culture, neighborhood and community development, natural resources, environmental health and natural character, sustainable agriculture and mariculture, education innovation, local business development, renewable energy, alternative transportation, and waterway access.

We are launching our efforts through three initial implementation projects: a Smart Grid System and Innovation Institute, a Sea Islands Sustainable Community Food System, and a Sea Islands Community Empowerment Program.  Immediately impacting our energy, food system, and education sectors will form the basis upon which Sea Islands 2050 will begin to help our community turn the tide toward full-spectrum sustainability.  We look forward to expanding our efforts into additional sectors and broadening our reach into more of our community.

We believe that our strength lies not only in our own organization and its important goals, but in the convergence of local efforts that our projects will support.  We look forward to working with institutions like the University of South Carolina and USC-Beaufort and the Technical College of the Lowcountry, to partnering with local municipalities throughout Beaufort County and beyond, and to teaming with sympathetic organizations like the Beaufort County Open Land Trust and the Lowcountry Housing Trust and the Lowcountry Food Bank.

Most importantly, we will actively contribute to the national campaign for a sustainable future.  Through our work with the National Sustainable Communities Coalition, we have the opportunity to provide a local Sea Islands case study of the National Strategic Narrative.  Sharing our process and progress with fellow resiliency-visioned communities and practitioners across the country, we have access to experts of all types -- public and private, liberal and conservative, for-profit and non-profit -- who recognize the value in proactive preparation for what lies ahead.  We are bringing that value home to our community.

Sea Islands 2050 is looking to our community’s future.  We realize that it is in our hands to secure, as the U.S. Constitution describes, the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.  We are ready for the challenge, on behalf of our fellow citizens and for our future generations.  We hope you will join us.

contact us:

P.O. Box 6572

Beaufort, SC 29903


© 2012 Sea Islands 2050 ・ all rights reserved

building bridges toward comprehensive community・








~ Gifford Pinchot, 1st Chief of the U.S. Forest Service and 28th Governor of Pennsylvania