Yesterday, while visiting with neighbors at the Fortescue Chapel, I realized that "saving the bayshore" primarily involves a change people's mindset. In essence, it is a community-based mental health issue. To save our bayshore communities we must come to accept that the communities of the coming decades will not resemble the bayshore communities today. Saving the community means adapting to the reality that long term strategic retreat is the best option for some human uses. Some current usage, like current types of agriculture and residential housing will no longer be viable. At the same time, other uses will continue and some, like eco-tourism and aquaculture, will increase in comparison to current levels.
I often hear from the "old-timers" that we just need to maintain the systems that worked in the past to preserve bayshore communities in their current state. That seems logical until we take a step back and look at the larger picture of sea level rise, especially the mid-Atlantic "hotspot" along the Delaware Bay. We do not expect to change the minds of those with the belief that permanent changes to our earth and local water levels are not happening. Yet it is important for these few to realize that the overwhelming tide of public and leadership opinion - including those that control funding for our municipality - has taken a different course. This will be difficult reality for many of our residents to accept.
Yet some of our lifelong Downe Township residents have come to understand that saving our bayshore means embracing this change and giving up on the urge to fight with natural forces. I notice a significant change in residents' attitudes from even one or two years ago. Those of my neighbors who embrace the change tend to have, in my observation, a healthier and happier outlook on life. Some stuck in the resolution to hold their ground (both literally and figuratively) seem to be affected by long term stress disorder. If my hunch is right, we will see this evolve into more factious patterns of those who embrace vs. those who fight.
This transformational mindset of acceptance can be empowering and invigorating force. I invite you to give it a try. It won't be easy at first; we have deeply-rooted belief systems that perceive a threat to our core values. We have financial interests at stake as well. But as we continue to learn more and experience what nature has in store for us, embracing change is the healthiest option for the future of our community.
Tony Novak, BaySave Corp., Newport NJ