This just in: Hilton Head Island is full of pushy people who think they know it all.
They often don’t talk to one another in a civil manner. Some block out other viewpoints, even booing and hissing like the morons we see on TV at town hall meetings or on alleged news shows.
Surely, the Town of Hilton Head Island didn’t need to pay a consultant $165,000 to learn that.
That observation — actually, that warning — is in a long report that’s been months in the making: “Hilton Head Island — Our Future Vision and Strategic Action Plan.”
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The island has had the reputation for being pushy and maybe loud and obnoxious for the better part of 70 years now — the years newcomers proved locals wrong by making a profitable, desirable place out of the sand spurs nobody wanted.
But it’s good to hear it from an outsider — one who has turned over a lot of sand dollars looking for the community’s heart, soul, and best future.014
It needs to be said: if you are shouting each other down in uncivil selfishness, you will fail.
It needs to be heard.
And it needs to be changed.
Initially, I thought: So what? That’s the way America is today, from the White House to the out house.
But, as our mothers taught us, that’s no excuse. Two wrongs don’t make a right.
So I’ll cling to an observation in the report that rings truest to me: One of Hilton Head’s pillars is a “relentless pursuit of excellence.”
In that pursuit, toes get stepped on, local standards can be ignored, people are told “no” — and things get done.
It was going on in the Gullah community long before Hilton Head’s development. Look at our historic Cherry Hill School. Parents who barely had two nickels to rub together chipped in to build the school to educate their children when the government would not do it. That is a “relentless pursuit of excellence.”
Later generations who wanted better schools would form the Island School Council and the Evening of the Arts to pull many hands into fund-raising events that, oh by the way, formed a community fabric.
They built a hospital that spawned a community foundation. They created a fishing cooperative that helped ward off polluting industry. They created an orchestra and a playhouse and a youth theater and a Bargain Box thrift store that has given almost $15 million to charity.
This April, Hilton Head will celebrate the 50th edition of a PGA Tour golf tournament in Sea Pines that should never, by any stretch of a reasonable imagination, have ever happened once, much less survived with its pageantry and economic footprint. The RBC Heritage Presented by Boeing embodies a community that invited the world to its door, even before it had enough rooms in the inn, even without being a major market, without having the experience — but having a “relentless pursuit of excellence.”
Worms and naysayers
I see it all over, in many institutions.
Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services and the Deep Well Project were reactions to a community where hunger, parasitic worms and disgraceful housing were accepted as the norm as recently as that first year of the Heritage golf tournament.
It took a “relentless pursuit of excellence” to deal with those problems. Outsiders blew the whistle. Feelings were hurt. But things changed.
The Children’s Center just turned 50, thanks to a communitywide “relentless pursuit of excellence” to help working families with daycare and early-childhood education. The Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, that brought free medical care to every soul living or working in the community, is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Yappers and naysayers were everywhere when the “relentless pursuit of excellence” brought these institutions to the community, as well as the Cross Island Parkway, beach preservation, bike paths, higher education, parks and the relentless fight against ugliness.
So, yes, Hilton Head can be a bunch of jerks. We’re used to being called heartless fat cats. Yankees. Elitists. We’re all of that — and more. Hilton Head is as flawed as the rest of the world. Duh. Surely no one actually believes you become a wonderful person, or enter paradise, by simply crossing a bridge.
But I’ll suffer through all the pushy retired vice presidents who never quite got their way but have arrived now to push me around — if it keeps alive our heart and soul: the relentless pursuit of excellence.