We Can Weather the Storm

When Hurricane Ian decimated the west coast of the Florida peninsula in late September 2022, virtually wiping out Ft. Meyers, the community called Babcock Ranch, to its immediate north, came through with hardly a scratch. How could that be? Apparently the community was designed for success – by former Green Bay Packer lineman, Syd Kitson of Kitson and Partners! It was meant to accommodate Florida’s climate and ecosystem, offering some forward-thinking features:

  • indigenous plants and natural waterways for drainage 
  • built 25 to 30 feet above sea level to help mitigate flooding from storm surges  
  • sustainable water and sewage systems 
  • all electric and phone lines buried 

Interviewed on 60 Minutes, Kitson said, “We are the first solar-powered town in America. We have a solar field that’s 150 megawatts.” The solar field “features a massive solar array of 700,000 panels, built by Florida Power and Light. Those panels withstood Ian’s brutal beating.

“There’s a lot of water, but you don’t see a single panel that’s been dislodged. And there was quite a bit of wind that came through here over the last few days,” Kitson reported. “Gusts of over 150, and it did not take a single panel out of here, which is really just remarkable.”

Babcock Ranch community was planned to be the first solar-powered city in the country, expecting to have the world’s largest solar power array when completed. Commercial buildings and homes were designed to be energy efficient and constructed to the standards of the Florida Green Building Coalition. A tech center with an emphasis on research and development for clean energy was a key feature at Babcock Ranch from the outset.

The message is clear: Instead of climate denial, Syd Kitson has capitalized on climate change in his development. Now, through proof of his success, he has the opportunity to maximize his growth on real estate development – a huge win for him and his home owners, whose equity increased nearly overnight due to his foresight in development. This is a prime example of a foresight strategy – out of the box early.

Learn more here: Babcock Branch Real Estate  and “Babcock Ranch: Solar-powered “hurricane-proof” town takes direct hit from Hurricane Ian, never loses electricity

Redefining Poverty in the United States

Heidi Selberg,  Envision Board member

Earlier this year, the WBUR program “On Point” discussed poverty in the United States.  The guests and their key points are outlined below.  It’s remarkable that the points made so compellingly by sociologist Mark Robert Rank were outlined in a book published in 2004 and have received so little public discussion since. A key such point is that the majority of adults in the US will experience poverty as defined by the Federal Poverty Level during their lifetimes.  This has important implications for any work designed to address poverty or upward mobility, as poverty is not experienced by a fixed group of people who need to work their way out of the situation.  Rather, it is experienced widely.


A Happiness Index for Greater Green Bay?
We can Learn from Bhutan and Nordic Countries

Gratzia Villarroel, Ph. D.; Envision Board member

What can we do in Brown County to improve the quality of life for everyone and promote greater happiness in our community? What can we learn from them that we might adopt in our community? A brief look at the trajectory of the Southeast Asian country of Bhutan, that of Nordic countries, and the United Nations (UN) sponsored World Happiness Report might give us some clues. As we will see below, the south-central Asian country of Bhutan was instrumental in creating the World Happiness Report in 2012, while Nordic countries have consistently been considered the happiest.

(Click here to read entire article.)