I do not pretend to make the presumption that people actually want to read what I write, but I do know that I have a lot to say, and I prefer to write what I have to say than say what I have to say.
This blog will primarily consist of issues on and around Galveston Island, challenges and opinions I face and form every day. I have two main dreams in life, with lots of little sub-dreams surrounding them. I will make films for a living, and I will see Galveston Island restored to her former prominence and glory. Now to really understand that last statement, you would have to know at least a little about Galveston and her intensely rich history, but lets just say this was a swingin’, rockin’ place, oh, up until about fifty years ago.
I’ll give you a brief re-cap. Fast forward through Bernarndo de Galvez (our namesake), the Karankawa tribe, and Jean Lafitte. In 1821 the US Navy sent a warship over to our paradise shores and pretty much let Lafitte know that his presence here was a nuisance. Over the next eighty years, Galveston grew and grew some more, and didn’t really stop growing. Our status as a port city afforded us many benefits, and became indicative of a status and culture unlike any other in Texas. Because of our great location and easily accessed harbor, along with the cotton boom and an extremely organized pier system that allowed easy ingress and egress to our city streets, commerce was crazy. The increase of commerce meant that we had to have banks to hold all the money we were making, we had to invent insurance to protect it all, and we felt the need to start a mansion-building contest just to try and outdo each other. Being a port city also meant that a lot of people from all parts of the world graced our shores at all times, along with the bawdy and lascivious sailors that got them here. And so we enveloped many different cultures, realized that booze and brothels were profitable, and emerged with a much more relaxed, diverse, and forward-thinking population than the demographics of the rest of the Bible Belt. In fact during the years leading up to the turn of the twentieth century we were even at the forefront of modern technology, completely wired for electricity by 1885, and home to many firsts in Texas, including the first real estate firm, the first jewelry store, the first insurance company, the first producer of “artificial ice,” the first and longest standing operational library, and so on and so forth.
Fast forward, one hundred and twelve years later, and the local population is divided into two groups. I despise labels but for the sake of reference I will admit I am an IBC (Islander By Choice). The other, more distinguished group here, is affectionately referred to as BOIs (Born On the Island). Here is where my afore mentioned abhorrence of labels really comes to light. I think it is great that people are proud of being a BOI, I really do. If I was a BOI I would be proud of that, too. But there is a discrepancy. A small yet powerful subset of the BOI population reveres our rich Island history and the people who created it so much that they have become blinded by the pride of who we were. So much so that they have in a way bastardized this pride so that their prejudices exclude anyone who wants to help Galveston Island but was not born here.
Funny part is that this convoluted pride is completely abject and conradictory to the spirit of the Island upon which they base it! If the original BOIs were as close-minded and clique-ish then guess what? None of us would be here and Galveston Island would still be nothing but a flat marshy sandbar with Karankawa running around everywhere. Not only that, but some BOIs further perpetuate the insanity by exploiting their birthright, yet do not, as they say, “put their money where their mouth is.” One particular BOI foundation that shall remain nameless, in 2011 donated over twenty million dollars off the island, compared to a mere two hundred thousand dollars to organizations on the Island.
Now before you get out your BOI carved driftwood and head for my office to show this crazy IBC who’s boss, hear me out. I am not, by any means, lumping all BOIs into this category. One of my dearest friends Ms. Weaver is a hardcore BOI but she loves anyone who loves the Island, despite their place of origin. And there are many others who have welcomed my efforts and my passion for this Paradise with open arms. But we must not allow those who defy the spirit of Island culture with their disallusioned pride in who we were to prevent us from becoming who we can become.
Why are we living in the past? Why is a rich history enough, when recent decade after decade we have denied the legacy of resiliency and perseverance, thinking it’s enough to just appreciate where we came from, instead of using our legacy to empower us and take us where we need to go?!
One BOI sat in my office and said, “Don’t try to save Galveston, she doesn’t want to be saved.” Bull. Shit. This Island, this beautiful diverse Paradise so paradoxically located along the shores of one of the most conservative states in the US, doesn’t only want to be saved, she deserves to be saved.
Island Beautiful is a non-profit organization that I founded in May of this year. Inspired by the faith and determination of the survivors of The Great Storm of 1900, my dream, my hope, my wish, my passion, my goal, is to annihilate the beauracracy that is holding our City and our Island down, and work tirelessly to beautify and enrich this Island and her people that I hold so dear.
Peace, Love, and Palm Trees,