Jacksonville needs one more bridge.
After living in San Diego and New Orleans, I didn’t expect moving here to be easy. I convinced my wife it would only be temporary. We would live here long enough to enjoy the low cost of living, beautiful waterways and historic neighborhoods. Then we’d find our permanent home.
Eight years later, there is no better place I’d rather call home.
Jacksonville, like most of Florida, is experiencing growth at the benefit of macro migratory trends. Unlike the rest of Florida, Jacksonville is uniquely equipped with the best natural resources, seasonal weather and vibrant history. These assets form a solid foundation. A foundation that should be one of the best in the country for explosive growth.
But there is a crack in our foundation. And it’s a gap that is growing wider – threatening our future.
Jacksonville is made of patches. Each patch is a different community with a different identity and different set of problems. In some patches, the problems include economic disadvantages and rampant violence. In other patches, weekends are spent shopping at farmer’s markets and brunching at restaurants. All the patches offer cultural value, but we can’t grow until we blur the lines between these communities and become one beautiful tapestry.
To forge a stronger foundation, we need to bridge our past with the present. There is a rich history in this town. Countless stories are not being told. Musical talents to revive. Architecture to restore. Community traditions to revisit. Heirloom recipes to reimagine.
New Orleans – and even San Diego – thrive by bridging the highlights of the city’s history with future opportunities. Jacksonville needs to build the same bridge. We need to unite. We need to cultivate a cultural identity around the city’s roots in enterprise, arts and natural resources.