No matter how one describes it, quantifies it, whatever it was that was on display following a fatal jet ski accident on the Fourth of July, we could use a lot more in the coming years.
Defining what that was, well, that is a challenge.
Like Yogi Berra was fond of saying, you know it when you see it.
Finding words, the adjectives, that is the hard part.
The brain doesn’t always translate what the soul and heart speaks.
Pretty hard to quantify what fuels a community that puts aside so much, contributes so much, to a family in distress, a family dealing with unimaginable heartache.
That so moves that family, and their community, miles, hours, away, in another state.
But, in the coming years, whatever it is, wherever it resides, we will need that sense of, that pride in, community.
RESTORE is truly possible only if that community is bound together, sets aside gender, skin color, economic wherewithal, and the barriers that work to tear the threads of community.
Only then, will the promise of the RESTORE Act, and the discussion of “transformational” opportunities, of “once-in-a-lifetime” chances actually come to pass.
The outline of RESTORE is stunning in its breadth.
Over the next 15 years or so, the county has earmarked for its benefit, for economic and environmental restoration, some $90 million, at a minimum, out of the various pots of money established to carry out the provisions of the RESTORE Act.
That legislation aimed to restore the economies and environments of the states, as well as counties and municipalities, soiled by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
And if you want some idea of how quickly those 15 years of dollars will come and go, consider that it has already been seven years, roughly half that period of time, since the oil spill.
The money may just be arriving, but the tap will close in a, relatively speaking, blink of an eye.
Further, consider the very good fortune of Gulf County, given that actual environmental impacts to beaches from the oil spill were negligible, though the jury is out on the water, and the Tourist Development Council, under new leadership, traveled miles in mitigating at least some of the public economic impacts.
But the impacts were felt nonetheless and beyond settlements already reached by various governing bodies individually, the county will reap a potential bonanza for the pain, and stress, caused.
Provided it sows the seeds of community, of lifting all boats.
If in 15 years, we can not look back on RESTORE with pride and joy at the progress made, it will be a once-in-lifetime squandering.
Expanding the economy and business sector, expanding the tax base with a goal of spreading and lessening individual tax burdens, creating a hireable workforce, enhancing and protecting an environment so central to everyday life, these are all goals, and possibilities, for the dollars heading this way.
Developing an operational port, revitalizing residential neighborhoods as well as business districts, north and south, and expanding local educational programs.
The list is long and the needs many, and the ship is pulling up to the dock.
The question will be how many get to board?
Will all those dollars be an excuse for politics, which one can already glean, and establishing or reinforcing station and status?
How much will the public, even with required meetings to invite input that can too often feel like charades, have a genuine say in the decision-making, or will closed doors and private talks decide how and where money is spent?
To what extent will officials of the county, the public servants, be inclusive or exclusive in determining the projects and areas for which money will be sought?
Will the vision be broad, expansive, reaching even those who have been left out in recent years, or narrow and driven by those already benefiting economically?
Over the past few weeks, the spirit of community, of coming together, bridging fissures and reaching out to a fellow human being for the benefit of all, has been on clear display in Gulf County.
That spirit, that sense that nobody wins unless everybody wins, that the Golden Rule had it right all along, will be sorely tested, and badly needed, over the coming 15 years.
The hope is that spirit, a part of the community’s character and so available for tapping, does not become drowned by dollars.