Sound Strategy: Seasonal and full-time residents can work together to improve the greater Outer Banks

Sound Strategy: Seasonal and full-time residents can work together to improve the greater Outer Banks

February 12th, 2023

Richard Nixon once coined the phrase “silent majority” as his way of thinking about the many millions of citizens who were not especially vocal on policy or political issues.

In seeking to address this group, Nixon’s intent was to call for a kind of national solidarity during a time of deep national division.

More locally across our region, we tend to think of our own “majority” as our neighbors, co-workers, and friends around the area.

In addition to that, though, one thing that makes our area relatively distinct in North Carolina is the sheer number of seasonal residents that love the area as well.

Many parts of the greater Outer Banks region feature surprisingly large numbers of seasonal residents.

Let’s start with some clarity around this word choice.

When we say seasonal residents, we mean those many thousands of people who own a home or property in the area but don’t live here on a full-time basis – they may rent their home, for example, or use it as a second home. They may plan to build one day.

In either case, they spend a lot of time in the place they love and have made significant investments as a reflection of that. Collectively, they are a crucial stakeholder in our visitor economy.

Planting beach grass in the dunes is a great example of seasonal and full-time residents of the region working together towards a common goal. [courtesy Better Beaches OBX]

Now to the strategy conversation – this group can on occasion feel ostracized for a variety of reasons.

They may have unpleasant memories of the bridge closure and the social media vitriol that accompanied it, for example, or a general sense of disengagement from more local conversations.

Or, on a human level, they simply may not know too many of their own neighbors or friends around the region. They may, in effect, just not know where to start a conversation.

An unfortunate few among them are dismissive and an unfortunate few among us are equally as disquieted.

Happily, one opportunity we have as a region is to better engage this large number of people who love the area we call home – whether it’s the non-profit community or many of our infrastructure challenges, our seasonal residents are capable, connected, and passionate about the future.

If we were to think about our seasonal residents as a kind of untapped potential, then our opportunity becomes to engage with them constructively with an eye toward cohesion and collaboration.

Together, in other words, we can do more. Much more.

As Nixon helped prove, democracy is always contested by its very nature and that’s also true of any place that has a mixture of interests from both seasonal and full-time residents alike. There will not always be agreement and nor will there always be similar perspectives.

The danger, however, lies not in our disagreement but in the manner in which we disagree – disengagement and vitriol will do more harm to our region than any hurricane.

Conversely, to welcome our seasonal residents is in many ways to welcome our neighbors, co-workers, and friends, too.

In short, to achieve a kind of future that will keep our children coming back home, our full-time residents will have to be good neighbors to our seasonal residents, as so many of us are, and our seasonal residents can in turn be responsibly good stewards back to the communities in which they participate, as so many of them are.

If we get this collaboration right, good things will inevitably happen. If we get it wrong, we are doomed to repeat ourselves in our mistakes.

Three cheers for a vibrant mix of both seasonal and full-time residents and a recognition that this unique blend of people can work together to move us all forward.

“Sound Strategy”, a weekly commentary from our publisher Clark Twiddy, features issues, ideas and information focused on our mission statement of “Covering the Business News of the Greater Outer Banks”.

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