Sunday, May 22, 2011

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

"There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth; remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them."

If we consider Henry Flagler, the railroad tycoon and real estate developer, as the father of Florida, Marjory Stoneman Douglas must surely be her mother. Where Flagler sought to subdue Florida and civilize her, Douglas protected and nurtured her. She fought Big Sugar and the Big Cypress Jetport. Her book, The Everglades: River of Grass, changed the perception of many Floridians about the Everglades from being a useless swamp to that of the literal and metaphorical heart of the state.

She was seen by many, mostly those intent on using Florida for their own financial gain, as a troublemaker... an old woman with nothing better to do than throw a monkey wrench into their plans. As the population of south Florida grew, the Army Corps of Engineers sought to drain flood prone areas. Douglas was often the lone voice of dissent, speaking up on behalf of the Everglades, whose voice was the croak of bullfrogs, the bellow of gators and the scolding of the red winged blackbirds. Developers, the Army Corps and politicians don't speak their languages, so she translated.

Mrs. Douglas died in 1998 at the age of 108. Without her, the Everglades would most likely be many more thousand square miles of ticky-tacky homes and strip malls. One could not ask for a better mother.


Eileen Boyle Corbeil said...

I don't know Florida well and have not liked what I've seen (an old alligator in a pen in the middle of a restaurant? and patrons - including my in-laws - who think this is fun? ugh). Your post makes me realize that my knowledge of the state is shallow.

Joey B said...

Oh Eileen... You can still catch glimpses of the old Florida between the McMansions and golf courses, but it's like viewing oneself in an old windowpane. The image is distorted and indistinct.

jojo said...

i still try to live it. :) I haven't spent 10 days in the everglades like i used to and see IF we could survive. :) but i live right on the skirts of it. Sadly, I'll be ousted one day... land use changes are happening faster then we can stop them. Focus on one piece of land and wham another in the other direction just got "commercial" 60,0000 sq ft big box store allowed.. :(

Eileen check out this link,
the independent films called "florida Cracker" movie is well worth the money. And gives you deeper glimpse into what parts of Florida, THE REAL FLORIDA, is...
Nice post Joey!