Also: Family asks for help in reuniting with daughter, and restauranteur thanks city for its efforts during the governor's safer-at-home order.
Updated June 24
While people around the world were posting photos of wildlife roaming through cities during the COVID-19 lockdown, I was noticing less roadkill. I had grown accustomed to darting around dead armadillos, raccoons, and even otter, often near clear-cut areas. I understand the upside of bringing more business and jobs to town. I understand why people want to move here. I also understand concerns over busy roads, wetland destruction, and the chipping away of the character of Ormond Beach.
Part of this area’s character is wildlife, frequently viewed as the enemy. But something to consider is the goldmine we have here in terms of ecotourism. In 2017, Chris Anderson of the Sarasota Herald Tribune wrote about how wildlife viewing “is too important to bulldoze...” He reported that watching wildlife is the second most popular activity in Florida, referring to a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission study: “The wildlife viewing industry is composed of retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and support services grounded in your communities. When considered together, these diverse players constitute a significant industry contributing $5.8 billion to Florida’s economy.”
But there is more to it than this. It’s about empathy, about recognizing that wildlife is part of our ecosystem, about acknowledging that we depend on nature. The expansion of development has contributed to the die off of honey bees, which pollinate fruits and vegetables. Hawks, owls, coyotes, and snakes help decrease the rodent population. Possums and songbirds eat insects that spread disease. It might not seem like it, but we do rely on wildlife. And the wildlife relies on natural areas.
The loss of these areas more than any other factor poses the greatest threat to animals. Cornell University reports that fragmentation — which occurs when natural habitats are cut off by development — creates barriers through home ranges, leaving animals to inhabit smaller, isolated areas. This increases competition between species and limits resources. The animals, if they don’t end up starved or hit by cars, end up in our neighborhoods, and then we complain.
It shouldn’t take a pandemic to make us realize that we’ve been pushing wildlife out. How, instead, can we co-exist and even benefit from them? It would be wonderful if we as a community would take the lead when it comes to responsible development and living in harmony with natural surroundings — even
flourishing by planning to grow economically through sustainable activities/tourism versus continued sprawl.
Help us reunite a family
Jamiel Jones, from Sheffield, and wife, Krista, of Huntsville, an interracial couple, have been fighting for unity and justice of their little girl for nearly three years, while dealing with the Tishomingo Chancery Court system of Mississippi.
The Joneses now reside in Ormond Beach with their two daughters. No one has heard their pleas.
This is a cause for justice and unity the country can help with to bring this precious girl home. Visit http://chng.it/vkyyYRpxFs to view our petition.
Business owner thanks the city
As owner of Wild Rabbit Bistro, I wanted to reach out to say thank you for the numerous ways the city of Ormond Beach supported its citizens and small businesses, like mine. I am friends with numerous restaurant owners across the country and no other city:
- Provided temporary parking signs complete with construction blinking lights to facilitate curbside takeout service.
- created list of restaurants and literally advertised takeout Tuesday, Shop Local, and other initiatives
- Collaborated with Ormond Mainstreet to get banners and signs for local businesses advertising we little businesses are open for takeout
- Personally got out there, supported and encouraged local business — in solidarity with local "takeout trains" and then posted positively on personal social media pages.
- Immediately promoted and fast-tracked temporary permits to turn parking lots into outdoor dining. This wasn't something I personally was able to do with my space but the mere fact the offer of support was there was meaningful.
- Consolidated the governor's hour-long "briefings" into meaningful bullet points, keeping everyone informed and on the same page. This was so helpful for me and such a time-saver. None of my licensing agencies did this.
- Kept positive vibes flowing with hearts-for-heroes campaign, social media humor, and more! When the mainstream news media was saturating society with the latest death count, Ormond was lifting up their community while keeping them informed with their media outreach.
- Advocated for its citizens to follow proper channels to voice their opinions regarding beach closures. As a small business owner, beach traffic — presence or absence — greatly impacted my takeout sales.
- Engaged community and families with Ormond Memorial Art Museum's daily "Art in Place", Environmental Discovery nature walk videos and activities, and by encouraging online library usage. It made my family feel "together" even though things were definitely not normal. These simple daily things were a life-saver for me being a business owner, mom, and instant homeschooler.
- Artfully balanced encouraging mental and physical wellness by keeping green spaces open and supporting biking, fishing, etc., while supporting social distancing.
I could go on but these are the highlights of my reflection on the last few months. I truly believe that the city government and your leadership has spent many years creating a business-friendly culture. Because of that culture my little business, which opened less than three years ago, still has its doors open today. Thank you! You truly made a difference for my family, my employees, and our community as a whole.
Owner, Wild Rabbit Bistro
Editor's note: This letter was submitted to the Observer by the city.