Coastal Dune Lakes – Episode 10: Close to the Sea, or On Storytelling

October 16th, 2014
By Elam Stoltzfus
And one thing when I actually walk out on the beach and look out on the Gulf it hits me that people thousands of years ago saw the same thing that I am seeing now. It is the same sight for them, same colors, the same horizon. The same sounds.
–Dr. Jack Davis, Professor of Environmental History, University of Florida
Man looking out at the sea. Image by Nic Stoltzfus.
Man looking out at the sea. Image by Nic Stoltzfus.
Having the ability to tell or hear a story is part of our DNA.  Ancient tribe group sketched, drew and painted on the walls of caves to depict their lifestyle. Have you every thought about how silence is unbearable and uncomfortable?  Silence makes us squirm, pushes our boundaries into the unknown.  However, spinning a story, telling a yarn, spending our time putting together a series of words to connect to emotions is like traveling into the galaxy without ever going anywhere.  In more recent times storytelling has become a positive venue of education, representing universal truths,  and constructing a compelling story of knowledge.
Early on when I began asking questions and spending time along 30A around the dune lakes, there were two comments that I kept hearing.  One was “these coastal dune lakes are rare, imperiled, and endangered”. and the second statement was “these lakes are only found in Australia, New Zealand and Madagascar”.  As a follow up to these comments, I would ask, why are they rare and have you seen the lakes in these other countries?  Most of the replies would be something like this, “well…. I’m not sure why, that’s what I heard or been told,” and, “no, I have not seen these lakes in other countries or know much about the coastal lakes around the world.”  It obvious that there was a gap of information and an opportunity to draw an image on the cave wall to tell a story explaining the answers to these questions.
The question is, how to tell the story about the dune lakes in south Walton County, what was the common thread in the story?  Was this a story of Märchen (fairytales) or Sagen (legends) stories?  Could this be a reality show?  Was this story practical, could this be told in an informative manner, was there an opportunity to reach a new audience, could a creative team be assembled, etc.?  These are a some of the questions that needed to be answered before we could begin drawing on the cave walls.
To be able to have an adaptive story for all ages, we needed a group of partners and people who passionately loved the dune lakes along 30A.  As some of you may know, this wasn’t very hard to find.  There is a group of folks in south Walton County who provided that gateway of information for us to tell the dune lakes story.  This is one of the ongoing strong foundational connections in spinning the dune lakes tale.  These stories that people shared with us, their personal experiences, their scientific research, their knowledge of legends, their information of historical facts all began to come together to be woven into a Public Television style documentary.
Artist unknown.
Artist unknown.
In the past 9 months the production team has gathered together a series of video interviews, worked hard to capture segments of life along the dune lakes on video, documented the changing of the seasons and listened to the successes and struggles of managing the region along 30A.   The production team is now in post-production.  This is were all the pieces of the puzzles are on the table and are assembled.  We have a completed script, we are getting ready to begin scoring the music, graphics are being designed, natural sounds are being collected, historical documents are begin researched and collected, future premieres are being planned, working closely with Public Television groups, and so many details for a successful roll out for the April – Earth Day weekend release on Public Broadcasting Stations across the country.
We thank you for entrusting your stories, comments, suggestions, support, friendships, relationships, encouragements to paint this story on the cave walls in a documentary medium.
Stay tuned, there are more cave walls to paint to pass on this knowledge about the coastal dune lakes.
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