Character Counts

Community character is something that urbanists often refer to. It describes the sights, smells, sounds, tastes, and emotions that a place might draw out of someone: the calm you feel when you look out past a deep porch to see a boat on the river beyond; the surprise scent of the salt marsh at low tide that wafts farther inland than you might have imagined it could; the way the taste of a fried soft-shell crab seems to match the feeling of the sun on your shoulders as the Lowcountry summer quickly approaches.

Community character is also about the quality of the shared social and cultural and natural and physical life of a place, and Beaufort has more character in all respects than most towns could dream of. Nowhere is that more on display than downtown, in Beaufort’s historic architecture and natural vistas and community warmth.   Downtown Beaufort is where the fabric of our community is kept alive, and working to ensure the character of that community is an organization now in its 29th year here in Beaufort: Main Street Beaufort USA.

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New Urbanism: A Building Culture Based on Tradition

"The Civitas column began as an outlet for a group of people called New Urbanists, explaining how our practices relate to our "civitas," or shared community, here in Beaufort. You might be surprised to learn that by unofficial count, Beaufort has more New Urbanists per capita than anywhere else in the country.


As a result, most Civitas readers probably already know a New Urbanist, and you may have learned from the source just why we call ourselves by that name. For those who don't, we regret that we are past-due for a brief introduction:"

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Zoning Codes: How should Beaufort look?

"A few generations ago, places looked the way they did because neighbors built the buildings of a community together, in the effective methods handed down without formal regulations. There was no such thing as "traditional zoning,"some sort of rulebook that determined how to construct the buildings that preservationists now refer to as "traditional" in form and style. Instead, communities locally-sourced materials and know-how and responsibility for the built environment. Towns like Beaufort were built slowly, at very high personal investment, with very little to do with today's real estate development industry.

In short, zoning codes did not exist back then; they didn't need to."

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The Importance of Being Rural

 "...In and of themselves, the principles of New Urbanism support rural land conservation simply by the nature of compact mixed-use development achieving higher densities than conventional suburban sprawl, therefore reducing open land consumption. But the Charter of New Urbanism, the document which lays out the principles of the movement, goes much deeper in specific support for the conservation of natural environments:

The Congress for the New Urbanism views disinvestment in central cities, the spread of placelesssprawl, increasing separation by race and income, environmental deterioration, loss of agricultural lands and wilderness, and the erosion of society’s built heritage as one interrelated community-building challenge."
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Introducing Sea Islands 2050

 "...Sea Islands 2050’s mission is to develop, advocate, and implement the goals and supporting strategies needed to achieve full-spectrum sustainability. Partnering with local organizations, parallel initiatives, key stakeholders, and fellow communities, Sea Islands 2050 cultivates collective investment in a common vision, focusing on the critical environmental, social, and economic issues impacting the long-term potential of our region and its citizens, present and future.

Put simply, our objective is to help our community achieve full-spectrum sustainability by the year 2050..."

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