Seaside Institute has announced the name of the newest recipient of its annual Seaside Prize: former Florida Gov. and Sen. Bob Graham.
Seaside Prize, which was first presented in 1992, is an award given to individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the quality and character of communities. Over the years, recipients of the award have included planners, architects, writers and, in one instance, an entire town.
Seaside Institute's founding board members came up with the idea of the award to acknowledge those who have made strides in moving the New Urbanism movement forward. Nominees are put forward by The Fellows, who are past recipients of the award.
Seaside founder and New Urbanism proponent Robert Davis said Graham was chosen because as governor he created rules of development to protect the environment and its infrastructure.
"Governor Graham was instrumental if not remarkable in bringing intelligence to the issue of growth management," said Davis.
The building of Seaside began in 1981.
Graham was first elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 1966 and re-elected in 1968. He was elected to the Florida State Senate in 1970 and re-elected in 1974. He served as governor from 1979 to 1987 and was then elected to the United States Senate and served from 1987 to 2005.
Graham was considered as a possible running mate for both Al Gore and John Kerry.
During his tenure as governor, his administration focused on economic diversification and environmental policies. Gov. Graham initiated studies and plans that focused on critical state resources.
Graham launched the most extensive environmental protection program in the state's history and focused on preserving endangered lands. During his tenure, thousands of acres of threatened and environmentally important lands were brought into state ownership for permanent protection. One parcel in particular hit home for Walton County residents.
"His mom was from Freeport and he came to Grayton Beach to see the land for himself because Kelly's (Buzzett's wife) mom was vocal about protecting it. He was responsible for the state buying it and it becoming state land," said Buzzett.
During his 18 years in the Senate, Graham also served on environment committees.
Graham now concentrates on the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at his alma mater, the University of Florida. He serves as Chairman of the Commission on the Prevention of WMD proliferation and terrorism and advocates for the recommendations in the commission report, “World at Risk.”
On Feb. 1, a symposium featuring Graham will be held in Seaside. The topic of discussion will be "Seaside/South Walton County: Reflections on the Region's Past and Future Opportunities."
Symposium panelists will reflect on their past experiences to provide insights and recommendations on a path forward for providing economic development and natural system preservation.
During the symposium Davis will speak, along with Graham.
Panel presentations will be by Jim Murley, former Florida Department of Community Affairs Secretary and Trust member; Bob Rhodes, Jacksonville attorney and former executive vice president of the St. Joe Company; Billy Buzzett, most recent DCA Secretary for large-scale planning; metropolitan land-use strategist Chris Leinberger; and Rick Harper, director of the University of West Florida Office of Economic Development and Engagement.
Buzzett said he will talk about growth management and creating infrastructure gracefully.
"The symposium provides an opportunity to look far into the future and come up with a plan for large-scale preservation. We have sustainability and water issues in Florida," said Buzzett.