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Vol. 15 No. 5 - November 26, 2014


Sustainable tourism

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Try fried Chinese spinach leaves with eggs for a breakfast treat.

Anna Maria and Pine Avenue specifically have recently been recognized as “a model for sustainable tourism by those responsible for developing a manifesto on sustainable tourism as part of the United Nations programs around the globe.”  That’s a big statement with large implications, but what does it mean ?

Very simply put,  sustainable tourism is a worldwide movement to balance the real economic benefits of tourism with the potential for negative impacts on existing communities.

It encourages entrepreneurs to bring investment and ideas to visitor based economies while charging them with the responsibility to add value to the impacted communities.

Tourism worldwide contributes one out of every 11 dollars of world GNP. Locally we realize that we cannot and most of us indeed do not want to stop folks from coming to Anna Maria. We can however, through our actions, do a great deal to attract the right kind of people – people who share our values and want to see the character and authenticity which is uniquely Anna Maria protected and preserved.

What has drawn visitors to Anna Maria over the generations has been it’s authenticity, it's quiet residential nature, as well as its pristine beaches and great climate.  

Before my partners and I knew of the term sustainable tourism,  we followed principles we called responsive development.  Our founding motto, “Preserving the past, embracing the future,”,set the tone for everything that followed. It means recognizing and being responsive to what has preceded you, environmentally, culturally and architecturally, so that the end product looks like its always been there and should be just where and as it is. The idea was to fit within, not sit upon, the community that surrounded us.

With that template set, one step followed the next as we embraced the future.  Energy efficient, award winning buildings were engineered to be storm strong. Landscapes were installed, not for decoration, but to complete the environment. Softscapes replaced hardscape (no concrete or asphalt) to absorb both noise and toxins.

As operating partner Mike Coleman brought the infrastructure into focus, Mike Miller brought his singular touch to the site characteristics.  Gene Aubry’s original pencil sketches now stand as job and business incubators.  Then, Mike Thrasher and Lizzie Vann took things to another level with repurposed historic buildings being saved from the dumpster and refitted with the most advanced technologies.  Now, the Historic Green Village sits on the Greenest Little Mainstreet in America as the only campus of its kind in America and one of 100 net zero campuses worldwide. 

All of this has now flowed into organic community gardens on the street and in the community. That led to the Pine Avenue apiary in which bees flourish and plants are happy, and now this is serving as a model for other communities as well as the U.N.

Simultaneously, sustainable seafood practices and hydroponic farms are in the mix. Frankly, while it’s a bit overwhelming to be getting all the attention currently focused on Pine Avenue and Anna Maria, ultimately, it’s not surprising.  What is occurring is the logical  expression of our natural surroundings and the stewardship of our forbears here on the Island.  We believe we have a responsibility to communicate our vision of quiet residential community, surrounding an environmental, cultural and economic example that is practical, measurable and repeatable, so that others can do it too.




Chinese Spinach is that mass of light green leaves spilling out of the boxes, particularly at Poppo’s and the Historic Green Village.


• Pluck 5-6 of the larger or 7-8 smaller leaves per portion.
• Rinse the leaves and sling off excess water.
• Place each side of each leaf on a small amount of your favorite flour tapping them with your fingertips, gently rubbing the flour into the velvety surface, and place on a plate. Do not heat the oil until all are floured.
• Heat 1 Tbsp. butter and a couple of Tbsps. of your favorite oil to 350º in a large electric skillet.
• Fry the floured leaves, carefully turning them over only once as the first side browns.
• When the second side is brown, remove them to a paper towel or just turn off the heat and leave in the skillet until ready to serve.
• Arrange in a fan, with great care as they are now extremely fragile, to accompany eggs for breakfast or the main course of any meal.


Let us know what you think, post a comment.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper