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Save The Choo Choo Building!

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It was an honor this week to have my open letter to Savannah’s Mayor & City Councilmen published in the newspaper, CONNECT Savannah regarding what has been a several year battle over saving the 1929 SEABOARD Freight Station which is a stone’s throw from The Roundhouse Complex, the old Central Railroad of Georgia facility that is now an interactive museum. Nearly every historic city with reminders of the past like this, confront these battles, often losing to developers who have all of the money, legal team and in many cases, the legal right to do as they please. Savannah, however, has a protected Historic District, of which the SEABOARD building is outside of, and to be honest? This one at some level may be on the shoulders of Historic Savannah Foundation in that they haven’t much expanded the vision to include these peripheral structures but am not here to sort out the faults on that as they’re certainly weighing in on the fight. They’ve even offered up some beautiful alternative proposals to what the developer originally offered (SEE GALLERY). Cost wise the developer saw no way to have an effective property here and the plan was to demolish the building and build your standard fare, overpriced hipster apartment complex that as a genre, continue to ruin cityscapes and skylines across the world offering no connection to the surrounding neighborhoods. I will spare the reader here how my view is that this “trend” is part of The United Nation’s push through various foundations and Agenda 21 to influence politicians and planners to show preference to these sorts of structures and their developers, but I do hold that viewpoint and encourage others to read more about the subject.

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All the same, it appears that through much rabble rousing from various individuals in the community, leadership alike, the developer JSR Properties, LLC (aren’t they always), has felt the pressure and has responded by promising to present a new plan to The City of Savannah that includes the building! Empty promises? We shall see! But I like to think my letter is another spiritual tip of the hat to not only the effort of saving the building, but a nod to my friend Lee Adler, founder of Historic Savannah Foundation and board member of The National Trust. He was a legend in his lifetime but also a special friend to me and although he’s no longer with us sadly, the good work must continue through individuals making efforts large and small. I know he’d be proud of everyone doing their part. My letter below with original link:
READ Original Letter Here

Open letter to Mayor and Council about the Seaboard Freight Station

Honorable Mayor DeLoach and Aldermen,

As a tour company owner and operator in Savannah, I often tell my guests that in order to truly appreciate Savannah, you have to understand that it’s not only a story of what’s here but also what’s left. It’s a war story of sorts.
We’ve lost The Mulberry Grove. We’ve lost Mary Musgrove’s Savannah Town. We’ve lost The Hermitage.
A lot has been lost. Too much to list really and lots of arguments as to why they were. Everyone’s got an angle or an agenda or a right, etc.
I don’t know much about the Seaboard building to be honest. I don’t have any romantic stories about it.
I just know that I like driving by it and then glancing at the other nearby railroad buildings of history. And while it seems a little lost sheep where it sits, it just makes sense that it’s there.
I’ve always felt a sort of satisfaction that it exists and that it speaks esthetically and historically to that side of town where so much life and commerce was oriented around it. That it was part and parcel and even central.
It’s really more monument than building at this point. It’s sacred space somehow.
To knock it down in my view is a crime even if the letters have been dotted and the T’s crossed. Albeit it isn’t The Davenport House, I do wonder in this day and age, where are those ladies or people willing to stand in front of the wrecking ball? Have we all gotten so comfortable?
I realize that leadership is often a thing where one’s hands are tied. But why is it that it seems that this developer didn’t have more vision to include it from the beginning?
No architectural class or tour will ever make a point to marvel at another blightful residential complex in our town.No tour company 100 years from now will ever race to show it to their guests. No books will boast of its architect.
In fact, in my opinion, it would be quite the opposite. It would be discussed loathingly as part of the “Atlanta” or “Charlotte” trend of building ugly condos up that tower and overshadow the nearby neighborhoods and have no connected feeling.
And that the leadership allowed a beloved structure to be sacrificed for them.
If the Seaboard is to be demolished, that might also be seen by the developers as a victory for more. More as in other buildings will meet the same fate and more will be lost.
And historians and storytellers like me will have to bemoan the leadership who didn’t fight harder to both hold the line for that loss and then push for a better vision. Your names will in effect, be tied to one of those outcomes forever in the history books.
So I say let there be development, but push for a vision that keeps a valuable member of the family.

Shannon Scott/Shannon Scott Tours

Private After Hours & The Fantasy Novelists

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“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”  — J.R. Tolkien

So I got a hit on my new chat messenger on my website from a gal named Shannon. Call me vain if one must, but I always take that as a sign for something good and as I’d just created the messenger to do more personalized customer service in real time with clients, I felt like we were off to a good start. And as the universe would spell cast it in this case, this Shannon was also a storyteller and would come to find out, she was the highly published fantasy novelist, Shannon Mayer.
http://www.shannonmayer.com

Apparently she and fellow fantasy-paranormal author, K.F. Breene had traveled quite a ways to Savannah in search of making our fair town their fairest of them all muse for a mutual book project for younger readers. Shannon had traveled from Canada and Ms. Breene from San Francisco. They were dead set on escaping with me on a Private Bonaventure Cemetery After Hours Tour to learn about the place through the eyes of a fellow bard. Which yes, as a writer in my own right, I’m always made curious by those in particular who do it for a living and have made a career of it. Just a little quick research online showed that these women certainly had and made me feel all the luckier that they’d chosen Savannah as a “source” destination and that I might in some manner of my own, might come to impact them with storytelling in Bonaventure.
http://www.kfbreene.com

As a teen, I was weaned early on C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia,  Terry Brooks’
Shannara books, Anne McCaffreys Dragonriders of Pern series but in later teen years seemed to follow fantasy more through comic books like Elfquest and a host of others that I enjoyed but their titles I’ve honestly forgotten even though I recall coveting them as special favorites. In my own character shaping course, I stopped short of full-on nerd-dom with playing Dungeon’s & Dragons, but friends and I did 24-hour marathons with Telengard and other Commodore 64 & 128 fantasy games. After Tolkien’s mainline books, I felt I’d graduated and left all of that behind for philosophy and non-fiction and really never looked back. So yes, fantasy culture defined me and was more intrigued to meet these 2 women authors. I confess I was a bit nervous too as I’d mostly just spied their book covers online and wondered how much of my tour would have appeal to them. I knew at the very minimum, I couldn’t lose on sharing the connection that Bonaventure has to Harry Potter himself and that they were the perfect audience for it obviously. Very few Potter fans know about it which is why I like to covet it so much! Its only for those who have earned the knowledge through their quest! Hah! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

I think I was most surprised that they were both so completely normal and were just a couple of uber-talented moms who wrote about things that were opposite of them. I forget about that at times. I’m one of those writers who only write about their own life experiences. I forget that’s a thing that others do. Obviously, their lives influence their works but its one of those things where they go polar opposite in terms of what they create. And granted, a lot of fiction or fantasy writers look just like everyone else. I mean I didn’t really expect them to be wearing cloaks and walking with staffs but I was particularly thankful neither reeked of patchouli.

In the end, although Shannon’s allergies were on full tilt and K.F. had to shoot a live stream video for a book club while on the tour, we had a perfect weather night and covered a lot of material, particularly the secret society stuff which “Fantasy” as a genre certainly owes some credit. I really look forward to seeing what they end up creating together and whether or not I recognize shades and nuances of Bonaventure!

K.f. Breene There are a couple types of storytellers – those who hide in their closets or other dark spaces with a bottle of wine and their computer (me), and those who have the gift of voice. Shannon Scott is the latter. In days of old he could’ve been a treasured bard. Or he might’ve traveled from city to city relaying the news to a hungry crowd. He certainly would’ve always had a rapt audience, as he does now. He was interesting and exciting, often times poignant, and once made me tear up (no easy feat). If you get a chance to take a tour with this crew, do it!”