Happy new year—but if you’re still coming to terms with that idea and halfway wondering what happened to the second half of 2022, you’re not alone. I recently read an interesting article in the New York Times about “temporal disintegration,” which basically, as I understand it, means a loss of focus, clarity or sense of continuity about the passage of time, often prompted or exacerbated by mental trauma (think COVID-19, war in Ukraine and other world events, wildfires, hurricanes). I’ve heard lots of people saying, “Every time I turn around, it’s Friday again.” “What day is it?” “I don’t remember if it was last week or last month, but …” It’s a real thing, and it makes sense that locals might be experiencing it in some form, considering the events of the last few months.
Even for those fortunate enough to have escaped Hurricane Ian relatively unscathed, examining our mental health is every bit as appropriate at the start of the year as our physical health. People are planning tests, labs, physicals, procedures, dental work, etc. throughout this fresh calendar, so why not also perform a quick check above the neck?
Southwest Florida’s commercial fishing industry was definitely not unscathed by the hurricane; storm surge and extreme winds did massive damage to docks and onshore infrastructure, as well as to the boats themselves—many of which suddenly and catastrophically also became onshore fixtures. The devastation may be a crippling blow to an industry that already was struggling, and while federal and state relief efforts are in motion, some observers fear that the necessary funds won’t arrive soon enough to keep fishing businesses afloat. Tim Aten delves into the details on page 36, including the potential complication of owners deciding to cash out instead of rebuilding by selling their facilities to developers. There’s always demand for waterfront property, after all, but if all that space gets turned into condos, what happens to our local seafood supply?
Demand for property remains high all over the area, in fact. When people from out of state are willing to pay top dollar to move here, it drives up housing prices—and risks driving out the locals working essential, if less well remunerated, jobs such as nurses and teachers. As John Guerra chronicles on page 50, more than 17% of Collier County’s workforce currently commutes in from residences outside the county, and some large companies are even exploring building their own housing options for employees’ use. In every way, affordable housing remains a huge local priority for 2023 and beyond.
Growth comes with its own set of difficulties, but it’s generally a good thing for a community, and we’ve got plenty of it. So welcome to another year. It’s 2023, and it has a lot of potential … and I’m certain of both.