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Life at the Edge of the Sea

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The nations second-largest estuarine system
· A unique and threatened brogue
· The U.S. Lifesaving Services only all-black crew and station
· A colony and its inhabitants that mysteriously vanished, leaving few clues behind
· An island whose longtime residents believe that boat building is embedded in their genes
What do all of these have in common? The answer: coastal North Carolina, home to a complex and vibrant ecosystem, a diverse population, and a rich culture all its own. For years, self-reliant natives existed in harmony with their environment. But then, thousands of visitors discovered the charms of the Carolina coast. Suddenly, everything started to change. In the name of progress, developers built condos on vast stretches of barrier islands and converted sleepy waterside villages to tourist traps replete with fast-food joints and convenience stores.

In 1993, motivated by the need to protect and preserve our coast, concerned citizens founded the Southern Coastal Heritage Workshop for Educators, a series dedicated to raising awareness about our coasts unique features and traditions. Since its inception, the series has offered nine residential seminars with a hands-on, shoes-off approach to learning. Lectures are often on site, at a carvers knee or knee-deep in estuarine muck, and consultants talk from the head and the heart, sharing histories, theories, and passionate beliefs stemming from years of coastal experience.

Life at the Edge of the Sea is a response to our participants many requests for workshop leaders to write it down. In these pages you will hear from many of the old hands who have made our educators workshops a resounding success. From coastal geology to estuarine dynamics, Outer Banks brogue to boat building, working waterfronts to coastal literature, African-American history to the evolution of Cape Lookout National Seashore, and Native American archaeology to pony roundups, this book provides a glimpse into the fascinating realm of Life at the Edge of the Sea. Please join us on a behind-the-scenes tour of North Carolinas coast. We hope that this revealing voyage will inspire you to learn more about our coastal culture and keep alive the spirit of our shores.