MEET THE AUTHOR
Rich 'Rico' Leon
(illustrated by Ariana Leon)
I had no idea back then what the story might look like — what form, what style, what plot, what characters, or what catchy compelling title I would use. But I knew that — just as with taking on the daunting project of building a custom 26-foot ocean sailing catamaran by myself — I simply had to start. And I also knew where it had to be written. South Florida has special significance for me beyond any natural loyalty as a native son of Miami. As I write in the story:
"… my relationship with the world had changed dramatically in the short time since Bob and I would blissfully race our feather-weight beach catamarans across the clean, crystal clear shallow waters of Biscayne Bay all those years ago. Today, we face unprecedented global challenges on our warming, crowded, and ecologically stressed planet. We live in troubled times. But it was great to hear his voice again. It brought back a flood of memories of good times, promising futures, and carefree days on beautiful turquoise bays."
What does the word ‘thriving’ mean to you, personally?
For me, it means financial freedom, meaningful work/projects, and authentic community relationships. I've enjoyed all three for most of my adult life by always living well below my financial means, pursuing genuine work/project interests, investing long-term in high-quality ethical companies, and stubbornly resisting mainstream expectations — and wasteful conspicuous displays — of ‘success.’ And that has allowed me to do many interesting (to me) things!
After earning degrees in Engineering Science (Georgia Tech) and in Sociology (UF), I enjoyed two career treks in electric utility power systems and in Internet software development. I also pursued many side interests, projects, and temp gigs: technical writer, private pilot, marine electrician, scuba diver, beach catamaran racer, ocean sailor, math / chem / physics tutor, guitar / ukulele instructor, performing musician, e-bike builder, and custom hybrid-electric wooden boat designer and builder.
From all of those experiences — and fueled by my innate curiosity — I learned a lot about how the world is fundamentally changing as a result of our collective impact. And as I am a teacher/educator at heart, I felt compelled to take on a creative storytelling project about what I believe it will mean to ‘thrive’ in our rapidly emerging global ecological economy. Make no mistake, dear reader, the next 30 years will be profoundly different than the last 30! Are you prepared?
Whispers of the calling to write this ‘sea-sprayed’ story of discovery were probably already there, swirling just below the surface of consciousness at the time I was building Morning Star — a Polynesian-style double-canoe sailboat — in my backyard while living for a time in suburban Pennsylvania. After a few sea trials, she would be trailered down to the Florida Keys shortly before my family and I moved back permanently to my beloved South Florida, where I would begin to work out the rough contours of the salty tale I would tell.
IslandersDelight.com is an ad-free online creative storytelling project intended to convey — in a mercifully lighthearted way — the troubling truth about our current ethics vs energy vs economy vs environment predicament with suggestions on how to thrive in our emerging global ecological economy
In a post COVID-19 pandemic world, can we intelligently re-prioritize our personal growth goals, our economy, our society, our world — and our place in it — as we continue to pursue human well-being and biospheric health on this wonder-full, beauty-full living planet that is currently under threat from our collective impact?
Today, considering the population x technology x affluence stresses on the environment and how we are clearly exceeding Earth's sustainable ‘carrying capacity,’ we can say that our planet is effectively ‘full’ — of us.
We must now begin to live more maturely ‘within our means’ and drop the notion of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. We can make this change by design or by disaster. I prefer the former!