Sustainable Authentic Florida

In October of 2012 the inaugural Sustainable Authentic Florida Conference was hosted along historic Pine Avenue in the City of Anna Maria. The leaders of the Conference, Director Herb Hiller, East Coast Greenway Alliance and Associate Director Caroline McKeon, Florida Journeys Communications, chose this place for our inaugural event because of its authentic aesthetic, walkability, and commitment to sustainable development practices led by the vision of the Pine Avenue Restoration Project (PAR).

The Challenge

Create a milestone gathering of change makers to help shape Florida’s future.

The Vision

Authenticity advances sustainability for Florida’s future

Sust & Auth FL logo2

Sustainable Florida Authentic 2012 Conference Newsletter Masthead

The Sustainable Authentic Florida Conference 2012 was organized to address difficult Florida problems. It focused on civics and values – on mindset that has to precede science, technology and government programs to effect change. The focus was neither official nor bureaucratic, but multi-disciplinary, citizen driven, and rooted in the humanities and civics. Sustainable Authentic Florida proposed that we focus more emphatically on protecting nonrenewable natural and cultural resources.

Florida places that invest in their character and remain firm against short-term exploitation attract visionary investors, innovative newcomers, and visitors who come for authentic community. Learn how places who have turned toward authenticity and away from growth at all costs have substantially improved their communities and economies

Six authoritative speakers will set forth our inquiry; citizen teams from four Florida places will describe how decisions that support nonrenewable natural and cultural resources protection have made their city regions more economically independent.

The Conference Experience

We wanted conference attendees to experience and interact with the rich cultural and natural heritage assets of Coastal Manatee County. This area is a collection of waterfront towns and preservation lands that embody Sustainable Authentic Florida. Historic Cortez Fishing Village is the longest continuous working fishing village in the State of Florida; Anna Maria Island, home of Bradenton Beach, Holmes Beach and City of Anna Maria, had become quietly famous for it’s laidback, low-rise neighborhood qualities; Robinson Preserve, Emerson Point Preserve, and Leffis Key testify to the economic value Manatee County places on its natural heritage.

saflposterLandmark venues supplied more than just discussion sites. There was a walking tour of Cortez, Florida’s oldest still viable fishing community with a back-of-the-house visit to the A.P. Bell Fish Company led by proprietor Karen Bell. There was a water tour aboard the Island Pearl through upper Sarasota Bay, where director Charlie Hunsicker of Manatee County Natural Resources and fishing guide Rusty Chinnis narrated.

There were walking tours led by Anna Maria preservation leaders Ed Chiles and Mike Coleman along historic Pine Avenue, the half-mile connection between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico locally famed as the “greenest main street in Florida”. Along the half-mile street, coarse sand walkways have replaced concrete sidewalks, native landscaping has replaced exotic plants, and heritage architecture now houses more than two dozen one-of-a-kind shops. Front porches with slat-back chairs allow for the exchange of endless greetings.


Conference dinners took place at Mar Vista in the historic north end of Longboat Key and at the BeacHhouse Restaurant in Bradenton Beach across the street from Anna Maria Island Resorts, where conference participants stayed. Lunches included a fish fry in Cortez of teeming Spanish mackerel and at the Village Café at Rosedale in the historic Green Village on Pine Avenue. The cluster of re-purposed historic buildings here is a model for combining historic preservation with modern and sustainable development where businesses operate on net zero energy, generating more energy than they consume. Site for breakfasts was the Studio at Gulf and Pine across the street from the Island Players Theater, and a showplace for Florida artists and Florida art.

The conference and the county’s new brand represent a bold vision for post-recession Florida. Together they affirm a so far rare commitment to ascending historical and conservation values.

The Team

Developing, promoting, and producing the Conference was a year-long endeavor lead by Herb Hiller and Caroline McKeon. They brought complimentary expertise to creating this groundbreaking event. They were determined to make the conference experiential and inter-active.

Director Herb Hiller’s areas of expertise:
Content Development + Messaging + Media Relations + PR

Associate Director Caroline McKeon’s areas of expertise:
Content Branding + Creative + Production Management + Marketing + Social Media + Sponsorship + Promotion

The inaugural Sustainable Authentic Florida Conference 2012 would not have come to fruition without the support, leadership and dedication of Ed Chiles, CEO Chiles Restaurant Group; Elliott Falcione, Executive Director Bradenton Area CVB; Micheal Coleman, Managing Partner Pine Avenue Restoration Project; David Teitelbaum, CEO Anna Maria Island Resorts; and Rusty Chinnis, President Longbeach Village, LLC.

Branding and messaging

Enewletter/eblasts, Website, Conference poster, Conference Program, banner, Business cards, stationary, Ads, promotion items (Bag)