Rarely have I seen my husband with such determination, and he’s very determined all of the time…
To get his multi-generational Bahamian friend, fishing guide, Justin Sands of Marsh Harbor, a cooler of 16 hamburgers, some buns, mustard and ketchup, and a bag of tomatoes…
Ed told me he would be flying into Treasure Cay dropping off the Vaughns, president and vice-president of Operation 300, the group in Stuart, Florida, that is doing great things for the relief effort. Ed would be greeted by Stephen Leighton who along with his brother, John, are masterminding Operation 300’s coordination. Ed had hoped to get a ride to Marsh Harbor from Treasure Cay to meet Justin, about 26 miles away. That did not happen.
“Why didn’t it happen?” I asked Ed when he got home.
“Jacqui, there’s nothing left there. The beat-up cars they have, have no gas….or very little. The car they were lucky enough to have, ran out of gas.”
So after dropping off the Vaughns and not being able to get a ride, Ed asked Steve Leighton if in the course of his work, could he please deliver the hamburgers. Ed flew back to Stuart, and then something happened that could only happen today.
With Ed now back in Florida, and Steve and Justin with very limited communication service —Stephen in Treasure Cay, and Justin in Marsh Harbor—-the three, via text messaging, and an app called WHATSAPP, coordinated the 16 hamburger drop-off.
Stephen then sent Ed a picture of Justin and he standing amidst Marsh’s destruction- red cooler in tow. Delivery achieved! Later that evening Justin sent Ed a picture of the prepared hamburgers.
When Ed shared the photos, my eyes filled with tears…
Friendship and determination are something that Dorian cannot destroy.
Other photos shared by Stephen Leighton, Operation 300, 9-18-19
I first met Michelle Jones Connor during 2013’s “Lost Summer,” the year coffee colored, sediment-filled water flowed through the gates of the Army Corp of Engineers for most the year, from Lake Okeechobee into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. At that time, with energy surging as thousands of peoples’ anger ramped-up the River Movement, at a rally Michelle told me about her environmental-legend grandfather and grandmother, Johnny and Mariana Jones.
Ironically, not too long after this, my mother and father discovered the above plaque while on a field trip to the Hungryland, an area also named after the couple.
Who were these incredible people?
The Florida Wildlife Commission’s dedication to Hungryland explains:
“The Hungryland Wildlife Environmental Area honors the conservation legacy of Johnny and Marianna Jones, passionate advocates for the protection of fish and wildlife resources throughout Florida. During their 61-year marriage, the couple lobbied for environmental issues, were leaders of the Florida Wildlife Federation and were instrumental in the establishment of over 3 million acres of public lands, including the John C. and Mariana Jones/Hungryland Wildlife Environmental Area.”
The list of their achievements is incredible! Almost impossible. Could we ever do something like that today? Of course we could; we just have to learn the tricks of the trade before they are forgotten.
Michelle’s grandparents have recently passed as have so many other of the “greats.” We must fill their shoes. We have no choice but to do so. And learning from the past can be a great help along our journey.
Thankfully, Michelle has given us some of the treasures of her late grandparents.
Today I share with you, with the permission of Michelle, three things from the Joneses and their library. First, a fascinating and insightful 2001 University of Florida interview where Mr Jones answers the question: “What are the two or three most important contributing factors that have led to the present problems in the Everglades?”; Second, “The Marshall Plan, Repairing the Florida Everglades;” and third Johnny Jones’ “The Rain Machine,” my favorite, about how human greed, development, and canalization, and drainage of Lake Okeechobee and surrounding areas altered Florida’s water cycle ~and thus Florida’s weather itself ~by removing so much water from the land.
Upon reading, you will notice names, such as Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, Arthur R. Marshall, and Nathaniel Reed ~just to name a few. In spite of the difficulties, pressures, and of course the hottest potato, politics, it was relationships and perseverance that allowed the Joneses to achieve so much. We must do the same.
Thank you Michelle for sharing these rare and valuable documents. We shall honor the legacy of your grandparents and be inspired..
UF/Interview of Johnny Jones by Brian Gridley, 2001:
Why the name “Hungryland:”…in the mid-1800s, Seminoles seeking to escape the U.S. Army hid out in these wetlands. The Army destroyed and cut off their food supplies, leading local ranchers to refer to the region as “Hungryland.” The slough that still runs through the area was called the Hungryland Slough and was primarily used for grazing cattle.”