The sign outside the plaza of The Shops at Sea Pines Center reads, “Adventures are ahead. This will not last forever.” It was more than an encouraging word. It was a commitment, and to be honest we weren’t exactly sure how we would keep it when we first put it up a couple of years ago. It came true in its own way, and beyond even what we imagined at the time.

Morbi vitae purus dictum, ultrices tellus in, gravida lectus.

The blend of outdoor with indoor that our lovely plaza affords our guests made it possible for The Shops at Sea Pines Center to continue in its role as a place where people gather, where they share their good news, and where they find out what’s going on. In fact, the Adventures are Ahead sign swapped places now and then over these two years with signs announcing our outdoor events, the seasonal Farmers & Makers Market, and the First Thursdays Art Market, which is set to resume in April.

We Might Have Known

We might have known that the gathering power of our plaza would persist. The reasons behind it are powerful and human – and they go back a long way. “Forum” might be too fancy a word for what the plaza here provides. And yet the impulse that brings it to life is visible for as far back as people built things.

That impulse is part of what the ancient planners were providing when they designed a forum into every town of the classical age, from Rome to a tiny town on the frontier. It was not just an open space surrounded by the buildings dedicated to religion, government, and commerce. It was a wide-open question from one citizen to another, “What’s on your mind?” Even people still living, who might remember the town square of small-town America, can tell you what it looked like when farmers leaned on parking meters and chewed on topics like weather and soil, politics, and crop prices, in a laconic language all their own.

So Essential it was Programmed

The functions of a forum are indeed so basic that creating a virtual version was one of the earliest initiatives on the internet, first appearing in the 1970s. From early in Internet experience, the need was seen for “bulletin boards” – web pages where information could be posted publicly and accessed by anyone. Those of us who remember them know of jobs that required knowing what was on the real, physical bulletin board at all times. While seemingly primitive, this system was longstanding in both actual (analog) and virtual environments, as a means of maintaining situational awareness in an organization.

A Version All Our Own

Because the design of The Shops at Sea Pines Center embraces a sunny plaza with fountains and palm trees, and because it is sited in the middle of Sea Pines’ Miracle Mile, it became from the beginning a place where Sea Pines residents and regulars come to share their inside knowledge about enjoying life here in this one-of-a-kind seaside resort. And here, the best-informed visitors come, too, to find out what the regulars know. We see the purpose of this meeting-place fulfilled every day in the most casual, comfortable way.

Seeing things unfold so naturally we might need a reminder of how vital this function really is – a place where people gather and share, where they run into old and new friends, planned and unplanned.

It carries on today, during sensible precautions that are becoming part of our way of life. We might take care in new and different ways, yet our need to gather carries on. We look forward to welcoming you – or welcoming you back – to The Shops at Sea Pines Center.