Dr. Nick Osbaldiston on the Social Conceptions of the Coast

Why does society treat the coast the way it does?

Reopening beaches is a hot topic in the national COVID-19 discussion, out of proportion, it seems, with its import to the nation as a whole. We wondered why so we tracked down Dr. Nick Osbaldiston, Professor of Sociology at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia and author of the book, Towards a Sociology of the Coast:  Our Past, Present and Future Relationship to the Shore.  Dr. Osbaldiston has a keen and studied eye and offers unique insights into why the sea and the shoreline have long carried great weight in our society, our culture, and how we perceive and react to danger.  From the Great Flood that cleansed the Earth of sinners to the monsters of the deep portrayed by Jules Verne and Herman Melville, the sea occupies a powerful place in the human mind.  In the last 100 years, we've mapped, modeled, dove deep into, played on, and possessed the shoreline of every sea on the planet.   In some ways, we  have conquered this dark and dangerous world, or, at least, we like to think that we have.  Turns out the powers of the natural world do not subside so easily and it is often by the sea where our human drama plays out.   Join Peter and Tyler on this episode of the American Shoreline Podcast as we explore the nature of the shoreline, our relationship to it, and why decisions to open or close the shore spark so much passion.  Only on ASPN!

Peter Ravella & Tyler Buckingham

Peter and Tyler joined forces in 2015 and from the first meeting began discussing a project that would become Coastal News Today and the American Shoreline Podcast Network. At the time, Peter and Tyler were coastal consultants for Pete’s firm, PAR Consulting, LLC. In that role, they worked with coastal communities in Texas, Florida, and North Carolina, engaged in grant writing, coastal project development, shoreline erosion and land use planning, permitting, and financial planning for communities undertaking big beach restoration projects. Between and among their consulting tasks, they kept talking and kept building the idea of CNT & ASPN. In almost every arena they worked, public engagement played a central role. They spent thousands of hours talking with coastal stakeholders, like business owners, hotel operators, condo managers, watermen, property owners, enviros, surfers, and fishermen. They dived deep into the value, meaning, and responsibility for the American shoreline, segment-by-segment. Common threads emerged, themes were revealed, differences uncovered. There was a big conversation going on along the American shoreline! But, no place to have it. That's where CNT and ASPN were born.