South Walton Life, publisher of SoWal Life, announces a new edition to its family of community newspapers with the launch of a new edition in July. “Residents and business owners have been asking for it,” says Lori Leath Smith, Destin Life publisher, “and we will now provide Destin its own edition particularly geared to promote […]

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30a-video-toursThe 30A Video Tours series, sponsored by NatureWalk at Seagrove, is an entertaining look at all 30A has to offer, from eating out to hiking and biking down some of our wonderful and secluded beachside trails. We’ll be rolling out new installments all year. In the latest episode we take a look at all the great sporting activities available in the 30A area from pickle ball, golf and tennis to yoga by the Gulf of Mexico. CHECK IT OUT: More episodes in the series: The 30A Video Tours series is brought to you by NatureWalk at Seagrove.

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30A-life-shinesEvery day, The 30A Company works hard to promote our laid-back beach lifestyle and to help support and promote Gulf Coast businesses. But we’re also very passionate about giving back to our local and global community. Here are a few of the worthwhile projects that we’re very proud to be involved with: The Sonder Project 360 Blue, YOLO Board and The 30A Company are founding partners of The Sonder Project, a non-profit organization that supports high-impact, sustainable projects aimed at ending extreme poverty and hunger, locally, domestically and abroad. What does “Sonder” mean? Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own — each with a story to tell and each with a story worth hearing. One of our endeavors is Project: feed, a program that helps vacation rental companies across the country to collect and redistribute the nonperishable food items routinely left behind by departing guests. We then work with a network of nationwide volunteers to redistribute the otherwise discarded food to local charities and food banks in each community. Over 100 vacation rental management companies have already joined the program, and the hope is that with minimal effort, Project: feed can help the vacation rental industry come together to make a real impact in the fight against hunger. In December 2015, our Sonder team completed construction of a new school in the village of Bagyambin, Burkina Faso, in Africa. The new school will make education possible for 77 students in the village, which is a huge milestone in a country where 78 percent of the population is illiterate. Our team also completed construction of a water well in the village of Nabadogogo, Burkina Faso. Prior to the completion of this project, the 3,500 people living in this village had to spend hours and walk miles to retrieve filthy water needed for survival. With a water well now in their community, they can enjoy clean water near their homes and use their most valuable resource — time — in more productive ways. To learn more about The Sonder Project, or to find out how you can get involved, please visit thesonderproject.org. 30A Sticker Donation Box Partnership with Alaqua Animal Refuge So far, we’ve given away over 990,000 of our famous round blue 30A stickers. Although we give them away for free in local businesses, donation boxes have been set up in many locations to encourage contributions to Alaqua Animal Refuge, our local no-kill animal shelter. Alaqua Animal Refuge is located on 10 gorgeous acres of farmland in Freeport, just north of Santa Rosa Beach. As many as 100 animals are adopted every month at Alaqua, and the refuge is home to as many as 250 animals at any given time. It costs about $80,000 a month to run Alaqua, which is dependent on private donations. To date, our 30A Sticker Donation Box partnership has raised over $130,000 for this special local charity. Any local business that would like to have an Alaqua Animal Refuge 30A Sticker donation box can call Alaqua at 850-880-6399. 30A Charity Golf Classic Created by The 30A Company’s co-founder Angela Ragsdale, the 30A Charity Golf Classic has raised over $73,000 for charities to date. Proudly sponsored by The Aesthetic Clinique and many other local businesses, 100 percent of all proceeds from this annual event go straight to help local charities in need. In its first year, $23,000 was given to Off The Mat and Shelter House Domestic Violence Center. In 2014, $27,000 was raised for Alaqua Animal Refuge. In 2015, $23,000 was raised for Food for Thought. In 2016, the tournament’s charity partner will be Children’s Volunteer Health Network. For more information about the 30A Charity Golf Classic, visit 30Acharitygolfclassic.com. 30A 10K & Fun Run Partnership Every Thanksgiving morning, thousands of runners gather in Rosemary Beach for the 30A 10K & 1-Mile Fun Run. The annual race, organized by Karen Meadows, Craig Baranowski and Amy Stoyles, benefits different local charities each year with a focus on families and children. To date, the 30A 10K has raised over $150,000, and The 30A Company is a proud sponsor of this new holiday tradition. For more information, visit 30a10k.com. In addition to these initiatives, The 30A Company frequently donates product, promotion, time and resources to many other wonderful local organizations and events, including South Walton Fire District, Choctawhatchee Basin Alliance, Food for Thought, Seaside Neighborhood School, Cultural Arts Alliance, The Repertory Theatre, Children’s Volunteer Health Network and many more. Get involved! To learn all about South Walton’s many wonderful local charities, please visit 30Acharities.com.

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Photo by Sean MurphyBring your funky beach cruiser to the third annual 30A Sand Rover Rally in South Walton, Florida, on April 9, 2016, presented by Land Rover Gulf Coast. Last year, over 80 vehicles showed up for the rally, which was featured in the Summer 2015 issue of ROVERS magazine. Land Rovers, dune buggies and beach cruisers of ALL MAKES AND MODELS are welcome. SCHEDULE 8:30am – 12pm: Trail Rides or early setup 12pm – 5pm: 2016 30A Sand Rover Rally (in the parking lot at the corner of 30A and 393 by Gulf Place) 5pm – 8pm: After-party at La Playa (just across the street) featuring The Courtyard Saints (More details below) CLICK HERE NOW TO LET US KNOW YOU’RE COMING! PRESENTED BY:   WE’D ALSO LIKE TO THANK OUR 2016 SPONSORS:     3RD ANNUAL 30A SAND ROVER RALLY SCHEDULE SATURDAY, APRIL 9, 2016 8:30am – Noon: Trail Rides or Early Setup This year, we’ll skip the long, slow caravan crawl out into the woods. Instead, we’ll MEET in the woods at 8:30am. We’ll provide everyone with coordinates to the big meadow where we did the drone flyover last year (see photo below). After a few minutes of photos and introductions, we’ll break up and hit the trails for hours of fun! With any luck, we’ll have some rain in advance that week. All drivers are asked to be responsible and courteous to other drivers and to local property, and any off-roading activities should adhere to Tread Lightly principles. South Walton features over 25,000 acres of protected land, including Point Washington State Forest. But if getting muddy or dusty just isn’t your thing, no worries! You can hit the beach that morning instead, or cruise along Scenic Highway 30A, or just head over to the official rally location to mingle with other enthusiasts. IMPORTANT TRAIL RIDE NOTES: Some of the trails in Point Washington State Forest are very narrow (as in, “knock your mirrors off,” “scratch your paint,” and “tear up your roof rack” narrow). If your don’t like the sound of limbs scratching along the sides of your vehicle, we strongly recommend that you stick to the main dirt roads (see map below). If you drive down the narrow unmarked sand trails, you might not be able to back out, especially if you’re part of a long caravan. Please also note that anything on TOP of your truck (flood lamps, luggage, surf boards, etc.) could easily be damaged on the narrow trails, so please take it slow and easy. Please don’t feel pressured to venture onto these narrow trails. There are plenty of wide dirt roads to explore! 12pm – 5pm: The 2016 30A Sand Rover Rally will be held in the parking lot just across the street from Gulf Place and Ed Walline Beach Access. We’re expecting another big turnout this year, so if “getting a good spot” is important to you (or if you have a stunning “show car”), you might consider skipping the morning trail ride and head straight to rally location to secure a great spot. We really have no way of knowing for sure how many vehicles are planning to attend, but volunteers will be ready to help park vehicles as they arrive. If the main parking lot fills up (first come, first served), there are other public parking spaces nearby. Just come prepared to HAVE FUN and bring your best casual beach attitude! 5pm – 8pm: Official rally after-party featuring The Courtyard Saints at La Playa in Gulf Place CLICK HERE TO LET US KNOW YOU’RE COMING! Check out this recap of our 2015 event by 8 FIFTY Productions: CAMPING: Campgrounds fill up fast, so if you plan to camp, please make your reservations as soon as possible. Local camping options include: Grayton Beach State Park Topsail Hill Preserve State Park Camping on the Gulf Live Oak Landing Point Washington State Park: $10/night (RSVP: 850-547-7083) HOTELS & RENTAL HOMES: Scenic Highway 30A is home to a very wide range of accommodations, from multi-million dollar beach front estates to cabins, studio apartments and boutique hotels. To find some great options, visit 30Ahotels.com and 30Arentals.com. OFF-ROADING TRAILS: South Walton is home to 25,000 acres of protected land, with Point Washington State Forest accounting for over 15,000 acres. This map shows the best access points for trail rides: GENERAL CONDITIONS: — Easy Trails: 2, 6, 8, 11, 13, 20, 22, 26, 27, 28, 31 (the north side) — More Challenging Trails: 1, 12, 14, 15, 24, 25, 33 + unnumbered roads and trails Click here now to join our official 30A Sand Rover Rally Facebook group! Photos by Sean Murphy Photography:

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Photo by Sean MurphybeSpring Break is HERE, folks, and we’ll be welcoming tens of thousands of visitors this season! Here’s a quick snapshot of when the major colleges, universities and school systems will be here. Looking for something fun to do while you’re here? Check out 30A Tours to book your Spring Break adventure NOW!   February 27 – March 5 School  Enrollment Ohio University 38,000 Rice University (Texas) 6,000 Rollins College (Fla.) 2,300 Temple University (Penn.) 37,700 University of Florida 49,600 University of Michigan 42,800 Wright State University 18,400   March 5 – March 12 American University (D.C.) 10,000 Appalachian State University (N.C.) 17,500 Arizona State University 72,300 Ball State University (Ind.) 22,100 Barry University (Fla.) 9,300 Baylor University (Texas) 15,200 Boston University (Mass.) 30,800 Bowling Green State University (Ohio) 17,800 Central Michigan University 27,000 College of Charleston (S.C.) 9,900 East Carolina University (N.C.) 27,000 East Tennessee State University 15,600 Emory University 13,900 Florida State University 40,500 George Mason University (Va.) 33,400 Georgetown University (D.C.) 17,200 Grand Valley State University (Mich.) 24,700 Illinois State University 20,800 Mercer University (Ga.) 5,500 Michigan State University 48,000 Middle Tennessee State University 24,200 Minnesota State University 15,700 Minnesota State University Mankato 13,600 Missouri State University 21,100 North Carolina State University 34,000 Northern Kentucky University 15,500 Northwestern University 20,000 Old Dominion University (Va.) 24,200 Park University (Mo.) 25,500 Pennsylvania State University 44,900 Sam Houston State University (Texas) 17,700 Southern Methodist University (Texas) 12,000 Tennessee Technological University 10,000 Troy University (Ala.) 29,700 University of Central Florida 59,000 University of Georgia 33,400 University of Memphis (Tenn.) 18,000 University of Miami (Fla.) 16,800 University of Minnesota 52,600 University of Pennsylvania 21,300 University of Pittsburgh (Pa.) 28,800 University of South Carolina 45,300 University of Tampa (Fla.) 6,900 University of Virginia 21,200 Vanderbilt University 12,700 Virginia Commonwealth University 32,000 Virginia Tech 31,000 Webster University (Mo.) 21,100 Western Kentucky University 21,100 Western Michigan University 25,100   March 12 – March 19 Armstrong Atlantic State University (Ga.) 7,600 Auburn University (Ala.) 25,500 Clemson University (S.C.) 15,500 Cleveland State University 17,200 Colorado State University 32,000 Columbia University (N.Y.) 27,700 Dallas Independent School District (Texas) Duke University (N.C.) 14,800 Florida International University 48,000 Georgia Southern University 20,300 Georgia State University 40,000 Gulf Coast State College (Fla.) 7,200 Harvard University (Mass.) 21,300 Indiana University (System) 83,700 Iowa State University 31,100 Kansas State University 24,400 Leon County, Tallahassee School System   Mississippi State University 20,000 New York University 38,400 Northern Illinois University 25,400 Ohio State University 56,900 Oklahoma State University 26,100 Oklahoma University 30,800 Purdue University (Ind.) 39,800 State University of New York (System) 465,000 State University of West Georgia 11,700 Stony Brook University (N.Y.) 24,700 Syracuse University 20,500 Tennessee State University 8,500 Texas A&M University 53,400 Texas State University 34,300 The George Washington University 24,600 University of Alabama 33,600 University of Arizona 40,000 University of Connecticut 22,500 University of Houston 39,900 University of Iowa 30,400 University of Kansas 29,500 University of Kentucky 28,100 University of Maryland 37,700 University of Massachusetts 68,400 University of Mississippi 20,800 University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 67,100 University of North Florida 14,300 University of North Georgia 9,000 University of North Texas 36,200 University of South Alabama 15,100 University of South Florida 47,200 University of Southern California 41,000 University of Southern Mississippi 18,000 University of Tennessee Knoxville 27,600 University of Texas 38,500 University of West Florida 10,200 Valdosta State University (Ga.) 13,100 Wayne State University (Mich.) 32,600   March 19 – March 26 Bay County (Panama City, Fla.) Public Schools   College of DuPage (Ill.) 29,000 Drexel University (Penn.) 25,500 Georgia Institute of Technology 20,500 Huntsville (Ala.) School District   Jacksonville State University  (Ala.) 9,500 Kent State University (Ohio) 42,600 Little Rock (Ark.) School District   Louisiana State University 29,600 Loyola University New Orleans 5,000 Miami University (Ohio) 20,200 Nashville (Tenn.) School District   Okaloosa County (Destin) Public Schools   St. Louis Public Schools   Texas Tech University 32,700 Tulane University (La.) 13,400 University of Akron (Ohio) 24,600 University of Alabama Birmingham 18,000 University of Arkansas 24,600 University of California Irvine 30,000 University of California Los Angeles 42,200 University of Cincinnati 42,700 University of Colorado Boulder 29,900 University of Illinois 28,100 University of Nebraska 50,000 University of Oregon 20,700 University of Wisconsin 42,300 West Virginia University 29,700 Western Carolina University (N.C.) 10,000   March 26 – April 2 Alabama State University 5,800 Birmingham (Ala.) Public Schools   Cornell University (N.Y.) 21,000 Dothan (Ala.) School District   Eastern Michigan University 23,000 Fayette County (Lexington, Ky.) Public Schools   Saint John’s University (N.Y.) 15,700 University of Louisiana (System) 24,500 University of Missouri 35,500 University of North Alabama 7,300 University of West Alabama 5,200 Walton County (Santa Rosa Beach) Public Schools     April 2 – April 9 DeKalb County (Ga.) Public Schools   Fulton County (Ga.) Public Schools   Jefferson County (Kent.) Public Schools   Kennesaw State University (Ga.) 32,500 BOOK YOUR SPRING BREAK ADVENTURE NOW! Although we did our best to verify all of the above information, of course, you should check with your school before making any travel plans. Please report any corrections to feedback@30A.com, and if your school isn’t listed, please shout out your dates below!

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Alys-Beach-Digital-GraffitiThe Alys Foundation is giving away a free, four-night stay in this stunning Alys Beach home during Digital Graffiti — the world’s first projection art festival! The lucky random winner will arrive on Thursday, May 12, 2016, and stay four incredible nights, departing on Monday, May 16, 2016. The winner will also receive six weekend passes to Digital Graffiti (valued at $300 each), which is being held May 13-15, 2016. The entire package is valued at over $5,000, and the deadline to enter is March 28, 2016. CLICK HERE NOW TO ENTER TO WIN! Check out the home: Learn more about Digital Graffiti:

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Ann and George HartleyFor our Valentine’s Day edition of The 30A Show, we brought in one of the best couples we know — George and Ann Hartley, owners of the most historical restaurant in South Walton, Seagrove Village Market Cafe. The Hartleys give blind date tips, relocation advice and play a special “Match Game” contest. They also give an update on the cafe, which had to be relocated after the building was torn down last year, as well as share some breaking news on their next big project on 30A. Hear all this and more in the third episode of The 30A Show, brought to you by 30A Cottages and Concierge. The 30A Show airs Friday mornings on 30A Radio and is also available on Soundcloud, in the 30A mobile app and wherever you get your podcasts. Love what we’re doing? Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes to help more people find us. And now on to the show!

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Bay-Home-by-Alissa-Aryn-PhotographyPhotos by Alissa Aryn Photography The Ragsdale family lost their home in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida during a flood in April 2014. This is the second chapter in a series of VIE Magazine articles about their rebuilding process. The Ragsdale’s new home will be featured in VIE Magazine’s “Architecture & Design” issue (Summer 2016) and in a series of features on 30A.com. New to the story? Click here to read Chapter 1 first. “I used to rule my world from a pay phone And ships out on the sea But now times are rough And I’ve got too much stuff Can’t explain the likes of me” — Jimmy Buffett, One Particular Harbour “Shipping containers?” “Yes,” I beamed with confidence. “You mean like those big metal box car looking things,” she asked. “Yes, box cars. Exactly.” “And… we would… live in it?” This might be harder than I thought. After our home was flooded during a “200-year storm event,” we discovered that its aging walls were infested with mold, rot, mildew and other coastal unpleasantness. Ultimately, we demolished our family’s home, and now we were facing the daunting task of starting from scratch on a muddy bay-front canvas. In keeping with my time-tested financial intuitions, we had purchased our home at the very pinnacle of the housing market, and so we’ve pretty much been underwater ever since — metaphorically at first, and then physically when rising flood waters unceremoniously ushered us out the front door in the middle of the night. “People are doing all sorts of really innovative things with shipping containers,” I said to my unconvinced wife Angela, while flicking through Pinterest pages of visually stunning homes constructed from discarded metal shells. Even before the flood, I had been reading books on how to simplify one’s life, focusing on what really matters — travels and experiences — rather than material possessions. Titles like Vagabonding by Rolf Potts, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau, and Simplify by Joshua Becker were usually within reach, and yet as I was still mentally shackled to all of the things that we’d hoarded over the years, their real-world recommendations read more like abstract theories. :: But now times are rough, and I’ve got too much stuff :: Like a tidal surge that abruptly changes the landscape of an entire region, the flood forced any decision to simplify upon us. It was no longer a philosophical goal as much as a financial mandate. Like an unplanned baptism, the water had washed away many of our possessions, leaving us shell-shocked and yet optimistic about starting anew. As the waters receded, we called our friend, Kristi Stevenson of Hart Builders (Phone: 850-586-1070). Kristi had always been there for our family, day or night. AC unit dies smack-dab in the middle of the sweltering summer heat? Call Kristi. Faulty flashing causing the chimney to leak? Call Kristi. She’d always been there to help us whenever we felt in over our heads. “We’re in over our heads, Kristi,” I said. “Way over.” After hearing of our midnight plight, Kristi promised us that we could build a nice home on our budget. “We’ll make it work,” she said reassuringly. In the weeks and months ahead, Kristi became our most valuable ally, waging war like a smart phone Spartan to keep us on track and on budget. In time, my crazy notions of living in a box car concoction receded. Ultimately, I didn’t want to be “that guy.” You know, the guy they discovered cooked alive inside a 225-degree metal box one August afternoon, or the guy they found weeping atop a large pile of rusty rubble after just a few years of salt air corrosion. “No, you definitely don’t want to use shipping containers,” local builders would warn others in the future. “You heard what happened to that guy, didn’t you?” We decided to leave such architectural adventures to those who don’t break out in hives upon entering Home Depot. Despite the fact that this was going to be a uniquely challenging project, Kristi and her business partner Thom Grant never made us feel bad for needing to “keep it simple.” Perhaps they could sense our desperation, or perhaps they saw our vision. Either way, we knew in our hearts that Kristi and Thom were the ones who would one day bring our family back home. We also called several local architects to see who was best qualified to help us design the decidedly simple yet modern home that we’d envisioned. Again and again, the name Ed Rolen of Rolen Studio (Phone: 850-814-2642) kept coming up. “You mean the guy who’s always doing those crazy kite surfing jumps out on Grayton Beach,” I asked. Yup, that’s him. And this project has Ed’s name written all over it, they said. They were right. While Ed has designed sleek modern homes in other parts of the U.S., he had yet to find someone here in South Walton who craved the clean, simple lines that permeate his portfolio. In Ed, we saw the perfect combination of vision, talent and passion. In us, I think Ed saw an opportunity to perhaps nudge our community’s architectural style in a bold new direction. As we stood with Ed, Thom and Kristi upon the dusty remains of our recently demolished home, I sketched out a rudimentary floor plan on a scrap piece of paper. A master suite on one end. A wide open great room and kitchen in the middle. Two guest rooms on the other end. And a whole bunch of big windows gazing out across Choctawhatchee Bay. “Looks pretty simple,” said Thom, looking over my scribble. “Just a big rectangle up on pilings.” “Yup,” I grinned. “Kinda like a box car.” Here are a few photos of the project-in-progress: Watch for Chapter 3 of the story in the March / April 2016 issue of VIE Magazine. For more information about the project, visit 30A.com/modern. Sincere thanks to our partners: GOLD PARTNERS Builder: Hart Builders 850-586-1070 Residential Design: Rolen Studio – Modern Residential 850-814-2642 Interior Design: Cassidy Lyons Pickens (Lovelace Interiors) 850-200-2062 cassidy32459@yahoo.com Joey LaSalle (Lovelace Interiors) 615-585-5638 www.joeylasalle.com Lighting: Beautiful Lights 850-650-9417 Countertops: Classic Design Stone 850-419-3976 Flooring / Tile: Renovation Flooring 850-460-7295 Home Automation: AVX – Audio Video Excellence 850-529-4743 Glass / Mirrors: Seaview Glass & Mirror 850-654-5527 Home Security: Planet Secure 850-278-6226 Custom Furniture Pieces: Not Too Shabby Boutique 850-419-3976 Landscape Design: Terra Firma Landscapes 850-502-6365 3D Home Tour: PerceptionsbyMayer 850-499-2213 Infrared Sauna: Finnleo Sauna and Steam 800-346-6536 Kitchen Work Station: The Galley 800-375-4255 SILVER PARTNERS: Kitchen Appliances: Builder Specialties (BSI), Destin (850-650-9092) Custom Window Treatments: Concept Blinds & Design (850-797-6819) Custom Closet Design: Alpha Closets & Murphy Beds (850-516-8827) Doors and Windows: Southern Windows & Doors (850-546-1773) Insulation: Mid-America Insulation & Supply (850-312-8400) Electrical: Xcell Electric Inc. (850-865-3254) Plumbing / Gas: SSE Plumbing & Gas Contractors (850-441-3458) Watch for new chapters of the story in VIE Magazine, as well as a photo reveal of the new home in VIE’s “Architecture & Design” issue (Summer 2016).

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