ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rich 'Rico' Leon
(illustrated by Ariana Leon)
I had no idea back then what Islanders All should be — what form, what style, what plot, what characters, or what cute, catchy title I would use. But I knew that — just as with taking on the daunting project of building a custom 26-foot ocean sailing catamaran by myself — I simply had to start. And I also knew where it had to be written. South Florida has special significance for me beyond any natural loyalty as a native son of Miami. As I write in the book:
"… my relationship with the world had changed dramatically in the short time since Bob and I would blissfully race our feather-weight beach catamarans across the clean, crystal clear shallow waters of Biscayne Bay all those years ago. Today, we face unprecedented global challenges on our warming, crowded, and ecologically stressed planet. We live in troubled times. But it was great to hear his voice again. It brought back a flood of memories of good times, promising futures, and carefree days on beautiful turquoise bays."
What unique assortment of life experiences and insights compels one to write and web-publish a fanciful Life of Pi meets The Bachelor style novella like Islanders All that describes and promotes personal growth and mindful living, environmental stewardship, and sustainable well-being?
After earning disparate degrees in engineering science and in sociology followed by two extended career treks in electric utility power systems and in Internet software development — including many side interests, projects, and jobs over the years as a: technical writer, marine electrician, scuba diver, beach catamaran racer, ocean sailor, math / chem / physics tutor, guitar / ukulele instructor, performing musician, e-bike builder, and custom wooden boat designer and builder; I sensed an urgency to write a story about many of the alarming trends I had stumbled upon along the way.
Whispers of the calling to write Islanders All were probably already there, swirling just below the surface of consciousness at the time I was building Morningstar — a Polynesian-style double-canoe sailboat — in my backyard while living for a time in suburban Pennsylvania. After a few sea trials, she would be trailered down to the Florida Keys shortly before my family and I moved back permanently to my beloved South Florida, where I would begin to work out the rough contours of the salty tale I would tell.
Islanders All is intended to convey — in a mercifully lighthearted way — the disturbing truth about our current ethics ~ energy ~ economy ~ environment ~ human behavior predicament. Can we intelligently re-prioritize our personal growth goals, our economy, our society, our world, and our place in it as we continue to pursue human flourishing and well-being on our beautiful, bountiful living planet that is currently under threat from our own actions?
Today, considering the population + technology + affluence impact on the environment and how we are clearly exceeding Earth's sustainable ‘carrying capacity,’ we can say that our planet is full — of us. We must now begin to live more maturely 'within our means' and drop the notion of infinite economic growth on a finite planet. We can make this change by design or by disaster. I prefer the former!