Modern scientists report that the Torreya once lived across North America and is one of the oldest known tree species on earth. This is interesting in light of local legend that the Florida Torreya was the Biblical "gopher wood" from which Noah built the ark.
Because the Torreya is one of America's most endangered trees, a major effort is underway to save it. The Florida Park Service is working with the Atlanta Botanical Garden in a commendable effort to grow new Torreya trees. Using seed obtained from living trees, the agencies are growing seedlings that are being planted in the ravine habitat at Torreya State Park. Perhaps over time, the Torreya will once again thrive along the Apalachicola.
The trees are extremely rare today, but they are very easy to see. Two nice plantings can be found at Torreya State Park along the brick walkway leading to the historic Gregory House. Other live Torreya can also be seen along the nature trails in the park.
When we signed for this adventure we were sure that the house we were building should be an answer to the piece of land we bought. Our mother Earth deserves respect. We were touching a piece of land that is unique and exclusive and once you touch it, we were changing that piece of land at the most intrinsic way. We want to design a house for us, the horses and all the animals that live with us and to give protection to wild life that at that point we’re really scarce even though we were in the vicinity of the Everglades. The result of this dream was a house that is practical and that emanates from the site with all the respect. Our house should reflects what we are but also give us shelter to our body, mind, and soul. The lack of diversity in design leads to thoughtless, cold blooded and desensitized spaces.
Design has a unique ability to dignify and make people feel valued, respected, honored and noticeable. We certainly believe that the spaces controls our human behavior so by creating a beautiful building that can make people feel comfortable, a space that promotes creativity, and a healthy life, a space that enriches sensory experience, a space that improve social connectedness we will be improving our lives in a holistic way and as Sir Winston Churchill wisely put it in this quote "We shape our buildings, and afterward, they shape us." They literally shape our ideas about who we are in the world and what we deserve. That is the essence of dignity. And both the opportunity and the responsibility of design for good and for all.