By Fiona Tedds, Editor At Large
With a view to the importance of community and an emphasis on sustainability, the new town of Serenbe in Georgia is blazing a trail in good living.
Just forty minutes south west of Atlanta, nestled in the Chattahoochee Hills, something radical is happening in the new town of Serenbe. The people who live there not only talk to each other, but they actively focus on living harmoniously alongside each other; they come out on their porches, which are a necessity according to home design in the area and situated close to the small meandering roads of this delightful place, and residents discuss community policy, events and life. As idealistic as it sounds, the focus is on wellness, education, sustainability and happiness.
Much has been written about how this utopia came to be, about how its founding father, a former restaurateur Steve Nygren, and his wife, Marie, came to the area looking for a place to retire only to find their slice of paradise being encroached on by developers. But what is really remarkable about this story is how Nygren quickly formulated a vision of what would be good for this exquisite countryside and understood that in order to protect it, he would have to lobby and fight to get outdated and wasteful planning code changed. He sought out and harnessed the advice and energies of many advisors from various industries connected to planning and development and then identified the way in which the land could be thoughtfully developed with minimum destruction to its luscious scenery.
Nygren’s vision has extended to every aspect of living in this small but rapidly expanding town; art is everywhere, from curlicued lamp posts to pieces of sculpture placed at the center of small communal courtyards in the middle of Architectural Digest-worthy homes. As for the homes themselves, no detail has gone unnoticed. There are luxurious but affordable abodes for families, artists, even a retirement community that has a larger shared residence for visiting family members. One part of the town is designed along the lines of half-timbered English hamlet – it’s like a fairytale come to life.With everything from a well-stocked local store, filled with organic and artisan-made products, to beautiful restaurants that work for all budgets (and are supplied with fresh produce from the town’s small organic farm), a visit to Serenbe cannot help but make you reconsider your own living situation and wonder why you are not ensconced in this woodland paradise. Everything is done to honor nature, including homes that are situated with a thought to the rolling vistas near them, blueberry bushes that line the streets and even a theater company (with production values worthy of any large city company) that performs in the middle of the forest and uses the mystery of this setting to wonderful effect.
It will be interesting to see how Serenbe fares in the future and what continuing development will bring. But the legacy of Steve Nygren is unquestionably magnificent, and his family, who are all actively involved in Serenbe’s growth, seem focused on maintaining the same course. Serenbe is breathtaking, the stuff of an idyllic childhood. It is also the stuff of a beautiful, healthy, eco-conscious adulthood. Visit soon.
Photo Credits: Serenbe.com