I’ve spent a lot of time in Ave Maria over the past few years. It’s also been a long time since I’ve visited; about a year. It’s a wonderful, fascinating community, located in some Southwest Florida pioneer territory. Ave Maria University has something like 1,100 students now; small but growing. It’s a traditional Catholic university, and I hope it maintains its character as it grows.

Ave Maria as a town is growing faster; I’ve heard something like a few hundred new homes since my last visit about a year ago. From my drive through town, that seems to hold up. Where before there were dead-end streets and rocky fields left over from the 2008 housing bubble, today there are paved streets and rows upon rows of large, beautiful homes.

Whether the community itself is developing its own character, I’m not sure. In many ways, that’s not something a visitor is really equipped to answer. In other ways, an outsider is uniquely positioned to notice. In any event, every time I visit here (and anywhere) I try to look for clues that might answer that question about a place.

While I’m here, in between meetings, I’ll try to take note.