Even in a state known for its sunshine and beautiful beaches, Pensacola Beach is a gem with sparkling white sands and crystal blue waters.

Over the past decade or so, downtown has transformed from a string of shuttered shops to a thriving hub of dining, nightlife and culture.

One of Pensacola’s biggest assets is its quality of life. From the quaint charms of East Hill, to the pristine beaches of Perdido Key, to green manicured lawns of Scenic Heights, there are many great places to live in Escambia County.

But, being honest, most of those places are rubbing shoulders with locations that aren’t doing so well. The poorest neighborhood in Escambia County is just a stone’s throw from downtown, a three-quarter square mile section of the “alphabet streets” where the average income for 2015 was just $20,963, about 44 percent of the state median.

In this world, there will likely always be “have’s and “have not’s. But aren’t there some things everyone should have?

A chance at a decent education and to better themselves and their families? The ability to get treatment when they’re sick? An opportunity to enjoy their natural environment?

Quality of life in Pensacola is one of six areas the Pensacola News Journal, in partnership with Studer Community Institute, will explore in the community year during CivicCon, a series of community conversations featuring nationally renowned experts willing to offer their views on how we can make our area a better place to live, do business, grow, invest and prosper. The first speaker, Chuck Marohn, is at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Pensacola Little Theater.

More: CivicCon: Building a better Pensacola through conversation

More: What is CivicCon?

More: Get to know your CivicCon speakers

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