Our children are not on an equal playing field. Unfortunately, it took an unbelievable tragedy to gain some insight into this reality. Since returning to Charleston about 6-1/2 years ago, this harsh realty hit me squarely in the face. I do not know all the solutions, but I do know one that is based solely on my belief as a Christian and as a person committed to treat each and everyone I meet with respect. My smile is perhaps my best gift, and I am extremely generous with it. So it is conceivable that my solution is to walk in love and show that you care. Impossible some may say, but to them I say, it is easier than you think. Simply imagine that it is a child that you love. What are the things that you would want for them? What are the things that you would say to them, and what are the things you would give to them? You would want people to treat them fairly to give them the benefit of the doubt, and to provide equality in all things – education, homes, and certainly in their community. Statistics prove that children who believe their communities care for them become more productive citizens of that community. I believe that if I were mayor, I would incorporate many of the ideals that I saw while my husband and I were stationed in the City of Chesapeake, Virginia. It is city that I miss; because, it is named, “The City that Cares.” I was so proud when I became a Prevent Specialist for the City of Chesapeake; because, I received this pin that told me the city care for me -” little old me.” I was shocked. I was from Charleston, and I know that my family cares for me, but I never ever thought Charleston cared for me. My supervisor came to me after only six months on the job and said, “I want you to be Co-Chair of Community Assessment & Planning Partners (CAPP). I was shocked. I could not believe this would happen – me a black girl from Charleston being put in the position of chairing agencies such as the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office and having them take orders from me – unbelievable, uplifting, incredible, and inspiring. I soared. I wish Charleston had given me this opportunity – it was my home. I became the Co-Chair for the City of Chesapeake, bringing together all different agencies and organizations to work to make sure our children and all of the residents of Chesapeake knew that everyone cared and everyone mattered. We had a stake in their future; because, they are our future. And, then I returned to Charleston, and after my first week of coming back to work, I often found myself behind the Old South Carriage Tours, My heart aches as I look at the drivers wearing the hat and uniform of the confederate army. My heart aches and yet you expect me to believe that you care for me. How can you care for me when you do not even know that my heart aches every time I see this sight? Every day I ache; because, I see talented young men who would never get the chance or the opportunity to soar. Did we as Charlestonians embrace them? I see this missing element of allowing all children/all people the opportunity to soar. I see its absence in the court system where I am employed as a legal assistant. Did we provide them with the same considerations? No, perhaps we did like President Barack Obama said, “Johnny got the call-back rather than Jamal.” Perhaps it is time to come together to figure out ways for Jamal to get the call-back. I know I would appreciate it, and my nephew, Jamal would applaud you for it.
As mayor, CAPP would be my first duty to the City of Charleston to show everyone that they matter. The City of Chesapeake also provided quality community centers where children could soar. The center I utilized for my Community Day Event was the Clarence Cuffee Community Center. It is adjacent to the library where children could soar in more ways than one. Give us an abandoned building and we will turn it into a community center devoted to loving and uplifting others as God so loved us and watch our children soar. A group of nuns did it for me at a small community center on James Island. It was there for a short time that I saw some members of Charleston (outside of my family) caring about and for me. A place where children can feel safe, loved, and uplifted by people who have no agenda other than the fact that they care – how radical is that.
South Windermere is an historic neighborhood located in West Ashley that is bordered by highway 17 and is across the Ashley River from the Charleston Peninsula. The are many reasons why people are attracted to this location, not only for the prime location, beautiful homes and the canopy of old live oak trees but for the convenience to shopping and local amenities. The area has two commercial districts called the South Windermere Shopping Center and the Moreland Shopping Center, which both are in walking distance from the neighborhood. With the growth of popularity and population the neighborhood brings, the commercial area of South Windermere is the one area that needs to be improved. With South Windermere almost being ninety years old, you could say that yesterday’s solutions causes future problems and this can be said for the commercial area of the neighborhood. One solution of many is the use of mixed-use development, this is the combination of residential, commercial, or cultural uses, where those functions are physically and functionally integrated, and provides pedestrian connections. The use of mixed-use developments would bring many benefits to the Windermere shopping centers. Some of the benefits would include greater housing variety and density, reduced distances between housing, workplaces, and retail businesses, stronger neighborhood character, and pedestrian and bicycle-friendly environments. The type of mixed-use zoning would be specifically urban residential/commercial. This would include multi-story residential buildings with the existing commercial and civic uses on the ground floor. This could happen with the addition of apartment space on top of the existing commercial buildings. Obviously to keep a down sized feel to the area it would only be two story building unlike most mixed-use development, which are normally three to four story buildings. With this it can be said that mixed-use development will make South Windermere a better and stronger community.
The Ravenel Bridge should be renamed to honor the nine lives lost on June 17th.
Let’s build on the community gatherings that have come from tragedies in our city. Let’s find a forum to talk about race that is safe and constructive. Let our next mayor commit to building bridges between our folks, whatever they look like, and help us all find a way to be better neighbors and citizens in our beautiful city. The tragedies have brought us to our knees, let us find a way to be lifted up to work towards a better understanding. Not sure what it looks like but it is time to talk about race in a more open fashion so people feel heard.
The upper neck of the Peninsula is an area that has seen a great deal of change in the past years.. The Landscaping and rehabilitation of houses has made it a great area to live. With the addition of close by restaurants it has turned into an urban environment. My great Idea for this area would be to continue rehabilitating these houses, but to also fix the flooding problems associated with the area. As well as to extend the size of the sidewalks to promote more walking. There are also Historic Homes that could be landmarked. This would attract tourism to this area. These ideas could make the upper peninsula a new destination that could effect this area in an economically positive manner. Bike racks could also be put in to promote an urban environment. This all adds in to making the upper neck of the peninsula a sustainable community.
Is there a central, streamlined online platform for connecting our region’s venues with the talent that that venue may be interested in attracting to perform at their site? Is their a place where musicians, music groups, theatre troops, and other performance artists can go to submit proposals for performances and connect to producers and/or venues that are interesting to them?
From the big spaces like such as Gaillard, Sottile, Memminger, NCPAC, Dock Street Theater, and Charleston Music Hall, to the area’s many beautiful religious sanctuaries and other smaller performance spaces, there should be a central connection hub between venues and artists. Such a system would help deliver increased local arts performances, as venues and artist matches are facilitated.
The city of Atlanta, the city of Miami, and others have dedicated funding that provides arts experiences for children. For example, the city of Atlanta offers the Cultural Experience Project, which guarantees one free arts experience – including transportation- each year for K-12 students in the Atlanta Public School System. Over 50,000 students each year receive FREE tickets and FREE transportation paid for by the Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs, and each grade level attends a different experience (the symphony, the art museum, the theater, the history center, the botanical gardens, the ballet, etc.) By the time students reach 12th grade, they have attended thirteen different arts experiences. This is a huge investment in the arts- it helps students to gain an understanding of where the cultural arts institutions are in their city, offers diverse and rich educational arts experiences, and gives students a brand new experience every year that ties to their curriculum standards, helping them make stronger learning connections. The arts organizations are able to offer widespread discounts to the city because they are booking groups in bulk (less work for them to market and recruit audiences). Because local arts organizations are showcased at the heart of this method, this funding contributes to the survival of those organizations and as well as the local economy. It’s a win-win for the arts, the kids, and the city.
Last week’s Ravenel Bridge closing brought into stark relief the transportation problems in the Charleston metro area. The usual traffic congestion hassles turned into chaos with the closing of just one artery into the peninsula, and the pain was not limited to the Mt. Pleasant corridor. Traffic volume will only increase, with expansion at Boeing, the large-scale Volvo project, planned residential projects in Mt Pleasant, Daniel Island and West Ashley, and continued tourist development. We need serious mass transit solutions which do not rely on the roadways and bridges. Our leadership must reach out to state and federal governments, as well as major industrial partners like Boeing and Volvo, to study a mass transportation system which links North Charleston, West Ashley, James/Johns Island and Mt Pleasant/Daniel Island with Peninsular Charleston to reduce our vulnerability to our over-taxed roads and bridges. It would be a mistake to dismiss the idea of non-road based mass transportation as too expensive without serious study of the issue. Population and traffic will continue to multiply here, whether we plan for it or not!
Charleston needs more public art–permanent as well as temporary installations–sculptures that speak to our place in history as well as our place in the future. For two weeks every Spring, we are graced with the energetic charge of Spoleto. Why can’t we carry that all year long? Look at Charlotte, Atlanta, NYC, Nashville, San Fran…all of them have glorious examples of public art.
Founded in the historic Charleston Lowcountry, Charleston Characters specializes in providing dance entertainment in non-traditional venues and incorporating all aspects of dance and theater. The mission of Charleston Characters Dance Company is to showcase contemporary dance with an emphasis on theatrical intent, by engaging audiences of all walks of life through the art of dance theatre.
Charleston Characters is made up of current and former College of Charleston Dance Department students. Each member brings their unique style and personality to the company, and their diversity makes for a one of a kind performance experience. We would love for more people to get involved with CCDC, regardless of Dance or Theater experience. Our goal is to bring Dance and Theater to the people and give everyone an opportunity to express themselves in a fun and invigorating artistic environment!
Hey Charleston Mayoral Candidates! Here’s a question I’d like to have answered at the upcoming forum:
Outside of Spoleto and Piccolo, what ideas do you have to bolster the arts in our town to create more jobs with living wages?
I would build parks and parkways connecting them. These would not be your Confederate memorials, they need to work for people, recreation, and to support the burden placed on the land by development. We need to take the fens and wayside areas and connect them to function ecologically, which in this instance means for draining, re-infiltrating, and connecting wildlife (and people). Then…we should finds way to celebrate what we have, perhaps an arboretum. Think about the Arnold Arboretum and the fens of Boston…
Our city could really use a “Guerrilla Gardening” chapter that trains their “sites” on the tiny green spaces left on the Peninsula. We need some plant intervention!
If we were mayor, we’d make a recurring play street on the Upper Peninsula and bring a portable, interactive art and book display composed of square units. Each square would have a different theme–Charleston history, creative writing, outerspace, etc. We’d create a space where kids could read together, with their parents, or by themselves; where they could learn how to make a new kind of art or play a new kind of sport; where they could be transported to a whole new place by barely leaving their backyards.
Teachers, students and the community at Ashley Hall are working collaboratively towards the goal of banning the use of single use plastic bags at checkout in Charleston. Plastics bags are frequently mistaken for food by marine organisms, and are having a huge impact on the marine environment. Plastic bag pollution clogs storm drains, increases downtown flooding, creates mosquito breeding grounds, and detracts from the natural beauty of Charleston. In short, the environmental and economic impacts of plastic bag pollution are detrimental to our city. All of the plastic that has ever been created still exists, is intertwined in the food web, and is having adverse effects on human health. Keep our city, our waterways and our bodies free of plastic. Support Banthebagcharleston and follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Banthebagcharleston/1604065396520276 and Instagram BantheBagCharleston!