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Issue 1.08 | Monday, Dec. 1, 2008 | Forward to your friends!


CALLING ALL REINDEER:
This weekend's Reindeer Run/Walk will draw another festive, fundraising crowd. See Good News for details. (Photo by RedZepPhoto.com)


TODAY'S FOCUS
:: Library classes can help give job edge

ANDY BRACK
:: Economic times not like Depression

FEEDBACK
:: Two homes for CSO; more solutions?

THE LIST
:: David Stahl's top holiday tunes

GOOD NEWS
:: Reindeer, pearls, crises, books

ALSO INSIDE

___:: CALENDAR: Coming events
___:: REVIEW: Gary Smith's Going Deep
___:: HISTORY: German Friendly Society
___:: QUOTE: On dealing with trouble
___:: BOOKSHELF: Interesting reading


UNDERWRITERS AND PARTNERS




ABOUT US

CharlestonCurrents.com is a new online twice-weekly publication that offers insightful community comment and good news on events. It cuts through the information clutter to offer insight and news on the best of what's happening locally. More.

   
 

TODAY'S FOCUS
Library's free classes can give job seekers an edge
By JENNIFER LIVELY
Technology Learning Center Manager, Charleston County Public Library
Special to CharlestonCurrents.com

DEC. 1, 2008 - "Applicant must be extremely proficient with all Microsoft Office programs, including Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint." This sentence seems to shriek from the pages repeatedly as anxious job seekers thumb through the classifieds each week. Layoffs, furloughs, service cutbacks and shutdowns have fostered an environment of uncertainty among the employed and unemployed alike. So, with fewer available jobs and an increasing number of applicants, how can you emerge as a qualified contender?


Lively

Although there is no sure-fire, guaranteed way to obtain or safeguard a job, taking the initiative to boost your computer skills could help. Whether you're a nurse, a truck driver, a salesperson, a teacher or a construction worker, computers have become essential in the workplace. Employers need you to understand how to use them, not to mention their related software, in order to complete your assigned duties. Inventories, client lists, delivery schedules, bill payments and general correspondence are among the many everyday tasks managed with the help of a computer.

But who can afford to pay for training these days? If money is a problem, check out the Charleston County Public Library's computer classes - which are free. Each month, the Technology Learning Center at the Main Library on Calhoun Street presents nearly 30 classes to the public at no cost to students. The classes range from the fundamentals for new computer users to more advanced classes for the experienced user.

From word processing and spreadsheet management to graphic design and developing presentations, the Technology Learning Center's two-hour classes help students meet the general computer competencies expected by employers, and then some. Most of the classes are repeated each month, and morning, afternoon and evening sessions are offered to accommodate various schedules. Last year, the Technology Learning Center offered 325 classes that drew 2,663 participants.

Trained instructors lead each class, which includes hands-on activities, and the classes are limited in size so that ample assistance can be provided. One patron noted, "The teachers are really clear. I always had trouble learning in school, but I have no trouble following their instructions." Another said, "All of the instructors are easy to understand. They are patient with us, and they are very knowledgeable."

In addition to classes, the Technology Learning Center provides Open Lab opportunities. Nearly 19,000 patrons took advantage of Open Labs last year. During Open Labs, patrons can come in and revise their resumes, check e-mail, complete online job applications, create reports, and more - with staff nearby, ready to assist if needed. The library's computers are equipped with the Microsoft Office programs Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access, as well as Internet Explorer, so there is software available to handle just about any task a library patron needs to accomplish.

Although you might feel pretty helpless amid the current economic situation, the library is ready to lend a hand. This is the perfect time to reassess your qualifications and take some steps to improve your skills. Current employers will be impressed with your initiative, and your newfound skills could make you stand out to a prospective employer.

To find out more about the Technology Learning Center, visit the Charleston County Main Library or your neighborhood branch and ask for a monthly class brochure. You also can call the Technology Learning Center directly at 805-6885, send an e-mail to tlc@ccpl.org or go online at http://www.ccpl.org.

Jennifer Lively is manager of the Technology Learning Center at the Charleston County Public Library.

ANDY BRACK
Economic times now not nearly like Great Depression
By ANDY BRACK, publisher

DEC. 1, 2008 - With the almost unimaginable news that the state unemployment rate has reached a level that reflects one in 12 people without a job, it's easy to conjure notions that the times we face are like the Great Depression.


Brack

But a look at South Carolina's history shows something else: It was way, way worse during the Great Depression. While individuals are hurting in homes across the state now, just about everybody was hurting in the late 1920s and early 1930s.

Prior to the huge crash of the stock market in 1929, agrarian South Carolina was in pretty bad shape anyway. Cotton and tobacco prices plummeted in the 1920s thanks to overproduction, loss of overseas markets and, at least for cotton, because of the boll weevil. Cotton, for example, bottomed out at 5 cents a pound.

"By 1930, after nearly a decade of difficulties, South Carolina agriculture was about to go under," historian Walter Edgar writes in his seminal work, South Carolina: A History. "Farmland and buildings had lost more than one-half their value. One-third of the state's farms were mortgaged, and 70 percent of the state's farmers survived on borrowed money."

Textile mills, which were the backbone of the state's manufacturing sector, also suffered from overproduction and competition. By the time of the crash, there was labor unrest, curtailed production and shorter work weeks, which caused smaller paychecks.

Lots of banks also failed, as Edgar described: "Before Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated in 1933, two-thirds of them (34 national and 273 state) closed their doors. A considerable number folded before the stock market crash of 1929, due to local economic conditions."

Some other indicators of what was going on back then:

  • The Citadel almost closed due to the financial crisis, according to history professor Gary Nichols.

  • Unemployment in nearby Colleton County reached 30 percent. Nationally, unemployment was 25 percent in the bleakest parts of the Depression.

  • The Rotary Club of Charleston dropped its weekly lunch price to 65 cents to keep members from leaving.

A young sharecropper, Chesnee, SC. Photo in 1937 by Dorothea Lange. Image from American Memory Project, Library of Congress.

When Roosevelt took office in 1933, he brought 100 days of the New Deal, a time in which Congress enacted major legislation to infuse the national economy with investment and money.

The boost worked. Thousands were saved from starvation in 1933 thanks to the South Carolina Emergency Relief Administration and its food relief efforts. Thousands more got jobs through federal agencies like the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps, which employed more than 49,000 workers in South Carolina between 1933 and 1942. They built highways, bridges, parks, schools, water and sewer systems and more. They brought local infrastructure to places that hadn't had it. Finally, they built Santee Cooper, one of the largest New Deal projects in the country.

So while people today are hurting economically, times now are nowhere as bad as they were 75 years ago. While some people have lost jobs or are working extra jobs to make ends meet, companies are still hiring and some are expanding. Banks are making loans, even though credit is tougher to find.

Today's economy is far more complex than that of 1933. But it also is far more diversified than it used to be, which should provide some cushioning as the nation again waits for a new chief executive to come up with a financial rescue plan that can lift burdens and set the country on a new path.

Andy Brack is publisher of CharlestonCurrents.com. You can reach him by email at: publisher@charlestoncurrents.com.

FEEDBACK
CSO should consider two home cities

Andy Brack raises the obvious questions [Nov. 24] that needed to be put back on the table: Can Charleston support a real symphony orchestra? Does Charleston want to support one?

A central point has always been that the CSO is a real orchestra -- not a small pack (such as Greenville) augmented by freelance professionals. Either we have a real orchestra (the major orchestras will run 100 people, vs. 46 here) or we have a part-time, somewhat rag-tag group.

Perhaps the CSO should explore the model used, with at least one success, by several ballet companies: Have two home cities. See this article. Just look for a city that is not too distant, where the CSO can really go back and forth.

If the commitment is to try to stay, the CSO really needs to market the hell out of symphony music. Why aren't there clips on YouTube? Or anywhere else on the Web? Going to a concert is an alien experience for most people. The CSO has to break through this. As an example, see what the Chicago Symphony Orchestra has done.

Or, maybe, the desire for culture in Charleston is really a myth.

-- Peter Lucash, Charleston, SC

Symphony needs combination of solutions

'Course, "great" or "outstanding" symphony, which you call for [Nov. 24], cannot happen with 20 core paid full-timers and the rest volunteers. One of the main reasons the symphony is so good is because it recruits top-drawer musicians who come from great conservatories and must endure a vigorous audition process. Without them, you got bubkis.

Seems to me, the solution is a combo of organizational restructuring, programming changes and increased (reliable) community support, as well as new and creative ways to raise money and market the product.

As for its financial woes being predictable, the CSO is like any other arts org in this respect: always needing money, always facing crisis. Nothing odd here, really.

-- Name withheld by request, Charleston, SC

Our policy: We encourage readers to submit feedback or letters to the editor. Send your thoughts to editor Ann Thrash. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity. One submission allowed per month. Make sure to include your name and phone number. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Please keep your comment to 250 words or less.

SPOTLIGHT

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Maybank Industries, LLC of Charleston, SC With broad experience in commercial and government operations, Maybank Industries applies deep-rooted commitment to teamwork, reliability and personal service to provide innovative business solutions for project development, information technology, logistics, vessel design, shipping agency services and marine terminal operations, both locally and internationally. Maybank Industries applies a powerful blend of professional expertise to research, analyze and develop tailored solutions with thorough plans of action, combining a heavy dose of common sense to solve today's needs that can adapt to changing or evolving requirements. More: Maybank Industries and Maybank Systems.

  • To learn more about all of our underwriters and nonprofit partners, click here.

GOOD NEWS
On Dasher, on Dancer: Reindeer will Run on Saturday

The annual Reindeer Run is one of the most family-oriented, pet-friendly run/walks in the Lowcountry, and it has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for MUSC's Children's Hospital and other local causes. This year's event will be held Saturday in downtown Charleston, with the starting and finishing lines in front of Southend Brewery at the corner of East Bay and Queen streets.

Runners start the 5K at 9 a.m., with walkers taking off five minutes later. The course winds through historic downtown Charleston. Pets on leashes are welcome, as are babies in strollers, and festive costumes for pets and people are encouraged.

Presented by Half-moon Outfitters, the Reindeer Run drew more than 2,600 participants last year. The Charitable Society of Charleston (CSC) plans and organizes the event, and over the years the CSC has donated in excess of $252,000 to MUSC, including $58,000 last year. Also last year, the Reindeer Run contributed $14,500 to the CSC endowment, which provides grants and donations to local nonprofits that help children and the elderly in the area.

Registration for the run is $25 for adults, $20 for children; for the walk, it's $23 for adults, $18 for kids. Fees are $5 more on race day. More info: http://www.reindeerrun.org. Click here to register.

Timeless jewelry designs to be on display Saturday, Sunday

Just in time for the holidays, Charleston native Larkin Hill's special, one-of-a-kind jewelry designs will be displayed exclusively this weekend at a designer jewelry sample sale at the Tides Condominiums in Mount Pleasant.

Hill's pearl creations, which can be found online at Pearl LLC, are individually unique, which makes each item a one-of-a-kind treasure. She tells us that every piece is hand-made using only the finest silks and metals and stones to complement the pearls.

To see Hill's beautiful jewelry creations - and maybe to get a free glass of champagne -- visit the Owners' Amenities Center at The Tides from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday or Sunday. For directions or information on The Tides .

Chamber offers program on managing financial crises

The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce will offer a small-business forum, "Managing Your Business Through a Crisis," from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the chamber offices, 2750 Speissegger Drive, North Charleston.

The event focuses on managing cash flow and account receivables. Speakers will include local small-business owners who have been in financial crises and can share the benefit of their experiences - and tell how they survived. In addition, professionals will offer tips and methods for proactively managing the books and explain how to recognize the warning signs of bankruptcy.

The program costs $15 for chamber members who register by Tuesday, or $20 at the door. For nonmembers, the cost is $35. Click here to register.

Preservation Society to host local authors at signing

Popular Charleston authors such as Jack Bass, Nathalie Dupree, Harlan Greene, Richard Porcher, Michael Trouche and more will be signing copies of their books from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at a free reception at the Preservation Society of Charleston's Book and Gift Shop at the corner of King and Queen streets downtown.

Appetizers and refreshments will be offered as visitors browse through books and other gifts that reflect the historic and cultural heritage of Charleston and the Lowcountry.

Other participating authors include Donald Barickman, Doug Bostick, Alphonso Brown, Sean Busick, Richard Cote, Mary Coy, Daniel Crooks, Jr., Lissa D'Aquisto Felzer, Craig Deihl, Goody DiRaddo, Margaret Eastman, Eric Emerson, Catherine Forrester, Fielding Freed, James M. Hutchisson, Donna F. Jacobs, Linda Lear, Theresa Lubbers, Julie McLaughlin, Rick Rhodes, Robert Rosen, Nicole Seitz, Andrea Weathers and Stephen Wise.

More info: 722-4630 or http://www.preservationsociety.org.

REVIEW
Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories
By Gary Smith

If there's a sports fan on your holiday shopping list -- actually, if there's a fan of beautifully written stories on your holiday shopping list-- this collection (Sports Illustrated Books, $26.95) by Charleston-based writer Gary Smith would make a wonderful gift.

Three of the pieces, all of which have been published in Sports Illustrated, are set in the Palmetto State: "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," a profile of the Charleston RiverDogs' Mike Veeck and his relationship with his daughter; "The Boys on the Bus," Smith's story of taking his son to a Summerville-Stratford football game three days after the 9/11 terrorist attacks; and "Someone to Lean On," which became the basis for the hit movie "Radio."

Smith mines the depths far beyond the X's and O's and won-lost records, offering exquisitely told stories that touch all the emotions. A great read for anyone who appreciates extraordinary writing -- sports fan or not.

-- Ann Thrash, editor

HAVE A REVIEW? If you have a review of a book, movie, restaurant or local arts endeavor, please send no more than 150 words to editor Ann Thrash. Make sure to include your name and full contact information.

HISTORY SPOTLIGHT
German Friendly Society

The oldest of all German male social organizations in Charleston, the German Friendly Society was founded by Michael Kalteisen (1729-1807), and Daniel Strobel (1734-1806). Meeting in Kalteisen's home on January 15, 1766, sixteen German men constituted themselves as a social and mutual-assistance society to pay sick and death benefits, and allow members to borrow funds at low rates of interest. Almost immediately, German ethnicity was not necessary for membership, nor was the ability to speak German.


The German Friendly Society is located on Chalmers Street today.

Constructing its own meetinghouse on Archdale Street in 1801, the society opened a school for boys in 1803, and turned out in October 1814 to help the German Fusiliers build and maintain Charleston's fortifications during the War of 1812.

Although not a part of its specified mission, the society established a fund in April 1821 to aid indigent and transient Germans in the city. By the mid-1800s, the society's membership reflected the assimilation of the colonial-period Germans into Charleston society, causing newly immigrating Germans to say they had "lost their Germanness." Other German ethnic societies rose to meet the needs of the new German immigrants, and a pattern emerged of acceptance into the German Friendly Society only after the newcomers had become economically successful.

Following the Civil War and the decline in German immigration to Charleston, the society developed into more of a social and charitable organization. In 1942 it changed its name to the Friendly Society of Charleston, but reverted to its original name in 1965. The modern society has a membership limit of two hundred and an eleven-year waiting list to join.

-- Excerpted entry by Michael Everette Bell. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

CREDITS

CharlestonCurrents.com is provided to you twice a week by:

  • Editor: Ann Thrash, 843.494.4468
  • Publisher: Andy Brack, 843.670.3996
  • Address: P.O. Box. 22261 | Charleston, SC 29413

© 2008, Statehouse Report LLC. All rights reserved. CharlestonCurrents.com is published every Monday and Thursday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.

THE LIST
David Stahl's top holiday tunes


Stahl

Maestro David Stahl of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra shares his five favorite holiday songs, listed in no particular order. "If these works don't make one think of the holiday season," he says, "nothing will!"

  • "The Christmas Song" ("Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"), Mel Torme

  • Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker"

  • Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's "Messiah"

  • "White Christmas," Irving Berlin

  • "Sleigh Ride," Leroy Anderson

QUOTE


Paine

"The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress, and grows brave by reflection."

-- American statesman Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

CALENDAR: THIS WEEK

(NEW) Managing Through an Economic Crisis: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Dec. 3, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2750 Speissegger Drive, North Charleston. Program on managing cash flow specifically for small-business owners and entrepreneurs. See Good News for details.

Vienna Boys' Choir: 8 p.m. Dec. 4, Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St., Charleston. Sponsored by the Charleston Concert Association. Holiday-themed performance by the world-famous choir whose traditions date back more than 500 years. Tickets $60-$15. Purchase at the Gaillard, through Ticketmaster at 554-6060, or at www.ticketmaster.com. More info: chasconcertassoc@aol.com or 571-7755.

'A Christmas Carol': Dec. 4-21, College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, 44 George St., Charleston. Charleston Stage production of Charles Dickens' classic novel of the season. Tickets: $41-$10. To see showtimes and buy tickets, click here.

(NEW) Gary Smith Talk: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5, Circular Congregational Church, 150 Meeting St., Charleston. Smith, a local resident and Sports Illustrated writer who has won more National Magazine Awards (four) than any other writer, will talk about his work and sign copies of his book, "Going Deep: 20 Classic Sports Stories." Click here for a book review.

(NEW) Reindeer Run: 9 a.m. Dec. 6, starting at East Bay and Queen streets, Charleston. Festive 5K run and walk to benefit the MUSC Children's Hospital and other local charities. See Good News for details.

Santa in the Swamp: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6, Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner. Kids can greet Santa as he arrives in the swamp by flat-bottom boat. Holiday festivities include musical performances, a jump castle and free take-home crafts activities for kids. Handmade gift items will be available from local vendors, and a special "Santa Shop" for kids will feature gifts for less than $5. More info: 553-0515 or http://www.cypressgardens.info.

(NEW) Pearls for the Holidays: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 6 and Dec. 7, Amenities Center at The Tides Condominiums, 115 Cooper River Drive, Mount Pleasant. See beautiful pearl and gemstone jewelry by Larkin Hill (http://www.pearlLLC.com ) and enjoy a glass of champagne. See Good News for details.

29th Annual Parade of Boats: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Charleston Harbor. Lighted boats decorated for the holiday season parade through Charleston Harbor, followed by a fireworks display. View the procession along the waterfront or decorate your own boat and join the fun. Parade begins on the Mount Pleasant side of the harbor; viewing from the peninsula begins at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at approximately 6:45 p.m. More info: 724-7305.

CSO Gospel Christmas: 8 p.m. Dec. 6, Gaillard Municipal Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. Charleston Symphony Orchestra musicians and the CSO Gospel Choir sing songs of the season under the direction of guest conductor Vincent Danner. Soloist: Jennifer Bynum. Tickets: $30. To purchase, click here.

CALENDAR: ONGOING AND SOON

Holiday Festival of Lights: Through Jan. 4, James Island County Park, 871 Riverland Drive, James Island. Millions of sparkling lights and hundreds of imaginative displays line a 3-mile drive through the park. Also includes marshmallow-roasting and activities for kids, gift shop and walking trail through Winter Wonderland. More info. Also see more here.

(NEW) State of the Region Address: 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Dec. 10, Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, 2750 Speissegger Drive, Suite 100, North Charleston. The chamber's Joint Area Business Council looks at the state of the tri-county area with the chairmen of Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester counties. Topics include the latest projects, laws, news and outlooks for the coming year. To register: http://www.charlestonchamber.net.

(NEW) Rural Mission Fund-Raiser: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Dec. 11, Mad River Bar & Grill, 32 Market St., Charleston. Fun and entertainment to raise money to support local families in need. Donation of $5 provides food and beverages. Chance to win dinner at some of the area's best restaurants. More on Rural Mission.

Fort Johnson Anniversary: 6:30 p.m. Dec. 11, Charleston County Library Main Branch Auditorium, 68 Calhoun St., Charleston. The Charleston Archive and the Mayor's Walled City Task Force sponsor a free, illustrated talk by Dr. Nic Butler, manager of the archive and the historian for the task force, to mark the 300th anniversary of the building of the fort. Archaeologist Carl Steen will discuss his recent investigations at the site. More info: 805-6968 or butlern@ccpl.org.

Growing Up Gifted: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Dec. 13, Rooms 117 and 118, School of Education, Health and Human Performance at the College of Charleston Alumni Center, 86 Wentworth St. Educational session for parents of gifted children; speakers include local and state experts and advocates for programs for exceptional children. Reservations: Stacey Lindbergh, 437-1751 or slindbergh@homesc.com.

ON THE BOOKSHELF

In this section, we offer a list of good reads that you might want to consider reading:

  • A Short History of a Small Place, T.R. Pearson
  • A Turn in the South, V.S. Naipaul
  • The Book of Marie, Terry Kay
  • Charleston Jazz, Jack McCray
  • Suggest a book to us

FOCUS ARCHIVES

12/1: Lively: Classes give job edge
11/24:
Maybank: Great wines
11/20:
Nelson: Manageable health goals
11/17:
Husser: Hard times, knowing selves
11/13:
Sandstrom: Festival of Lights
11/10:
Hill: CVB and holiday successes
11/7:
Alterman: Center for Women
11/3
: Kapeluck: Election turnout

THRASH ARCHIVES

11/20: Helping with books
11/13:
Secret great dining place unveiled
11/10:
Slaughterhouses part of city's past
11/3
: Meet CharlestonCurrents.com

BRACK ARCHIVES

12/1: Depression was far worse than now
11/24:
Time for CSO to answer questions
11/17:
Recycling more than you think
11/6:
Election reflections

LIST ARCHIVES

12/1: Stahl's top holiday tunes
11/24:
Five Charleston firsts
11/20:
Gibbes' newest acquisitions
11/17:
CCPL's top DVDs
11/13:
MUSC's top procedures
11/10:
Bertauski: 5 winter shrubs
11/6:
Dupree: Thanksgiving prep
11/3
: McCray: Charleston Jazz

SISTER PUBLICATIONS

We encourage you to check out our sister publications:

SC Statehouse Report -- a weekly legislative forecast that keeps you a step ahead of what happens at the Statehouse. It's free.

SC Clips -- a daily news compilation of South Carolina news from media sources across the state. Delivered by email about the time you get to work every business day. Saves you a lot of money and time. Sign up for a free trial subscription today.

Georgia Clips offers a similar daily news compilation for the scores of newspapers in Georgia's 159 counties.

GwinnettForum -- an online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.

 

 

 

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