|Issue 1.23 | Thursday, Jan. 29, 2009 | Forward to your friends!|
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JAN. 29, 2009 -- Greetings to everyone back in the Lowcountry of South Carolina from Central Europe! I am currently serving as a Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM) volunteer. This is a program from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) that gives young adults the opportunity to be in global mission. There are about 36 active missionaries from YAGM spread out all over the world, sharing experiences that foster the development of leadership, present cross-culture skill building, grow the principle of simple living, and ultimately bring forth young adults that are "globally formed and globally informed."
Since August of last year, I have been living and working in Hybe, Slovakia, a tiny village at the base of the High Tatras mountains. Since a great deal of my participation in this YAGM program involves making connections between my home community in Charleston and the people here, I hope you will indulge me in a curious similarity I've stumbled upon between Charlestonians and Slovaks.
By the time we Lowcountry natives are knee-deep into hurricane season, many of our gatherings seem to share the same stories. In my family and circle of friends, we usually talk about Hurricane Hugo and how it affected life, how we dealt, and all those many details that changed our lives for a while. Perhaps older generations remember Grace or another powerful storm, while the younger ones bring to mind Katrina or others that so recently devastated the Gulf Coast. Our common experiences and ordeals are relayed annually and somewhat ceremonially. With the passing of time, even these hardships and challenges have become less burdensome and painful. In my family, especially, they have become things we can take pride in.
In the village of Hybe, certain conditions also inspire trips down memory lane. Recently Slovakia was bracing for a severe gas shortage as a result of the Russia-Ukraine pipeline disagreement. Immediately, this prompted the government to begin rationing gas for individual consumption, small businesses, and government and state use as well. Thank goodness this is no longer an issue here, but just as storm season gets us thinking of our past, the government response in Slovakia has reminded many residents in this village of the Communist era. Over the past few weeks, I have heard so many stories about people standing in lines for four hours to buy bread. Others are quick to remember when schools and government offices would close for weeks on end if there was not enough gas or coal to heat the buildings during long winters, and how at one point overnight everyone's money became worthless and a new currency was issued to put everyone on an equal level.
When trying to comprehend the magnitude of these problems, I ask how they were able to motivate and inspire themselves. Most of the people I meet shrug and say something to the effect that it wasn't that bad or that they were able to manage. However, I wonder if relating their stories through the years could have helped them the way our storm stories have helped us?
One wonderful aspect of my volunteer "job" here in Slovakia is that I get to have many exchanges with different groups of people. In a typical week, I meet students from preschool age all the way up to 80-year-old English as a Second Language students. People are very interested in America, and I have the good fortune to be able to share a little bit about myself and the wonderful community from which I come.
Being a native of the South Carolina Lowcountry, I usually start by sharing about the hospitality and friendliness of our people, the beautiful natural scenery all around, and our delicious local food. All of these qualities can also be associated with my new home in Slovakia. Here in Hybe, hospitality has been ingrained into every aspect of life. More often than not, "quick visits" to drop in on a friend or neighbor become five- to six-hour stretches of conversation and relaxation. I also learned quite quickly to drop my habit of calling ahead before such visits - the calls are irrelevant and time-consuming. It's best to just show up and wait to be fussed over.
As far as beautiful surroundings go, I do miss seeing the Lowcountry. I don't think that ever really goes away. However, I do have some amazing opportunities to take in the glorious natural surroundings here: mountains that legend says were placed by the angels, ice caves, rivers just waiting to be kayaked (for me this will have to wait for a little warmer weather), and beautiful, untouched forests.
Finally, just as Charleston prides itself on delicious and inspiring Lowcountry fare, Hybe and Slovakia are quick to offer the same. The national dish in Slovakia is Bryndza Halusky (potato dumplings and sheep cheese served with fried bacon), and I have probably had it in every home in Hybe. Usually by coffee hour, the subject of national American dishes comes up and I am always stumped to find one true and unifying "American" meal. At this point I offer the USA's specialty in regional cooking. I think where I find the most common ground between my home in Charleston and my home in the village is with shrimp-n-grits. Over the years I feel like I've probably seen this recipe prepared every way imaginable (and in many different homes), and perhaps that is the same with Bryndza Halusky. Everyone has a unique twist to the recipe, and every occasion to eat it is a celebration.
At the end of most days, I am able to sit back and try to comprehend all that I am experiencing. I am from a beautiful place in the Lowcountry that takes pride in its heritage and beauty and hospitality. And now, for this year, I am fortunate to live in a village that shares these values. Peace to you from Central Europe, and please know that I am sending greetings from the people of Hybe and nearby villages to everyone back home!
JAN. 29, 2009 -- Talk of banning fireworks pops up from time to time in Lowcountry city government meetings, and in the past several weeks, the issue has been in the news again not just locally, but on the state level as well.
Pleasant, the topic came up in the wake of the arrest of a 16-year-old.
The young man was charged as an adult with second-degree arson in connection
with a New Year's Eve fire at a home in I'On. Fireworks reportedly led
to the house fire, which caused an estimated $75,000 to $100,000 in damages
to the home. According to news reports, the teenager told police that
he had targeted the home by mistake, thinking that it was the home of
a teenager he'd had a dispute with earlier in the day.
In North Charleston, the fireworks issue was raised at a recent City Council meeting. Last year some city residents lobbied unsuccessfully to get council to ban the unauthorized use of fireworks, and at a meeting earlier this month, the subject came up once again. Mayor Keith Summey said he'd get city attorneys to look into the matter.
up at the Statehouse, Sen. Glenn McConnell has filed a bill, S.183, that
would allow a local governing body to "regulate or prohibit the discharge
of otherwise lawful fireworks." With fireworks being legal in the
Palmetto State, the feeling among some local officials seems to be that
such "enabling legislation" from the state is needed before
they can act on a local level. Still, some cities - for example, Charleston,
Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms and Folly Beach - have already taken
steps on their own to regulate fireworks in their city limits.
a tough issue -- one that I can argue both ways. What we have now seems
like a confusing patchwork, with the state saying it's OK everywhere in
South Carolina and some individual cities saying, "Not here it isn't."
Does it make sense for fireworks to be legal on one side of the city-limits
sign but illegal just a few feet away on the other?
said that, though, I can appreciate that there's a lot to be said for
letting an individual town make its own decision in response to what its
residents want, rather than having a mandate handed down from Columbia.
people, the issue of banning fireworks revolves around the danger that
they can cause to property, life and limb. For others, the noise is a
nuisance issue. And for many, it's all about their pets. I've had two
dogs that have been terrified by fireworks, and it makes for a miserable
- and long - night for both owner and pet.
Some friends and I compared notes the other day and decided that if we had our 'druthers, we'd pass a law confining fireworks to July Fourth and New Year's Eve only - and by that, we mean the specific dates July 4 and Dec. 31.
agreed that in recent years, we've heard fireworks going off nightly for
as much as a week before and after those big days, and that's what has
some of us ready to support more regulation. Do we really need to have
fireworks starting on Dec. 26 and running every night, late, until the
kids go back to school after the New Year's holiday? And doesn't the special-occasion
fun of the July Fourth festivities lose some luster when the fireworks
start going off on July 2 and linger until July 6?
count on hearing more about this in the weeks ahead as the Legislature
and our local governments wrestle with the issue. Let your legislators
and council members know what you think -- and let me know, too.
Ann Thrash is editor of CharlestonCurrents.com. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Southeastern Galleries, a family-owned store that offers the best in upscale furniture in one of the largest showrooms in the state. The store's highly-trained professional interior designers offer complimentary design assistance for customers, including space planning, furniture and fabric selection, window treatments, wall coverings, carpeting and rugs. Design services involve working from architectural plans for new construction and in-home consultations for existing homes. To learn more about the outstanding furniture offerings and design help from Southeastern Galleries, visit the company online at: www.southeasterngalleries.com, or stop by its West Ashley location at 1885 Ashley River Road in Charleston. Phone: 556-4663.
Local kids can learn how to write, produce and record their own songs from a real pro -- Mark Bryan of Hootie and the Blowfish -- at a special free program at the City of Charleston's Mall Park Playground on Columbus Street.
Bryan, the guitarist for the group, has a nonprofit foundation called Carolina Studios. The foundation and the city's Department of Recreation are teaming up for the program, which will be held on an ongoing basis each weekday from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The kids will have a chance to write, produce and record their own music in a sound booth that will be set up at the park.
The program is open to boys and girls age 9 and older, and it's free. Space is limited, so call the recreation office at 724-7327 for more information.
Loggerhead nesting in 2008 seventh highest year on record
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources says 2008 was the seventh highest year on record since 1980 for loggerhead turtle nesting in the state. The number of nests is estimated at 4,500. That good news is tempered, however, by the fact that although 2008 was productive, it did not reverse the long-term declining trend.
The season in South Carolina included one Kemp's ridley, five leatherback and one green nest. The Kemp's ridley nest was the second nest on record in South Carolina and was located approximately two miles from the first ridley nest, which was laid in 1992.
Strandings in 2008 totaled 118, up from 92 in 2007 but not very different from the 10-year mean of 133. Of the 118 strandings, 18 turtles stranded alive; two were released, five are undergoing care at the S.C. Aquarium and 11 died shortly after stranding.
Also last year, eight sea turtles were admitted to the S.C. Aquarium's Turtle Hospital. The turtles -- two Kemp's ridleys, four loggerheads and two greens -- had injuries that included partial drowning, boat strikes and being stunned by the cold. The Nov. 24 arrival of four cold-stunned sea turtles from North Carolina brought the turtle hospital's patient count to 12, an all-time high.
Library offers free tax help for seniors, others
Several branches of the Charleston County Public Library are offering free tax help for low- to moderate-income residents, as well as help for those age 60 or over, through a project coordinated with the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) Program and the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Assistance is available through April and will be offered at least one day a week at nine local branches. Two branches -- the Cooper River Memorial and Johns Island Regional -- will provide assistance in Spanish.
Volunteers from VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program) will assist people with low-to-moderate income at five branches: the Main Library (Calhoun Street downtown), Cooper River Memorial (Rivers Avenue), Dorchester Road Regional, John L. Dart (King Street downtown) and Mount Pleasant Regional (Mathis Ferry Road).
AARP volunteers will be on hand at six libraries: the Dorchester Road Regional, Mount Pleasant Regional, Johns Island Regional (Maybank Highway), McClellanville Branch (Baker Street), Otranto Road Regional and St. Andrews Regional (North Woodmere Drive).
For specific schedules and details, go to http://www.ccpl.org or call the individual branches.
Film on Charleston Development Academy to premiere Feb. 5
The Charleston Development Academy Public Charter School has produced a documentary about the school's evolution, and it will be shown for the first time at 6 p.m. Feb. 5 at the Marriott Hotel at 170 Lockwood Blvd.
"CDA: Our 5 Year Journey" was produced through a grant from the S.C. Department of Education. The documentary chronicles CDA's journey through the various academic, cultural and social scenarios made available to help meet the educational demands confronting youths in the Charleston area.
The documentary, produced by Kurt Walker of Daydream Media Group, explores how hands-on and inquiry-based learning at the school enables a diverse group of students to make the most of the distinctive culture of living science, fine arts and history in Charleston and the surrounding communities. It will show how various theatrical student performances strengthen their memory, articulation, communication skills, and cooperative learning while promoting self-esteem.
I highly recommend "Dirty Secrets, Dirty War: The Exile of Robert Cox," written by his son David Cox. Coming off an era where pundits (personalities who get to shape our opinions without any expertise, comprehension or context) view journalism with the type of derision typically associated with plague carriers, "Dirty Secrets, Dirty War" is an exciting and inspiring account of a journalist-hero.
The debutante ball as a rite of passage for young girls probably evolved from a seventeenth-century European custom in which aristocratic families presented their daughters at court to help them find suitable husbands. While a debutante may be presented to South Carolina society at an individual ball, tea dance or other party given by her parents, the social events that accompany the debutante season across the state usually revolve around the official debutante balls held by organizations created specifically for that purpose.
The grande dame of these ball organizations in South Carolina is Charleston's St. Cecilia Society. Officially organized as a musical society in 1762, St. Cecilia turned to purely social events in 1822, and ever since then its ball has been considered the most exclusive in the state. The second organization appeared in 1889, when a group of Columbia women decided to develop the Assembly Ball as a social event modeled after the St. Cecilia, with the stated purpose of giving "their daughters a dignified background, and a fitting, yet attractive opportunity for them to be presented to society."
As the twentieth century progressed and South Carolina's population grew, so did the number of debutante organizations. Small towns began to have them, and the larger cities added new ones. Some of these societies, such as St. Cecilia, were men's organizations, while other societies were women's organizations; others gave couples equal status. The specific criteria for being invited to join a debutante society were usually shrouded in secrecy, but wealth was not necessarily a determinant. Lineage and ties of friendship were more likely to be important.
Although each ball has particular features that may make it slightly different from every other ball, there is a pattern that is the basis for all the debutante ball variants. Each debutante wears a white gown, is presented by her father or another male relative, and curtseys before the members of society to whom she is being introduced. Then she takes the arm of her escort and participates in a Grand March, at the end of which all the debutantes take a collective bow, and the dancing begins.
The procession of debutantes in South Carolina has stopped only for the Civil War and World War II. Although during the turbulence of the Vietnam era it was often difficult for parents to persuade their daughters that a debut was important, debutante balls not only survived that period but also flourished afterward. A South Carolina newspaper might well describe three or four debutante balls held on the same night between Thanksgiving and January. The debut as a way to find a husband may be an anachronism, but the debutante ball as an excuse to have a good time was still going strong in the early twenty-first century.
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Dr. Sam Stafford of Mount Pleasant Dermatology offers these five suggestions for cold-weather skin care:
have a genius for psychological alchemy. If something intolerable simply
cannot be changed, driven away or shot, they will not only tolerate it
but take pride in it as well."
Spoleto Festival Auction: 6:30 p.m. Jan. 30, Memminger Auditorium, 56 Beaufain St., Charleston. "La Dolce Vita," the festival's 29th annual silent and live auction, begins with a silent auction, hors d'oeuvres and cocktails at 6:30 p.m.; seated live auction with champagne and sweets begins at 8:30 p.m. Bid on wine, antiques, private dinners, exotic travel packages, jewelry, fashion and more. All proceeds benefit the Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra. Tickets: $100 per person. More info on tickets, auction preview and absentee bidding.
(NEW) Garden Cleanup: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 31, Windermere Boulevard Community Garden, South Windermere. Volunteers needed to help spruce up the areas. Cleanups are sponsored by the Charleston Parks Conservancy to help the city of Charleston maintain public gardens. More info.
Teacher Appreciation at Gibbes: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Jan. 31 and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 1, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting St., Charleston. Teachers in the tri-county area, from pre-kindergarten to college level, can get free admission to the Gibbes and free cell phone tours of the museum. To receive a pass, e-mail Gibbes Education and Outreach Coordinator Rebecca Williams at email@example.com.
CALENDAR: ONGOING AND SOON
(NEW) 'Uptown in Downtown Charleston': Throughout February, Saul Alexander Gallery, Charleston County Library Main Branch, 68 Calhoun St. Watercolors by artist Andrea Hazel, a native Charlestonian, will focus on the neighborhood people, corner stores and small businesses that becoming harder to find in downtown Charleston. The paintings are part of an ongoing series that reflects Hazel's love for her hometown and the streets where locals live and hang out.
Southeastern Wildlife Exposition: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Feb. 13 and Feb. 14; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 15, downtown Charleston (eight venues). SEWE features 120 artists, lectures, Busch Wildlife shows, sporting outfitters, and conservation exhibits. In addition, the popular Dock Dogs competitions return, along with retriever demos, free flight shows by the Center for Birds of Prey, and children's activities. Tickets start at $10 & kids 10 and under are free. VIP packages available. More info/tickets: http://www.sewe.com or 723-1748.
CSO, CBT Collaboration: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14, Sottile Theatre, 44 George St., Charleston. The Charleston Ballet Theatre and Charleston Symphony Orchestra will offer a joint performance of three ballet masterworks underscored by works from a trio of celebrated composers. Tickets: $35-$45, available only through the CBT box office, 477 King St., by calling 723-7334 or ordering online.
Winter Golf Classic: Feb. 16, Wild Dunes Resort's Links and Harbor courses, Isle of Palms. Sponsored by Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, with 60 teams and plenty of chances to network. Following the event, there will be a Business After Hours at the Sweetgrass Pavilion. Sponsorships still available. Tournament cost: $650 per team, or $200 per individual. To register or learn more, click here. For sponsorship info: Laura Kate Whitney, 805-3113.
An Evening in the Orient: 6:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Feb. 21, Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St., Charleston. Annual fundraiser sponsored by Friends and Needed Supporters (FANS) of the Charleston Museum. Far East food, culture and items from the museum's Asian collections are showcased. George Read of Sotheby's will preside at an auction, with items including vacations, jewelry, Charleston silver, a 100-person oyster roast, a quail hunt, and artwork by local artists. Tickets: $60 members, $70 nonmembers. To register: 722-2996, ext. 264, or http://www.CharlestonMuseum.org.
Chefs' Feast for Food Bank: 6:45 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Feb. 22, Embassy Suites Charleston Area Convention Center, North Charleston. 10th annual Chefs' Feast fundraiser for the Lowcountry Food Bank features approximately two dozen chefs from the area's top restaurants serving samples of their best dishes. More than 95 percent of proceeds support programs that fight childhood hunger, and all money raised stays in the community. Tickets: $150 per person, available online. Corporate and event sponsorships: Miriam Coombes, 747-8146, ext. 104, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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