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Issue 1.89 | Monday, Sept. 28, 2009 | Just breathe

With the sweltering humidity and recent rains, it's not surprising for the occasional glimpses of rainbows across the Lowcountry. (Photo by Andy Brack.)

:: Fashion can thrive outside big cities


:: Riley pushing anti-crime bills

:: Send in your thoughts

:: Taste of Charleston

:: Mt. P. mayors' forum, films, more


___:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next

___:: REVIEW: Send us a review

___:: HISTORY: Female benevolent societies

___:: QUOTE: Jefferson on style

___:: SPOTLIGHT: Meet an underwriter


ABOUT US 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 | Reader testimonials


Designers prove fashion careers can thrive outside big cities
Owner, Sarah Maxwell Design
Special to

SEPT. 28, 2009 -- Each September as the temperatures begin to cool, excitement in the fashion world heats up with the start of fashion week.


Web sites like and update their content by the minute, bringing the public the future of fashion. New York, London, Milan and Paris are swarmed by models, celebrities and every other fashion-lover who can finagle a ticket to one of the coveted runway shows. For most of the population, this fashion fever must be quelled with TV and Internet.

As technology continues to make the world more connected, it becomes increasingly feasible for fashion businesses to thrive outside of these metropolitan areas. Charleston-based designers are finding new forums for showcasing their talent and proving that you no longer need to reside in Manhattan to run a successful design business. Now, thanks in large part to the Internet, it is possible for us to access the resources we need without uprooting our lives. In short, we can live where we love and do what we love.

Dockside Fashion Show

Three local fashion labels – Sarah Maxwell, Troubadour, and One Love by Rachel Gordon – have teamed up for the first Dockside Fashion Show to benefit the Charleston-based Water Missions International, a nonprofit that provides safe, clean water to people in developing countries and disaster areas. Models will walk the runway at 5 p.m. Oct. 3 at the Dockside Pier between the S.C. Aquarium and the Maritime Center at 330 Concord St. An after-party will be held at Shine, a restaurant at the corner of King and Line streets.

In addition to fashions, the show will feature jewelry and handbags from Add Libb Designs; Theodosia Jewelry; Cavortress by Julie Wheat; Library: Archives of Fashion; and Dee Ruel. Runway looks will be available for purchase at a trunk show scheduled for 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 7 at Shine.

Fashion show tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. VIP tickets are available for $40 and include end-of-the-pier seating with access to a private bar. Advance tickets are on sale at J.Paulz, Shine, and Salon Capelli.

From the wrought-iron gates of Legare Street to the sand dunes of Sullivan’s Island, there is no shortage of inspiration in this beautiful area. The talent and initiative have always been here, but through new outlets such as reality television and social networking sites, people all over the country have access to our designs and our ideas. Charleston’s local media have also played a large part in broadcasting local talent; almost every publication is home to a fashion/style editor.

Many Charleston designers have cut their teeth in the New York fashion scene. Local designers have not only attended the most prominent schools and programs but have also worked with some of the largest household names in the business. They have the same knowledge as their peers, and, as we have all seen recently on “Project Runway,” they can hold their own against designers from all over the country.

The Charleston fashion community continues to thrive despite the downturn in the economy. Charleston Magazine’s Charleston Fashion Week (CFW) gets bigger and better every year, with international attendance and a continually expanding Emerging Designer Competition that gives up-and-coming designers an opportunity to showcase their collections to the entire community. When Googling “Fashion Week,” CFW is one of the top hits. Thanks in large part to this event, Charleston is now being called the “fashion capital of the South.”

Local restaurants and art galleries have opened their doors to the design community for countless runway presentations, trunk shows and other fashion-related events. For the past three years, Chai’s Lounge has hosted the Local Color Fashion Show, an event that showcases designers while benefiting a local charity. Eye Level Art Gallery just recently held Charleston’s second Style Swap, a recession-friendly fashion event where attendees bring an unwanted (yet stylish) item from their own closets to exchange for someone else’s. Such events have also allowed for collaboration with local jewelry and handbag designers who are also finding success in the area.

Rather than mimicking the competition that makes Project Runway so entertaining, members of the Charleston fashion community are supportive and encouraging. Many of you may have noticed the Pop Up Shop that appeared on Upper King Street during the Spoleto Festival this year. Local clothing and accessory designers, as well as artists and even an interior decorator, teamed up to create a temporary storefront, much to the success of the participants and the delight of local shoppers.

Through all this, though the season finales may come and go, Charleston has proven that its fashionable reputation is here to stay.

Sarah Acker is a Charleston resident and designer who produces Sarah Maxwell, a line of ladies fashions described as “fun, feminine designs with an unexpected edge.” Prior to establishing Sarah Maxwell last year, Acker studied fashion in Florence, Italy, and worked for designers Anna Sui and Alexander Wang in New York City.

Riley pushing anti-crime measures

By ANDY BRACK, publisher

SEPT. 28, 2009 -- Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. is pushing a package of legislation that seeks to give police more tools to keep bad guys off the streets.

“We have some people who are arrested and out on bail for 13 different offenses,” Riley told the Rotary Club of Charleston this week. He went on to highlight how a person out on bail later was accused of killing someone.

“For the safety of the community, you shouldn’t get out on bond” if you’ve got a history of violence, Riley said.

“We need more tools in the toolbox to be able to deal with crime and gangs,” said Reba Campbell of the Municipal Association of South Carolina. “His proposals take a proactive approach and we’ve been very supportive of that.”

Riley has been pushing legislation that will allow courts to deny bail to someone who is arrested for a violent offense while already out on bond for a different offense.


“The bill protects our communities by allowing the court to deny bail if no conditions can reasonably assure the safety of any person or the community if the offender is released,” according to a written explanation in the mayor’s legislative crime packet.

Currently, judges can deny bond if they think someone poses a threat to the community, but in reality courts often don’t, according to an explanation of S. 6, a bill currently in a Senate subcommittee.

While the idea merits consideration, the state needs to be cautious about “overfixing” a problem for the whole state that may only be a problem in Charleston, warned state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.

Another of Riley’s proposals passed the Senate earlier this year, but may face more difficulty in the House, Hutto said. The bill, S. 191, would allow police to conduct warrantless searches of people on probation and parole in an effort to stem criminal activity.

“It is well established that criminal defendants who return to the same environment as before are likely to repeat their criminal activity,” according to a position paper on the bill. “This bill is aimed at reducing recidivism by attaching as a condition of granting probation or parole that a criminal defendant consent to warrantless searches of his/her person or property by law enforcement officers, and probation and parole officers.

“If criminal defendants know that they can be searched day or night by law enforcement officers, they are less likely to engage in criminal activity.”

While such searches in California have been found constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court, there are questions about the rights of non-parolees or non-probationers who might get caught up in a search. What if, for example, police conducted a warrantless search on someone’s home when a parolee was inside? Wouldn’t that invade the owner’s property in violation of the Constitution? Wouldn’t such a law also tend to create an environment for potential harassment, even though the proposed law says the statute couldn’t be used for harassment?

“It could be used abusively with some police officers,” Columbia attorney Tom Turnipseed admitted, adding that people on parole or probation didn’t have their full rights back when they were allowed to return to a community.

Other features of Riley’s crime-fighting package include stopping convicted criminals of possessing handguns or assault weapons; a new offense for possessing a gun while selling, making or possessing drugs for distribution; a mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of assault and battery with intent to kill; and a truth-in-sentencing measure that requires convicts to serve at least 85 percent of sentences.

State legislators need to take appropriate steps to ensure that communities are safe and that police need to have to tools they need. But lawmakers also need to ensure that safety concerns are properly balanced with privacy and constitutional issues. What may work for California may not necessarily work for South Carolina.

This commentary by Andy Brack, publisher of, first appeared in S.C. Statehouse Report. Brack can be reached at:

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The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter BB&T, a regional bank that has built on a tradition of excellence in community banking since 1872. BB&T is a mission-driven organization with a clearly defined set of business principals and values. It encourages employees to have a strong sense of purpose, a high level of self-esteem and the capacity to think clearly and logically. BB&T offers clients a complete range of financial services including banking, lending, insurance, trust and wealth management solutions. To learn more, visit BB&T online or drop in to talk with its professionals at the main branch office at 151 Meeting Street, Charleston. Phone: (843)720-5168.

East Cooper AARP to host mayoral candidate forum

The three candidates for mayor of Mount Pleasant will take part this week in a forum that the East Cooper chapter of the AARP is offering for local residents. The event is set for 6:30 p.m. Oct. 1. in the cafeteria of Moultrie Middle School, 645 Coleman Blvd.

Candidates Joe Bustos, Gary Santos and Billy Swails will be asked a series of questions formulated by the chapter board and will be allotted a certain amount of time for answers. Bill Sharpe of “Live 5 News” will be the moderator. Members of the audience won’t be allowed to ask questions during the forum, but there will be an opportunity afterwards for the public to meet and speak with the candidates.

Mount Pleasant voters will go to the polls Nov. 3 to elect a mayor and four Town Council members. Sixteen people are running for the four council seats.

County plans Oct. 5 sale of delinquent tax properties

The Charleston County Delinquent Tax Division will hold its annual delinquent tax sale on Oct. 5 for unpaid real estate and mobile home property taxes. The sale will begin at 9:30 a.m. in council chambers on the second floor of the Lonnie Hamilton III Public Services Building, 4045 Bridge View Drive, North Charleston.   

The last day to pay delinquent property taxes is Oct. 2. Property owners who have delinquent real estate or mobile home property involved in the upcoming sale are asked to contact the Delinquent Tax Division at 958-4570 or

Anyone interested in bidding at this year’s tax sale can find the current list of properties, as well as some frequently asked questions and answers, online bidder registration information and tax sale instructions online. Bidders can also register in person before Oct. 5 at the Revenue Collections Department in the Public Services Building, suite B110. On the day of the sale, bidders will have to register in Public Services Building room A-214.

Registration is free, and you do not have to register to attend the sale.

Anyone with questions about the sale can call the Delinquent Tax Division at 958-4570 or e-mail  

Society schedules Lowcountry Indie Short Film Festival

The Greater Park Circle Film Society will screen a new collection of independent (“indie”) short films on Oct. 10 at the Olde North Charleston Picture House, 1080 E. Montague Ave. in Park Circle. The films will be show in two blocks, one beginning at 5 p.m. and the other at 7 p.m.

Dr. James Sears, executive director of the Greater Park Circle Film Society, say the festival is designed to showcase local filmmaking talent. “The array of films fits well with the emerging art scene in North Charleston and our mission of showcasing regional cinematography,” he says. The Carolina Film Alliance is co-sponsoring the festival.

The theater opens 30 minutes before the show, with tickets available at the door for $5 per set ($2 for film society members). After each set of films, the filmmakers will discuss their work. The 5 p.m. set, along with producers/directors, includes “Fiore” (Owen Hamilton and Corey Corbett), “Le Croisement” (Brad Jayne), “Vertigo” (Blake Williams) and “Dust” (David Smith and John Barnhart). The 7 p.m. block includes “Steamed Milk” (Rodney Rogers), “Bottom of the Glass” (Jenna Brown and David Smith) and “Patrol” ( John Ford).

More information about these films, along with the final list of films and their descriptions, can be found at
Businesses lend hand to help Chicora students, projects

Volunteers recently clocked 450 hours of community service helping out with projects at the Chicora School of Communications. Nine local businesses and organizations provided more than 100 volunteers to assist with twelve projects for Chicora at the annual Day of Caring, sponsored in the Lowcountry by Trident United Way.

MeadWestvaco volunteers help paint at Chicora.

The volunteers at Chicora came from William M. Bird, the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command, Chernoff Newman Advertising Agency, MWV (formerly MeadWestvaco), S.C. Federal Credit Union, Charleston Young Professionals, Kapstone Paper, Global Financial Services and E.I. Dupont Hytrel. The groups worked in the school’s garden, cleaned up the playgrounds, added flowers to the school’s new picnic area, arranged classroom libraries, organized closets, sorted school donations, painted murals and read to students. They could also be seen eating with students during lunch and playing with students outside at recess.

Send us your opinion

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.

Female benevolent societies

Female benevolent societies rose to prominence in South Carolina and the nation in the years between the American Revolution and the Civil War. Voluntary in nature, these societies frequently emerged from existing antebellum reform groups or from soldiers’ aid societies of the Civil War. By the 1790s the first female benevolent societies appeared in communities across the nation to augment efforts at relief for the poor that were conducted by local governments. Dominated by women from the middle and upper classes of society, female benevolent societies not only helped the poor but also were an outgrowth of the religious fervor of the Second Great Awakening, which sparked a renewed interest in helping the less fortunate.

Among the best-known and most active female benevolent societies in antebellum South Carolina was the Ladies Benevolent Society of Charleston. Formed in 1813 and inspired by the motto “I was sick and you visited me,” the society initially provided home health care to the sick and poor of the city in response to the effects of the War of 1812. The leadership was provided by Sarah Hopton Russell and her sister, Mary Christiana Hopton Gregorie, women of means who had the time to dedicate themselves to charity work. Members of the society were well connected, from the upper class, and tended to be Episcopalians. Careful not to become an auxiliary to a men’s organization, members of the Ladies Benevolent Society controlled their own finances, as is evident by their charter stating that the treasurer had to be an unmarried woman. ...

By the 1820s women’s associations successfully competed for charitable money with established men’s groups, such as the South Carolina Society. Although charity was seen as women’s work, men controlled the public policies and most of the institutions themselves. The religious rather than the political aspects of charity opened the door for women to become active participants in society. By 1861 the Ladies Benevolent Society was raising $4,000 annually, and its meetings were held in public spaces traditionally occupied by men, such as the commissioners’ conference room of the Charleston Orphan House.

Even before the first shots of the Civil War, women began transforming their female benevolent societies into soldiers’ aid societies. In Charleston groups such as the Soldiers’ Relief Society and the Ladies Charleston Volunteer Aid Society began rolling bandages in January 1861. Within months South Carolina’s women had formed 150 aid groups. “Wayside hospitals” popped up along railroad lines to care for wounded soldiers being sent home. … After the war many of these societies transformed themselves into Ladies’ Memorial Associations that commemorated the Confederate dead.

Nineteenth-century women were able to make charity work their “career,” but society deemed their work as an extension of women’s roles as wives and mothers. In this way, female benevolent societies and other voluntary associations gave women the opportunity to participate in public life without challenging the social and legal boundaries of the women’s private sphere. Female benevolent societies and, later, women’s associations compiled valuable skills that would prepare women for a full and active political life, culminating with the winning of woman suffrage in 1920.

– Excerpted from the entry by Catherine Fitzgerald. 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.)


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Taste of Charleston

The 29th annual Taste of Charleston is big – so big, in fact, that one day for the event just wasn’t enough. This year the Taste, which is sponsored by the Greater Charleston Restaurant Association, happens over a three-day period, Oct. 9-11 (that’s next weekend), and involves four separate events that raise money for local charitable efforts. Here’s a list of festival activities. To buy tickets to one or all, visit this Web site.

  • Iron Chef Competition: Watch local chefs go toque to toque at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Culinary Institute of Charleston’s Palmer Campus on Columbus Street downtown. Tickets: $20.

  • Taste of the Kitchen: On Oct. 10, again at the CIC’s Palmer Campus, local culinary stars will offer demonstrations and CIC chefs will take participants into the school’s kitchens for some hands-on culinary instruction. Wine and beer classes and a “Taste of the CIC” buffet lunch are included. Tickets are $45. There’s a morning session at 10 a.m. and an afternoon session at 12:30 p.m.

  • Taste of the Arts: Gallery Row art shops on Broad Street will be open for patrons to browse and enjoy artwork while enjoying a sampling of appetizers from some favorite Charleston restaurants. The event gets under way at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $20.

  • Taste of Charleston (Main Event): More than 40 local restaurants will serve samples of their best fare on Oct. 11 at Boone Hall Plantation. There will also be a Waiter’s Wine Race, a selection of specialty and imported beers, cooking demonstrations, a Best of the Taste contest, several local bands, and a Kids Corner (complete with a petting zoo). Things get rolling at 10:30 a.m., and tickets are $10.

On style, substance


“In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

– Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States (1743 – 1826)


MOJA Festival: Today through Oct. 4, various locations. Tickets are now on sale for the annual arts festival, which highlights black artists' contributions to dance, music, literary arts, visual arts, theater and the overall cultural community in Charleston. Schedules, tickets, more info:

Entertaining Charleston Style: 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, Sept. 30 through Nov. 18, Culinary Institute of Charleston's Palmer Campus, 66 Columbus St., Charleston. A series of short courses celebrating the many facets of entertaining with a focus on Charleston style and traditions. Guest presenters include hosts, event professionals, authors, collectors, stylists and other specialists known for their distinctive contributions to local hospitality and tourism. Light beverage and cocktail samplings will be provided. Cost: $149. More info/registration.

Solar Energy Workshop: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 30, Quadrangle Shopping Center (Weight Watchers building), Highway 17 west of the Ashley. Free program sponsored by the S.C. Solar Council and the Sustainability Institute. SCSC Chairman Bruce Wood will lead the program, and local solar vendors will be on hand to offer information. Registration not required. More info online.

Pork and Politics in the Park: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1, Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park. Mix and mingle with candidates for Mount Pleasant mayor and Town Council at this event sponsored by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Cost: $30; includes food and beverages. Registration.

Fashion 4 Paws: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 1, The Landing on Shem Creek (former site of The Trawler). Fashion show featuring local retailers to benefit the Charleston Animal Society. The finale will be a pet parade featuring animals for adoption. Door prizes, freebies, food and cash bar. Go online to see a list of items that the animal society is requesting as donations. Admission: $5 at the door; tickets also available in advance from Lowcountry Plastic Surgery Center at 971-2860.

Solar Tour: 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 3. As part of the National Solar Tour organized by the American Solar Energy Society, the S.C. Solar Council is organizing a solar tour in Charleston to showcase local homes and businesses that have decided to use solar energy. For more information about the sites and locations, learn more online.

(NEW) Latin American Festival: Noon to 6 p.m. Oct. 4, Wannamaker County Park, North Charleston. Formerly called the Festival Hispano, the 18th annual festival, sponsored by Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission, will feature Latino culture. Festival includes live music, folkloric dance groups, Brazilian martial arts, a salsa dance contest, crafts, events for kids, and food (including tamales, empanadas, chorizo, arroz con gandules, and jerk and curry chicken). Cost: $10 per person, or six Greenbax (free for ages 12 and younger). Tickets/info: 795-4FUN or check here online.


"Blithe Spirit": Various times, Oct. 7-Oct. 18, Sottile Theatre at the College of Charleston, 44 George St. Charleston Stage will present Noel Coward's classic ghostly comedy just in time for Halloween. The plot in brief: Charles is celebrating his second marriage when the ghost of his first wife, Elvira, shows up to join in the celebration. When his old wife and his new wife cross paths at a séance, spirits and tempers fly. Tickets: Online or call 577-7183.

NEW) Teddy Bear Picnic: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 11, Hampton Park. Free, family-focused event hosted by the Park Angels, the volunteer group of the Charleston Parks Conservancy. Events will include storytelling, face painting, crafts, music, a parade with children and their dressed-up teddy bears, and a booth where children can plant seeds. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, or attendees can bring their own picnic fare. More info: 724-5003 or visit online.

Personal Branding Seminar: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 12, Wescott Plantation Clubhouse, 5000 Wescott Club Drive, Summerville. Sponsored by the Summerville chapter of the American Business Women's Association (ABWA), the program is open to the public and will ABWA members Shauna Heathman of Mackenzie Image Consulting and Cheryl Smithem of Strategic Marketing & Charleston PR, experts on personal image, strategic marketing and public relations. They will be discussing the significance of building an effective and appealing personal brand to help you reach your career goals. Cost: $20 ABWA members, $25 nonmembers; price includes dinner and tea or water. Register by Oct. 3 by contacting Kathy Berman by email or at 795-9751.

((NEW) Growth Forum: 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 20, Charleston Marriott. Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Growth Forum will have recommendations from the city of Charleston’s Green Committee (CGC), which is advising the city in the creation of a local action plan for climate protection and sustainability. Charleston County Deputy Administrator Kurt Taylor will provide an update on major road projects that are being funded through the half-cent sales tax program. Cost: $45 chamber members, $60 nonmembers. To register: visit this Web page.

(NEW) Museum Picnic: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 25, Dill Sanctuary, 1163 Riverland Drive, James Island. The Friends and Needed Supporters (FANS) of the Charleston Museum will host their annual family picnic, which includes nature walks, live bluegrass by the Eagle Creek Band, a Lowcountry dinner (fried chicken, ham, red rice, etc.), a touch tank with marine animals, games, hayrides and demonstrations by experts from the Center for Birds of Prey. Cost (all-inclusive): $15 FANS member adults; $20 nonmember adults; $7 for children; free for ages 5 and under. Advance reservations are required; call 722-2996, ext. 264, or register online through the calendar. 


11/19: Barnette: Nutcracker
Franklin: Reverse mortgages
Wutzdorff: Be a principal
Haley: Buying local
McCutcheon: Work gap
Ohl: On carpooling
Wiedman: Women at Gibbes
10/26: Matouchev: Bear markets
Conover: BarCamp buzz
Wilson: Symphony update
Bender: Special Olympics
Baron: Breast Center
Ginn: Growing prosperity
Buffum: Waterkeeping
Personal branding
Acker: Designer fashion
Spencer: Art galleries
Riley, Moryl: MOJA
Gaither: Green Room
Chesson: Museum Mile
Barnette: Chas. Ballet
Deaton: Thrive Prize


11/19: LowCANtry holiday
Hawks vs. doves
Improving turnout
10/29: Celebrating a year
10/22: Good, bad signs
10/15: Bob's new food show
10/8: Robot ice cream
10/5: Costumes, snarks
Must-see TV
9/17: Fall leaves
Cold comfort, more
Being a fan
Good, bad, spineless
Locals on Runway
Cookie contest
Vote on car tags
True confessions
New way of tithing?
Lookout for manatees


11/16: Alliance's good news
SC's hidden gems
Boeing highlights needs
No place for prejudice
Have fun at Halloween
Renovated Gaillard?
10/1: Napa wine trip
9/28: Anti-crime measures
9/21: Caw Caw park
Debris policy
Mystery solved
This and that
SC's treasures
8/17: RIP to old clunker
8/10: Lots to squeeze in
8/3: On flying Delta
7/27: Conspiracy theories
7/20: Protect carriage animals
7/13: Economic thaw here?


11/19: Being a tourist here
Growing your business
Electronics recycling
Beyond the lights
Weather watching
5 cooking classes
Best lists of year
Oyster recycling
Howl-o-ween fun
Giving blood
Top ratings
Major league
Book sale
Citadel football
Taste of Charleston
Feeding the need
History for sale
Shrimp baiting
Day of Caring
Free legal clinics

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