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Issue 1.96 | Thursday, Oct. 22, 2009 | Go look at the stars tonight

The vibrant colors of the Holy City resonate in this Alexis Bornhorst photo that's part of the exhibit "360 Degrees of Charleston" this month at the main branch of the Charleston County Library. Sharon Bohn of Notable Photos and contributing photographer Bornhorst are featured in the exhibit. The library is now taking applications from those who'd like to have their work shown in the gallery during 2010. See the Good News for details.

:: Buzz growing for BarCamp Charleston


:: Good signs, bad signs, more

:: Send in your thoughts

:: Howl-oween fun

:: Paws in park, buying local, library


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

___:: REVIEW: Send us a review

___:: HISTORY: Mepkin Abbey

___:: QUOTE: Webster on appearances

___:: 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


BarCamp buzz proves growing power of 'Option B'
BarCamp Charleston volunteer
Special to

OCT. 22, 2009 -- When we started our outreach for BarCamp Charleston back in the summer, the event's organizers figured Job No. 1 would be explaining what a BarCamp was. I'm not sure any of us quite grasped how rapidly the Lowcountry would embrace this strange and new (to us) concept.


But now October is slipping by, the Lowcountry's first BarCamp is only days away, and here we are, scrambling to accommodate demand. We figured we'd be able to find 200 participants, most of whom would wait until the final days before registering. But we wound up registering our first 200 participants almost a month ahead of time, added 50 more slots, then watched those disappear like cookies at a kindergarten party.

Would we find enough sponsors to cover our costs? We worried about that, too. Then we maxed out our Platinum sponsorship slots and added six more Gold, Silver and Bronze sponsors.

All of which begs the question: In the midst of a recession, in a community that celebrates its legendary wariness toward "novelty," why did something as odd as BarCamp generate such buzz? Such enthusiasm?

If you're not sure what BarCamp is, welcome to a very nonexclusive club. Take me, for instance. When local organizer Chrys Rynearson first approached me, I told him I'd be happy to help, but that I didn't see myself participating. "BarCamps are for programmers," I told him. So began my education.

Yes, the original BarCamps (circa 2005) were put together by computer programmers for computer programmers. But as its "unconference" ideal spread into a global phenomenon, BarCamps morphed into truly diverse reflections of the communities that hosted them. Is it any surprise, then, that the Charleston camp looks like it will have a heavy dose of culinary and visual arts?

What makes a BarCamp a BarCamp isn't its topics, but the "unconference" concept. Unlike standard professional conferences, where paid organizers hire celebrity speakers and make their profits selling tickets, an unconference stands the distinction between expert and audience on its head. BarCamps are free events based on the idea that there's a lot of knowledge out there, and that everyone has something to offer.

Which is why the 250 people who show up on Saturday, Oct. 24, at the Lowcountry Innovation Center will each have the opportunity to present a session (not that they have to). It's why the format is open, inclusive and egalitarian.

Why did BarCamp Charleston take off? I think it's because, despite all the cynical, fear-based mass-media messages to the contrary, people like getting to know each other. We like learning and collaborating and trying new things. We're curious. We sincerely want to make this home of ours a better place, but we'd prefer to do that without making a fuss.

Most local mass media have ignored the event because it was "too weird" or "just some geek thing," but do the math. Our success demonstrates how strong Charleston's peer-to-peer networks and new-media outlets have become. It shows the vibrancy of our knowledge-based and creative-sector economies. Other events live or die on mainstream coverage. For BarCamp, it was Option B.

So if you procrastinated and missed open registration, check by the Web site,, for waiting-list information, and we'll pass out cancellations if any come open. And if you were thinking about sponsoring but weren't sure, drop us a line and we'll talk about 2010. Because for the ideas that drive BarCamp and our emerging economy, 2009 is just the beginning.

Good signs, bad signs and the fighting 'Seceders'
By ANN THRASH, editor

OCT. 22, 2009 -- Political signs are up all over the Lowcountry as the Nov. 3 elections draw near, and every candidate wants his or her sign to stand out. But some of the signs around our home turf in Mount Pleasant are standing out for the wrong reason: We can't read them. And it has nothing to do with our 47-year-old eyes, which work just fine, thank you very much.


With 19 candidates for Mount Pleasant Town Council this year, no doubt there was special pressure to come up with signs that don't look like everyone else's. But on a couple of the signs we drive past on a daily basis, it's really impossible to read the candidate's name. Probably the hardest signs to read are the ones with the candidate's name in pink on a green background. I won't say the candidate's name not only because I don't want to embarrass anyone, but because I honestly don't know what it is. Standing still, in good light, sure, it's readable. But driving by in a car at 30 or 35 mph, which is the way most people see these signs? It's just not working.

There's also a hard-to-read sign that uses some darker shades of blue and green -- and I'm not talking here about the mayoral candidate with the big blue and green signs that suggest you vote for him "because America begins at home." (What's up with that in a town election, by the way?)

Perhaps red and blue are perennial favorites for campaign signs not just because they're the colors of the American flag, but because candidates have learned over the decades that they work - they're at-a-glance colors that contrast well with a candidate's name in bold white type. Another effective color combination that seems to be popular this year is yellow and black (yellow signs, black type). Those signs stand out among the red-white-and-blue masses and are easy to read as well.

Whatever signs you like, just remember to vote, vote early and vote often.

A GIFT FOR THE FOOTBALL FAN: Halloween is next week, and you know what that means: Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas and Hanukkah are going to be here before we know it. If you've got a college football fan on your holiday shopping list, here's a great gift idea. A new book called "Glory on the Gridiron: A History of College Football in South Carolina" is sure to be a hit not only with fans of the game and Palmetto State teams large and small, but also with those who love the passions, traditions and rivalries that make college football in the South a religion for so many folks.

On Nov. 3 at 7 p.m., the Charleston Museum is hosting a talk and book signing featuring the book's authors, Dr. Fritz P. Hamer and John Daye. You can buy the book and get it personalized all at the same time. The book covers not only the major-college programs at South Carolina and Clemson, but also looks at smaller schools such as The Citadel, South Carolina State and -- yes -- the College of Charleston, among others. It delves into the state's first recorded intercollegiate match between Wofford and Furman in 1889 and traces how football has evolved into a big-time, multimillion-dollar business in the state. Key rivalries, players, coaches and personalities are part of the story, of course. And where else could we learn that "the Seceders" was once a football team nickname in South Carolina -- and not at all for the reason you might think?

For more information about the book signing, which is free, call the museum at 722-2996, ext. 235, or visit online.

Ann Thrash, editor of, can be reached at:

Send us a letter

Have a comment or want to vent? If you have something to say about leadership in South Carolina, the state of baseball today, good barbecue or something about your community's government, drop us a line to: Please send no more than 200 words and include contact information (phone number, hometown) so we can get in touch with you.

Charleston Green Commercial

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring CharlestonCurrents to you at no cost. In this issue, we turn the spotlight on Charleston Green Commercial, a full-service commercial property management company that pays attention to detail, provides exceptional personal service and is committed to adding value to buildings. Offering professional property management, consulting and other services, the company strives to improve clients' bottom lines with superior service, accessibility, reliability and a wealth of knowledge of the Charleston real estate market. By blending use of proven contractors and contacts with environmentally-conscious practices, the company helps clients stay on the leading edge of commercial real estate practices. More.

Saturday's Paws in the Park, walk to benefit Animal Society

The Charleston Animal Society's Paws in the Park and Walk for the Animals fund-raiser will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Hampton Park on Oct. 24, with a variety of events, exhibits and activities for people and pets. The daylong event includes a fun walk team fundraiser, games, vendors, food and live music.

The walk will take place from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. round the circle at the park and will feature teams that have raised funds for CAS. There's still time to register and take part in the walk; just go here online. Participant registration costs $10. Anyone who wants to sponsor a walker can also do so through the Web site; walkers who raise more than $200 will receive a Paws in the Park T-shirt.

Money raised at Saturday's event will support the Charleston Animal Society, which provides food, shelter, medical care and compassion to more than 12,000 homeless animals each year. Last year the agency placed more than 5,450 animals in new homes or reunited them with their owners. It also spayed or neutered more than 6,000 animals and provided rescue efforts for animals that had been treated cruelly. The CAS also teaches more than 3,000 local students each year about the importance of empathy and compassion for animals and people.

Third annual Buy Local Week planned for late November

Lowcountry Local First will sponsor the third annual "Buy Local Week" from Nov. 30 through Dec. 6, just in time for the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season. The weeklong grassroots campaign encourages Lowcountry residents to "think local" when considering where to make purchases, buy local goods whenever possible, and support the businesses that keep our community unique.

Among several events planned for Buy Local Week are a screening of the documentary "Independent America: Rising from the Ruins," an "Eat Local" night, and a holiday stroll/window-decorating contest. The festivities wrap up on Dec. 6 with a "Buy Local, Be Local Bash" at The Landing at Shem Creek. Details on these and other events will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

LLF says in a press release that the buy-local movement has provided a note of hope during otherwise difficult economic times for many. "The Department of Commerce reported in December 2008 that retail sales overall were down a record 9.8 percent over December of 2007. In contrast, a survey conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that cities with active 'Buy Local' campaigns reported much stronger holiday sales than those in cities without such campaigns," the release states. "Independent retailers in these cities reported an average drop in sales of 3.2 percent, compared to a steeper decline of 5.6 percent for those in cities without an active Buy Local initiative."

For more information on LLF or to get involved in Buy Local Week, go to this Web site or call Executive Director Jamee Haley at 740-5444.

Library issues call for entries for 2010 gallery shows

The Saul Alexander Foundation Gallery in the Charleston County Public Library is now accepting applications for entries for juried art exhibitions, solo or group, for the calendar year 2010 at the Main Library downtown. Preference will be given to work that reflects the experiences and viewpoints of South Carolina residents.

Interested applicants must return the completed application form by Oct. 30. Copies of the form are available online here or can be picked up in the administrative offices at the Main Library, 68 Calhoun St. For further information about the gallery and the application process, contact Becky Melancon at 805-6951.

Charleston officials ask for public's input on plan

City of Charleston officials are asking those who live or work in the Holy City, as well as those who frequent the city, to take part in a short online survey to help plan Charleston's future.

The Department of Planning, Preservation and Sustainability is updating the city's Comprehensive Plan, the backbone of all city planning. PP&S developed the online survey in conjunction with public meetings held in the last couple of weeks. The survey -- available here online -- takes only 5 minutes to complete and will be available online through early November.

"We need as much input as possible from people around the city," says a press release from Christopher Morgan, director of PP&S's Planning and Neighborhoods Division. "Please share this link with friends, co-workers, e-mail lists, neighbors or anyone who cares about Charleston's future."

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.

Mepkin Abbey

Located on the Cooper River, Mepkin Abbey has a diverse history. In its early life the property served as the seven-thousand-acre rice plantation and family home of the eighteenth-century statesman Henry Laurens. Surviving traces of the plantation include a family cemetery and a large oak avenue.

In 1936 the noted publisher Henry Luce, who established both Time and Life magazines, purchased the property. While living at Mepkin, Luce and his wife, Claire Booth, hired the architect Edward Durell Stone to construct several buildings on the site, including a forester's lodge, a laundry building, a pump house, and a farm manager's house, made mostly of brick. Stone received his training at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and spent his early career designing houses in the international style. The buildings at Mepkin reflect his modernist sensibility.

The Luces also hired the landscape architect Loutrel Briggs, designer of many important gardens in South Carolina, to create a formal composition of camellias and azaleas overlooking the Cooper River. In 1949 the property was donated to a religious community in keeping with Mrs. Luce's wishes. By the 1960s the property had become a monastery that housed the Trappist monks of the Cistercian Order. … The site includes an austere Cistercian church in the shape of a cross. In its transition from a rice plantation to a monastery and farm, Mepkin Abbey reflects an unusual blending of tradition, modern aesthetics, and spiritual transcendence, making it one of the most unique places in South Carolina.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Lindsey Gertz. 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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Howl-oween fun

Halloween is sneaking up on us, and there are enough fun and/or spooky events going on around town to fill a trick-or-treat bag. Here are five kid-oriented activities that have "BOO!" written all over them.

  • Haunted House and Hayride: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Oct. 22 to Oct. 30, McMahon Park Playground (Cleveland Street near Hampton Park). Here's an event for the older kids; it's only for those older than 12. The cost is $1 per person for the Hayride and $2 per person for the Haunted House.

  • Trick or Treat at the Library: 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Oct. 30, Charleston County Main Library, 68 Calhoun St. If one day of trick-or-treating isn't enough for the kids, the Charleston County Library has just the ticket. Youngsters age 11 and under can trick or treat their way through the library, starting in the Children's Room.

  • Trick or Treat in the Park: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 30, Hampton Park. Sponsored by the city of Charleston's Recreation Department, this is a free program for kids 12 and under with trick-or-treating, jump castles, hay rides through the park, magic shows and theme-decorated vehicles full of candy.

  • Night Fliers: 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Oct. 31, Tiedemann Park Nature Center, 38 Elizabeth St. Free Halloween program looking at bats. Do they really suck blood? How do they hunt? Kids will learn all of that and more, and will make a "bat craft," too.

  • Halloween at the Poe Library: Noon Oct. 31, Poe Library, 1921 I'On Ave., Sullivan's Island. Where better to spend Halloween than at the library named in honor of Edgar Allan Poe, the man who came up with ghastly tales such as "Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Tell-Tale Heart" and the mysterious "Gold Bug," which is set on Sullivan's Island? Kids are asked to create their own mask at home and bring it to the library for a contest. Prizes and refreshments will be part of the fun. More info: 883-3914.

On keeping up appearances

"The world is governed more by appearances than realities, so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it."

-- Daniel Webster, American orator, lawyer and politician (1782-1852)


Halloween in the Swamp: 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Oct. 23 and Oct. 24, Cypress Gardens, 3030 Cypress Gardens Road, Moncks Corner. Haunted boat ride through the swamp at Cypress Gardens; participants will be dropped off on a haunted walking trail through the woods. Includes campfire and marshmallow roasting, storytelling, a game room for kids, lighted pumpkin trail and music. Food will be available for purchase. Event is not recommended for young children or those with weak hearts. Tickets: $15 (includes general park admission). More info: 553-0515 or online.

'Legend of Sleepy Hollow': 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23 and 3 p.m. Oct. 24 and Oct. 25, Sottile Theatre, 44 George St. Charleston Stage opens its Piggly Wiggly Family Series with Washington Irving's spooky classic story about a headless horseman and his ghostly ride through the hamlet of Sleepy Hollow. Family-oriented production is described as "scary, but not too scary" by director Marybeth Clark. Tickets: $19 adults, $15 students; call the box office at 577-7183 or order online here.

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. 

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.


Mount Pleasant Voters Forum: 7 p.m. Oct. 26, Mount Pleasant Municipal Complex, 100 Ann Edwards Lane. Sponsored by League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Mayoral candidates Joseph M. Bustos, Gary K. Santos and William D. Swails will make statements, and audience can ask questions. The 19 Town Council candidates will make short statements. Free and open to the public.

Martha Graham Dance Company: 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27, Gaillard Auditorium, 77 Calhoun St. The Charleston Concert Association opens its 73rd season with the Martha Graham Dance Company, a modern-dance company called "one of the seven wonders of the artistic universe" by the Washington Post. Tickets: $25 to $99; on sale at the Gaillard box office or order online through TicketMaster. More info:

Business Education Summit: 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Oct. 28, the College Center at Trident Technical College, North Charleston. The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's Education Foundation will host the 14th annual Business Education Summit. The theme is "Building the Pipeline" within the public schools so that all students graduate equipped with the knowledge and skills to further their education or go directly into the workforce. A representative from the Ford Motor Company's Next Generation Learning Communities program will outline its national model and discuss why the nine communities in the Ford network have been successful in transforming their schools, and why Charleston has been invited into the network. Cost: $50 for educators, $85 for others. Registration is online here.

Isle of Palms Voters Forum: 7 p.m. Oct. 28, Isle of Palms Recreation Center, 24 Twenty-Eighth St., Isle of Palms. Sponsored by League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce. Mayoral candidates Richard Cronin and Jimmy Ward are expected to take part, as are City Council candidates Barbara Bergwerf, Marty Bettelli, Ron Denton, Barbara Gobian, Sandy Stone and Douglas A. Thomas. Free and open to the public. Audience may submit questions at forum for candidates to answer.

The Red Party: 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Oct. 29, Old City Jail, 21 Magazine St. The American College of the Building Arts will present the party, during which the always-spooky Old City Jail will be transformed into a rich red venue. Attendees are asked to dress in red and wear masks. The event features a raffle and silent auction with items such as luxury trips to Africa and the Caribbean. DJ Arthur Brouthers will provide music for guests to dance to on a color-changing, illuminated dance floor. Open bar; food by Carolina Catering. Tickets: $55 in advance, $65 at the door. To purchase, call 577-5245, visit online or e-mail Brittany Darwin.

Trick or Treat in the Park: 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 30, Hampton Park. Free event sponsored by the city of Charleston Recreation Department. Kids up to age 12 can trick-or-treat in a safe, family-friendly environment featuring hay rides, jump castles, magic shows and theme-decorated vehicles full of candy.

Nighttime at the Museum: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 30, Charleston Museum. A special Halloween-season edition of the popular event will feature glimpses of rarely seen animal mounts, fencing demonstrations, a colonial nautical touch table, new historical figures, and an elaborate scavenger hunt. Kids will be able to make Halloween crafts, learn about the Museum's funerary collection, and more. Costumes welcome. Cost: museum members, $10 per adult, $5 per child; nonmembers, $20 per adult, $10 per child; under 3 get in free. A light pizza supper is included with the ticket price. Registration (required): online or 722- 2996, ext. 264.

'Mothers, Sisters, Adversaries': 3 p.m. Nov. 1, Gibbes Museum of Art, 135 Meeting St. The Charleston Chamber Opera and the Gibbes Museum of Art are partnering for an hourlong program that explores the diversity of female relationships in some of opera's most beloved stories, including "Madama Butterfly," "Carmen" and "Suor Angelica." Featured performances by soprano Patrice Tiedemann and mezzo soprano Lara Wilson, with narration by actress Terry Bell-Aby and piano accompaniment by musical director Steven Morris. Tickets: $10 for museum members and students, $20 for nonmembers. Purchase online, at the Gibbes Museum Store or by calling 722-2706, ext.18.

(NEW) Small Business Summit: 7:30 a.m. Nov. 4, College Center at Trident Technical College. Charleston Metro Chamber's annual Small Business Innovation Summit and Expo showcases new ideas, technologies and small businesses in the region. Keynote speaker will be Rieva Lesonsky, former editorial director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Conference includes breakout sessions on topics such as business planning, funding, marketing, social media, branding and technology; an exhibition hall; networking luncheon; and the presentation of awards in the New Ideas SC Contest. Registration at 7:30 a.m., program from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.; awards reception from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Cost: $125 chamber members, $225 nonmembers; includes a continental breakfast, luncheon and closing reception. More info/tickets.

Calligraphy Workshops: Nov. 7, Charleston Museum, 360 Meeting St. As part of the new exhibit "Aisle Style:150 Years of Wedding Fashion," the museum and professional calligrapher Natasha Lawrence will offer two workshops on calligraphy: Introduction to Calligraphy (10 a.m. to noon) and Wedding Calligraphy (1 p.m. to 3 p.m.). All materials are included: a calligraphy pen to keep, a workbook, practice paper and more. Cost: $25 for museum members, $30 nonmembers, per workshop; $5 discount if taking both workshops. Registration (required): 722-2996, ext. 235, or online here.

(NEW) CRDA Luncheon: Noon to 1:30 p.m. Nov. 12, Trident Technical College Complex for Economic Development. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance's annual luncheon will feature a talk by David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times and the author of "The Inheritance: The World Obama Confronts and the Challenges to American Power." Book signing will follow the luncheon (copies will be available for purchase at the event). Tickets: $60, available online.


12/23: Christian: Mannie's story
Bender: Polar Plunge prep
Brooks: Homes for Christmas
Doll: Enjoy holidays sans lbs.
Yarian: Instruments of Hope
De Armas: Latin biz expo
Blevins: Autism
Hutchisson: Giving
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


12/17: Cookbook, shopping
The Pig's wines
Neat shopping
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


12/23: Photographer Meyer
Ain't over on Sanford
Back off a little
Sanford presses on
Now is time for courage
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?


12/23: Blackbaud 5
4 on holiday lights
Five about oysters
Winter finds
Free parking
Holiday parades
Home fire stats
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

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