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Issue 2.87 | Monday, Sept. 20, 2010 | Remembering Hugo (be prepared)

The tannin-stained waters of an old rice canal at Caw Caw Interpretive Center near Ravenel almost hid a large blue crab from view on a recent Sunday. The park is filled with wildlife at this time of year as fall approaches. (Photo by Andy Brack.)

:: "Going social" can help nonprofits


:: From energy to political efficiency

:: Five from the Gibbes

:: SCRA help, slow food, young pros

:: Send us your letters


___:: CALENDAR: This week ... and next
___:: REVIEW: Send us a review
___:: HISTORY: Loggerhead turtles
___:: LAGNIAPPE: Gardening
___:: QUOTE: On life
___:: SPOTLIGHT: Meet an underwriter


ABOUT US offers insightful community comment and good news on events twice each week. It cuts through the information clutter to offer insight and news on the best of what's happening locally. What readers say


TODAY'S FOCUS | permalink
"Going social" can unlock greater potential for nonprofits

Manager, Blackbaud
Special to

SEPT. 20, 2010 - Can social media help nonprofits raise more money and engage their constituents? I've certainly been asked that question numerous times and I suspect I'll be asked for years to come as social media usage continues to increase at a staggering rate -- it accounts for 23 percent of time spent on the Web.


Many nonprofits are seeing tangible fundraising results:

  • Fatcyclist raised more than $135,000 in a few days for LIVESTRONG and World Bicycle Relief using Twitter, blogging and Friends asking Friends.

  • Tweetsgiving, a 48-hour event where Stacey Monk and Epic Change encouraged participants to express their gratitude using social media, raised more than $10,000 in year one and more than $22,000 in year two.

  • Twestival, the largest global grassroots social media fundraising initiative to date, has raised more than $1.2 million within 14 months for 137 nonprofits. (Charleston's own Twestival contributed to that this year!)

But it's about more than raising money. After all, fundraising is just part of the supporter journey. Social media offers nonprofits an unparalleled way to engage their constituents online in a highly personalized one-to-one manner.

When did the web get social?

Given all the current talk about "social media," you might assume that the Web's core technology recently changed. But really (and of course), the Internet was conceived as a social medium. Email, the origination point for social computing, got started 39 years ago!

Discussion groups and file sharing started 31 years ago as USENET. "Talk," a real-time chat program like Yahoo! Messenger and AOL Instant Messenger, arrived on the scene 27 years ago. And the now-venerable World Wide Web made its debut a full two decades in the past.

So with these beginnings, why was the first Wikipedia entry for "social media" not created until 2005? To see why this might be so, consider these two recent developments:

  • The Internet's ability to move and store large volumes of data has quintupled in the last decade.

  • A majority of people in the U.S. now have a high-speed connection to the Internet in their homes.

These two trends have created the technical and social environment needed for the original vision of the Internet as social medium to "go mainstream." And that's what's different: The Internet no longer could be social; now it actively is social!

Nonprofits' supporters and future supporters are out there, sharing photos, making connections and telling stories:

  • More than 3 billion email accounts
  • More than 500 million Facebook users
  • 13 billion photos on Facebook & Flickr alone
  • More than 190 million visits per month on Twitter
  • 133 million blogs

So, as a nonprofit, where do you start? Luckily, social media is based around providing social capital (it's not just about what you ate for lunch anymore). That said, there are some great resources (locally and on the Web) to help nonprofits get started:

Frank Barry is manager of professional services at Blackbaud and blogger at NetWits ThinkTank and Mashable.

CURRENTS | permalink
From energy efficiency to political efficiency
By ANDY BRACK, publisher

SEPT. 20, 2010 – Hats off to the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina for visionary thinking in crafting a new way for rural families, farmers and small businesses to get loans to make their homes more energy efficient and then use the money from energy savings to pay back loans.


The innovative “Rural Star” idea, which passed 240-172 by the U.S. House, would allow 1.6 million consumers across the country to make their homes or facilities more energy efficient. The smart thing about the loan program is that after folks pay back their $3,000 to $7,500 loans over 10 years, they’ll still have lower energy bills, thanks to the upgrades.

In South Carolina, up to 225,000 consumers would qualify for the innovative loan program. More than 2,000 jobs in the state likely would be created. And best of all – the energy saved is the equivalent of what is generated by a new 500 megawatt power plant.

Now let’s just hope the measure will pass the U.S. Senate.

* * * * *

One of the biggest wastes of time in politics is all of the party organizing done at the precinct level.

Parties spend hour upon hour fiddling with lists and trying to get precinct-level leaders to spark neighborhood conversations and canvass for votes.

In the age of the Internet, couch potatoes and iPhones, this kind of politicking is old-fashioned and no longer pertinent. People spend little time on front porches or at clothes lines talking to neighbors as they walk by. It’s unfortunate, but most people at home keep to themselves these days.

So instead of fiddling with political precinct organization once every two years, parties ought to concentrate more on building their organizations through town meetings, e-mail outreach, Internet sites and social media tactics that actually energize and involve people in the political process.

West Ashley voters standing in line to cast their ballots. (2008 photo by Andy Brack.)

Abandoning the precinct political organizing system would force parties to organize more based on people’s common interests – at community events, bars, workout facilities, football games and whatnot – instead of relying simply on geography.

The use of political precincts, however, can’t be abandoned completely because some sort of geographical base is needed to help split people into manageable districts for candidates. In other words, there has to be some sort of system which allows candidates to run for office based on population figures from the U.S. Census.

But just because candidates might be geographically based over a city council district or multi-county Statehouse district, that doesn’t mean political parties need out-of-date neighborhood precinct-level organization to be successful. In fact, in an age where technology provides an easy phone-in method for television viewers to vote for contestants on American Idol, there’s no reason that voters need to actually vote in one assigned precinct.

What if the state allowed voters to cast ballots in any voting location they desired? All that a voter would have to do is show his or her driver’s license or a state photo identification card. (Voters currently have to show that form of picture I.D. – or a non-photo state voter card – to vote. ) Once an election worker checked a photo I.D. and the voter cast a ballot, technology would keep that voter from voting again.

In the long run, wouldn’t such a non-precinct based system of voting centers at schools all over the state be more convenient and encourage more people to participate? (The state currently has about 1,800 precincts and 1,200 public schools.) More than likely, most people would vote at or near where they now vote. But having more convenient voting places, particularly for people who commute to work, could reshape voting in new ways.

Add to that ways to increase electoral participation through early voting by mail, same-day registration and voting options, and more. There are a lot of ways to reinvigorate voting while not relying on outdated precincts.

Andy Brack, publisher of Charleston Currents, first published this commentary in He can be reached at:

Send us your letters

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Blue Water Benefits

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring to you at no cost. This issue's featured underwriter is Blue Water Benefits, a local employee benefits consulting firm that's home to Charleston's best workforce engineers. Formerly known as the Horne/Guest agency, Blue Water Benefits is poised to fill this demand by offering greater flexibility, service and expertise. Innovative employee benefit plan design ideas, state-of-the-art employee benefit plan communication techniques and up-to-date compliance information is what makes us unique. Blue Water Benefits is sensitive to every opportunity in which we can help our clients improve their employee benefit plans. To learn more about Blue Water Benefits and The Blue Water Advantage, visit the company online at:

GOOD NEWS | permalink
SCRA taking action for S.C. schools

SCRA, one of the state's technology leaders, has been quite busy focusing on fuel cells, lasers and other critical efforts. What is not so obvious is that SCRA team members also have been quietly working in another area that they consider just as important- - community support.

Dale Orren, an SCRA senior program manager, spends his lunch hour gathering boxes and supplies and reaching out to coworkers - after all, it's that time of year again. For many children, the beginning of a new school year presents a challenge with limited resources for paper, pencils, new clothes and notebooks. That's where Dale and SCRA associates decided to take action.

Associates at SCRA locations across the state completed a "Flash Drive" to provide school supplies for those in need.

Orren, right, with a member of the Teachers' Supply Closet staff.

"Throughout the year we identify worthwhile programs to support, and ask employees to bring donations of appropriate items," Orren says. "We then deliver these donations to the selected programs, with no prior notice, providing the much-needed contributions ... We have such a caring, generous team across SCRA that once we get going, it takes care of itself. "

Statewide recipients of the recent school supply Flash Drive included The Teachers' Supply Closet in Charleston, Connie Maxwell Children's Home in Greenwood, Sistercare Inc. in Columbia, and School District #5 in Anderson.

The Teachers' Supply Closet is a non-profit organization that provides free school supplies to teachers in the Charleston tri-county area who work at schools that have at least 90 percent of their students on free or reduced price meal programs. The organization accepts donations of new and gently used office, school and art supplies, excess inventory, slightly damaged merchandise and outdated tradeshow products. In 2009, The Teachers' Supply Closet provided basic school supplies to nearly 5,000 children across the three counties.

This is not the first Flash Drive conducted by SCRA employees. Past drives include care packages for military personnel overseas, canned goods for the local food bank, clothing, toys, and items for animal shelters. Orren and the SCRA team soon will be busy again.

"We really enjoy doing these Flash Drives, as it provides the best possible reward -- a bright smile and a heartfelt thank-you from those we help," Orren says.

Slow Food Charleston "digs in" on national volunteer day

Dozens of local volunteers and members of Slow Food Charleston are coming together on Saturday, Sept. 25, for Slow Food USA's first "Dig In," a nationwide effort to make our communities better by planting gardens, improving school grounds, organizing community classes and hosting pop-up farmer's markets.

Slow Food members plan to "Dig In" at the Murray-LaSaine Elementary School children's garden by building raised beds, painting and working on other small carpentry projects. Murray-LaSaine, located at 691 Riverland Drive in Charleston, is one of the Charleston Area Children's Garden Projects, a partner of Slow Food Charleston. Children and adult volunteers are welcome to join the project from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Following the hard work, volunteers will celebrate over a picnic potluck lunch, where everyone is encouraged to share a dish.

To sign up to volunteer at "Dig In," e-mail Virginia Carlsten. For more information about the upcoming "Dig In" or to learn more about Slow Food Charleston, call 843-225-4307 or e-mail this address.

State energy efficiency program wins national recognition

A South Carolina program to promote energy efficiency recently was commended by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

The Washington, D.C.-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy gave awards for exceptional state-led energy efficiency programs. Eighteen programs from 14 states were recognized.

South Carolina won an honorable mention for its program that encourages the purchase of energy efficient manufactured homes by capping sales taxes at $300 if they meet or exceed energy efficiency standards specified in state law.

For new manufactured homes that meet state-designated energy efficiency levels, the South Carolina Energy Office distributes energy efficiency labels to dealers. The SCEO distributed 47,000 energy efficiency labels since 1998. Over $9 million is saved annually by homeowners with energy efficient homes in comparison with homes not built to energy efficiency standards.

Charleston Young Professionals seek mentors

The Charleston Young Professionals, an initiative of the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce, is looking for experienced business professionals to be mentors in its fifth mentor program beginning in January 2011.

The mentor program has been a great success helping to foster meaningful relationships between members of Charleston Young Professionals and business leaders in the region. This year-long program gives mentees the opportunity to learn from business leaders and gain support and guidance, while offering mentors an opportunity to strengthen ties with the young professional community. Mentors will be paired with young professionals who have similar professional interests and can gain a fresh perspective and additional experience as an advisor, supporter, tutor and coach.

The commitment of a mentor requires meeting once a month with their mentee or at Charleston Young Professionals events. To apply to be a mentor, go online. The deadline is Sept. 30.

Charleston Young Professionals was launched in 2006 by the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce to empower and engage emerging talent in the Charleston region.


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

Survival is tough for loggerhead babies

The loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), a threatened species, was named the state reptile in an act signed by Governor Carroll Campbell on June 1,
1988. Recognizing the loggerhead as "an important part of the marine ecosystem" and that South Carolina's coastline provides "some of the most pristine nesting areas" for the turtle on the East Coast, the General Assembly declared that the state's responsibility is "to preserve and
protect our wildlife and natural resources."

The loggerhead is one of the world's eight living species of sea turtles and evolved some sixty-five million to seventy million years ago. At birth, hatchlings are about two inches long. Adults can weigh from 200 to 350 pounds, and their carapace, or upper shell, measures from thirty-three to forty inches in length. The animal is yellow and reddish brown and has a distinctive large head - the source of its name - with powerful jaws enabling it to crush clams, crustaceans, and other food. Its great size and hard shell protect the adult turtle from most predators.

Adult loggerheads in the western Atlantic range from Newfoundland to Argentina, but they nest in the temperate zones. Breeding occurs in the ocean, and females lay their eggs between May and September. South Carolina beaches are favorite nesting grounds. The female comes ashore at night, lays from eighty to two hundred eggs in her nest, then returns to sea. Eggs and hatchlings are prey to many predators, from ants and crabs to dogs, raccoons, birds, and fish in the sea. Hatchlings must head directly to the ocean, and it is estimated that only one in ten thousand loggerhead eggs makes it to maturity. Dangers to the baby turtles include artificial lights on land, for they may head toward those, instead of seaward, and fall victim to predators. It is believed that it requires twelve to thirty years for loggerheads to reach maturity.

Adult loggerheads are imperiled by collisions with boats and, especially, by being trapped in commercial fishing and shrimping trawl nets, in which they drown if they cannot escape. South Carolinians have been active in working to protect nests and hatchlings, and communities have enacted restrictions on coastal lighting during nesting season. State legislation requires turtle excluder devices (TEDs) on trawl nets in order to protect the species.

-- Excerpted from the entry by David C. R. Heisser. 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.)

LAGNIAPPE | permalink

Jim Martin of the Charleston Parks Conservancy gives tips on fall gardening to a group of people Saturday in Mount Pleasant. (Photo by Marcia Guerard.)


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THE LIST | permalink
Five favorites at the Gibbes


We wondered, does an art curator develop favorites among her "children?" Pam Wall, curator of exhibitions at the Gibbes Museum of Art, says, "It is tough to pick five favorites from a collection of 10,000 objects, but here are a few works of art that resonate with me."

  • Mrs. Robert Gilmor, Jr., by Thomas Sully, 1823.
    "Quite simply, this is a beautiful portrait. Thomas Sully is one of the best, and the combination of Mrs. Gilmor's delicate features and exotic dress make for quite an arresting image of this Charleston beauty."
  • Cattle in the Broom Grass, An Autumn Evening, from the series A Carolina Rice Plantation of the Fifties, by Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, ca. 1935.
    "Alice Smith is a master of the watercolor medium - the delicacy of her washes and the vibrancy of her color are truly amazing. Her paintings capture the beauty of the Lowcountry landscape and remind us why we are so lucky to call Charleston home."
  • Rocks, Sand, Sea, by William Halsey, ca. 1959.
    "Halsey is such an important figure in the art of Charleston and I love his abstract paintings. With this particular painting he incorporated sand into the surface, giving the painting a wonderful three-dimensional quality."

  • Designs, Wrightsville Beach, by Minnie Evans, 1968.
    "Minnie Evans is a self-taught artist and I love the color and pattern of this painting. Her paintings offer an escape into a fantasy world full of dreamlike imagery."
  • Sarah Remembered, by Leo Twiggs, 1997.
    "To me, this is one of the most personal and heartfelt works of art in the Gibbes collection. The batik depicts the artist's great grandmother, Sarah. Though he never met her, Twiggs pieced together family stories to create this moving tribute to Sarah as a young girl."

QUOTE | permalink
Merely players

"Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act."

- - Truman Capote (1924-1984)


Tips on negotiations: 6 p.m., Sept. 20, Embassy Suites, 5055 International Blvd., North Charleston. Jane Perdue, principal/CEO, The Braithewaite Group, speaks on "Negotiation: In Life and In Business" at the Jessamine Chapter of the American Business Women's Association meeting. Non-members are welcome and dinner will be served. $18. Reservations requested, contact Donna Vellon at (843) 486-3966 or go online.

Independent Digital Filmmaking for Adults: 6:30 p.m., Sept. 20,
The Meeting Place, 1077 East Montague Avenue, North Charleston. This six-class course meets on Mondays and Wednesdays and focuses on understanding professional techniques for making short films and documentaries, as well as new ways to self-distribute as an independent filmmaker. Using real-world production techniques, this course is designed to support the beginner and the emerging digital filmmaker. Participants will receive hands-on training in camera, composition, lighting, audio, and editing. This is an excellent opportunity for the home-schooled, K-12 teachers and librarians, and is suitable for ages 16 to adult. Fee: $65. Go online to register.

(NEW) Film festival: 7 p.m., Sept. 25, Olde North Charleston Picture House, 4820 Jenkins Ave. A national nonprofit organization called "Lights. Camera. Help." is sponsoring a festival to celebrate cause-driven films in partnership with The Greater Park Circle Film Society. Nationally recognized and local films will be presented. Tickets are available online and at the event for a $10 donation.

Museum Mile Weekend: Sept. 25-26. Visit five museums, seven historic buildings and one powder magazine all for $20. This single Museum Mile Weekend pass gives you admission at 13 sites along Meeting Street. Many of the cultural institutions will also offer special programs during Museum Mile Weekend. Order online, call 722-2996 ext. 235, or buy in person at any official Charleston Area Visitor Center location. $20/adult, $10/child 12 and under.


Tax reform talk: 4:30 p.m., Sept. 29, The College Center at the Complex for Economic Development at Trident Technical College, 7000 Rivers Ave., Building 920. The Education Foundation and area chambers of commerce present Mike Fanning, executive director of the Olde English Consortium. Fanning will speak on South Carolina's tax system and the need for comprehensive tax reform to improve funding for public education, health and human services, public safety, roads and infrastructure and higher education. Free. More information online.

(NEW) Cowboy Couture Gala: Sept 30, Memminger Auditorium. This gala features bolo ties, 10-gallon hats and cowboy boots to benefit the Hemangioma Treatment Foundation. After filling up on grub from Iverson Catering, hit the dance floor to bluegrass favorites by the Carolina Chocolate Drops and funk and soul ensemble The MAXX. A live auction has fantastic items in store. Tickets are $150 and can be ordered by phone (843) 647-8662 or online.

Poetry and paint: 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Oct. 26, The Meeting Place, 1077 East Montague Ave., North Charleston. An adult workshop featuring Poetry and Paint taught by Mary Harris and Karole Turner Campbell. Participants will be inspired to combine poetry and paint in a unique experience that combines two art forms. Materials are provided. Fee: $5. Registration begins one month ahead and ends two days prior to class.


We encourage you to follow us through Twitter @chascurrents.


11/22: Hamilton: Operation Home
Humphreys: Being healthier
Dittloff: Saltmarsh
Guerard: Veterans Day
Stanfield: Metanoia invests
Hannah: Immunologix
Clements: Red Cross
Roberts: Road myths
Jones, Patrick: Schools
Spencer: Fine Art Annual
Duncan: 220 years of service
Colbert: Smartphones
Barnette: Ballet season
Bailey: YESCarolina book
Crosland: HeadsUp on injuries
Starland: Visual arts
Vural: Art, essay contest
9/23: Blanchard: House in order
Barry: Going "social"
9/16: Hutchisson: Being green
Schleissman: Wood workshop
9/9: Kirby: Sobering success
Brooks: Great volunteers
9/2: Graul: Lowcountry Loc 1st


11/11: Early for Christmas?
On sharpening knives
On voting decisions
Fall color, parties
Squirrel away some pecans
New film on Jews, baseball
Making It Grow
Diving into the Lowcountry
Curbing domestic violence
Shrimp-baiting time
Tail-wagging and -gating
Urban gardening
Nirvana, Class of '14
History is interesting
Robert, Variety Store
Lazy? Boiled peanuts
Purple Toes book
Art opens doors
Lots to do on 4th
Ways to nab skeeters
Dump the Pump, more
Lots to do locally
Dancin' for dollars


11/22: Shared sacrifice
Media responsibility
11/8: No "new era" for SC
11/1: "Invest" isn't dirty word
10/25: Challenges ahead
10/11: Highway problem
Dupree and Senate
Haley-Sheheen race
Political, energy efficiency
British invasion
Meet Dave the Potter
Gulf pix make impact
Thank a teacher
Pharmacy, juice
Cherry juice, Gardner
Biden on Hollings
About Turkey
Campaign trash
Impatient electorate
Haley's thin record
Daddy-daughter trip
Gulf spill report


9/9: Busy with meetings
On biz interruptions
Pecha Kucha 7 coming
TwelveSouth again
Tech After 5 hits Chas
TwelveSouth scores praise
Facebook on privacy
Spark Charleston, more
Green Wizard, more
Encouraging biz signs
Biz fair, CED venture
Lowcountry tech hub
Advice on working with Boeing
1/21: Co-working group
1/7: Free library text questions


9/16: Saving money
Energy standards needed
Investing can be tied to ideals
8/5: Trident Tech green grant


11/22: 5 for going back to school
11/18: 5 on foreclosure
11/15: 5 for exercising
11/11: 5 to rid roadblocks
11/8: 5 for keeping warm
11/4: 5 favorite ballets
11/1: 5 for your face
10/28: 5 parenting tips
10/25: 5 on long-term care
10/21: 5 on childhood obesity
10/18: 5 homeless myths
10/14: 5 on breast cancer
10/11: 5 beef cuts
10/7: 5 back helpers
10/4: 5 for recruiting
9/30: 5 kids' books
9/27: 5 for kayaks
9/23: 5 for pets
9/20: 5 at the Gibbes
9/16: 5 date nights
9/13: 5 fall plants
9/9: 5 wine resources
9/6: 5 magical moments
9/2: 5 great preachers
8/30: 5 local runs
8/26: 5 great cookbooks
8/23: Creative five
8/19: 5 local blogs
8/16: More plaudits
5 local dog romps
8/9: New heritage sites
8/5: 5 around Chucktown
Bedside reading
7/29: Five for fall
Hollings library
7/22: Wine + Food fest
New Chas app
Chas at top
7/7: SC films
7/1: Keeping cool

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