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Did you choose to be tall?

Building off the momentum of the AFFA billboard we created with Gil Shuler Graphic Design, I’m proud to launch the video below. Extra special thanks to Liz Oakley and Ed Bates at IVS Video, Jessica Mickey and Channing Proctor for their time and talents.

Happy Hour

The Charleston area has been the subject of some fantastic press lately. Named one of the Best Places in the Southeast to Retire by The Wall Street Journal. Profiled in The New York Times “36 Hours In..” series. And, randomly, in Travel + Leisure’s List of America’s Most and Least Attractive Cities. (Sorry, Santa Fe, times are tough.)

Those of us who live here know the magic of this place. How it can leave even the most jaded souls gob-smacked and struggling for description. We don’t mind. It’s a rather nice problem to have.

With all that said, here’s the latest ad for the town of Mount Pleasant for the South Carolina Vacation Guide. Design by Mark Lawrence from Gil Shuler Graphic Design; copy by me.

Maverick Southern Kitchens Ads: So Tasty.

Our special today is hand-clicked graphic design by local graphic goddess Katie Kosma and Charleston’s own Blue Ion with essence of New Jersey-raised copy by me. (Don’t worry, it’s neither bitter nor polluted.) See that endearing self deprecation? Get it while it’s fresh and hot!

Only at Maverick Southern Kitchens. Or…you know…here.

It Gets Better

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen the heartbreaking stories of teen bullying and suicide. Many of these tragic losses came to kids who were either gay or “perceived” to be gay.

I’m not sure if there’s anything that hurts quite like being ostracized, isolated, abused or ridiculed during one’s teen years. When we think back to those years, I’m sure we can all remember a day or a moment when we wished, hoped or pleaded with the universe to feel at ease, comfortable in our skin…comfortable anywhere.

The fact that kids are taking their own lives rather than reaching out is disturbing and heartbreaking, simply because those of us who made it through our teen years (often by the skin of our collective teeth) now understand that things usually get better. I say this with full awareness that things did not, however, get better for a boy named Matthew Shepard or the kids we honor today.

I suppose that’s part of the mystery of change. It ebbs and flows.

What I can tell you is that I’m thankful for the people, organizations and moments that inspire, give comfort, support, hope, work to provide fairness and equality and remind us that difference is something to be prized, cherished, honored and celebrated.

Like snowflakes, we are each unique, unlike any other, fragile yet most powerful when clinging to one another.

Thanks to Gil Shuler Graphic Design who put together an incredible billboard campaign series with us at The Alliance For Full Acceptance. In honor of those we have lost and those who work to make it better. The words I wrote are especially for you.

Did you choose to be tall?

Tall people don’t choose to be tall. They came that way, or rather grew UP (and UP) that way. Anyway, it’s simply part of who they are. And while yes, they do find reaching things on high shelves much easier, it also isn’t necessarily true that all tall people play or even like basketball. Luckily, tall people are equally protected under the law. Well, that is unless they’re tall and gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The truth is, tall gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are denied rights that tall heterosexual people receive without question. Things like the right to make decisions on a partner’s behalf in a medical emergency, the right to assume parenting responsibilities, and family-related Social Security benefits, income and estate tax benefits. And really, when you think about it, discrimination isn’t something any of us, even those of small stature, should look UP to.

Darkness To Light: It Takes A Village

A while back, my friend Robert Prioleau invited me to help with a re-branding project for Darkness To Light, the Charleston-based non-profit working to end child sexual abuse. I got the opportunity to meet with D2L’s CFO, Jolie Logan, who was heading up the project, and it was a big one: a new identity, courtesy of the mega-talented Gil Shuler; a new website courtesy of the teamwork and talents of designer Sarena Norton, Blackbaud, Blue Ion and the driven, committed folks at D2L; plus, a new tagline, copy and positioning by me.

I should express my undying respect for Jolie Logan and the D2L team’s hard work and can-do attitude to see these projects through. A re-branding project is always a bold and exciting time for an organization…and truth be told, it’s a bit of a gamble, because it involves change. And I may be a bit biased, but I think the new logo, positioning, tagline and website bring a renewed energy and commitment to an organization that doesn’t just say what they want to do…they do it and continually find ways to empower more people to help them do it. Congratulations and thanks to everyone involved with the project. It’s been an incredible experience.

Logo by Gil Shuler Graphic Design.
Darkness To Light homepage
The Issue

Here’s a bit of the copy I wrote:

Think of 4 girls you know.

Now guess which one will be sexually abused before she’s 18.

Now think of 6 boys you know.

Which one of them will be sexually abused before he’s 18?

No one wants to think about it.

That’s what abusers of children count on, of course. Shame, embarrassment, fear, confusion.

They keep children silent.

They keep adults ignorant.

They keep truth hidden in the dark.

Why should you care?

It doesn’t happen in your town.

At your school.

In your church.

Actually, it does.

In fact, more than 90% of abusers are people children know, love or trust.

And the cost is great.

The reality is that one incident of childhood sexual abuse costs a community nearly $14,000.

The emotional cost in incalculable.
Research shows that people who are sexually violated as children are far more likely to experience psychological problems often lasting into adulthood, including Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, depression, suicide, substance abuse and relationship problems.

Child sexual abuse is not the problem of one region, race, creed, socio-economic status or gender. It impacts every community and every person in America.

Victims of childhood sexual abuse don’t just suffer emotionally. They suffer physically.

  • Victims of childhood sexual abuse are more likely to suffer from obesity.
  • Are more likely to suffer from heart disease.
  • Are more likely to engage in destructive behavior with drugs and alcohol.

In fact, if child sexual abuse were like most childhood diseases, the prevalence and consequences of it would lead to telethons to raise money for its cure. But child sexual abuse is one of the last cultural taboos. With the exception of child-focused personal safety programs, almost nothing is being done to address it. That’s where Darkness to Light and the good news beings.From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

Learning the facts about sexual abuse helps prevent it.
Read the 7 Steps to Protecting Our Children to learn simple, proactive steps you can take to prevent, recognize and react responsibly.

Talking about it helps prevent it.
We make sure our children are in car seats and seat belts. We walk them across busy streets. We ask our teens where they are going and who they will be with. All to keep them safe. And yet, when it comes to the crime of sexual abuse, we often grow silent. Darkness to Light stands ready to help you find the words to have the conversation every family needs to be safe and empowered.

Getting involved helps prevent it.
From volunteers to educators to donors, being an active participant in the mission to end childhood sexual abuse is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do.

If childhood sexual abuse can be prevented, it can be stopped. Through awareness, education and prevention, children can move from silence to exuberance. Adults can move from ignorance to empowerment.

And truth can move from darkness to light.

Easton Events

I love it when my pals at Blue Ion show their sensitive side. Actually, producer/designer Nicola Walker created the initial design concept for this one: the new Easton Events site launched last week. And, Craig Anthony, Flash developer/super designer and Lead Application Developer, Brian Dadin knit together an elegant, beautiful site certain to woo brides, grooms and Fortune 500 companies alike.

Here’s a taste of the copy I wrote:

Our approach is influenced and inspired by international art and architecture, as well as fashion, and event design. We live in a world of paint samples, schedules, fabric swatches, storyboards, menus, seating diagrams and budgets – a constant, delicate balance of head and heart that makes us singularly suited to creating exceptional events.

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Blue Moon Hotel

Those sassy Stitch ladies invited me to play along on a not-so-rack-card project for another Miami icon, The Blue Moon Hotel. Our client, Jason Rose of Ventana Hotels & Resorts, provided great direction and all the right details to help us craft a piece that will entice discerning travelers to this historic and hip Miami gem. Check out more details from Stitch.

While I’m at it, I’ll share one of my favorite renditions of the song of the same name by the Cowboy Junkies.