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.

Marketing Mount Pleasant

A few weeks back, my pals at Blue Ion and Gil Shuler Graphic Design asked me to help craft a brand story about the town of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. As some of you know, Mount Pleasant has been in the midst of a strategic marketing initiative to enhance and grow the community.

Armed with some heavy-duty resident research and strategic planning, Blue Ion, Dean Foster, Gil Shuler and I went to work to craft creative to support the initiative. After much discussion, Gil put together a super sweet logo. I crafted the story below. Many thanks to Dean Foster for sharing his thoughts and insights and always, to Blue Ion and Gil. Big squeeze.

One last thing: Yes, I am a born and bred New Jersey girl writing about the Lowcountry of South Carolina. But let me just say: duh, I’m a writer, that’s what I do. And two, for a year and a half I lived in a quirky apartment on Shem Creek in Mount Pleasant. I cannot tell you exactly what that time and those long walks through the Old Village did to me, but perhaps it’s evident in the words.

To understand Mount Pleasant is to intimately know the water – the ebb and flow of the tide. The marsh creeks and rivers that surround us. Living here means  measuring time and joy by the water. Is it high tide? Can we take the johnboat out? Here, water is sustenance – shrimp boats at dawn, crabbing off the dock, the day’s catch being hauled in. It’s the taste that lingers on your lips after day is done.

Mount Pleasant is an idealist. Our strong neighborhoods are built from generations of strong neighbors – folks who work hard, whose children play with yours, who say “hey” when they see you, who gently guide even the most confused tourists to the beach. Our solid schools are crafted by a close-knit community of teachers, citizens, parents and children.

Mount Pleasant is borne of the land and water. Protecting them is part of who we are. Not just because our shrimp are caught in local waters or our tomatoes grown on local vines. Not just so that our children and grandchildren have them to enjoy, but because this kind of raw beauty, this rich history and culture has a harmony to it we strive to emulate. The land and water have a life well beyond ours and are at their best when shared.

Mount Pleasant tells a great story – from Sewee Indian to Capitan O’Sullivan, from dirt road to highway, from inlet to open sea, to “talkative” wood floors and tin roofs to fisher monger to physician. There is a gift for conversation here, an ease of sharing, which brings with it the ability to question, listen, entertain and lend a needed hand. Some say it’s Southern hospitality. The stuff of beloved novels or bedtime stories. To us, it’s simply a way of life. The sweet life.

Check out the video Blue Ion and friends put together based on the copy here.

Of country clubs, peanuts & wrecks

Saturday is rib-eye night.

I was reminded recently of all the things I love about living in Charleston. When I first moved here from New Jersey, (hi, culture shock) my friend Deanne, born and raised in Mount Pleasant, took great delight in a little game I came to call “Shock the Yankee.”

As my self-appointed guide to Southern culture, Deanne set out on a quest to immerse me in a variety of experiences. And really, after any initial shock, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Here are three of my favorite moments:

  1. Harold’s Country Club in Yemassee. First of all, if you’re going to Harold’s, you call ahead to reserve food. Saturday is rib-eye steak night, so call ahead for your slab o’ meat. Once there, you’ll hunker down over a very satisfying steak dinner with hunters, fishermen, bikers, plantation owners and other randoms who’ve been lured in by the promise of a good time. After dinner, you can bloat over a beer at the bar and watch the line dancing ensue. By the way, as it did originally, Harold’s still sells both gasoline and live bait. Score!
  2. The Peanut Festival in Pelion. Not only did I get to hear Miss South Carolina flub the Pledge of Allegiance,  (I’m serious. We all winced.) I got to suck on some EXCELLENT boiled peanuts and watch the Peanut Parade, complete with Shriners in fezzes tearing around on go-carts.
  3. The Wreck of the Richard & Charlene. A Mount Pleasant institution. Named for the trawler  tragically impaled on a piling during Hurricane Hugo, The Wreck is a bit of a Shem Creek secret. I know people who have lived here for years who get lost at least twice when trying to find it. A sweet and endearing dive, The Wreck is about seafood of all varieties. And if you know what’s good for you, order it fried. Honestly, go big or go home, people.