Illustrated by Amiri Farris, adaptation by Abigail Rawl
FY22/Vol. 2
The Art of Community: Rural SC Newsletter
Sept. 08, 2021

Welcome to a new issue of The Art of Community: Rural SC Newsletter and to a new school year. These are potent moments for us as individuals and communities. 'Back to school' means different things depending on your generation and experience. How is learning and growth sparked in formal and informal settings? Who teaches us? Who inspires us? When does learning end? What does it look like outside the school system? What happens in the face of a pandemic?
Education and learning together are interwoven into the fabric of The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative. A number of Mavens and teams have chosen 'education' as their focus area and are considering local challenges within this theme. In each case, they are incorporating arts and culture as key strategies to make positive change. Likewise, as a cohort of community builders, we are practicing listening, learning and sharing as we grow as a network across South Carolina. We are discussing our challenges and comparing notes. We are finding our individual and collective voices. We are asking questions. We are learning together.

With special thanks to the mavens, teams, creative connectors and mentors, partners, funders and friends, we are particularly excited today to share four stories of creative education and community learning happening in Aiken, Barnwell, Jasper and Newberry counties. Read more about each of their approaches as they address education and learning together within and beyond the school setting.

How does this work happen? None of The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative happens without strategic partners on the ground in each community as well at the state and national level. In this issue, we share related 'High Notes' as well as feature two education partners, Write to Change Foundation and The Riley Institute at Furman University as well as hear from two advisors who share their education inspirations. We hope you will also consider an educator, community leader or friend who has inspired you, sparked curiosity and/or helped you grow.


Susan DuPlessis

Community Arts Development Director
The South Carolina Arts Commission
Quick reality check...
Click the graphic to the left to stay updated on COVID-19 in your community. Let's keep each other safe.
Shown above: New York Times Map Showing COVID-19 Hot Spots as of Sept. 7, 2021.
South Carolina has the highest recent average cases per capita.

We continue to be mindful of the
larger context of this work.

Check out the United Nations 17 Sustainability Goals here.

For this particular newsletter we want to highlight the fourth sustainability goal, 'Quality Education'
Crossing sectors
...on education and community learning
As we learn together in this cross-sector initiative, we want to say thank you to the mavens, their teams, creative connectors and mentors, advisors, partners and funders for their leadership and involvement locally, regionally and beyond. The power of The Art of Community: Rural SC network is in its ability to flex, share and consider; then question, coalesce and act. Some questions we ask ourselves within the realm of learning is ‘what is our role as individual citizens, as teams and as part of this cohort to engage in the classroom, in the schools and in systems that are building our next generations? How can students be engaged in important decisions that affect their lives? What is our role in nurturing, mentoring and recognizing students as artists, scientists, and leaders who will change the world in coming days? How do we foster 'learning' as a goal for all our communities and for all ages?'
Here are four stories to consider.

Aiken County
Creative Activism: Aiken Youth Show Up
as Artists, Activists, Agents of Change in Under-Resourced Neighborhood
Raising local awareness of Aiken High School NextGen youth as assets,
artists, and allies in equitable community and neighborhood development is
one of the aims and achievements of the Aiken Art of Community: Rural SC
Barnwell County
The Phoenix Project: Blackville rising through the arts
Since becoming a maven in 2016, Maven Evelyn (who is also executive director of the Blackville Community Development Corporation) and team have been concerned about the lack of arts education available to students in their local schools and community. Their goal has been to heighten the understanding of the value of a comprehensive arts education that is provided as part of basic curriculum in the schools. How? By creating new ways to engage with students (k5-12) that 1) elevate their sense of connection to the community and 2) recognize and showcase their individual talents.
Jasper County
Building Community through
Arts and Literacy
Maven Johnny Davis is the first to say he doesn’t have a background or much experience in the arts. As director of Jasper County’s Parks and Rec Department, he likes to say that he became a Maven when he learned there was a trip to Kentucky included where he had family roots. Since 2016, Maven Johnny has used his professionalism mixed with dry wit and sincere dedication to coalesce a team in Jasper County charged with two things: 1) Use arts and culture to activate six Jasper County community centers; and 2) Create a Jasper County arts council.
He’s done both! Read more here!
Newberry County
Community Conversations
Preparing the ground for community engagement, cohesion and learning—that’s what Newberry Maven Marquerite Palmer and her team have been ‘at’ for the last two years since joining The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative. With an eye on 1) who makes up the community, 2) how they participate and 3) where arts, culture, creativity and learning show up in the mix are the questions now being asked by her and fellow team members. Read more here!
A Focus on Education Partners
Write to Change
Executive Director Sara June Goldstein

Founded in 1994 by educators and youth advocates Dixie Goswami and Rocky Gooch, Write to Change is a family foundation providing learning and leadership opportunities for youth and their adult mentors who use literacy and the arts to encourage social change and equity.
Write to Change is a strategic partner with the NextGen Aiken Art of Community project (read more about this project in the 'Crossing Sectors' section of this newsletter). The NextGen Aiken project is part of the national Middlebury Breadloaf Network with seven national sites: Atlanta, Rural South Carolina, Vermont, New Mexico/ Arizona/Navajo, Lawrence, MA; Santa Fe Indian School; and Louisville, KY.

Riley Institute at Furman University
Executive Director Don Gordon

The Riley Institute at Furman has been an important partner with the South Carolina Arts Commission since 2010, especially in its further development of the Diversity Leaders Initiative and co-sponsorship of the Leo Twiggs Scholarship for arts leaders.

With education as one of three focal areas--the others are health and justice--we especially want to highlight and thank them for their partnership through the years. Read more about their work in each of these domains here.
Don Gordon
Insights on education
Advisors share their inspirations...
Don Gordon
Executive Director
The Riley Institute at Furman University

"Dick Riley is the education leader who inspires me most. The Education Improvement Act (EIA) that he created and led to passage did more to improve the education outcomes for South Carolina children than anything before or since! As the nation's 'Education Governor' and two-term U.S. Secretary of Education, he has had more impact on bringing high quality education to more students than any public servant in the history of our country." - Don Gordon

Photo: Former S.C. Governor and former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley with Riley Institute executive director Don Gordon at Carolina High School, part of the network of New Tech project-based learning schools the Riley Institute is helping build in South Carolina.
Dixie Goswami
Middlebury Breadloaf School of English

Dixie Remembers Students Who Were Also Her Teachers and Gives a shout-out to AOC Network!

"It's lovely at the age of 90, having taught and learned in lots of classrooms, most recently at Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English and at Clemson University, which I can almost see from my back porch, to have a chance to write about my teachers, which number in the thousands. A couple of years ago, when I was asked about a teacher who profoundly influenced me, I chose instead to write about Mary Guerrero, among the many students who changed - and are still changing - my life. The link to my piece about Mary is here.

But now I want to talk about how for the past few years the Art of
Community: Rural South Carolina networked community has become my go-to
place for learning. I've learned that it is truly possible to build deep
and profoundly productive relationships - on, YES, IT IS TRUE - ZOOMS,
seeing faces, hearing voices, exchanging stories, participating in
workshops, sharing experiences that connect our diverse rural places and
extraordinary members of our network in remarkable ways. I've learned to
listen closely, to show up, and to honor the teaching, learning, and
creative expression that AOC folks bring regularly to my bedroom/office on
Strawberry Lane. Of course this networked virtual learning experience has
made me impatient for the time when we can meet in person again, but I
believe that AOC's network will evolve and continue to be an inspiration
for education - in and out of school."


Photo credit: Middlebury Breadloaf School of English
Education High Notes
Creative Mentor Amiri Farris will be the keynote speaker at Palmetto State Arts Education Conference
Oct. 12, 2021, in Columbia. Learn more here!

SC Arts Commission and SC Dept of Education Partnership
featured in NASAA's Note's Click here to read and learn more!

National focus on The Art of Community: Rural SC 'Questions we ask, and what's revealed' an article by Susan DuPlessis
Featured as part of a series on 'creative placemaking' in conjunction with ArtPlace America in The GIA Bulletin. (GIA=Grantmakers In The Arts)
Tamara Herring, Executive Director of The Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage and an Art of Community Creative Connector, is a 2021 recipient of the Fresh Voice in the Humanities Award. Congratulations, Tamara!

Read her full bio here.
Perspectives on Community-Based Arts Education: Youth Engagement in Times of Crisis—this was the title of a conversation featuring Advisor Dixie Goswami, Maven Kayla Hostetler, Creative Mentor Bobby Harley and SCAC’s Susan DuPlessis. As part of the 2021 Arts and Basic Curriculum Forum Jan. 22, 2021, this Art of Community: Rural SC snapshot provided an in-depth look into the value of ‘educating the imagination’ within schools and communities. Thanks to Kim Wilson, Director of the ABC Project, for the invitation to speak and share our stories.
Terrance Washington
Barnwell County Creative Connector
Artist and Arts Educator
Terrance Washington (Barnwell County Creative Connector) and Libby Sweatt-Lambert (Chester County Art of Community Maven) pictured at the Fort Lawn Community Center, where Libby and team featured and sold Terrance's artwork.
Jason Lee Cook
named 'Male Vocalist of the Year' by the International Singer Songwriters Association

One of our original 'young voices' in the Art of Community: Rural SC initiative, Jason Cook is a multitalented creative who goes the distance in making and celebrating home in Walterboro, SC. He was our original filmmaker for this initiative and also part of the Colleton County Team formerly with Maven Gary Brightwell and currently with Maven Matt Mardell.

Congrats on your album re-release and this special award, Jason!

Creativity + Community Histories
Virtual Workshop with Creative Mentor Bobby Harley

Creative Mentor and Educator Bobby Harley presented a workshop called 'Creativity + Community Histories' August 13, 2021, as part of an ongoing series of creative exercises presented by our seven creative mentors.
'Bobby nailed it," said Advisor/Educator Dixie Goswami. She added that is a workshop adaptable at so many levels with many implications for people in and out of schools who are in the process of building curricula and visions for equitable and historic teaching and learning. "It is a vehicle for reconciliation and healing; it gives us new ways to look at each other, united by our memories. It creates a way to see places in a new light.

"This workshop affirmed the validity of our experiences and how they shape us. It provided a platform for sharing memories of place," Co-Chair Advisor Bob Reeder said. "For me, it triggered a memory of the Friendship Nine in Rock Hill and my uncle Robert McCullough who was a leader in the civil rights movement."

This was the second in the series of Creativity + workshops. The first was presented May 2021 when Creative Mentor and Filmmaker Sherard Duvall presented created Creativity + Media.

More workshops are planned with the remaining five creative mentors who include: Xavier Blake, Michael Dantzler, Amiri Farris, Ellen Kochansky and Eboni Ramm. All workshops will be recorded and available on our Rural YouTube channel.
Colleagues in Creative Placemaking + Education TinyisPowerful in Charleston, aka The Charleston Rhizome Collective and conNECKtedToo, winner of an ArtPlace America grant in 2017, shared this collection of ways they are working in schools and communities. Learn more about their important grassroots activation and spirit here.
Coming soon!

Sept. 4, 5-8 PM
Gullah Geechee On Da Green
Maven Victoria Smalls and Team
present artists, health providers, storytellers, dancers, singers, culture bearers and more at the MLK Park, St. Helena Island. An Art of Community: Rural SC Cross-Sector Project

Sept. 14, 12-1 PM
Rural Resource Coalition by SCACED hosts an informational webinar on more than $24 million in Rural Tourism Funding Opportunities for South Carolina.
Learn more and register here!

Sept. 17-18
Hagood Mill’s Old Time Fiddlers Convention
Featuring the SC State Fiddling Championship
with Maven Betty McDaniel.
Learn more and register to attend here!
Be on the lookout for events every third Thursday of the month at Hagood Mill!

Sept. 25
SC Upper Lowcountry Muscadine Festival
Maven Dr. Yvette McDaniel and Team organize a day-long festival at Saltcatcher farms in Bamberg, SC centered around all things muscadine. The Muscadine festival is funded by a Folklife grant of the SC Arts Commission.
Sept. 28
SC Office of Rural Health Conference 
Join us in a virtual conference that features four Art of Community: Rural SC Mavens Lottie Lewis (Allendale); Lydia Cotton (Berkeley); Laney Buckley (Catawba Indian Nation) and Audrey Hopkins-Williams (Hampton) as they join Susan DuPlessis in a facilitated conversation called 'Mending and Tending our Rural Places' Sept. 28 at 1:00 PM.

Learn more and register to attend here:

October 1-2, 2021 The National Storytelling Festival will be virtual again this year! Learn more and register to attend here!

January 21, 2022 Save the date for the Arts in Education Forum hosted by SCAC partner ABC Project.

Art of Community Meeting dates:
  • Art of Community check-ins - First Wednesday of every month at 2:00
  • Creativity + Ag - First Tuesdays of every month starting September 21, 2021

The Newsletter
  • In following newsletter issues, we will continue our cross-sector focus by exploring local project stories on health and wellbeing; and community and economic development; we will also look at our expressive and documentary efforts through Creativity + Ag, plus work being led by Program Specialist for Community Arts & Folklife Laura Marcus Green that includes Communal Pen, the Folklife Field School and Creative Aging.

Check out some of our recent newsletters

Submit your good news for HIGH NOTES to Abby Rawl at [email protected].
Keep Learning.
Stay Safe.
Art of Community: Rural SC Newsletter Team
Susan DuPlessis, Community Arts Development Director

Laura Marcus Green, Ph.D., Program Specialist for Community Arts & Folklife

Abigail Rawl, Art of Community Coordinator

Michael Dantzler, Newsletter Designer
A big thanks to all the mavens!
Aiken County
Kayla Hostetler

Allendale County
Lottie Lewis

Bamberg County
Dr. Yvette McDaniel

Barnwell County
Evelyn Coker

Beaufort County
Victoria Smalls

Berkeley County
Lydia Cotton

Catawba Nation (in York County)
Brooke Bauer and Laney Buckley

Chester County
Libby Sweatt-Lambert
Colleton County
Matt Mardell

Hampton County
Audrey Hopkins-Williams

Jasper County
Johnny Davis

Marion County
Luis Rodriguez

Newberry County
Marquerite Palmer

Pickens County
Betty McDaniel

Richland County
Michael Dantzler
A big thanks to our advisors, supporters and funders!
Pam Breaux, Co-chair
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, Washington, D.C
J. Robert "Bob" Reeder, Co-chair
Rural LISC, Columbia, SC and Washington, D.C.
Graham Adams,
South Carolina Office of Rural Health

Savannah Barrett,
Art of the Rural, Kentucky

Dr. J. Herman Blake, (Ret.)
Humanities Scholar, South Carolina

Andy Brack,
Charleston City Paper and State House Report, South Carolina

Dr. Ann Carmichael, (Ret.)
UofSC-Salkehatchie, Co-Chair Emerita

Dee Crawford,
South Carolina Arts Commission Board

Robbie Davis,
Smithsonian Museum on Main Street, Washington, D.C.

Vernita Dore, (Ret.)
USDA-Rural Development, Beaufort, South Carolina

Charles Fluharty,
RUPRI & Rural Cultural Wealth Lab, Ohio

Ame Holcombe,
Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, South Carolina and Illinois

Sara June Goldstein,
Write to Change Foundation, South Carolina

Don Gordon,
The Riley Institute at Furman, South Carolina

Dixie Goswami,
Write to Change Foundation, (Ret.) Middlebury Bread Loaf School of English, South Carolina and Vermont
Ken May, (Ret.)
South Carolina Arts Commission

Bernie Mazyck,
South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development

Bill Molnar,
Lower Savannah Council of Governments, South Carolina

Doug Peach,
Sandy Spring Museum, Maryland

Brandolyn Pinkston, (Ret.)
Consumer Affairs Director, South Carolina and Georgia

Jane Przybysz,
UofSC McKissick Museum

Lillian Reeves,
Piedmont University, Demorest, Georgia

David Smalls,
Political Consultant, Walterboro, South Carolina

Susie Surkamer,
SouthArts, Atlanta, Georgia

Leila Tamari,
Arts Consultant, California

Javier Torres,
SURDNA Foundation, New York

Dean Van Pelt,
Savannah River Nuclear Site, South Carolina

Leonardo Vazquez,
The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, New Jersey

Chris Walker, (Ret.)
Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Washington, D.C.