FY22/Vol. 1
The Art of Community: Rural SC Newsletter
August 5, 2021

Greetings from our team to yours!

And welcome to
our new year--FY22.

The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative has just completed its fifth year of programming, granting, thinking, questioning, dreaming, imagining, plotting and planning with 16 Mavens , 22 Creative Connectors, 7 Creative Mentors, local teams, partners and funders.

The last 16 + months, we’ve practiced isolating and straddling fences; testing waters, dipping our toes into new ideas, experiencing public health safety concerns; and, lately, asking what re-engagement looks like? What about creativity during these times? The words ‘zoom’ and ‘virtual’ occupy a new space in our brains. Through uncertainty, social unrest, disruption and extraordinarily creative times, we have supported one another and fostered deep connections. We’ve explored our communities, shared our local knowledge and leaned on one another. Every time we could, we’ve celebrated; we’ve also asked hard questions as we peel the ‘onion’ of community. Sometimes, we’ve cried. 

As we begin our new fiscal year, we are stepping out on a positive note, shouting thanks to our advisors, mavens, team members, creative connectors and mentors, colleagues, funders, partners and SCAC team. Join us in extra joy as we especially recognize a few folks in our new High Notes section included in this issue. 

Stay tuned! FY22 is a big year as we cross sectors and learn and grow together in our use of arts and culture in community building!

Susan DuPlessis

Community Arts Development Director
The South Carolina Arts Commission
High Notes
Happy 90th Birthday Dixie!!! 🥳

Called a ‘forward-looking educator who has revolutionized educational theory and practice over 38 years of teaching and leading,” Advisor Dixie Goswami celebrated the beginning of her tenth decade July 27, 2021 as a force and visionary, and we are celebrating with her. 

As co-founder of Write to Change Foundation, she laid the foundation and continues to set the example for more youth involvement in planning, development and policy-making; and if you know Dixie, you have her voice in your head about ‘educating the imagination.’ 
Let’s not forget the young people, she says. They are artists; they are leaders!

Big cheers to Dixie and Happy Birthday!!

Read more about Dixie’s work here:

Hear Dixie speak about her life and thoughts on youth engagement and our work together in The Art of Community: Rural SC at Insights 1, a meeting in Allendale, SC, in 2017: https://vimeo.com/209363046 (from 6:30 to 8:00)

Photo: Congrats to Advisor Sara June Goldstein who was recently named Executive Director of Write to Change Foundation (www.writetochange.org). She is shown here with her mother Dixie in 2018 on receiving the 2018 SC Governor’s Award for Humanities. Read more about Sara June’s career here: Arts Commission's Sara June Goldstein to retire
A lifetime of achievement!

Dr.Herman Blake

Advisor Dr. Herman Blake joined our inaugural Advisory Council when he was Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission; since then, he’s retired from that post but has continued to delve deep into his studies and passions, garnering awards for his long and outstanding role as an educator/leader and humanities scholar. His distinguished career includes being Professor Emeritus of Sociology and Founding Provost of Oakes College at UC Santa Cruz. August 8, he will receive the Distinguished Career Award for the Practice of Sociology at the American Sociology Association’s virtual annual meeting. The award recognizes Dr. Blake’s lifetime achievements in advancing the field of sociology through the positive impact of his work.

Congrats, Dr. Blake!

Read more: https://news.ucsc.edu/2021/07/j-herman-blake-career.html

*Photo: J. Herman Blake, Ph.D., stands in front of Moving Star Hall, one of the few remaining praise houses in the Lowcountry. Photos by Sarah Pack
Singing a new song!
Dr. Yvette McDaniel
Dr. Yvette McDaniel of Bamberg County (and resident of Orangeburg County), Maven, leader extraordinaire, supporter of young people, and former opera singer, has retired from Denmark Technical College after 21 Years as Director of Choral Activities and former Dean of the Associate of Arts and Science divisions. She fought hard during recent years as an advocate of the school’s relevance in an underserved part of South Carolina. She also has been part of the Arts in Education program and the SC Touring Artist program of the SC Arts Commission. As Maven for Bamberg County, she will continue her work leading and encouraging the Community Rural Arts Work League (CRAWL). IN particular, check out their next endeavor-- the Muscadine Festival (www.allthingsmuscadine.com) slated for September 25 in Denmark at Saltcatcher Farms in Bamberg County. 

Wishing you the best in this new songbook, Yvette!
Maven Victoria Smalls:
Leading the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor

Maven Victoria Smalls of Beaufort County has been named Executive Director of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission (https://gullahgeecheecorridor.org), a four-state commission overseeing a cultural corridor from Wilmington, North Carolina to St. Augustine, Florida. She moves into this exciting post from her position at the National Park Service in Beaufort County. And, of course, she brings her deep and personal connection to the Corridor through her Gullah Geechee ancestors and roots on St. Helena Island. 

Congrats, Maven Victoria!
Native American History with Maven Brooke Bauer

Congrats to Maven Dr. Brooke M. Bauer, Co-Maven of the Catawba Indian Nation (along with Laney Buckley). Dr. Bauer has accepted a position at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as Assistant Professor of Native American History. She has also just returned from Philadelphia where she participated as a Andrew W. Mellon Native American Studies Initiative Fellow of the American Philosophical Society. And now, she is heading to Knoxville! We look forward to her involvement going forward despite the physical distance!
Creative Mentor Bobby Harley-
A James Madison Fellow

Creative Mentor Bobby Harley, member of the Blackville Phoenix Rising Team, participated in an extraordinary summer learning adventure in Washington, DC, and surrounds, as a James Madison Fellow.
Read more here about the James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation https://www.jamesmadison.gov/.

Thanks, Bobby, for your representation, your work in education and your example of using creativity, spoken word, history and hip hop to show us new ways. Read more below about the upcoming Creative Mentor Workshop Bobby will lead August 13!
Robert Matheson creates a Poetree

“I wanted to create a safe space in real-world space for my community to express themselves. Behind my studio is a single tree. I started hanging my own poetry from it and invited others to do the same. It has taken on a life of its own. There are new notes and poems left on the tree daily. It's a beautiful and inspirational community art project that anyone can get started." Read more about Creative Connector Robert Matheson’s poetree as featured in the Newberry Observer: Newberry Observer's article

And, check out the Poetree Map here!

Inspired during a trip to Tamaqua, PA, as part of the Allendale Rural Arts Team with Maven Lottie Lewis, Nate and Stoney Hartley turned a dream into reality. Thanks to the Local Entrepreneur Acceleration Program (LEAP) https://sccommunityloanfund.org/leap/ in 2020, they competed with nine finalists in this program and won! Finicky Bean is a mobile coffee unit serving fair trade coffee, herb teas, pastries and other soft drinks. “We are very grateful to our town of Allendale embracing the concept of ‘Coffee coming to you,’ they said. In April 2019, they visited Tamaqua and Hope & Coffee https://hopeandcoffee.org/ --the rest is history, as they say!
Abigail Rawl --it's official!

Big congrats to Abby Rawl who joined our South Carolina Arts Commission team in January 2020 and was named Coordinator for The Art of Community: Rural SC in June 2021. With studies in Sociology and Urban Studies as well as a deep interest in community development, history and traditions, Abby is a great addition to our Community Arts Development team.
Coming soon!
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

Creativity + Creative Mentors workshop
2-4 PM, August 13

SC Office of Rural Health Conference 
Learn more and register to attend here: https://scorh.net/2021-conference/

NOTE: Mavens Lottie Lewis (Allendale); Lydia Cotton (Berkeley); Laney Buckley (Catawba Indian Nation) and Audrey Hopkins-Williams (Hampton) will join Susan DuPlessis in a facilitated conversation on health in communities as part of the pre-conference.

The Newsletter
  • In following newsletter issues, we will focus on our cross-sector work in education and youth development; 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.

Stay tuned!

Submit your good news for HIGH NOTES to Abby Rawl at [email protected].
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.