If the overall state of the world has got you down, I wanted to share a little good news with you. In the past couple of months we have seen great strides in resolving McClellanville’s two greatest deficits; Education and Employment.
This summer brought news that the Cape Romain Environmental Education Charter School had gained approved by the state charter school board. This school, which will me most likely begin it’s life at Archibald Rutledge Academy’s facilities, will be publicly funded and free to attend but will operate autonomously from the Charleston County School Board. Decisions governing the school will be made by a local board of teachers, parents, and community leaders with the best wishes of the children placed first. As the name implies, education at the school will be intertwined with the rich natural resources that we have here, raising a generation of children who appreciate and understand the bountiful resources that nature has bestowed upon us. The school is able to attract students from beyond Charleston county, with enrollment open to all South Caroline residents. This means that students living in nearby Berkeley and Georgetown counties will be able to attend. The school will open it’s doors in 2012 teaching Kindergarten through 5 or 6th grade, with the potential to grow to a full K-12 school in the coming years. For those with a family, or plans to start one, this is a monumental achievement that offers parents struggling with the choosing between local public schools or cross-district enrollment a great opportunity.
The second news comes from a committee that has been in the works for several years now but is gaining steam recently. The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelly Foundation (huge advocates for the environment throughout the lowcountry) is paying for the formation of a group called the Sewee Summit. The group seeks to protect the resources of the Francis Marion Forest, Cape Romain Wildlife Refuge, and beyond by getting local governments to agree to a standard of development more suitable for this area. McClellanville was the first municipality to approve the recommendations of the group, which did not conflict with Town’s existing Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. The Summit doesn’t just stop at getting the regulations in place however. It is also working hard to assist the area in regard to employment, education, health, infrastructure, housing, and more through professionally lead forums in which local community members and experts in the corresponding field sit down to brainstorm on ideas for improvement
The most recent jobs forum had local business owner and organization leaders from across Awendaw and McClellanville seated together with the heads of government agencies including the Forest Service and US Fish & Wildlife Service. The coalition to came to a consensus on a list of resources that should be marketed to promote the uniqueness of the area. There was a strong call for the formation of a chamber of commerce to be shared by the communities of Awendaw and McClellanville, which I hope will soon begin. The group identified many low-impact sources of jobs that could be fostered and nurtured to further develop the unique assets of this area without taking away from what we hold near and dear. By working together local businesses will be able to achieve greater marketing strength than they could have ever achieved as individuals and also increase job opportunities in the region that will strengthen our community rather than change it in the negative.
I could easily hit the publish button on this article and hope that it improves everyone’s day, but here is where I ask you to roll up your sleeves. Both of these plans do not seek to change McClellanville, but to promote it’s uniqueness and sustain the way of life that it has. That is not something that comes from a government bailout check, a new law, or a visit from your representative, it’s change that the people must want and it’s change that the people must make for themselves.
One thing that I have learned is that you can either sit around and say, “Someone should…” or you can be that someone. I am involved with both of these organizations and have taken a lot of time out of my schedule which truly belonged to my family and my real estate business to participate with both of these organizations, but my hope is that my family and my business will be better off in the long run through these efforts. Just as this community banded together after Hurricane Hugo in a time of community crisis, I hope that we again can band together to avert potential crisis. There will be jobs that everyone can fill and I truly believe that when we look back 5 years from now at our hard work that we will all have an enormous amount of pride at what we have accomplished and have changed McClellanville’s path for the better.