Soul of Charleston – Original Poem

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

You embody the soul of us all
The sweet romance of the South coats us with a fragrant scent
Scripted from the feather tip ink of Keats or Byron
Forever and ever you will cuddle us with your paradise

The heart the Palmetto soaks in the energy of the sun and fans away the heat
The guided force of the Ashley welcomes a heavenly breeze into the harbor

As ghosts of Charleston past lead the carriage ride to the future, we look around in fondness
Like a time capsule, our past, present and future lie locked away safely under lock and key
These cobble stone roads tell a story with each bump
Wooden wagon wheels turn slowly reminding us to see life one moment at a time

Like the chiming of St. Michael’s, hold the memories close

You are our professor Lord Charleston and we your students
In your humbled wisdom, you bestow life lessons
No walls, no rules, no boundaries
In this open air, we are offered prayer

Charleston marks the beginning, of life, love and tranquility
Measured by the power of a hug, the gentleness of a kiss, the subtle nature of an autumn wind off the marina

Blessed by the sunrise, secured by the sunset and guided by the lighthouse nestled on the coastal shore
Wayward sailors seek refuge

Charleston is kissed by the words of Poe, saturated with the gifts of the South and nurtured by the heart of family

With open arms, the city touches our spirit
We are children safe in our Charleston home

A Night at O-Ku – Restaurant Review by Featured KitchyLiving

By Sarah Snyder: AKA KitchyLiving


How it took me this long to visit O-Ku, I’ll never know…But miso happy that I finally paid them a visit!

Sushi, sashimi, cocktails. What’s not to love? Located on Upper King just 3 blocks from Marion Square, the restaurant is conveniently close to the heart of the city. The interior of the restaurant consists of ?exposed brick walls and intimate mood lighting setting the tone for a relaxed, urban feel. The friendly hostesses and servers provide patrons with an inviting and exuberant experience from start to finish.


After seeing reviews on Yelp about the crazy wait times and packed happy hours, I knew I had to come early. So my friend Leila and I arrived promptly at 4:50pm. Yes, 10 minutes before they even opened their doors. And let me just say, our devious tactic worked and we were able to snag a spot at the sushi bar before the crowds swarmed. Within 15 minutes of them opening, tables were filling up and by the time we left, all the tables were full. Granted we went on a Friday at 5pm, which is Happy Hour. But at O-Ku, Happy Hour is a lot more happy than most places. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 5-7pm customers can get ANY sushi or sashimi for 1/2 price and cocktails are $3 off their list price.

Their cocktails are prodigious! With a considerable list to choose from, we decided to follow our server’s suggestions and order their Brown Derby cocktail and Berry Lemonade. We were not disappointed. They change their cocktail menu often which I think says a lot about their bar service and their ability to make a high quality craft cocktail. With change comes great expertise.

But enough about the cocktails, let’s discuss the food. I’m not much of a sashimi kind of girl. I stick with sushi and not the wimpy California Roll or Philly Roll, but spicy is my go-to. Spicy fish of all shapes and sizes and I’m there. However, because I was ordering with my friend who does not share the same affinity as me for spicy foods, we decided to compromise. We ordered the Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll, the Firecracker Roll, the Scallop Roll, and the Kani Crown Roll.

My Definitive Ranking of…

Sushi Rolls:

  1. Firecracker Roll
  2. Scallop Roll
  3. Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll
  4. Kani Crown Roll

The Firecracker Roll was my favorite because of it’s complex flavor, spice, and overall depth. If I hadn’t had this roll first, I would have thought the rest of the rolls were incredible. But because I started my meal with this over-the-top in.cred.ible roll, all other rolls were going to pale in comparison. Consisting of crab salad, avocado, and asparagus which is then tempura fried and topped with spicy fish, a serrano pepper, and eel sauce. This roll alone is enough to coax me back to O-Ku.

The Scallop Roll was a close second because of the layers of flavor it boasted. Consisting of panko fried scallop, crab salad, avocado, cucumber, tonkatsu sauce, and wasabi aioli. Naturally as a Charleston native I had to order the most southern sounding sushi roll on the menu. Throw a scallop or shrimp on sushi and I’ll come running!

The Spicy Tuna Crunch Roll was crunchy, slightly spicy, and utterly simple. Consisting of spicy tuna, cucumber, crunch, and eel sauce. I liked that the roll was effortless and not rampant with ingredients and flavors. But I was underwhelmed by the lack of spice. I don’t know if that’s the gold standard for their rolls, but next time I’m requesting more spice. The eel sauce on top of the roll was exceptionally tasty though.

The Kani Crown Roll was honestly pretty bland tasting and didn’t leave much of an impression on my taste buds. It tasted good, but the flavors were sort of muddled together and didn’t allow any of the ingredients to shine. Consisting of blue crab, spicy tuna, asparagus, cilantro aioli, wonton, and eel sauce. You would think the spicy tuna would have been more pungent and that the cilantro aioli would mesh beautifully with the blue crab and the asparagus, however that was not the case. I was disappointed in that roll, however maybe it was just a fluke.

Overall, our experience was matchless! Our server was knowledgable and affable. Our food was extraordinary and our cocktails were strong and refreshing. I hope to make another trip there before I leave so I can try the famous Potato Roll.

Xièxiè* for a fun night, O-Ku!

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Gun Violence in South Carolina: What You Need to Know

The frequency of gun violence in the United States and globally has created a media frenzy.? Targets have ranged from personal, to random to law enforcement with lives lost reaching unspeakable numbers.? The social declaration of #PrayFor has become a part of our daily digital worship.

Throughout the United States a growing sense of fear and unrest has been pitted into our subconscious forcing us to question our choices in establishments to frequent and interactions with strangers.

Just how bad is the gun violence in our home state of South Carolina and around the United States?

Gun Violence Archive has compiled data made up of 1500 sources updated July 27th, 2016.

The mission of GVA:

Gun Violence Archive (GVA) is a not for profit corporation formed in 2013 to provide online public access to accurate information about gun-related violence in the United States. GVA will collect and check for accuracy, comprehensive information about gun-related violence in the U.S. and then post and disseminate it online, primarily if not exclusively on this website and summary ledgers at It is hoped that this information will inform and assist those engaged in discussions and activities concerning gun violence, including analysis of proposed regulations or legislation relating to gun safety usage.

GVA is not, by design an advocacy group. The mission of GVA is to document incidents of gun violence and gun crime nationally to provide independent, verified data to those who need to use it in their research, advocacy or writing.

These charts outline the current data for 2016 as well as archived statistics for 2014 and 2015.

2016 Gun Violence Statistics

Frequency of Incidents in 2016 by State
Frequency of Incidents in 2016 by State


Comparisons of national data for 2014 and 2015:

According to The Guardian, 89 out of 100 Americans owns a firearm compared to 6 out of 100 in England and Wales.

South Carolina Data

In 2014, South Carolina had the 10th worst firearm mortality rate in the United States with 15.5 deaths per population of 100,000.

In 2011, South Carolina was ranked 15th in raw firearm deaths with 223 of the 8583 in the United States.? 70% of all murders in the state that year were a result of a firearm.? In 2014, 764 deaths in the state were by the use of a firearm.

The top 10 worst states? in firearm death rate in 2014 were:

  • Louisiana – 18.9
  • Alaska – 18.8
  • Mississippi – 18.0
  • Alabama – 16.7
  • Arkansas – 16.4
  • Wyoming – 16.0
  • Montana – 15.8
  • New Mexico – 15.8
  • Oklahoma – 15.6
  • South Carolina – 15.5


We have a civil obligation to raise a voice an be heard.? Strength is in action, example and unity.

My Dream with Stephen Colbert

By Mark A. Leon / Photo from
By Mark A. Leon / Photo from

Over the weekend I had one of those long vivid all-night dreams.? The ones that are so powerful that even if you wake up in the middle of the night, it continues when you fall back into dreamland once again.? Yes, this was a continuation dream.? The focal character in this sub-conscious journey was Stephen Colbert.

Before we go further, he was not planted in my sub-conscious earlier that day.? I do not watch the Late Show nor did I see one minute of the Republican National Convention.? Yet, I do live and love Charleston so maybe he was.

Here is the setting of the dream:

I am in an indoor bazaar.? Something similar to the Charleston Market, but more in line with something I would see in England or India.? It really almost felt like I was in India.? There were vendors in the hallway area and separate rooms for individual market stores.? At the very end was a wide little watering hole.? No chairs or tables, just a bar.? I stumbled on this bar and gathered inside was a large group of people forming a circle around the star of our dream, Stephen Colbert.? Turns out, this was a Meet Up Group for Entrepreneurs.? Strange, a meet up group with Stephen Colbert.? I didn’t question it, but I should have.

I did go back to where I started to let my Dad and brother know.? They get excited and headed right over to meet him.? I didn’t quite rush back.? My inquisitive side prodded me to take my time and observe my surroundings.? It was a quaint bazaar with many food and clothing vendors.? When I finally arrived back, the group had dismantled and Stephen (Mr. Colbert) was at a table of six just outside the bar area talking to my Dad, brother and several others.? I sat at the table just a few feet away and tried to listen from a distance.

A few moments later, I went over to a couch (yes, a couch just appeared.? Don’t analyze, it is just a dream.)? I laid on my back and then I looked up to see Stephen Colbert dancing around the area of the couch with a bottle of Andre Champagne in a brown paper bag saying he wanted to party.

First thought:? What the heck is Stephen Colbert doing with Andre Champagne in a brown paper bag.? The dude is rich.? Like Richy Rich.

Photo from
Photo from

Anyway, I said, “Mr. Colbert, I want to thank you for all you have done for Charleston, South Carolina.? You are an inspiration.”

He stopped and said down next to me.? I sat up and we began to have a serious conversation.? We talked about life, love and even Charleston Daily.

I woke up shortly after feeling refreshed and full-filled.? Even in dreamland, Stephen Colbert is a fine upstanding person.? I would even advise you all to spend a little time with him in your next dream.


Amazing Charlotte Female Americana Duo, Henry River Honey Brings their Sound to Charleston, SC

Press Release:? Henry River Honey is a female Americana Duo from Charotte,NC consisting of:

Tracy Horton (guitar, foot percussion, and vocals)
Shealee Cousino (violin, mandolin, and vocals)

We will be in the Charleston area playing a few shows: July 27 at Awendaw Green, July 28 showcase at the Roasting Room in Bluffton,SC and July 29 Morgan Creek Grill in Isle of Palms.

We would love a write up in the Charleston Daily if there is room to feature Henry River Honey, the shows we have coming up and our recent Carolina Music Award nomination.

Our website is
You can read our bio listen to our EP and find more information on the site.

Here are some links to our Youtube channel:

Saigon – Live at The Double Door Inn – August 22, 2015
By My Name – WBTV News Spot – November 14, 2015
Devil Made Me Do It- Live at the Double Door Inn – January 16, 2016

“This Charlotte-based Americana duo – Shealee Cousino and Tracy Horton – plays a variety of instruments as they trade off vocals. Foot percussion’s kicked around while the ladies play guitar, fiddle, mandolin or focus on their harmonies. Solid songwriting that can bounce between heart-wrenching and foot tapping keeps HRH’s audience focused” – Jeff Hahne, Creative Loafing



Charleston Performing Arts Center to Revive “Dream Girls, The Revue”

Charleston Performing Arts Center to Revive “Dream Girls, The Revue”

Charleston’s only cabaret-style theatre located at 873 Folly Road, James Island will revive its sell-out hit “Dream Girls, The Revue.” The original production opened their 2015-2016 season and was so popular it has been brought back to be the season closer.

This original dance musical pays tribute to the girl groups of the 1960s. From Motown to the dowop craze, our Broadway-caliber vocalists will sing hits like “I Met Him on A Sunday,” “Lollipop,” “Please Mr. Postman,” “My Boyfriend’s Back,” and “Leader of the Pack.” You’ll hear the hits from teenage girl group pioneers The Bobettes, The Chantels and The Poquelos. The craze continues with The Marvelettes, Martha and the Vadellas, The Chiffons, and more. The evening culminates with the sound and style maturing into the “dream girls” we all love: The Supremes.

The show stars visiting artists Lisa Lauren Smith, who hails from the city that created the Motown sound, Detroit. Lisa is a performer and solo recording artist who has released her debut album “Rock Steady”. She has graced stages across the nation, including Detroit, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas; and is an alumnus of The Lee Strasberg Theater Institute. Career highlights include a featured role as Ella Fitzgerald (alongside Broadway tap dancer Ted Louis Levy) in One More Rhythm; and as Billie Holiday in Queen Of The Blues. TV credits include: Chicago PD; BET Sitcom Lets Stay Together. Film credits: Street Kings 2, Family Weekend, starring Kristen Chenoweth.

Returning to reprise her role that brought audiences to their feet is Broadway veteran, and Gospel recording artist, Deidra Brooks. Most notably, she appeared as Shug Avery (u/s) in the original Broadway production of The Color Purple.? Other performances include BJ in Smokey Joes Cafe, Sylvia in All Shook Up and several other musicals, gospel concerts, stage plays and commercials. Her soulful and powerful voice will have audiences?back on their feet as she performs such hits as R-E-S-P-E-C-T, Mr. Postman, and our show stopping finale!

“Dream Girls, The Revue” also stars Season Company Performers, including Chanbrielle Beason, Maureen Remerowski, and Tiffany West. Other cast members include Steven Cardinal, as Dick Clark, Heather Corson, Lakeia Hodges, and Giselle Koubenec.

Theatre guests enjoy tableside seating while costumed Table Tootsies serve drinks and desserts before and during the show.

“We are so excited to revive this show! It was such a great hit with our audiences and we had to turn away so many people since it literally sold out almost every performance. We want everyone to see this show, so we decided to close the season with it.” said theatre co-founder, Artistic Director, and Broadway veteran Kirk Sprinkles. “The audience will be transported them back to the day when Motown ruled the airwaves—when the ‘girl group’ as we know it was born. Today’s female stars like Lady Gaga, Adele and Beyoncé all draw reference to the tight harmonies, complex arrangements and glamorous styles that started in the 60s.” “Dream Girls, The Revue” plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00pm, and Sundays at 4:00pm, starting July 29 through August 28. Ticket prices range from $18 (child) to $45 (VIP Adult) and may be purchased online or by phone at 843-991-5582.

Located at 873 Folly Road on James Island, the theatre is just three miles from downtown Charleston and five miles from Folly Beach. The small, intimate theatre is designed to immerse audiences in a true cabaret experience, very similar to the famous cabaret theatres in New York City.

Is this the End of the Holy City? – The City of Charleston We Once Loved

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By Mark A. Leon

The Charleston peninsula is approximately 8 square miles.

In comparison, New York City is 305 square miles, Chicago is 237 square miles and Boston spans 48 square miles in the city proper.? We are not in the same vicinity as our larger urban counterparts, but this small city, is making waves.? In a new report published today from BusinessInsider, we could be under water by 2100.

Today, the corner of Calhoun Street and King Street, a pinnacle of foot and vehicle traffic in the heart of Charleston, resembles Times Square more than an early pre-Revolutionary historic village.? The once quiet intersection donned by scenic Marion Square is now home to 5 Guys Burgers, Chipotle, Walgreens, Carolina Ale House, Panera Bread, Moe’s Southwestern and Starbucks as well as cranes and development of a new hotel adjacent the Embassy Suites.? We are one digital billboard away from a Shakespearean tragedy.

The crosstown will see a new shopping and living village highlighted by Publix and Joe Riley Stadium will entice you with shopping and dining, before, after and on non game days, making it difficult to have a quiet walk, picnic or fishing day at Brittlebank Park.

If approved, Starbucks will open a location in the hospital district making it the 9th Starbucks on the peninsula.? Eight square miles and nine Starbucks.? That is a difficult concept to swallow given the pride we take in our local business owners.

Development is king and progress is upon us with no indication of a slowdown.? That we know is true.? We know that for the last 3 years, we have witness nothing but cement and wood to the sky, cranes dominating the skyline and no sign of a quiet peaceful city for another five plus years.? All this for progress?? Does progress mean losing our local businesses because rent increases and locals avoiding downtown is forcing them out?

  • Welcome Hyatt
  • Welcome Holiday Inn Express
  • Welcome Dewberry
  • Welcome Marriot
  • Welcome Starbucks
  • Welcome Panera
  • Welcome West Elm

Five years ago, we cherished the idea of staying in a Bed and Breakfast owned by a third-generation family and eating at a quiet cafe watching life pass us by.? We would wave to the carriage rider as he recited stories of our early ancestors.? Those days are going away quickly.

Today, we wait eagerly for Whole Foods, Publix and designer stores to open up across the peninsula.? Chefs are considered local celebrities driving up the cost of dining out, tax rates are forcing us to consider the frequency of social entertainment (10.5% food / 15% alcohol / 9% Sales Tax), average hotel costs are itching up to $300 a night with some exceeding $600 and an evening at the theater or live music will run you $50.00 to $300.00 per person.

Is Charleston for the residents or tourists?? Not a simple question to answer.? With approximately 4.8 million tourists a year, maybe it isn’t about the local residents anymore.

Goodbye Nancy’s and Piggly Wiggly.? Farewell to Crosby’s Fish Market and Andolini’s.? Bon Voyage Norm’s, Cypress and Fish.? You will be missed.

Progress is in full gear.? Colonial Lake had a face life, Sargeant Jasper will soon be gone, Marion Square will be almost exclusively surrounded by hotels, Joe Riley Stadium will be the cornerstone of a new district of shops and restaurants, the expansion north will continue and perhaps we may see the end of the carriage rides and the site of church steeples? over the skyline blessing our coastal home.

It is hard to envision a life without Berlin’s or Burbage’s Grocery; but then again, we didn’t think we would see the end of Millenium Records or Morris Sokol Furniture.

Whether we like it or not, what took nearly 350 years to develop, may be gone in just a decade.




Lewis Barbeque Restaurant Review – Courtesy of KitchyLiving

By Sarah Snyder AKA KitchyLiving / Photo by Sarah Snyder
By Sarah Snyder AKA KitchyLiving / Photo by Sarah Snyder

The long-awaited Lewis Barbecue of Charleston has finally opened its doors! Or should I say screen doors…

People have been oohing and aahing over this new Charleston establishment since they opened last month. The masters of Texas heat and meat are quickly becoming a city favorite in the booming NoMo area of Downtown.

The famous John Lewis of Lewis Barbecue built his cult following in Austin, Texas where he dabbled in creating his signature flavor profile. He then took what he learned from helping his friend Aaron Franklin (Franklin Barbecue) and formed La Barbecue in Austin, TX in 2012. Then in March 2015, Lewis moved to the Holy City to impart his Texan barbecue wisdom on the humble Charlestonians.

So what makes Texas barbecue “TEXAS” barbecue?

Well, I can’t really give you a definitive answer. Texas barbecue is what you’d call the mutt of the barbecue family. The half breed. The amalgamation of many years of history, legends, and traditions. Every region of Texas has a different take on what makes it quintessentially different from the rest. That being said, I’ve found this article to be particularly helpful in answering this question (via Southern Foodways Alliance). What I’ve gathered from scouring the internet: beef cuts are paramount in Texas style barbecue and each region of the state is choosy about their wood smoking techniques.

Like any good barbecue menu, Lewis’ is simple, straightforward, and heavy with the meats. Beef brisket, beef short ribs, pork spare ribs, pulled pork, turkey breast, and Texas “hot guts” (sausage) are just a few of his meaty offerings. Naturally, I wanted to taste a little bit of everything to say I’d had the full Texas barbecue experience. So my fellow foodie friend and I asked for “one of everything”. I wish I was kidding, but Charlotte and I ate the biggest plate of meat and sides I’ve ever seen and it was everything we’d hoped for and more.

Photo by Sarah Snyder
Photo by Sarah Snyder

My definitive ranking of…

Lewis’ meats:

  1. Pulled pork
  2. Hot guts
  3. Beef brisket
  4. Beef short ribs

Lewis’ sides:

  1. Green Chile Corn Pudding
  2. Cowboy Pinto Beans
  3. Creamy Lemon Slaw
  4. Buttermilk Potato Salad

Lewis’ sauces:

  1. Green Chile
  2. Tangy
  3. Spicy

The pulled pork was hands down the favorite of all the meats. Tender and juicy bursting with fatty flavor. No sauce necessary, however I did still try each of their three sauces on the pulled pork. The hot guts (aka sausage) was a close second because of just how spicy it was. I love spicy sausage, but most barbecue places don’t make it nearly spicy enough for my taste. The green chile corn pudding and cowboy pinto beans tied for my two favorite sides essentially because they were different. In my South Carolina family, no one ever made corn pudding at Sunday lunch or Thanksgiving dinner. However if corn pudding is a traditional side item in Texas, I’m moving there ASAP. Moist, rich, and comforting. I’m coming for you, John Lewis, because I need your pudding recipe!

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Instagram – KitchyLiving

The sauces were incredible, even though they say quality cooked meats don’t require sauce. I loved the Green Chile sauce because once again it was different. It gave the meat that Tex-Mex flavor I expected from Texas barbecue.


The pit crew who helped us choose the best meats and sides were energetic and hospitable. We were never in want of water since their wait staff was constantly refilling our cups. We even had prime indoor seating before the mad dinner rush and got to chat up everyone waiting in line. The decor inside was what I’d call rodeo minimalism with lassos and horseshoes adorning the walls and Mexican tile flanking the main meat counter.


Expect to wait a while for your meats. All their meats are ordered by the pound. Disregard their shouts of how much their meats are costing you. It will all be worth it in the end. If you are only ordering a sandwich and sides, you can cut the line (or just order at the bar).

If you are a Charleston native, this is going to be unlike any other barbecue experience you’ve had before. I’m already looking forward to my next trip to Lewis Barbecue so I can sample their cocktails and try their Green Bean Salad, the one side item I missed. Welcome to the neighborhood, Lewis! Charleston is thrilled to have you here.

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Save Charleston

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

In January, 2009, I took over the lower part of a duplex on the corner of Morris and Rutledge.? Without a friend, without a deep understanding of the root core of Southern culture and without a map to guide my transition, I began a personal transformation.? Rejuvenation was a common theme that sparked conversation as residents and students spoke of the changes in the air.? Often, I would go to O’Malley’s, sit with Mike who stayed busy behind the bar, and enjoy a drink and light conversation.? During my time on Upper King, I enjoyed quiet nights strolling the streets in jeans and a tee and a few crazy nights singing Bon Jovi on a table top at AC’s.? That sense of home adopted very quickly.

As I heard folks rehash stories of the danger and crime north of Calhoun Street, I was taken back.? How could a community so saturated with southern warmth, be stricken by crime and racial tension?? It was a different time I was told.? I was absorbed into a first account story of military action on America Street to undercover drug trading and even an undeclared program to ship out the homeless on buses out west.? Some personal stories were shared.? With each story, a feeling of belonging more and more.

In one weekend I fell in love with a town sprinkled with charm, healthy beach life, hospitality, kindness and a kick ass record store on the corner of Calhoun and King.? That record store closed just before I moved down permanently and is now the home of Chipotle, Walgreens and Carolina Ale House.? Times have changed.? Once what stood as a cornerstone of family small town urban delight is now the new Southern Time Square.

Change is good.? We never want to lose sight of an opportunity to rejuvenate.? As we evolve as individuals we become more aware, breaking down the barriers of ignorance and accepting a new perspective.? If we didn’t, periods of our history like segregation and prohibition would still remain in these parts.

I fell in love with Charleston for the radiant sunrises, courtesy of strangers to one another, the structural beauty of the architecture, reflection of history, tender compassion for humanity, love of animals, respect for the farms, local businesses and Americana and the ideal that in times of need, we stand together as one.

Our culture is a day to day reminder of a proclamation our forefathers made to learn, embrace change and respect the foundations of family, home, religion and freedom.

One story will always remain with me.? On one afternoon, when a seemingly quiet day turned into a coastal storm within seconds, I saw my quiet street turn into a river knee deep.? Cars in all directions lay dormant, falling victim to the sudden downpour and flooding.? Without thought, only guided by instinct, myself and dozens of other neighbors came to the street and just helped strangers push their cars to safety one by one until all were out of harm’s way.? It was an act of unselfish behavior that I will not forget.

Yet, something is happening.? We are quick to pass blame, not on ourselves but the winds of change.

Growth is happening at a record pace.? Hospitality growth is skyrocketing like the span of hotels reaching for the stars, local home grown businesses are falling under the shadows of corporate roots, mergers are driving down competition and driving up prices, family businesses falling to corporations securing a powerful stance of influence and the traditions we love are beginning to crumble.

I go to the James Island Sunday Brunch, John’s Island Farmer’s Market, Folly Beach Farmer’s Market and Marion Square Market not only to get fresh air, people watch and enjoy the simple moments of the day, but knowing that I am helping keep local businesses thriving.

We love the name Charleston.? Heck, we never miss an opportunity to praise ourselves.? That extends to our feelings about our neighbors, the people of Charleston: food trucks, bike vendors, family owned restaurants and bars, yoga studios, juices bars, bakeries, educators, rickshaws and so much more.

We want to continue to rejuvenate, but not at the cost of losing our identity.? I love Charleston and the people that make us who we are.? If we let growth cloud us of who we are, everyone loses.? Many think growth is good, yet basic economics dictate that growth doesn’t always translate to profit and economic boost.? It raises operations costs, infrastructure concerns, supply and demand issues and quality.? There are down sides to our growth and we need to be aware and vocal.

The Spectator Hotel, who just was awarded the top hotel in the world according to the 2016 Travel & Leisure survey embodies the marriage of both growth and local community.? Each room, lobby, bar and the hallways are designed by local interior designers.? The art, provided by local artists, food and beverage accessed locally and vendor partnerships all local.? They understand that there is a small town appeal to Charleston that should never be lost.

I want to continue to rejuvenate our community, but I want our culture to remain.

For 340 years, we have fought for family and freedom, been pioneers, been the continuation of generations who have called this home and enjoyed the absolute beauty of our natural surroundings.

Let us not forget who we are.

Suncare Skincare: Protect Yourself Right This Summer –

Article by Sarah Snyder -
Article by Sarah Snyder –

Summer heat is here! Hard to believe it’s only June with the daily highs we’ve been experiencing in Charleston lately. This kind of weather lends itself to more time in the hot sun soaking up that glorious warmth. However, spending more time outdoors means more time for your skin to be exposed to harmful UVA/UVB rays.

Let’s start with the basics…

SPF – AKA “sun protection factor”

In all honesty, SPF is not particularly scientific. It is a determined factor from many test subjects comparing the time in minutes it took them to burn with sunscreen-protected skin vs. unprotected skin. In theory if it takes you 5 minutes to burn without sunscreen, then an SPF of 15 should keep you protected for 75 minutes. Likewise, an SPF of 50 should keep you protected for 250 minutes. SPF 15 blocks approximately 93.3% of harmful rays, while SPF 30 blocks 96.7%. So take into consideration what percent of rays you are willing to let penetrate your skin by choosing an SPF accordingly.

Sunscreen vs. Sunblock

Sunblocks are a physical type of sun protection that block UVB rays with both organic and in-organic ingredients that sit on top of the skin. Sunscreens are a chemical type of sun protection that absorb UVA rays before they reach the deeper dermal layer of tissues. Luckily nowadays most formulas you find at the drug store or beauty counter are broad-specturm meaning they protect against both UVA and UVB rays. But to be sure, look for formulas that boast broad-spectrum treatment on the label.

Lotion vs. Spray

According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group), it’s best to stick with lotion sun protection. Sprays can often be inhaled accidentally which is a hazard if any of the ingredients are harmful. Sprays may be simpler for application on children, but aerosol cans in general are best to avoid if possible.

Ingredients to Avoid

The EWG suggests you steer clear from products containing oxybenzone and retinyl palmitate. Oxybenzone is an endocrine disrupter and when absorbed in the skin can cause an eczema-like response. It’s considered an endocrine disrupter because it changes hormone levels by mimicking, blocking and altering your baseline hormone levels. Retinyl palmitate is essentially an antioxidant, but is used in sunscreen to reduce aging effects. However when retinyl palmitate is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, the retinol compounds begin to break down into harmful free radicals that damage DNA, are toxic to surrounding cells, and may be linked to tumor and skin cancer development.

Honestly, I have a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic in my beach bag right now and it contains two of the more harmful ingredients the EWG warns Americans to avoid. So what now? Well, the EWG curated a fabulous list of sunscreens that they have tested and approved because of their safe ingredients, stability, and UVA protection. Check them out here and see if your current sunscreen made the cut.

Alba Botanica, Aveeno, Badger, Bull Frog, Burt’s Bees, COOLA, Kiss My Face, and Yes To Cucumbers are a few of the companies with approved products that I’ve seen in most drug stores and supermarkets. Save the image below to simply your next sunscreen stock-up!

Next time I’m at the drugstore, I know I’ll be stocking up on chemical-free sunscreen. Proper sun protection is worth the temporary splurge. Your skin will thank you!

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