To the People of Charleston: A Letter of Thanks

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By Mark A. Leon

In a day and age where all thoughts, emotions and testimonials can be summed up into a text or a social update, it becomes ever so important to express my deep and warm gratitude to those individuals with the imagination, admiration and love to give of themselves each and every day.? To the people of of Charleston who welcome all, you are a blessing as strong as the power of all the churches, temples and sanctuaries.

To the amazing community of Charleston, through tolerance, patience and love, you have overcome adversity and trial to find hope in each sunrise.

As I reflect on the last two years, it has been filled with tragedy and struggle. Nights of unanswered questions, lives lost well before their time and obstructions in the path of life.

From tears heard across another continent, to new lives being welcomed into the world, to parents watching their children laid to rest, to disaster ripping families from their homes; I have spent many a long quiet evening in a meditative state trying to piece this puzzle of life together.

Each time, I draw the same conclusion: It is in the outstretched arms of those that have continuously put others ahead of themselves, who have greeted every challenge with passion and hope and been that shoulder to lean on that I need to personally thank. You are the foundation of this wall that provides me shelter from the storm and fuels my drive.

The students at the College of Charleston, Citadel, Charleston Southern and Trident that are shaping our future, media that celebrates community, the small business owners that have created a culture of family and to the Southern allure that welcomes millions annually, we are indebted.

From Mother Emanuel to Hurricane Matthew to the rescue of sea turtles, the selfless acts of kindness and unconditional sense of community speak values.

I thank you

  • I thank you for holding hands across the Cooper River Bridge in unity
  • I thank you for supporting local business
  • I thank you for remembering Mother Emanuel, Charleston Nine and the many others that gave their lives so we can keep our faith.
  • I thank you for giving your homes to keep us dry in times of flooding.
  • I thank you for embracing a Hurricane head on right strength and resilience
  • I thank you for allowing me to bear witness to your life changing events
  • To those that called, emailed or sent a picture or cute message at the most opportune time when I really needed it, I am eternally grateful
  • To the writers, poets, scientists, engineers, doctors, nurses and historians, thank you for preserving life, continue to preserve our history and building on this creative renaissance.

Sometimes, I lie out on the Folly Beach is the first sign of sunlight ordains the sky or an open field gazing upon the stars. Right at the moment it begins to sink in how small we are in the scheme of the universe and then fond memories rush through my head. ?Good refreshing memories that put a smile on my face. ?They are visual images of times I have spent with you; all of you. ?Each person that is important in my life has an equal piece of my heart and as you have and continue to shape who I am, I hope my actions and my words help you understand how you have given me all a man could ask for.

To our community, your love and devotion continues to give strength and energy. ?Thank you.

To the future, let us continue to unite, accept, love and grow.

Andrew Pinckney Inn Collects School Supplies for Teachers’ Supply Closet

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Andrew Pinckney Inn is partnering with the Teachers’ Supply Closet (TSC) to help get school supplies to local children for the 2017 school year. Now through Labor Day they will be collecting new or gently used school/office supplies in our lobby at 40 Pinckney Street. As a way to say thank you to our guests for supporting our cause, if you bring in at least three supplies we will offer one free night of valet parking during your stay*.

Teachers’ Supply Closet eliminates the need for teachers to pay for the products. They are a nonprofit affiliate of the national Kids In Need Foundation that provides free school supplies to teachers in Charleston, Dorchester and Berkeley Counties who work at schools where at least 81% of the students are on the free or reduced meals program. In 2016 they provided 27,550 children with free school supplies.

Top 5 Needs: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
-Composition Notebooks
-Copy Paper
-Kleenex
-Hand Sanitizer ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?.
-Glue Sticks

Other Wish List Needs:
-Pencils
-Pink Erasers
-Washable Markers
-Pocket Folders
-Scissors
-Crayons

Drop Off Location:
Andrew Pinckney Inn
40 Pinckney Street, Charleston, SC

*Free valet parking is to be used during your current visit only and it is nontransferable. Good for one night only of parking, in exchange for a minimum of three separate school supplies.

Teacher Supplies Closet Mission: To serve children in the Tri-County area in meeting their educational and creative needs by providing free supplies donated by businesses and individuals.

Reflections of Charleston Unity Walk – Inspirational Look Back

By Mark A. Leon

By Mark A. Leon

June 21, 2015 marked a momentous moment of solidarity as thousands of all ages and backgrounds took to the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge for the historic Unity Walk.? This event showed the people of Charleston and around that world that we are choosing peace over violence; love over hate.? It was one of the most beautiful and symbolic gestures of hope this city has ever bore witness.

For one night, all communities became one.? Hand in hand they stretched across the Charleston Harbor from the water to the stars in song, prayer and most important celebration.? Celebration of the lives lost and the future ahead.

Often times, an event can change people, but on this night, the people of Charleston changed the world.

Thought inspirational thoughts and images from that memorable evening, let us remember the Unity Walk and reflect on our own personal memories.

Unity Walk for Charleston – June 21, 2015

“Empowerment, thought, collaboration and creativity. All are catalysts of love, life and change. Our body encompasses the most complex and unexplainable invention we know in the universe. We have researched, examined, dissected and observed, but cannot explain. We know this: The power of the heart and mind is the driving force of humanity. It is in this we find strength and the vulnerability to love.”

 

“The greatest injustice in life is losing sight of oneself. Your legacy is defined by the actions you take, the bonds you create and the path of goodness you lead. To be yourself is a gift with no value. It is a priceless display of individualism and should be blessed and cherished for all our days.”

 

“The key to life and the pursuit of happiness is balance and accepting the moment. We cannot look back; nor forward. We define our legacy by the achievements and love we give in the now. Life is a chain of moments; each one having an impact on others. Define yourself in this moment; find balance in the now and never hold back on love.”

 

“Find your peak of achievement and once you catch your breath, reach higher.”

 

“We live and dream in color. It is condition of humanity that allows us to see a rainbow through the eyes of imagination. For a brief moment we fell into black and white. That will be no more. We are Charleston. Alive with the colors of love.”

 

“Another day passes and the Earth closes it’s eyes so we may reflect on a day of life and love.”

 

“Some nights just remind you of the magical gift of being alive.

 

“Sometimes the moment seizes you. It takes hold of your senses and showers you with an explosion of life’s wonders. Let go. Don’t be a hero, don’t be a savior, don’t be a martyr..Just be. The moment will take over the rest.”

 

“Life is a tapestry of hope, desire, pain, love, heartache and passion woven with flesh and blood to create the gift of humanity. To find balance; find ease is the potion that will run through your body fueling your existence and laying the groundwork for your legacy.”

 

“When you open your heart and allow it to be broken and shattered like a precious glass, then and only then will you feel passion and ultimately feel alive”

 

“The conscious mind has the powerful ability to choose love and be part of the beauty of humanity.”

 

“The difference between acceptance and greatness is one step. The power to believe in yourself is the greatest pain and reward. Whether you bleed or rejoice, it is worth the journey”

 

“Find Peace. Hold on tight. Make it a partner in your journey. Harness it and fuel it with insight and curiosity.”

 

“Don’t be a finger painting. Be a masterpiece. You are alive, therefore you have the capability to dream and achieve. Stop wishing for heaven. Find it within yourself and let it breathe.”

 

“Greatness is not about what you accomplish, but who you share it with.”

 

“Greatness is not about what you accomplish, but who you share it with.”

Charleston 9 Brick Project

On June 18, 2007 the Charleston Fire Department lost 9 of its own in the Sofa Super Store Fire. This had been the single deadliest fire incident since 9/11 where immediately after, the families, Charleston Firefighters, Citizens, and the fire service mourned. The Charleston Fire Department would never be the same and committing to never allowing this to happen again, epic changes ensued and to this day continue. We also believe the fire service has changed because of the fire and we pray that it’s never repeated.

According to The Post and Courier, On April 23, 2008 after 90 minutes of debate and objections to the cost voiced by several council members, Charleston City Council agreed to purchase the site for $1.85 million dollars.??Mayor Riley called the site of the disastrous June 18th?fire “sacred ground”, and when it meant the most, our City Council stepped up in the face of opposition and did the right thing. The memorial site was constructed and markers were placed where each of the firefighters were found. Currently the site consists of the markers, a flag pole and shrubs.

Fire and Iron Motorcycle Club Station 28-Charleston wants to do our part and help take the memorial to the next level and we need your support to make it happen. There is a path way from the parking lot to the flag pole that guides visitors to the center of the memorial. Currently the pathway is gravel crush and our project is to replace it with engraved bricks. We estimate a need for 10,000 bricks to cover the area and it is our hope that you’ll support our efforts, place you name in sacred ground, and forever remember the Charleston 9. With your contribution, you will transform the Charleston 9 Memorial into a place of Honor for the fallen, peace for the families, and respect for all who visit.

The Charleston 9 will always be near and dear to the members of the Charleston Fire Department and the Citizens of Charleston. With your help, they’ll know we haven’t forgotten, they made the ultimate sacrifice.

Thank you for your support!

?We are selling 4×8 bricks with 3 lines and 18 characters for $100, 8×8 bricks with 6 lines and 18 characters for $150. Additionally we are selling donor bricks and donor certificates.

*For more information, and to donate visit our website http://www.fireandiron28.com/charleston-9-memorial-page ?

A Folly Starfish Christmas Story

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By Minta Pavliscsak

It was Christmas Eve in our little slice of Folly Under the Sea. This year things around me seemed more calm than usual. Everyfish seemed to be ahead of the typical hustle and bustle of the season. That is, every fish except for me. I like to live in the here and now, which means I am really good when it comes to what others view as procrastinating. I like to think of it more as I work well under pressure. That aside, I was bobbing from store to store as quickly as I could but a starfish can only go as fast as the current takes him and today the current was in no rush.

Somehow I managed to squeak in grocery shopping, picking up my famous last minute –but always perfect– gifts, visiting a few friends, and even getting a relaxing arm massage at Sacred Arm Massage & Healing Arts. Floating home, I looked around at all the happy fish. It was such a beautiful day. The sun was glistening brightly through the waves. There were even surfboards overhead, and not a shark sighting all day. The small fish were playing with each other and singing carols in anticipation of what tonight would bring. The bigger fish were holding hands and sneaking kisses, just as giddy as the little ones.

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Finally making it home, I put on my favorite Michael Bubble Christmas album and started wrapping presents. Later that evening, I enjoyed the sunset in my back sand where I could see the human’s Folly Christmas tree off in the distance. Those humans are so creative! Who would think to put a Christmas tree on the beach anyway? ?After Christmas Eve dinner and appeasing carol singers who literally would not leave until I gave them figgy pudding –good thing I picked up dates at the store– I finally settled in to rest until Christmas day.

However, it was a restless sleep, and when I did drift off I had crazy dreams. One was of a psychedelic octopus. He just kind of joyfully floated in one spot, smiling and waving almost glowing in the surf. And then I woke up. Then there was the dream of a sandcastle Santa Claus. Had I seen the humans building one on the beach? Had Santa visited me and I sleepily caught him? Was Santa Claus really made out of sand? The psychedelic octopus seemed to make more sense than that! Maybe I was just as excited as every fish else that I had seen the day before. After all, Christmas is my most favorite of all the holidays. And even after all these years, I have never stopped believing. I gave into my excitement and floated out of bed, cranked up the Bubble, and got ready for the day.

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As I put on my funny Santa attire, the smile that would remain ever present for the day crept across my face. How silly of me to think there would be sleep on the eve of today of all days! The doorbell rang. My friends and family had arrived. It was the beginning of another perfect Christmas Under the Folly Sea.

From our family to yours,
Happy Christmas, Merry Everything!

Never Stop Believing

Getting to Know Philadelphia Alley

 

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By Minta Pavliscsak

If there is one thing Charleston, South Carolina will never be lacking, it is charm. In historic downtown Charleston, every street, store front, restaurant, park, and even alleyway has a way to make you point and say “awe”. Then, as if an automatic response, your camera is out taking pictures before you even realize it.

Follow us as we take a stroll down Philadelphia Alley and see alleyways as only Charleston knows how to do them.

 

 

This charming alley can be found between Queen Street and Cumberland Street. Often overlooked, Philadelphia Alley is one of the many hidden treasures Charleston offers. Dating back to 1776, Cow’s Alley as it was originally called, was access to rental homes behind Francis Kinloch’s house. He renamed it Kinloch’s Court after he widened it.

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This alley has seen two fires in its lifetime, including the infamous fire of 1796, and another in 1810. Holding true to its name, The City of Brotherly Love stood by Charleston’s side by donating?financially to aid in rebuilding this area in 1811.

 

What a more proper thank you than to forever give this beautiful strip of canopy covered, cobblestone refuge from the heat during the summer months, and the best place to listen to the bells of St. Phillips Church the honor of the name Philadelphia Alley.

 

Many locals refer to this passageway as Dueler’s Alley. Back when gentleman settled their disputes with pistols twenty-one paces away, this alley was the perfect setting in Charleston to do so. One of the most famous stories is of one man’s love and what he did to prove said love. Dr. Joseph Brown Ladd, known as the whistling doctor would eventually meet his demise as a result of a duel with Ralph Isaacs in 1786.

 

Many local ghost tour companies will tell the tale of the Whistling Doctor, and some Charlestonians have even said to have heard faint whistling while walking down the alley alone. Today you will find a tranquil, picturesque setting where each person you meet will pass you by with a friendly smile and nod. So as Robert Frost first suggest, take the road less traveled and be sure to explore Charleston’s only Philadelphia Alley.

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Come for Weezer, Stay for Panic! At The Disco

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By, Minta Pavliscsak

The sleepy little town of Daniel Island, South Carolina was rocked to life Sunday evening when the sounds of Panic! At The Disco and Weezer came streaming from the rows of hanging speakers at the Volvo Car Stadium.

In unison, the crowd jumped to their feet with excitement as “Miserlou,” more notably known as the theme song from Pulp Fiction, suddenly started pumping through the speakers as the outline of a red car appeared, racing across the stage screen. Next entered 29 year old, Vegas grown Brendon Urie, and so it began.

I remember Panic! At The Disco when they first emerged onto the music scene. They showed promise, but then they seemed to fade only to return with what I though was a more mainstream sound, so honestly I lost interest. I am here to 20160619_203226-01 (2)tell you, Mr. Urie proved me completely wrong in every sense of the word this past Sunday night!

Between the bold sounds of the band, Brendon’s unbelievable vocal range -the kind of range that could only come from a deal with the Devil himself- and the energy coming from both the stage and the crowd, feeding off of one another, you had what made for a perfect opening set. I have never seen SO much pure, raw energy on stage, and Brendon even did a couple of -rather impressive- backflips!

The highlights of their set were definitely when Brendon took to his drum set, side of drummer Dan Pawlovich, for a dual drum solo/dueling drums/kick-ass this-is-what-we-do moment, and equally as kick-ass, their tribute to Queen with a crowd pleasing “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Among the playlist was “Death of A Bachelor,” “Emperor’s New Clothes,” “Hallelujah,” “Girls/Girls/Boys,” “Miss Jackson,” “Crazy = Genius” and “Nine In The Afternoon.”

Thank you Panic! At The Disco for a fantastic performance!

The set change was a bit on the long side. However, it was well worth the wait, and sitting under an almost full moon on the eve of the first day of summer with a cool breeze, enjoying a tasty beverage, how could one complain?! Finally it happened –what we had all came there for– the lights went out and that was our cue to once again jump to our feet, scream as loudly as we could, and welcome to the stage the one, and only Weezer.

I feel that it is important to mention?20160619_222505here that Weezer is what we would refer to as an “old school”
band. That’s not a bad thing by any means! In a lot of ways, it is has its advantages, bonuses even. Their debut album, The Blue Album was released in May of 1994. I was in 5th grade at the time, and have been a fan ever since. {Thank you to my awesomely cool parents who never attempted to censor my musical choices!} I have been to many concerts of artists who fall under this same category – The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, Green Day, just to name a few. When going to these shows, you are excited for whatever they give you, but you always hope to hear your favorite classics, the ones that made you fall in love with the band in the first pla20160619_213749ce. Weezer did not disappoint! They got straight to the point, opening with “Hash Pipe” then tossing out giant beach balls to the crowd with “My Name Is Jonas.”

It only got better from there!

Of course they played some of their new stuff which, holding true to Weezer form, was awesome, but it was peppered with their classics as well. A few we were graced with were “Beverly Hills,” “Pork and Beans,” “Everybody Get Dangerous,” “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To,” “Say It Ain’t So,” “Buddy Holly,” and “Undone – The Sweater Song.” Weezer wasted no time with a bunch of talking, only doing what they do best, rocking out.

As they said goodnight and walked off stage, the entire stadium chanted their name “WEEZER, WEEZER, WEEZER,” begging for their return. Showing sincere appreciation for their fans, they complied and returned for a couple more jams. My longtime dream had come true. Truly a magical night of musical greatness.

Weezer, you rock.

 

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I Have a Charleston Dream: Opinion Commentary – Charleston Daily

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

In the words of our forefathers, all men are created equal. A principle that has withstood the course of time, but action and principle has historically been at odds. We live in a world of cynicism deeply saturated with prejudice, hatred, jealousy and oppression. It is an unfortunate fact of our being. In our quest for freedom, we forget the basic elements. In choice, speech and acceptance, the guiding elements remain. We need to find them once again.

Charleston Observations of Compassion and Happiness

In the Waterfront Park fountain, a child laughs while running through the streams of water. A complete and uncensored freedom of unyielding happiness.

On the Cooper River Bridge, a couple holds hands and smiles as they look at the sailboats coloring the harbor with their sails.

In Hampton Park, close family and friends decorated in their best attire are sharing a promise of two people to love one another for all eternity.

At White Point Garden, the sun is rising over the Charleston Harbor and two dogs are playing in the early morning hours.

At Sunrise Park, an elderly man sits on his patio chair, fishing rod in hand hoping he can wrangle up some dinner and get some relaxing rays of sun.

On East Bay Street, a violinist plays to the passing crowds while his dog rests comfortably with water by his side. Across the street lines of poetry are recited from East Bay Meeting House.

At James Island County Park, dogs are splashing in the pond while others chase each other under the warmth of the calming sun.

On campus, students are walking, biking and skate boarding to Marlene and Nathan Addlestone Library to study for upcoming final exams.

Through the windows on Queen Street, we see couples dining to the culinary delights of 82 Queen, Husk and Poogan’s Porch.

At Marion Square, vendors are laying out fresh vegetables, honey, fruits and hand crafted jewelry where soon hundreds will flock to enjoy a morning in the park.

At the MUSC Urban Farm, I can lose myself on a bench and learn the art of growing fruits and vegetables in the heart of downtown Charleston.

In Mount Pleasant, I see a rainbow of colors illuminate the sky as the sun sets just beyond the Cooper River Bridge in the Charleston Harbor.

I also see a storm brewing where dark clouds loom ahead

I live in a city where poverty is being trampled by boutique hotels, fine dining and extravagant arts. A government ridding us of the tent city to make room for the golden expansion. I see hatred bottled up. I see a city divided in geography, race and economic status. I see a population growing at the fastest rate ever, but an infrastructure that cannot sustain it.

On the corner of Spring Street and King, a black family including a one-legged woman in a wheel chair could not cross on the walk signal because two trucks cut them off and made a right turn right in front of them.

On the Cooper River Bridge two young adults made a suicide pact, published their last words on Facebook and killed themselves and this city looked away.

The number of highway fatalities and gun related deaths are on the rise, but instead of looking at the family, our education system and the need for positive change, we smoke screen it with task forces on gun control.

We are a community wrought with festivals and fund raisers all year long, but lack the funds to give all citizens a comfortable living.

With the increases in food and luxury tax, cost of living well above national averages and the push for me high end dining, shopping and accommodations, we are looking for at the awards and revenue stream and not in the eyes of our own citizens struggling to survive.

In Marion Square during Fashion Week, where models are wearing thousand dollar dresses and suits, a homeless man takes comfort in a park bench just a few feet away next to the Holocaust Memorial.

At a gas station on meeting street, a couple just stopping for fuel is approached for a hand out and a solicitation to buy drugs.

Charleston is a culture built on individual and small business owners who take their talents and pursue a dream. That is the foundation of our being. Now, we are opening the doors to hotels, expansion of housing, high end restaurants and large management groups, driving the small businesses out.

So when does it end?

Do we wait twenty years, when the water levels raise another two feet and flooding is a complete way of life? Maybe, we wait until the road system is so damaged and we lack the federal and state funding to fix our streets, that we are forced to look at mass transit options. Can we continue to ignore the racial tensions? Were all the promises of affordable housing and livability improvements just rhetoric from the mayoral candidates?

So many questions, unanswered and so few want to speak up.

This all begins with a voice, that voice becomes a plan, that plan a movement and that movement becomes change.

I write about what I am passionate about. I find subjects that elicit an emotion and light a fire. The written word is a powerful tool, but the ultimate power is in the human mind and its ability to understand, find compassion and strive for the one thing we have; humanity.

Dear Charleston: A Letter to Our City

By Mark A. Leon
By Mark A. Leon

Dear Charleston,

As the autumn leaves fall from the trees and the brisk winds awaken us to dark skies, we find ourselves in a time of reflection.

This year, the limits of our souls were tested and we stood strong.? From Charleston to Mount Pleasant, we joined hands in unity to stand up for peace and community.? Blind of color, race, ethnicity or values, we looked directly into the eyes of terror and said, “No, we won’t stand for this.”

The nation and the world watched as we led a crusade for freedom.? Just days after we remembered the Charleston 9, we lost nine more brothers and sisters to a heinous crime of hatred.? Under the hands of the Lord in his home, we witnessed the unthinkable.? Together, we set aside all differences and we united.? Not in violence, not in revenge, but in hope.

On the 150th Anniversary of the end of the Civil War, we became the platform for the separation of black and white once again.? When the blood of Walter Scott spread on Charleston area soil, the potential for a war was in our midst.? Once again, we looked inside ourselves and black and white became a rainbow of acceptance.

Caitlyn, our beloved pit bull taught us that all lives matter.? After expensive surgery, fund raisers and awareness that stretched from coast to coast, Charleston become the home for the fight for animal rights.? One dog, one community together.? Today, we look at Caitlyn and see the most beautiful dog in the world.

Just as we dried our tears, the One Thousand Year Flood ravaged our homes leaving hundreds and thousands lost and confused.? Every town, every city looked for answers, not just for the events of that weekend, but the future.? So many of us lost our homes, our memories and an uncertainty of the future of the land.

The generosity of our neighbors from the North to the South with donations, supplies and volunteers, showed just how much love we emit.? This is a testimony to the value of love and how 2015 has truly defined Charleston as the City of Love and Unity.

When Mitch Lucas announced the shooting and eventual death of Deputy Joseph Matuskovic, we mourned.? Joseph was a family man, friend, neighbor, avid sports fan, outdoors lover and a caring member of our community.? From East to West Coast, officers in uniform came to pay their last respects to this fallen officer.? As we remember Joseph, we know he did this to protect all of us and forever we are indebted.

Now, after 40 years, Mayor Riley, known so fondly as “The Mayor” has gracefully stepped down as the leader of Charleston.? A gentle man with a heart of gold, Mayor Riley has transformed Charleston to one of beauty, historic importance, economic growth, prosperity, unification and hope.? His legacy will continue to live on long after we have departed.? As we welcome our new mayor, we see this as a symbolic sign of change; a fresh perspective and new beginnings.

We love you Charleston with each new sunrise reminding us of a bright future.? We hold you close as you protect us.? We welcome our guests with open arms and a long embrace.

To you, we say Thank you.

Love,

Your Family