A city’s health and vibrancy begin with its citizens. To kick off our 40th anniversary, we challenge you to rededicate yourself to our wonderful hometown. These 40 distinctly Charleston suggestions are only a beginning. Use them as a launching pad to enrich your life, and your city, this year!
1. Hoof It Through History
Why is John C. Calhoun towering so high over Marion Square? What’s with all the pineapple motifs around town? Tours aren’t just for tourists. If you could use a brushup on your Charleston history, there are plenty of quality options that don’t require a carriage or mention of ghosts. Tommy Dew (you may remember him as the charismatic singer in early ’90s local rock staple The Archetypes) leads a highly regarded daily tour, or if you’re trying to cover some real ground, Charleston Steeplechase offers 3.5-mile running tours that span the entire peninsula. www.tommydewswalkingtour.com, (843) 853-TOUR, $25, daily at 11 a.m. & www.charlestonsteeplechase.com, $25, daily at 9 a.m. & 4 p.m.
2. Rock Out with the Burke Band
Marching bands get our blood pumping and instill pride in our schools and sports teams. Burke’s High Steppin’ Bulldog Band (pictured above) is one of the best; in 2005, it ranked seventh in the nation in traditional-style band competitions. Be an insider and sit in on their Monday and Thursday practices (3:30-5 p.m.) at the school, before catching them at a Citadel basketball game this winter, in their Mardi Gras performance at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on February 8 (Saturday, 8:15-9:45 p.m.), or during their spring drills from May 18 to 22. Burke High School, 244 President St., www.1burkeband.com
3. Be a Part of the Solution
Have you ever sat alone in your car and cursed downtown traffic? Oh, the irony. Be part of the solution: park it and zip around the peninsula—for free!—on the DASH Trolley (above). With three overlapping routes (Lockwood/Calhoun, Meeting/King, and CofC/Aquarium) and multiple stops on each, you’ll get your errands and shopping done in the time it would take to find a parking spot. www.ridecarta.com, (843) 724-7420
4. Walk With the Locals
While the Reindeer Run, Turkey Day Run, and Cooper River Bridge Run get all the press, there are loads of lower-profile events that draw a mostly local crowd, benefit fantastic causes, and won’t make you feel out of place if you walk instead of run. Don’t put it off another day—call a friend and sign up together for one of these favorites right now:
February 7, 2015: Save the Light 5K
Skip the half marathon option and walk the 5K course along Folly Beach in support of continued efforts to keep the Morris Island Lighthouse standing. Saturday, 8:30 a.m. Starts and finishes near Folly Beach Pier. (843) 633-0099, www.actioncarolina.com/stl.html
March 21, 2015: Walk for Water
In 2014, 3,250 walkers raised $210,000 to help Water Missions International bring clean water access to the developing world. Their only rule? No running. Saturday, start time and location TBD, www.watermissions.org
April-June (dates TBD):
Capers Island ECOrun
Cruise along the uninhabited island’s boneyard beach and spot all kinds of wildlife while raising money for Feed the Need in this series of runs. www.capersecorun.blogspot.com
October (date TBD): Buddy Walk
Stroll across Daniel Island to raise money for camps and support programs with the Down Syndrome Association of the Lowcountry. www.dsalowcountry.org
5. Get Lost in the Library
The Charleston Library Society was founded in 1748, and judging by the sold-out crowds at their Wide Angle Lunch series (hosting photographers, musicians, writers, artists, and more), it’s still one of the hippest clubs in town. The 100-year-old headquarters at 164 King Street is also a treasure trove of rare books, maps, and manuscripts, from the original handwritten copy of DuBose Heyward’s Porgy (accomplish No. 37 on this list in style!) to correspondences of George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and John C. Calhoun. Attend an event, or join and spend a whole day exploring. Open Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Saturday, 9:30 a.m.- 2 p.m. 164 King St., (843) 723-9912, www. charlestonlibrarysociety.org
6. Cheer on the Cats & Dogs
Under the recently hired men’s basketball coach, Earl Grant, students and proud alums of the College of Charleston are hoping for the dawn of a new Cougar dynasty. Marquee home games this winter include UNC-Wilmington on January 21 and homecoming against Drexel on February 7. Stay on top of the action by following mascot Clyde the Cougar on Twitter (@ClydetheCougar). TD Arena, Meeting St. between Calhoun & George sts., www.cofcsports.com
Likewise, the Citadel’s 2014 football season brought a return of the student seating section to the “home team” side of Johnson Hagood Stadium, meaning that Charleston’s only downtown pigskin arena is livelier than ever. The Bulldog’s 2015 season will begin in August. Congress St. & Hagood Ave., www.citadelsports.com
7. Park It!
There are seemingly countless parks in Charleston County—visit a different one each weekend. Here are a few of our favorites:
Caw Caw Interpretive Center: A quarter-mile of elevated boardwalks, plus six miles of trails that run across dykes through former rice fields, make this a world-class wetlands experience, putting visitors up close to otters, bald eagles, and alligators. 5200 Savannah Hwy., Ravenel; (843) 889-8898; www.ccprc.com
James Island County Park: The crown jewel of the County Parks system, this 643-acre natural wonderland includes miles of trails, a 50-foot climbing wall (pictured above), an 18-hole disc golf course, a crabbing/fishing dock, an off-leash dog park, and plenty of tucked-away picnic tables so you can sit and unwind. 871 Riverland Dr., James Island; (843) 795-7275; www.ccprc.com
Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve: When this 3,363-acre plantation’s former owner left the property to the people of South Carolina upon her passing, she gave us an incredible gift of rare intact maritime forest, coastal lagoons, and a boneyard beach, all accessible without a boat. 1066 Botany Bay Rd., Edisto Island; (843) 869-2713; www.dnr.sc.gov
8. Tap Your Toes to Our Jazz Heritage
From the Jenkins Orphanage bands in the early 20th century to modern flame-bearers like Quentin Baxter and Charlton Singleton (pictured above), Charleston’s jazz heritage is rich and very much alive. This month, Jazz Artists of Charleston (JAC) presents the first Charleston International Jazz Festival (January 22-25, charlestonjazzfestival.com) with performances throughout the city. If you’re out of town, don’t fret. The Charleston Jazz Orchestra performs regularly in their home venue, the Charleston Music Hall. Check the schedule and make plans for a be-bop-a-doo-wop night on the town. www.jazzartistsofcharleston.org
9. Meet Your Neighbors
Wait, you don’t already know them? Bless your heart. Now, walk next door with a smile and a surefire icebreaker—we suggest a tomato pie from the Stono Market and Tomato Shed Café (842 Main Rd., John’s Island; (843) 559-9999; www.stonofarmmarket.com). Or better yet, make your own.
Stono Market Tomato Pie Recipe
Biscuit dough, rolled thin and baked
6 large ripe tomatoes or 2 lbs. ripe
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Place pieces of baked biscuit dough around the bottom of a nine-by-nine-inch square pan, a pie pan, or a cake pan.
Slice the tomatoes into half-inch thick slices and sprinkle with salt. Let sit for a few minutes, then begin filling the pan with layers of tomatoes, sprinkling with salt, pepper, and basil on each layer. Add a layer of onions.
In a separate bowl, combine the mayo and cheese and spread atop the pie.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden and bubbly. Let rest for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
10. Save a Life
Imagine that a family member (or a complete stranger) has a heart attack and you are the only person around. Do you know what to do? CPR certification costs only $35 and takes just a few hours. While you’re at it, learn the Heimlich maneuver, as well. You’re in a serious food town, after all. Charleston CPR, first and third Saturday of each month, (843) 442-7960, www.charlestoncpr.com
11. Get on the Water
We drive over bridges every day. Stop envying the folks below you on the water and join them.
Sail Away: From April to August, the College of Charleston offers three-week adult sailing courses on its fleet of J-22s. With a maximum of three students per boat, you’re guaranteed plenty of time at the helm. www.sailing.cofc.edu/learn-to-sail
If you just want to watch others race the wind, head to the harbor for the 20th Annual Charleston Race Week (April 16-19, charlestonraceweek.com) or deep onto Wadmalaw Island for the annual Rockville Regatta in August (www.seaislandyachtclub.net/rockville-regatta).
Row, Row, Row Your Boat: It’s hard to imagine a better workout than rowing, and since most rowers hit the water at dawn, it’s also an excuse to enjoy our rivers and marshes at their most serene. The Charleston Rowing Club offers affordable lessons ($30/hour) and memberships ($175/six months), including access to boats (www.charlestonrowing.com).
Paddles Up! Few sports catch on as fast as the stand-up paddleboard (SUP) craze has in Charleston. Look for SUPers out en masse at the Chucktown Showdown race at Brittlebank Park in mid-September (chucktownshowdown.com), or take a more casual jaunt with local outfitters. Ocean Fitness offers a social paddle every Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. from the IOP Marina ($20 board rental, free if you bring your own; beoceanfit.com). Coastal Expeditions gives SUP lessons and tours, launching from Shem Creek or the islands ($58, www.coastalexpeditions.com). And Charleston SUP Safaris teaches basics on the Folly River and leads more advanced paddlers on tours of the Morris Island Lighthouse ($45 and up, www.charlestonsupsafaris.com).
12. Jam Out with Local Musicians
As recently as June 2012, Shovels & Rope—the locally based darlings of the national Americana scene—performed every Monday night at the Charleston Pour House, for free. Did you miss that? Say that you “saw them when” by catching the next rising star out of the Holy City this year. The Pour House’s expansive back deck hosts bands—with no cover charge—every weekday from 6 to 9 p.m. (charlestonpourhouse.com), while Awendaw Green’s Barn Jams at the Sewee Outpost are a pet-friendly community affair. Four bands play each Wednesday between 6 and 10 p.m., admission is $5, and wood-fired pizzas are for sale throughout the night (www.awendawgreen.com).
13.Root, Root, Root for the Home Team
When it comes to minor league baseball teams, we’re pretty lucky to have the RiverDogs. After all, what other city’s team can boast A) Bill Murray as “Director of Fun,” B) concessions that include beer milkshakes, and C) promotions ranging from Big Lebowski Night to Zombie Apocalypse Night? It’s so much fun that you might even forget there’s a game going on. The 2015 season kicks off at home this year against the Lexington Legends on Thursday, April 9. Joseph P. Riley Jr. Park, 360 Fishburne St., www.riverdogs.com
14. Champion Literacy
Eighty percent: that’s the amount of South Carolina fourth graders who don’t read at their grade level. It’s a staggering statistic that doesn’t bode well for the future of our state. Help turn the tide by joining Reading Partners, which serves nine Title 1 elementary schools across the county, as a tutor. Read to children after school and help them fall in love with good books. (843) 860-3915, www.readingpartners.org
15. Pay Your Respects
Although visiting a cemetery can be a “grave” experience, there’s an immense history in the eternal resting places that dot the city. At Magnolia Cemetery (www.magnoliacemetery.net) alone, five former South Carolina governors are interned. Outside St. Michael’s Church (www.stmichaelschurch.net) on Broad Street, two signers of the U.S. Constitution are buried (Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and John Rutledge), while the famously overgrown graveyard at the Unitarian Church (www.charlestonuu.org) on Archdale Street is an eerily beautiful escape in the heart of the city.
16. Join a Service Organization
When it comes to creating change, we’re stronger in numbers. Service clubs aren’t just for high school—find a new group of friends and a new passion for your community by joining the Junior League of Charleston (www.jlcharleston.org); your local Rotary Club chapter (charleston-rotary.org); or the Charitable Society of Charleston (www.charitablesocietyofcharleston.org/join-csc), which has ongoing projects with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and at Windwood Farm Home for Children.
17.Grasp Preservation from the Inside Out
We live in the nation’s Mecca of historical homes and gardens. Thanks to the efforts of the Charleston Horticultural Society (CHS) and Historic Charleston Foundation (HCF), many of the city’s finest outdoor landscapes and intricate architectural examples are available to visitors throughout the year. Don’t just gawk—become one of the tour guides. CHS holds a garden docent training in early June for 15 students who want to take a “horticultural journey” into the city’s most ornate backyards (chashortsoc.org/garden-docents.html), while HCF’s 68th Festival of Houses and Gardens, planned for March 19 through April 19, accepts volunteers to train as interpretive house docents and street marshals during their celebrated walking tours (www.historiccharleston.org).
18. Take Your Dog to Church
The Day of St. Francis, also known as the “Blessing of the Animals” for the patron saint, falls on Sunday, October 4. At most Catholic, Episcopal, and Anglican churches, a special service is held where anyone can bring their pets to be blessed, while their human counterparts are reminded of our role as custodians of nature. At Grace Episcopal Church (98 Wentworth St., (843) 723-4575, www.gracechurchcharleston.org), they’ve welcomed everything from a hedgehog to a horse into the service. All creatures great and small, indeed!
19. Make Your Own Icebox Pickles
These may sound fancy, but they’re really just a sweet pickle you make in your fridge. You’ll have a go-to gift on hand that’ll rival the offerings at classic spots like Jestine’s Kitchen. For extra credit, grow the cucumbers yourself. In the Lowcountry, they are best planted in late March (after the last frost and once the soil has warmed) and harvested in early August. Throw them in your “icebox” with some vinegar and give or enjoy on a hot day.
Jestine’s Icebox Pickles
(Yields 1, two-quart jar)
Fill a two-quart jar or container loosely with sliced cucumbers and onions. (Choose ratio of fruits to onions based on preference.) Fill half way with water and half with white vinegar. Add one teaspoon of peppercorns and one cup of sugar. Seal with lid and shake to combine.
Place in refrigerator overnight and taste the next morning: If not sweet enough, add more sugar. (Note: small cukes are sweeter than large ones, so you might not need to add sugar.) When they get too soft (typically one week), throw that batch away. If the brine still tastes good, add more sliced cucumbers and onion and refrigerate again.
20. Stroll King Street on Second Sunday
Street musicians, dogs, sidewalk cafés, and an entire street devoted only to pedestrians—for three years now, lower King (between Queen and Calhoun streets) has been transformed for one Sunday each month into an open-air market for the most convivial shopping and people watching around. www.facebook.com/2ndsundayonkingst
21. Plant a Noisette Rose
Cultivated in Charleston in the early 19th century by local gardener John Champneys and French immigrant Philippe Noisette, this class of climbing rose is now revered around the world for its deep green foliage and spectacular, expansive blooms. Plant a variety such as ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’ or ‘Blush Noisette’ in an area of your yard with abundant sunlight. When spring comes, stop and smell the roses.
Extra Credit! Put your green thumb to work in an even bigger way by volunteering with the Park Angels to beautify and tend to the flowers, bushes, and trees in our public places. www.charlestonparksconservancy.org/volunteer/about_park_angels
22. Lead the Way
From physical infrastructure to healthcare to encouraging small business growth, community leaders balance countless factors when making decisions that affect us all. For 41 years, the Chamber of Commerce has offered its Leadership Charleston program to help foster a pool of multifaceted business people and elected representatives—alumni include City Council member Gary White, Jr.; Trident Technical College president Dr. Mary Thornley; and One80 Place CEO Stacey Denaux. The 10-month program accepts 50 participants each year and features a retreat and monthly one-day sessions and site visits encouraging a well-rounded understanding of how our city works. Applications for the Class of 2015-2016 are due in May 2015. www.charlestonchamber.net/leadership
23. Embrace the Tech Boom
According to the Milken Institute’s 2014 rankings, Charleston is now the number five city in the nation for high-tech industry output. We’re becoming a breeding ground for entrepreneurs, even playing host to one of the hippest tech/business conferences in the country, DIG SOUTH (April 28-May 2, digsouth.com). Fledgling Holy City start-ups now make regular appearances on the Inc. 500 list of the country’s fastest-growing companies, and the bulk of those fall into the tech sector. Want to participate? Here’s how you can support a few local tech projects on their way to the big time:
Download the Bidr App: It’s no wonder this app for streamlining silent auctions came out of Charleston, where our charitable urges are fueled by oyster roast benefits and black-tie galas all year long. We’ve all been frustrated by losing a silent auction at the last moment; with Bidr, you can keep on socializing and put your final offer in moments before an auction closes. The best part? The beneficiaries see a 47 percent higher overall return on funds www.raised. bidr.co
Bring Home the Internet of Toys: DynePods may just be the next big thing in wearables—and a hot new toy for 2015. Created by Charleston-based design firm DynePic, the sensor-and-LED-driven gadgets teach kids how to code while interacting with their existing toys and an accompanying iPad app. Customized accessories are created using a 3-D printer (not included!), and they double as a tracking device for parents to keep tabs on their kids around the house. www.dynepic.com
Put Your Merch Online with Blue Acorn: If you own a retail company and need to move into online and mobile inventory and sales, this local start-up is a nationally recognized eCommerce expert. They’ve created online sales platforms for companies as big as Olympus and Reed & Barton from their headquarters along the growing North Morrison Drive corridor. www.blueacorn.com
24. Shop Local
When we put our dollars back into the community, we build a stronger city for everyone. Lowcountry Local First (LLF) sponsors “Buy Local Month” each November 15 to December 15, but there’s no need to wait for peak holiday shopping season to start favoring area retailers over national conglomerates. At LLF’s website, there’s a handy map identifying locally owned businesses all over the city, browsable by category, from jewelers to restaurants to landscapers. www.lowcountrylocalfirst.org/business-directory
25. Hunt for Shark Teeth
If there’s any positive side to the renourished sands washing away on Folly Beach and the Isle of Palms, it’s the treasures that the ocean turns up as it eats away at the shore. Shark teeth are everywhere—you just have to look carefully. If you have a boat, head out to Morris or Capers islands, where the lower number of visitors means your chances are even better of landing a haul.
26. Give a Day
There is no better way to meet new friends and feel involved in your community than by volunteering, and it doesn’t take a long-term commitment to make a difference. These organizations can benefit from your help today:
If You Build It: Sea Island Habitat for Humanity needs volunteers Tuesday through Friday for construction help, or give your time in their ReStore on Maybank Highway, Monday through Saturday. 3304 Maybank Hwy., John’s Island; (843) 559-4009; www.seaislandhabitat.org
Like to Cook? Serve up satisfaction at Ronald McDonald House (rmhcharleston.org) and Hope Lodge (cancer.org/treatment/supportprogramsservices/hopelodge/charleston/charleston-about-our-facility), which provide lodging for the families of patients at local hospitals. Both need groups to provide and/or prepare dinner for guests on weekday nights, as well as for weekend projects.
Clean It Up! On September 19, the South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium will host the annual Beach and River Sweep to clean up Charleston’s waterways. Put it on your calendar, but don’t wait until September to make a difference. Bring a bag on your next trip to the shore and set an example to others by hosting a one-person beach sweep any day of the week. www.scseagrant.org
27. Watch the Sunrise
People who start their day early are likely to be more productive. Although we can all appreciate the beauty of a gorgeous Lowcountry sunset, our sunrises are just as spectacular. Here are five top viewing spots with horizon vistas:
The old Coast Guard base at the north end of Folly Beach: Watch the sun climb next to the Morris Island Lighthouse.
Waterfront Park: The promenade from the public dock near the Pineapple Fountain to the picturesque gardens along Concord Street is as fine a place for a sunrise stroll as anywhere in the world.
The beach at Wild Dunes on Isle of Palms: If you don’t have access to the community, park at the last beach access on Palm Boulevard and walk until the island turns toward Dewees Inlet.
Sunrise Park: This aptly named hidden neighborhood gem on James Island offers unparalleled views of the Charleston skyline across the water.
Pitt Street Bridge: It’s an easy stroll from the Old Village of Mount Pleasant where you’ll share sunrise with herons and egrets in the marsh.
28. Get Thee to the Church on Time
Downtown churches—even those in existence for more than three centuries—are incredibly welcoming to newcomers. Pick one historical church to attend each month. The Anglican parishes of St. Michael’s (stmichaelschurch.net) and St. Philip’s (pictured above right, stphilipschurchsc.org) formed in the 17th century. Also recommended are Circular Congregational (1681, circularchurch.org), First Scots Presbyterian (1814, and celebrating its bicentennial, charlestonuu.org), and the French Huguenot Church (1845, huguenot-church.org) with its distinct Gothic Revival spires. Whether you go to worship, explore a faith other than your own, or simply soak in the architecture and music, a downtown church experience is a Holy City pilgrimage worth taking.
29. Attend a City Council Meeting
If you’ve found yourself upset by a government decision (or inaction) this year—a new development, updated rules about bike parking, drivers speeding through your neighborhood—the first step to making a change is to understand the process and who represents you. Fortunately, that’s easy. City and county council meetings are open to the public, and comment periods at each meeting guarantee that your representatives will hear you speak your mind, even for just three minutes at a time.
Charleston City Council (City Hall, 80 Broad St.) meets twice a month on Tuesdays (typically the second and fourth week of each month) in the second oldest council chambers in continuous use in the U.S.
Charleston County Council (Lonnie Hamilton, III Public Services Building, 4045 Bridge View Dr., North Charleston) also meets twice a month on Tuesdays.
Check your city or town’s website for the meeting schedules of other area municipalities.
30. Harvest a Cooler Full of Shrimp
The 60-day shrimp baiting season begins on September 11, and there’s sure to be the usual rush on the waters behind Bulls Island in Cape Romaine and along Crab Bank in Charleston Harbor. Shrimping is hard work, but it will connect you with what you eat and instill an appreciation for the fishermen who toil at sea to keep our local seafood industry alive. And there’s nothing more rewarding than a string of successful casts and “coolering out”—heading back to the dock with an Igloo full of freshly harvested crustaceans.
To go shrimp baiting, you’ll need a boat, a set of PVC poles, a cast net, and fishmeal/clay mix (available at most local hardware and tackle shops during the fall). Here’s what to do:
1. Get a shrimp-baiting license from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources ($25 for resident), which allows you to set up 10 poles.
2. Find a mud flat at least one foot deep on an incoming tide, or at least five feet deep on an outgoing tide (don’t risk getting stranded).
3. Set up your poles in a line about 10 yards apart.
4. Toss a “bait ball” out about eight-or-so feet from each pole (leave yourself room to toss your net without hitting your poles, which are really just markers to know where you’ve put your bait).
5. Wait about 15 minutes, and then begin casting your net over the bait balls, working your way down the line of poles.
There’s a common misconception that shrimp baiting needs to be done at night, but plenty of shrimpers have hauled in their maximum load of 48 quarts in the middle of the day. Like fishing, it’s about discovering where the shrimp are hanging out and targeting them strategically. S.C. DNR, (866) 714-3611, www.dnr.sc.gov
31. Learn to Sew a Sweetgrass Basket
The most prized souvenir among visitors to Charleston is unquestionably a sweetgrass basket—if they can afford the steep prices the carefully hand-woven works of art command. If you live here, why not learn to make your own? The area’s most talented craftspeople happily share and demonstrate their skills at a growing number of courses during the summer months, including classes at the fantastic Sweetgrass Festival (www.sweetgrassfestival.org), held in early June at Mount Pleasant’s Waterfront Memorial Park. Additionally, The Charleston Museum (charlestonmuseum.org) offers two well-regarded morning workshops for adults in June and July, and the Town of Mount Pleasant (www.tompsc.com) gets kids ages seven and up in on the craft with two one-week camps in June and/or July.
32. Approach Charleston from the Sea
Make a point to see the city as our ocean-going ancestors did. Find a friend with a boat or charter one (charlestonpowerboatrental.com, charlestoncharterandyacht.com) and head out to the jetties to get your bearings and enjoy the view from the harbor’s mouth. While you’re there, cast a line for redfish and bring home dinner.
33. Fill Your Spirit
Each Tuesday evening at 7 p.m., lauded local jazz singer Ann Caldwell transforms Circular Congregational Church into a house of worship from centuries past, joining four other a cappella singers in a moving incantation of Negro spirituals (the concerts are called “Praise House”). Close your eyes and you’ll be transported to a bygone era, while feeling emotionally lifted in the moment. The group also performs at events throughout the year, including the 32nd Annual Spirituals Concert at Drayton Hall in early December 2015. www.anncaldwell.com
34. Pool Your Resources for Good
The holidays inspire us to give. Now, keep that spirit alive throughout the year by donating food and household items to less fortunate locals:
One80 Place (formerly Crisis Ministries) accepts “Move-In Kits” for residents successfully transitioning from the shelter into a new home. A linen kit includes one twin and one queen sheet set, four towels, and four pillows. A kitchen kit contains pots and pans, dishes, cups, utensils, and more. Contact Brad Cashman, director of community engagement, at (843) 737-8369 before compiling your kit. 35 Walnut St., www.one80place.org
The Lowcountry Food Bank’s “most needed” items include: Canned tuna, rice, grits, oatmeal, cereal, peanut butter, beans, and canned fruits and vegetables, as well as diapers and personal hygiene items. 2864 Azalea Dr., North Charleston; (843) 747-8146; www.lowcountryfoodbank.org
PetHelpers accepts: Pedigree canned dog food, Friskies or 9Lives canned cat food, toys, collars and leashes, dog beds, towels, and sheets. 1447 Folly Rd., James Island; (843) 795-1110; www.pethelpers.org
35. Create a Native Plant Sanctuary
By utilizing native plants like evening primrose flowers and dogwood trees in your landscaping, you’ll help create a connecting web of habitat for wildlife and pollinating insects like bees and butterflies, while beautifying your neighborhood in the process. Best of all, native plants are typically easier to maintain, since they’ve evolved to adapt to the Lowcountry’s varying climate. The S.C. Native Plant Society hosts a sale each spring and fall where you can purchase beneficial sunflowers, grasses, shrubs, and trees to plant in your backyard. Spring Plant Sale: Saturday, March 14, Charles Towne Landing, 1500 Old Towne Rd., West Ashley; www.scnps.org
36. Gain Some Perspective
Charleston’s history isn’t all sweet tea and roses. Our city, like much of the South, was built upon an unjust system of enslavement. Lest you forget, pay a visit to the Old Slave Mart Museum on Chalmers Street—the very building that served as the hub of the evil trade during its final years on U.S. soil—where exhibits detail the lives of 19th-century slaves and the amazing history of this storied structure before and since the Civil War. 6 Chalmers St., www.sc-charleston.civicplus.com
37. Read Porgy
Thanks to the theater adaptation written by his wife, Dorothy, DuBose Heyward’s 1925 novel has taken a backseat to its subsequent play, opera (by George Gershwin in 1935), and film (1959) almost since its original publication. But for the most authentic taste of the racially divided city and vibrant Gullah culture that inspired Charleston-native Heyward’s writing, go for the real thing. Charleston County Public Library has at least 10 copies, including early, illustrated versions kept in the South Carolina Room at the Main Library (68 Calhoun St., (843) 805-6930, www.ccpl.org).
38. Boil Your Own Peanuts
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing pre-boiled peanuts, but there’s also no reason not to do it yourself. When green peanut season rolls around this summer, buy a few pounds. In the morning, put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by a few inches. Add a tablespoon or so of salt per pound. Let the pot boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Check the peanuts every hour, and add salt in small increments until you get them how you like them. If you prefer your nuts al dente, pull ’em early, or if you like soggy shells, let ’em cook all day. For some added spice, dice up some jalapeños and toss those in, too. It’s that easy!
39. Sign Up for a CSA
There’s no longer any excuse for not eating locally grown produce. From Park Circle to Folly Beach, there’s a weekly spring-through-fall farmers market in spitting distance of everybody in the area. Add nearly a dozen Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, and it’s easier than ever. Simply pay a lump sum at the start of the season to receive a weekly bounty directly from the fields of your favorite farmer. Solid bets include the CSAs of Ambrose Family Farm (stonofarmmarket.com) and Our Local Foods (ourlocalfoods.com), which also offers meat and dairy share programs.
40. Ask a Native Charlestonian to Tell Stories from His/Her Childhood. Make time to listen.
Photograph credits: (shutter, cemetery, & catfish row) by travis dew, (baseball) courtesy of charleston riverdogs, (library) courtesy of South Carolina Historical Society, (rose) by Jim Martin, (boiled peanuts & shark teeth) by Carrie Guemann, (tomatoes) by Katie Fiedler, (Sailboat) by Leslie McKellar, (stairwell) by Michael Trouche, (pianist) by Alice Keeney Photography, (King Street) by Susan Lucas, & (basket sewer) by Peter Frank Edwards