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DinosaurAre city’s parking garages dinosaurs in new mobility?

Charleston’s new mobility guru, Gabe Klein, says parking garages will be dinosaurs in one generation. Significantly, the city operates 11 garages. The garages are the culmination of what was an all-out effort by Historic Charleston Foundation in the late 1940s and 1950s for creation of more than a thousand off-street parking places downtown, initially proposed by its predecessor in historic preservation initiatives. Now HCF, with the city, is paying for Klein’s recommendations on Charleston’s future mobility that are sure to be 180 degrees away from cars and how to park them.

Urban mobility trends and how they’re likely to shape Klein’s proposals for Charleston — here.


Sea level expert from Charleston: ‘I’m more uneasy but not frightened’

Gary Mitchum2Gary Mitchum, a top scientific expert on sea levels whose hometown is Charleston, has taken a close look at the recent report on what it called the “unstoppable” melting of glaciers in one especially vulnerable section of West Antarctica. The report attracted big and scary headlines. Mitchum, professor of marine science and associate dean in the College of Marine Science at University of South Florida, said the situation is serious for Charleston and other coastal communities, because ice is also melting into the oceans in the Arctic and East Antarctica. Yet he emphasized: “I’m more uneasy but not frightened.”

The Q & A with Gary Mitchum.


City’s new mobility guru says innovative fixes can be path to better health, more jobs

Gabe Klein on the job in Chicago, 2011Gabe Klein (image at left), who has been called the guru of mobility for the 21st century, is coming to Charleston starting next week to help fix the city’s worsening transportation mess. Klein headed up transportation in two of the most traffic-congested cities in the U.S. — Washington, DC, and Chicago. He says transportation is not just a way to get from one point to another, but also the path to better health (through walking and biking) and to more “knowledge” jobs (when high-tech companies choose convenient, close-in locations that promote non-driving commutes).

 Go here for Q & A with Klein on the new relationship between transportation, better health and more jobs.

 Charleston ‘Reckless’ features she-likes-it rape

'Reckless.' Charleston police officer prepares to rape women he stopped on Ravenel Bridge. Premiere, 06.29.14The new CBS legal drama “Reckless,” which is set in Charleston, premiered Sunday night with the provocative proposition that maybe women can enjoy be raped if they’re sexually cool and get into the violence. After a sweeping opening  aerial of the Ravenel Bridge, a Charleston police officer pulls over a woman driver for speeding, He takes her underneath the bridge and tells her to put her hands up on the chain-link fence. After handcuffing her, he begins a body search (illegal because there’s no suspicion the driver has a weapon) that turns into a grope, that becomes a clear-cut sexual assault…except the woman’s apprehensive face is suddenly transformed into a consensual smile. “I like the posterior,” she says in words scripted by show creator-executive producer Dana Stevens.

More about “Reckless” here.


5 million tourists — and 1% are black

Tourist carriage

The city’s two recent tourism management forums aired numerous concerns by residents that lax enforcement of regulations combined with swelling numbers of visitors have produced a dangerous “tipping point.” But two nights of testimony didn’t produce one comment about the racial imbalance of “heritage tours” — 98% white and only 1% black. Yet most of the region’s 5 million tourists come from parts of the country that have large black populations, including the metro areas of Washington, DC, New York City and Chicago.

Racial imbalance doesn’t come up at tourism forums.


Digital Corridor powers ‘knowledge’ jobs

Charleston Digital Corridor logoInnovation districts are transforming economies in metro regions everywhere. A new Brookings report features many of them — but not the well-established Charleston Digital Corner, where PeopleMatter, among many entrepreneurial ventures, got its start in one room. “There’s no reason for Charleston to be disappointed,” reassures a Brookings analyst who helped put the report together.

Q & A with Digital Corridor founder Ernest Andrade, here.


PeopleMatter CEO on relocation: ‘We are pleased’

PeopleMatter logoThree years ago, Upper King Street had a forlorn look. Many retailers had left the onetime premier Charleston shopping district and their replacement by trendy restaurants and bars hadn’t yet reached a critical mass. But that’s when PeopleMatter, the software company which sells a rapidly expanding suite of human-resource products to hotels, restaurants and other businesses in the high-growth service industry, decided to move its headquarters to Upper King from the Navy Yard in North Charleston. Local America asked PeopleMatter CEO Nate DaPore how the now-accomplished move is going.

Q & A with CEO Nate DaPore, here.


Minority gap widens at Jennie Moore arts magnet

Jennie Moore student and parentJennie Moore Elementary School for the Creative Arts gets “Excellent” state ratings year after year. But academic achievement by black students at this highly integrated school in Mt. Pleasant’s East Cooper neighborhood is lagging far behind performance seven years ago. The gap between black and white students’ English and Math scores at the partial magnet school have mostly widened since 2006.

 All the data and a seven-year performance chart, here.

City gives initial OK to limited late-night alcohol ban

Bar signThe Charleston City Council gave initial approval last night to creation of an Entertainment District running up the length of the peninsula where new restaurants and bars would be banned from serving alcohol or otherwise operating after 12 midnight. Existing businesses with approval to serve alcohol up to 2 a.m. would be exempted from the new restrictions, according to Mayor Riley, although the ordinance itself doesn’t mention such grandfathering.

The proposal was prompted in part by a virtual ultimatum by several high-tech businesses that want to relocate to Upper King Street — as PeopleMatter did in 2011 — but are turned off by the atmosphere created by sometimes raucous and inebriated denizens who pack Upper King’s bars and restaurants and congregate on the sidewalks into the early hours of the morning.

The full story, with ordinance and Entertainment District overlay, is here.

Our ‘best’ (and ‘worst’): The listicle

Charleston's bests, Travel & LeisureThere doesn’t seem to be a city “best” list that doesn’t include Charleston. Pet Friendly? Charleston’s is ranked. Then there are the “worst” lists, and Charleston is on some of those too.

Charleston rankings –in both resident and visitor categories –are here.


Future is now on sea levels, expert says

Charleston pinpointed for risk in National Climate Assessment, May 2014 Martime science expert Gary Mitchum, who grew up in Charleston, says it too soon to quantify what the newly reported “unstoppable” collapse of glaciers in Antarctic will mean long term for sea levels in this region. But Mitchum, whose research is a key element of the National Climate Assessment’s verdict that Charleston is at “very high risk,” said local governments in metro Charleston should “come to the table with scientists, economists, policy makers, planners and developers to  produce the best strategy for reducing global warming while there’s still time.”

The full story.


‘Knowledge’ jobs big test for metro high schools

Summerville HS students, 2014There’s a big but narrowing gap in how well Tri-County high schools are preparing their graduates for jobs in the region’s emerging “knowledge economy.” Thirteen of the region’s 26 high schools met the performance target developed by Local America from the state definition of “proficiency” for high school graduates

The story told in the numbers.


Region lags Raleigh, Austin and U.S. in tech pay

Metro Charleston tech salaries compared, USE, ranked, 2013Metro Charleston is on a tear in adding high-tech jobs, but local salaries for almost all computer and software positions are significantly lower than in the tech centers of Raleigh and Austin, TX, and even trail U.S. medians, Salary gaps can range up to 30% and even higher. Charleston was No. 1 in one major area — web developer. According to the U.S. price parity index, the dollar goes a bit further in Raleigh than Charleston, and 2 percentage points less in Austin.

Are these pay gaps a hindrance to Charleston becoming a “knowledge economy”?


Metro Charleston has a way to go in health & wellness

How Metro Charleston's health X2 compares to Raleigh, Austin, 2012As Charleston aims to develop a more-rounded, forward-pointing “knowledge economy,” it keeps an eye on Raleigh and Austin, TX, two communities that got started earlier on that curve. Local America will periodically look at how the three communities compare. Here we look at major health and wellness indicators.

What should be Metro Charleston’s top health priorities.


Calhoun toppled, figuratively

Calhoun still a lightning rod after 175 yearsWhile John Calhoun continues to preside over Marion Square from his 80-foot-high granite pedestal, College of Charleston Prof. Joseph Kelly, a few blocks away, says the “Arch Nullifier” and other members of Charleston’s antebellum elite were “villains” of self-interest whose hard line on slavery stifled the emerging Southern half of the emancipation movement in the 1820s and put the nation on the path to Civil War.

Should Charleston be rethinking Calhoun?


‘We have reached the tipping point’

Tourist carriageThe City of Charleston is on what looks like will be a rocky road to a revamping of its tourism management program.

The first forum on what should be done produced many blistering comments from residents about the city not enforcing ordinances against noise and other adverse impacts of tourism.

Is there too much tourism? What should be done? Your recommendations.


56 Tri-County schools are on gap-closing path

Minority gap closing, but not for all, USE THIS ONEMinority gap closing, but not for all, USE THIS ONEProjections by Local America show that 56 of Tri-County’s 115 public elementary and middle schools are on the path to significantly narrow their stubborn minority achievement gap by 2016 But at 59 schools minority achievement is moving as a snail’s pace or actually losing ground, according to Local America’s analysis.

The story told in the numbers. What do you think?



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Lunch on a sultry Charleston day

Fried green tomatoes, margarita and sweet tea

Toast to Charleston: ‘Beeriest Beach Town’

Charleston a 'Beeriest Beach Town,' July 2014Charleston has a new “best” — one it can, literally, drink to. It’s been named one of the five “Beeriest Beach Towns.”

Where to go locally to choose among 900-plus craft beers.

Charleston ‘Best in U.S.,’ ‘2nd Best’ in World

Best Cities in U.S, Travel & Leisure, 2014Charleston is “Best City” in U.S. and Canada once again in Travel & Leisure’s readers’ yearly contest, and moved up to second place in the magazine’s “World’s Best Cities.”

Charleston and New Orleans were the only American cities in the “World’s Best.” No. 1 was Kyoto, Japan, which was 3/100th points ahead of Charleston.

Readers used a five-point scale of excellent, above average, average, below average and poor to rate cities based on sights to see, restaurants, hotel facilities and a number of other categories mostly built around travel, like airports and car rentals.

Waterfront Park rated No. 11 nationally

Waterfront Park, No. 11 in Trip Advisor top U.S. parks, June 2014

The ‘sizzle’ of Charleston

Leon's Poultry & Oyster ShopFrom The Manual (“The Essential Guide for Men”) in its “micro-guide” to Charleston: “The little town is jostling with bigger cities because of its’ young and vibrant scene….Venture into the less touristy areas. Here you will find James Beard award winning food, nationally acclaimed art and classic fashion that are making this old town sizzle in a whole new way.”

‘CHARLIE’ honors Local America editor

Me in '50 Most Progressives' in CHARLIE, May 9, 2014 Tom Grubisich, editorial director of Local America (above), is one of the “50 Most Progressive” Charlestonians in CHARLIE digital magazine’s third annual tribute. Honorees are chosen for their “forward-thinking contributions to Charleston.”

The details here.

Welcome from Local America

Regional Charleston is steeped in history, but its eye is on its future. One recent planning document is called “A Vision for the Lowcountry in 2040,” another, “Opportunity Next.”  Whether the focus is jobs, development, education, housing, poverty, health, Local America logo for demotranspor- tation or any other issue, it all comes down to this question: Is Tri-County on track to build a more livable community? Local America will use data to measure the progress. But the last word goes to you the people who live, work and visit here. Sign up in the space above (where the current grade is), and tell your regional neighbors and the world what you think about Tri-County and its ambitious march toward its future.

Folly among ‘Best Under-the-Radar Beaches’

Folly among 'most underrated beaches,' 2014Fodor says of Folly Beach: “Swimmers and surfers can hang ten at Folly’s Washout, and visitors can take in ocean views from the beach’s popular pier. The beach town is also home to delicious seafood, and beachgoers can enjoy the day’s catch at restaurants overlooking the water.”

Photo credit: Daniela Duncan, Getty Images, from Fodor.

How your beach trip can help sea turtles hatch

Turtle watch at Folly Beach, May 2014It’s the middle of the turtle nesting season at Folly Beach and other local getaways. Traveler of Charleston and the Post and Courier offer tips to beach goers that will help this sea turtle mom (image above) and others to keep their eggs safe till hatching.

 Shepard Fairey amid his ‘Power and Glory’

Shhepard Fairey at work on his 2nd 'Power & Glory,' on Upper King Street, May 2014Charleston native Shepard Fairey works on a mural on Upper King Street that is part of his “Power and Glory” work that will be featured, along with art by Jasper Johns, another Charlestonian, in a double exhibition at the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art” at the College of Charleston, beginning May 22. The “#2” mural is on a wall of the High Wire Distilling Co. building at 652 King (just above Sheppard Street and Rte. 17). The Halsey exhibition — part of the institute’s 30th anniversary celebration, continues through July 12. Photo credit: Jonathan Boncek, Charleston City Paper.

‘Swirling wonderland in green’

Topiary in Philip Simmons Garden at St. John Reformed Ep;iscopal ChurchThe Philip Simmons Garden at St. John’s Reformed Episcopal Church is home to a “swirling wonderland in green” created by topiary master Pearl Fryar.

Crab Bank: 22 acres owned by seabirds

From live web came at Crab Bank island in Charleston HarborFor at least 250 years, it was a mere underwater sandbar off Mount Pleasant in Charleston Harbor. Today it’s an island of 22 acres called Crab Bank. With no natural predators, Crab Bank’s grasses have become an idea nesting p;lace for many varieties of seabirds. The Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary is closed to the public during the nesting season from March 15 to Oct. 15. But a live web cam installed on the island by the SC Coastal Conservation League, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and South Carolina Aquarium provides a 24-hour open window to the entire nesting process. During May, there are egg hatchings, and in July fledgings will be on display as they take flight.

More, and how to connect with the island’s live cam,here.

Will Charleston keep its No. 1 city ranking?

No. 1 city in the U.S, Readers' Choice Awards, Conde NastIt’s voting time for Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Survey — a contest in which Charleston is a perennial winner. For three years in a row, Charleston has been voted the No.1 city in the U.S., and in 2012 it was No. 1 worldwide. Results from this year’s voting will be published in November.

Guess what’s biggest complaint of visitors

Drayton HallThe 5 million visitors who come to Charleston annually count many ways they praise the city and its environs. Food and restaurants are ranked first by 73.4% of those surveyed) and historical ambience is voted second by 56.9%. But what about dislikes?

The answers are here.