As we discussed in our first edition in the fall of 2002, the most important driver of change in Charleston is the arrival of new residents and the manner in which they become comfortable — or not — with their surroundings. We can also tell plenty of stories about jerks and rude you-know-whats but that could be true in any city; let us see a positive and transformational way of reinvigorating the population of our cherished Lowcountry.

The settlement the Kiawah Indians called Oyster Point— now running all the way to our border with Mayor Summey’s North Charleston — has many reasons to be famous; equally distinguished, we claim the handsome Old Village of Mount Pleasant. These two places have the area’s highest concentration of antebellum homes and gorgeous vistas that mix well with our collective high-octane history. We also have a highly diverse array of residents and they enjoy many choices of where to live; our resort islands and beaches have their own unique flavors. Scattered throughout the region, we find civilized hamlets such as Rockville and McClellanville; more modern structures glow elsewhere amid our timeless landscape. Our special spots are almost too numerous to list. The world long ago discovered our region and its accolades, responding accordingly with tourism, homebuyers and investors.

New arrivals are free to choose what arts to follow, what beaches and golf courses to visit and what restaurants and shops to patronize; those are the obvious attractions. We also strongly suggest that what we “bin yahs” also call “cum yahs” get deeply involved in all the cultural gems in the crown. Take a deep breath and look at some of the opportunities.

The Holy City and Hungry Neck have many houses of worship connected to colonial days and the style that suits is likely available in and beyond the historic districts. Dive into the stacks at the Charleston Library Society and tap into the rich history and literature of the region. The cultural nuances and depth may surprise those beholden to a flawed Menckenesque view of the South. The Gibbes is putting on more than just lipstick, so get ready for a beautiful new exhibition space. Follow the lead of Toby Clark, in his article on page 22 of this month's print edition, and explore the collection of the Waring Library at MUSC.

The new Gaillard is about to knock our collective socks off, and we believe it will create vast opportunities for volunteerism as well as an enhanced appreciation for the arts. The Charleston Museum will soon be unveiling some exciting plans for renovating its natural history collection. Various advocates for livability — especially the Preservation Society of Charleston and Historic Charleston Foundation — need volunteers. Environmental advocates abound; choose the flavor that suits.

The key is to participate; many do, but not nearly enough. We are much more than a consumptive paradise. Like fine wine from a grafted vine, Charleston has a long history of “cum yahs” who improve the Holy City. From the 18th century’s Nathaniel Russell and the New England Society he helped found, to the late Pinkus Kolender of our own day, who ran Globe Furniture on King Street for many years before devoting his life to telling people his first-hand stories of surviving the Holocaust: There is a grand tradition of folks from all corners making the Holy City a better place.

A reinvigorated Charleston with a new mayor can build upon the shared consensus for enhancing livability and protecting our aesthetics. Residents embrace tall ship visits, elegant cruise lines calling at a terminal near the Ravenel Bridge and a large reduction of frivolous festivals that block our streets. Charlestonians new and old pay a bucket of property taxes that run the city; they also pay to maintain the fine houses and gardens that are the primary show-stopping draw for visitors. It is time that the Holy City worked toward a better informed, educated and integrated citizenry — one ready to work shoulder to shoulder to keep standards high and hold officials to their word. Some of the greatest changes to our Lowcountry are on the horizon, and vigilant citizens need to be prepared.

           

Mercury newspaper racks are located at the following locations:

The Meeting Street Inn

Clair's Service Station at 334 Folly Rd.

Harris Teeter on Houston-Northcutt Blvd.

The Square Onion in I'On

Mt. Pleasant Library on Mathis Ferry Rd.