Thursday, August 15, 2013

Creative Corridor champions must take a door-to-door approach to upper peninsula planning

Passing muster

Posted by Chris Haire on Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 11:04 AM

For years, we here at the City Paper have heard a lot of talk about turning the little part of the peninsula my co-workers and I call our home away from home into some sort of creative corridor. While it’s great to see new businesses pop up around Morrison Drive and to see old ones thrive, this whole creative corridor “muster plan” has bothered me from day one.

For starters, the area is home to more than just hip restaurants, GrowFood Carolina, and Cone Ten Studios. It’s also home to a paint store, two tattoo parlors, various car repair shops, and two strip clubs, among many light-industrial business. Oh, and scores of families who call the area home.

You may not see their homes, but I can assure you that they are here. And sadly, it doesn’t appear that much of anybody is doing much of anything to find out what these fine folks think about the proposed changes to their neighborhood. 

The folks at Enough Pie, the gang behind much of this creative corridor hype, have hosted a few meetings to get input from the public, and while they have extended an invitation to the African-American community that calls the Upper Meeting-Morrison area home, it's an invitation of the vaguest kind, one that was well-meaning in nature but which wasn't delivered.

If Enough Pie wants to reach out to the black community in the proposed creative corridor, they've got to do more than send out e-mails blasts, drop a few Facebook posts, and fling a succession of tweets into the internet ether. The African-American community isn't plugged into the same social networks as the Enough Pie crowd. That's not to say that they don't use Twitter or Facebook or the like. They most certainly do. They just aren't connected to the same group of followers and friends. They don't attend Pechu Kucha or give a rats ass about food truck rodeos. It's sad that Charleston society is divided into two communities — both of which ignore the other for various reasons, some justifiable — but it's a simple fact of life here in the Holy City. 

If Enough Pie wants to truly connect to the African Americans who call the upper peninsula home — not to mention the owners of all the decidedly un-creative businesses in the creative corridor — they're going to have to take a more door-to-door approach to connecting.

In some cases that means walking directly up to someone's front door or place of business, and in others that means holding meetings at community centers, like the Dart Library on King, a long-time hub for the area's black residents. A gathering featuring overly priced, locally sourced, farm-to-table food truck vittles and the Holy City's finest craft beer and a gaggle of the town's Parliament creatives, gobbling up TED-talk big ideas like its manna from the hand of Jobs, just isn't going to cut it.

The enthusiasm the Enough Pie folks have expressed for the upper peninsula is worthy of applause — although occasionally the entire scheme appears to be nothing more than a project to pad the pockets of a few developers — but if they hope to craft a plan for the area that is truly beneficial to all, they must be willing to meet with those who are unlikely to hit the Like button on the latest creative corridor press release.

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