15 fresh faces and new leaders that have cropped up over time 

Freshman 15

New faces and new leaders that have cropped up over time and give us hope for the future.

New faces and new leaders that have cropped up over time and give us hope for the future.

click to enlarge Mike Seekings - MIKE LEDFORD

Mike Seekings

In his first three years on Charleston City Council, Mike Seekings has been operating on a principle he calls the 72-72 Rule — that is, Charleston should be as good a place for tourists who visit for 72 hours as it is for residents who live here for 72 years. Seekings represents District 8, which includes some of the oldest houses and oldest families on the peninsula, and he advocates for progressive causes including balanced infill development, green space preservation, and accessibility for bicyclists. "I think one of the things it shows is that Charleston is not a museum," he says. "It's a living, growing city, and the people recognize that." And he does it without a lot of shouting, too. "I just don't think that the City Council chambers are a particularly great place for histrionics," Seekings says. "It's a place to do the right thing." —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge Paul Thurmond - PROVIDED

Paul Thurmond

Paul Thurmond got caught in the biggest fecal tempest of the 2012 South Carolina election cycle when he filed his Statement of Economic Interests electronically, but failed to submit a hard copy. (He along with 200-plus other candidates were told they didn't have to.) As a result, Thurmond and the others were thrown off the ballot in May by a state Supreme Court ruling. But unlike many of his fellow ex-candidates, Thurmond won a court battle and will be back on the ticket for a special GOP primary to be held Sept. 18. Thurmond, a former Charleston County Council member, is running for the state Senate seat previously occupied by Glenn McConnell, who was arguably the most powerful Republican in the state. They're big shoes to fill, but as the son of legendary U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, the younger Thurmond is used to the pressure. "I grew up in the shadow of the guy that was named South Carolinian of the Century. High expectations have not only been put on me by others, but mostly by myself," Thurmond says. "I won't be Glenn McConnell, much like I won't be my father." —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge Elliott Summey - ANN CHANDLER
  • Ann Chandler
  • Elliott Summey

Elliott Summey

In his first term on Charleston County Council, Elliott Summey has staged a standoff with County Auditor Peggy Moseley about late tax bills, served as chairman of the CARTA bus system, and made the much-criticized switch from the Democratic Party to the GOP. As a child, Summey would hang out at Crosby's, his maternal grandfather's car repair shop on Meeting Street Road that was once a de facto meeting place for Charleston County's political heavyweights. When it came time to go to college, his father, North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, convinced him to stay close to home, so Elliott went to the College of Charleston. "He said, 'As much as you love politics and government, having you be here with me while I'm doing this will be an experience you'll never get in the classroom,'" the younger Summey recalls. "He was right." From his grandfather, a former county councilman, he learned an old-fashioned bull-headedness. From his father, he learned the soft art of persuading through kindness. Today, he practices a little of both. —Paul Bowers

click to enlarge Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim

Fuzzco

When Jonathan Sanchez profiled upstart design firm Fuzzco for City Paper's year-end double issue back in 2006, he wrote, "They look like they're newly hatched from some kind of emo egg." At that point, Helen Rice and Josh Nissenboim were working out of the recently opened 10 Storehouse Row, and though they'd only been around a couple of years, they'd already amassed an impressive client base. Nowadays, you can find them and their growing staff working out of a sleek renovated storefront in Cannonborough, and you can also see evidence of their design work everywhere from Westbrook Brewing to the Kickin' Chicken to the Charleston County School District. They've moved into the national realm as well, with work for e-Harmony and Zynga, and their super stylish digs earned them a feature in Dwell magazine. As their work spreads, Fuzzco continues to give a fresh face to the local design community. —Erica Jackson Curran

click to enlarge Red Dread - MIKE LEDFORD

Lowcountry Highrollers

When we put the Lowcountry Highrollers on the cover of the City Paper in 2008, the team was small but they were making a strong effort to revive the retro-sport in Charleston. Since then, our favorite skater girls — with names like names like Attackagewea and Hurricane Camille — have expanded into three intraleague teams and become staples in the community, rolling out for events like art shows, parades, film screenings, and more. All of their local bouts, whether at the Citadel's McAlister Field House or at Hot Wheels on Folly Road, raise money for Charleston organizations, and they're even helping spawn the next generation of derby girls with their junior league. P.S. They're hosting tryouts on Sept. 22 at Hot Wheels. For more information, visit lowcountryhighrollers.com. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Jamee Haley - FILE PHOTO

Jamee Haley

Who really thought much about buying local 15 years ago? Probably none of us. But since Lowcountry Local First was established in 20##, Jamee Haley has been leading the local charge as executive director, promising us that if we spend our dollars wisely and invest locally, our community will prosper. We'd have to agree with her. Haley almost singlehandedly established the Buy Local Movement in Charleston, but as it's grown, she's empowered others to help spread the gospel. Her mission has grown from raising awareness to actually funding important initiatives that help local farmers, farms, and businesses. It's the classic put your money where your mouth is lesson, and we can't wait to see how this movement grows over the next few years. —Stephanie Barna

click to enlarge Stacy Smallwood - KAITLYN GANDY

Hampden Clothing

Whenever someone complains about the "Charleston style" — pastels, Sperrys, the like — it's good to point them in the direction of Hampden Clothing. Stacy Smallwood's immaculate boutique stocks avant garde fashions from designers like Alexander Wang, Opening Ceremony, and Helmut Lang. The store has caught national attention from every fashionista bible: Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Elle, Marie Clare, Lucky, InStyle, the list goes on. When she's not selling print dresses and ankle boots to King Street trendsetters, Smallwood hosts trunk shows from big-name designers like NAHM and Project Runway's Logan Neitzel, book events (author and socialite Tinsley Mortimer stopped by in May to promote Southern Charm), and even a rag & bone fashion show at Westbrook Brewing Company earlier this year. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Angel Postell - PROVIDED

Charleston Wine + Food

The last decade has seen many festivals and events establish themselves in town. While Charleston Fashion Week is no slouch, we have to give props to the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival for seizing an opportunity and evolving into a well-respected event with national scope that has helped put our local chefs and Southern food on the culinary map. There was lots to learn from that first year in 20##, which suffered plenty of hiccups, but to Angel Postell and her board's credit, they have evolved in a way that serves our local foodways even more. The programming has grown more inclusive. It's less about Bobby Flay these days and more about people like Martha Lou Gadsden of Martha Lou's, who won the Laura Hewitt Legend Award and is part of the Soul Food Shuffle. The chefs who come to town for this event have serious credibility (Daniel Boulud!), and the buzz for Charleston has flourished. Last week, tickets to the 2013 festival sold so fast, their website slowed to a crawl from the demand. We expect a bright future from this freshman festival, which has proven to be a savvy organization with an eye toward the future. —Stephanie Barna

click to enlarge Robert Lange - PROVIDED

Robert Lange

Robert Lange recognizes that most people who come into his Queen Street gallery are only there to look. "When we decided to open a gallery, we realized probably two percent of the people who walk through the doors can buy a painting," he says. "So instead of catering to that two percent, we decided to cater to the 100 percent and make it more like a public service, kind of like a library where anyone can come in the door and get creatively charged." Lange and his wife Megan have been taking that democratic approach to art since opening their first Charleston gallery on East Bay Street in 2003, when they moved to Charleston from Rhode Island. "When we graduated, we knew we didn't want to go to New York because pretty much every painter we knew was moving to New York," he says. "I think 10,000 painters a year move to New York." Instead they moved here, where Robert got a job at American Eagle Outfitters and Megan worked at Charleston Lighting. But things took a turn as soon as Robert got some of his paintings into Wolf Art Gallery (which, incidentally, was then located in Lange's current space). He sold 11 paintings in the first month, and the couple used that money to open their first gallery. It's been nine years, and they can't imagine living anywhere else. "The city oozes that renaissance charm, but I think its hospitality caters to the young, the old, the wealthy," Robert says. "Every hierarchy of human being is welcomed here. We've been able to see a lot of young, passionate, humble creatives come to this town and flourish because of that camaraderie. I feel like it's booming and growing, not in a superficial way, but instead in kind of a creative way." —Erica Jackson Curran

click to enlarge Nicholai Burton - FILE PHOTO

Nicholai Burton

The Greater Park Circle Film Society is the little movie house that could. Founded by Nicholai Burton and James Sears in 2008, they've been steadily screening old-school favorites and brand-new experiments in North Charleston's hip neighborhood, cultivating a local and regional film community with the biannual Lowcountry Indie Shorts program. They've even served as a go-between connecting filmmakers and potential patrons. Under Burton's leadership, the Greater Park Circle Film Society has managed to put on over 60 films a year and between ticket sales, concessions, membership fees, and the occasional corporate sponsorship, they've never had an issue with affording the next movie. For the future, the Greater Park Circle Film Society is trying to find a way to pay for a part-time administrative staffer, and they'd like to move into a permanent home where they can show movies every day, or at least more than once a week. Burton's dream spot: Gaslight Square, home of the new derelict Bijou Theater, which comes complete with an old-school marquee. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Karen Ann Myers - PROVIDED

Karen Ann Myers

Known for her paintings of underwear-clad women in bedrooms and sexually explicit screen-printed wallpaper, Karen Ann Myers has had her hand in some of Charleston's best contemporary arts organizations. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and was formerly the executive director of Redux Contemporary Art Center. She also used to show work at SCOOP Studios before its unfortunate demise. (Currently, Myers has a studio at Redux and exhibits at Robert Lange Studios). "I would not be satisfied only as an artist. I have a desire to be more active," Myers says of her extensive career. It's a way for her to make a contribution to the community, and she wishes that all artists, galleries, and arts organizations felt the same way. "Working in nonprofits, teaching in the arts management program at the College of Charleston, exhibiting my paintings locally as well as nationally, and plugging myself into the community has been my approach to being fulfilled as an artist and more importantly, as a human being." Though one of its most active members, Myers is not above criticizing the local arts community. She wishes conversations would shift from the sale of art to productive dialogues about its impact, and she points out that more non-traditional forms of media don't have a strong presence in the Lowcountry. "Artists and galleries that continue to repeat the same exhibitions and artwork over and over are not helping anyone," she says. And she wishes that local arts criticism was actually critical — City Paper included. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge David Merritt and Jaime Tenny - FILE PHOTO

COAST Brewing Company

That 7.7 percent a.b.v. COAST HopArt you're drinking while reading this issue — it's only possible because of COAST Brewing Company owners David Merritt and Jaime Tenny and the efforts of their Pop the Cap S.C. campaign. Thanks to their efforts, the state legislature passed a law in 2007 that lifted the 6 percent a.b.v. cap on beers in South Carolina, and without it, there probably wouldn't be a Westbrook, a Holy City Brewing, or even COAST. "Charleston is a thirsty town, and luckily they are thirsty for craft beer, especially if it's local," Tenny says. "It is now becoming somewhat commonplace for hole-in-the-wall bars and fine dining restaurants to offer some choice of good beer. This is exactly what needs to happen for it to appeal to a wide range of consumers." It also means more national breweries can send their beer to our state. Tenny thinks COAST's role has been to be a positive catalyst in the local craft beer revolution (and the massive crowds at their February Brewvival event would probably agree). "Obviously, leading the charge with the S.C. Brewer's Association is important," she says. (Pop the Cap became the S.C. Brewer's Association in 2009.) "However, I'd like to say our quality and integrity of our business model and our beer has set a high standard." She hopes that in the years to come, they will not only maintain that role, but also expand the brewery and bring their beers to a wider audience. We can all say "cheers" to that. —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Sean Brock - MIKE LEDFORD

Sean Brock

He'd been here before, graduating from Johnson & Wales with honors and working for Robert Carter at Peninsula Grill. But by the time he returned to town as executive chef at McCrady's, Sean Brock was already receiving a fair bit of attention for such a young chef. In Nashville, he was making a statement at the Hermitage Hotel's Capitol Grille, so much so that when his new Charleston gig was announced, we published a piece in 2006 by Nashville food critic Kay West that pondered their loss and our gain. Back then, he was immersed in molecular gastronomy and excited to experiment with new and innovative techniques. His first McCrady's menu had lobster sous vide and venison sous vide, and a 64-degree egg. West ended her story with the prescient quote: "So, congratulations Charleston. With Sean Brock's return, one of your oldest, most historic restaurants is embarking on an all-new adventure." Indeed, over the last six years, Charleston has watched the passionate young chef grow into a world-class, internationally-renowned, in-demand chef, opening Husk, throwing down big challenges for himself and welcoming others to join him on his path, and it's been quite an adventure. From The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal to Anthony Bourdain and Charlie Rose, the guy has done nothing but win people over with his passion, intensity, talent, and charm. The question is, where will it take him next? Will he be tapped for his own television show? Will he follow his dreams to a big city up north? I think the next year will give us some of those answers. The bottom line is that, even though he's one of our Freshmen 15, nobody has done as much for Charleston's food scene as Brock, as his former boss Bob Carter says. —Stephanie Barna

click to enlarge Chris DiMattia - MIKE LEDFORD

The Recovery Room

Many a Charleston City Paper happy hour has been spent at the Recovery Room. We come for the tachos. We stay for the PBR. And for more tachos. The 4-7 p.m. set is usually sparse, but as the hours pass, the crowd grows, with dirty young hipsters, older neighborhood folks, and occasionally the Holy City Beard and Moustache Society guys. People know Chris DiMattia as Boston, but he's been in Charleston for 14 years and bartending north of the Crosstown for 10 of those (he was at Moe's before opening the Rec Room). He sees Upper King changing for the better. "Formerly vacant store fronts are being filled by young entrepreneurs who are willing to take a chance," he says. "When we first opened, a lot of people were not familiar with the area, so I really had to explain where we were. Now we have people walking up here, and every where I go people know the business." But he doesn't have an answer for the PBR craze. "The vice president of Pabst was in the bar last week, shaking my hand and saying thank you," DiMattia says. "All I could do was smile and say, 'No, thank you sir.'" —Susan Cohen

click to enlarge Band of Horses - PROVIDED

Band of Horses

It might be a stretch to call Band of Horses a local band, but considering several of its members still live in the Lowcountry, we like to do it anyway. They may not play locally very often, but we know Ben Bridwell and company have been busy this year working on their recently released album, Mirage Rock, and touring around the world — so we'll let it slide for now. A South Carolina native, Bridwell formed the band in Seattle in 2004 and moved back to the Palmetto State two years later. Back then, they headlined a show at the now-defunct Village Tavern, where they charged $12 a ticket. Their most recent local show, on the other hand, saw them at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center in 2010. We know you're busy, guys, but we think it's high time for another hometown show. —Erica Jackson Curran

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