While we can barely rouse ourselves out of the air-conditioning this July, other citizens are out there exploring their passions and making a play to live their dreams. Nonprofits, bizarre performances, and new ventures had us invigorated to take on new challenges this week and revamp our everyday routines.
GrowFood, Red Bastard, Awakening
You may not realize it, but GrowFood Carolina has changed the way local farmers impact our restaurant menus. The organization streamlined the process for delivering regional produce to the restaurant community, and to highlight their mission, the nonprofit has started a series of Taste of the Season events. The Thursday night gathering was a happy hour to celebrate the bounties of summer and introduce Charlestonians to local farmers. Guests who weren’t mingling or exploring the victory garden sat eating at tables set up in the side yard of the 990 Morrison Drive warehouse.
For a party on the side of a bustling highway, the scene was rather down-home. Perhaps it was the huge slices of fresh-cut watermelon or the sounds of Southern Flavor Bluegrass that transported us away from the din of the city. The rain earlier in the day cooled the atmosphere a bit, but for those still sweating, Palmetto Brewing was pouring a choice of two drafts for guests.
Inside, Salthouse Catering set up a massive spread of nibbles featuring local fruits and vegetables in season. Siberian kale chips, heirloom tomato gazpacho, roasted elephant garlic, and banana pepper confit were just a few of the choices laid out for attendees. While going for our second helping of Charleston Gold rice salad, we spotted the Farmbar’s Tara Derr Webb, who clued us into an upcoming Kinfolk magazine event on her Awendaw property.
While guests munched away, GrowFood Carolina's general manager, Sara Clow, took the mic to express her gratitude and praise for everyone that made their mission possible. It was inspiring to hear of all their good deeds.
From rousing speeches to being roused out of our seats, Friday night’s show at Theatre 99 was oddly inspirational as well. Red Bastard wasn’t a normal performance of actors on stage and passive viewing by audience members; the show demanded that those who bought tickets participate in Eric Davis’ world of confrontational clowning. Davis appeared in a red bodysuit stuffed with balloons, giving him the appearance of an overweight imp. He told the audience that “something has to happen every 10 seconds,” and if you didn’t participate he would touch you. Some of us were humped, given wet willies, or were chased from our seats until Davis wrangled everyone to the front. “If it’s boring, it’s your fault,” he told us. And what followed was far from dull.
After picking at us, he aimed to build us back up. He encouraged audience members to shout their dreams and questioned why we weren’t following them. Why couldn’t the guy in the front row break up with his significant other? It became a therapy session, but still wildly entertaining. We left inspired to take on the world.
After listening to the aspirations of strangers on Friday, we attended an event featuring physical manifestations of inspiration on Saturday. Awakening was an one-day art and performance event to showcase the space at 1600 Meeting Street before it underwent renovations. Twenty-nine artists took over the dilapidated building to transform the rooms into their personal galleries. Patch Whisky spray-painted colorful characters all over the walls, John Duckworth premiered a video installation, and Alizey Khan turned a small space into a dark galaxy. Visitors wandered throughout the former Exxon headquarters, examining the art and contemplating what the building was to become with Enough Pie leading the renovations. Executive director Chris Burgess spoke excitedly about all of the organizations that will move in once the project is finished.
1600 Meeting will be the new home of local design firms, software companies, and other creatives looking for affordable office and studio spaces. While there was no AC in the building, people were happy to sweat a little in order to feel a part of the advancement of the upper peninsula. Renovations should begin after the closing of the show, and we’ll be watching to see what becomes of the space when they reopen.