When the Honeysuckle and Crepe Myrtles bloom, we will rise! The coming end of the Pandemic and the end of the Trump administration this summer makes it likely that the energy and activity of the Lowcountry's progressive community will increase and an opportunity to recruit new resources and participation will arise.
The losses of the last year and a half are drastic. We have buried some of our best people. Others have lost their homes or income. Our mental and physical health has declined. Personal relationships have ended and failed. Some of us have been forced into seclusion. Others have pressed on in their activism with little support and incredible levels of stress, confronting opposition (sometimes armed) of incredible aggression. We have lost crucial elections for US Senate and Congress with most of our grass roots organizing capacity siezed up in lockdown. The local progressive effort is more fragmented than ever.
If we are to renew our struggle, we must refresh our courage and community. Our conservative opposition is deeply entrenched and remains empowered by it's culture of cruelty, perverted religion and vast economic support.
If we are to retake some of the civic and social space we need to operate and live in, we must gather up the mutual support and joy that gives us power. If we do so, this summer presents the greatest opportunity to regenerate ourselves presented in our lifetimes.
Starting in May
A series of community events, some already planned, give us the chance to take in the fresh air of hope.
It appears likely that at least a limited Spoleto Festival will take place in late May and early June and the Memorial weekend (marred last year by a Trump boat parade) may be our first real community Holiday in 15 months. Something coordinated with the Piccolo Spoleto Finale in Hampton Park Sat. June 12), a shared picnic would be simple and practical.
Juneteeth celebrations across the Lowcountry give us an opportunity to bring people together. Several are already planned. We'll need to consciously emphasize the need to include and affirm the people isolated by the pandemic and to celebrate, as oppressed African Americans did in the first Juneteenth celebration, our survival.
July 3, a major opportunity
The Independence Day Weekend provides an important and necessary opportunity to redefine patriotism and America with a celebration which provides an alternative to the jingoistic, militarized and often politically weaponized gatherings most of us find ourselves joining family at.
We would propose a diverse celebration on July 3 at a relatively secure inland location within Charleston County that combines food, art, dance, music and activism in ways which connect us in the manner we've been unable to enjoy for the last year and a half. This event would begin in late afternoon and conclude shortly after dark. Rather than emphasize speeches and express political and policy oriented activity, this would be a celebration of creativity, relationships, mutual validation and hope. If you can't do it on Zoom, this would be the place to try it. This should be a celebration which engages the hands, the body and the physical presence of each other, which cherishes the reality that we can share each other's space again.
We're fairly confident that the pandemic will be largely resolved by July, with most of the population having it's second dose of vaccine. The July 3 event would be sponsored by a coalition of local organizations, with coordination being facilitated by Up is Good, Inc.
If we have a strong, community affirming event on Saturday, July 3, our friends will either be equipped to move through their family celebrations with their Qannon uncle or have support to continue the celebration on July 4 while avoiding them.
Hopefully other events can follow in July and August, including something celebrating the fact that transit service has been reestablished to the beach here for the first time. However logistical and strategic considerations make the beach an unattractive location for large scale progressive activity in an atmosphere where right wing groups might target the activity. Other groups will have the opportunity to step forward into leadership and the transformation of our remembered pain into love, courage and will.
Finish with Pride
The arch of events can wind up with Charleston Pride in the late Summer, an event which has long functioned as a well organized celebration of diversity and an opening for the Fall civic season. Like all local efforts, Pride will be recovering from the stress of the Pandemic and benefit from our organized support. It's parade and festival don't really require any adjustment from their established model to serve as a great finale to this effort.
We hope to carry through this effort with branding that includes T-shirts, Buttons, Stickers and Flags so our presence can be seen and joined. We would present this to the Lowcountry with a simple, socially distanced press / social event in May.
Each of these events should build on previous efforts and support the next. As the only major progressive enclave in South Carolina, a robust Summer season is essential to rebuilding the impulse for Equity, Equality and progress on the coast here.