It was over ten years ago that we held the first listening sessions around the idea of creative collaboration among neighbors to build a community that they envisioned; ideas sparked by a new movement gaining steam around the globe called creative placemaking. We gathered at places like Taco Boy and Dr O’s community center, once called Studio PS. Meetings were attended by business owners, elders, city employees, artists, developers, residents, anyone who was curious about ways to foster community in the area north of Huger Street.
We all recognized that there was a unique history to this area and a particular presence that was defined by local businesses, small and generational African American neighborhoods, a smattering of restaurants – new kids like Taco Boy and legends like Marth Lou’s, creative collectives like Cone 10, tattoo parlors, and lots of heavy industrial sites. Also housing communities like Bridgeview (once Bayside) a large affordable housing development and Joseph Floyd Manor, public housing for elderly and disabled.
This was a part of Charleston that was distinctively not for tourists. Perhaps forgotten, but clearly on its way to being “discovered”. So, we gathered with the hope that if we all worked together, maybe, just maybe, we would be able to create a future for the community that was inclusive, artistic, and connected.
In those early idea sessions, Enough Pie was born. No, we weren’t baking pies (a confusion early on!). The name was meant to signify that, as an organization, we believed that there was enough pie for everyone if we all were a bit more conscious about the slice we took. No need to be greedy and take a huge slice, take just what you need and there will be enough to go around. We hoped, perhaps idealistically, that if we connected neighbors in creative projects and activism, we would be more generous with our slices of pie as we grew as a city.
Our first projects were micro-grants given directly to the community for concepts that they envisioned – ranging from student photography projects in Magnolia Cemetery to a community kiosk with information, books, and small items of food and other necessities. Our most memorable first was Awakening – a massive art installation incorporating over thirty local artists, dancers and creatives. The success of that first Awakening, led to the defining feature of each annual plan – an issue specific Awakening. I have loved those the most – we’ve creatively addressed topics from the history of indigo to raising awareness about seal level rise – and the remarkable steering committees that produced and catalyzed the events were the best partners ever!
It is fitting then, that our most recent Awakening was InTENtion. At our 10th anniversary we went back to the source, and hosted listening sessions once again. There is no doubt Charleston has changed and grown remarkably in the last decade. It doesn’t seem that people have been cutting the only slice they need, clearly more is being taken, which leaves those that are vulnerable with less.
Martha Lou’s, Cone 10, Studio PS, and other community spaces are no longer here. Gentrification and growth are powerful forces. And yet…we are still hopeful that this work has meaning. Surely, we have stumbled and failed and been questioned many times over the last decade. But we keep trying to make connections, one neighbor at a time. At the end of the day, it is those small and kind human connections that make the difference. Those beautiful moments between neighbors that cannot be captured in an annual review or any sort of metric analysis to prove our worth. In the end, there is much to be gained by simply fostering moments between neighbors.
After ten years, I have stepped down as the Chair of Enough Pie and will be moving into the role of Chair Emeritus, supporting from behind the scenes.
So, Here We Are, At a New Beginning.
As is typical of Enough Pie, we’ve always been more interested in the journey than the destination. Our new leaders for the journey are Jaymes McCloud and Vicky Ingalls. As a successful entrepreneur and a dedicated leader in our community, Jaymes will bring a fresh perspective and new tools for the road ahead. Vicky, a long time supporter and volunteer of EP’s work, will bring her knowledge of how and why we do the work, relationships in the community and years of strategic planning and program implementation experience.
Buoyed by Thetyka’s work on the InTENtion listening sessions, there is a road map for future programming and collaborations at Enough Pie. We will continue to place neighbors first with eyes wide open that there are many challenges we must creatively attempt to solve together. Of course, we cannot do it without YOU! Thank you, supporters and partners for a wonderful ten years.
I look forward to Jaymes’ and Vicky’s leadership and engagement, along with the incredible board, staff, and community, as we all link arms and step into the next decade of Enough Pie.
Founder & Board Chair Emeritus