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Features

As "mayor" season gets underway, Annabelle Carr enjoys a cold drink and some hot topics with the first two declared contenders in the amazing race.   The deadline to file as a candidate in Savannah’s next election will have passed by the time you read these words.  Hopefully, more of the Garden’s myriad characters will have thrown their hats in the ring, and we’ll all be in for an exciting two months of grandstanding and rabble rousing.  In the meantime, I can think of no better way to contemplate this city’s future than to sit down with each of the race’s earliest contenders.  Incumbent Edna Jackson and challenger Murray Silver have been at it for months: shaping their rhetoric, building a fan base, and meeting with constituents to define the issues of the day.  I met them each on separate nights at the Top Deck Bar for an open discussion about the future—and a view of the city from all directions. Be warned: political correctness and politics do not always go hand-in-hand in Savannah, and the views expressed by the candidates do not necessarily reflect the views of this magazine. [caption id="attachment_15464" align="aligncenter" width="585"]Photograph by Jason B. James Photograph by Jason B. James[/caption]

The Incumbent: Mayor Edna Jackson

Native daughter Edna Branch Jackson has a long history in public service and a reputation for being approachable.  As a young leader in Savannah’s Civil Rights movement and the NAACP Youth Council nationwide, Jackson helped organize wade-ins at Tybee Island, kneel-ins at local churches, and voter registration all over the South.  A veteran social worker and counselor, she worked as an administrator at Savannah State University for 30 years.  Before she was elected as our first female African-American mayor in 2011, she served three terms in City Council as alderman at large, and two terms as mayor pro tem.  And, after nearly four years as the seaport’s supreme figurehead, she’s been campaigning hard for another term under the golden dome.  Her motivation?  “Unfinished business.”   To read the rest of Mayor Jackson's interview, pick up the latest copy of Savannah magazine, on newsstands now. [caption id="attachment_15463" align="aligncenter" width="585"]Photograph by Teresa Earnest Photograph by Teresa Earnest[/caption]

The Challenger: Murray Silver Jr.

Savannah’s mayor should be a character—a prerequisite native son Murray Silver has on lockdown.  This former rock music writer and photographer got his start promoting soon-to-be iconic bands in Atlanta at the tender age of 16.  Think Fleetwood Mac, the Grateful Dead and Paul Simon.  His book, nonfiction bestseller Great Balls of Fire: The Uncensored Story of Jerry Lee Lewis, became a major motion picture by the same name.  He earned his Juris Doctor at Woodrow Wilson College of Law and has worked as a speechwriter for Coretta Scott King, a special emissary for the Dalai Lama, and a writer and lecturer on the subject of Spirit.  But most Savannahians know him for his spirited criticisms of the status quo in local government—often voiced on his Facebook campaign for mayor, Change Savannah.  To read the rest of Murray Silver's interview, pick up the latest copy of Savannah magazine, on newsstands now. [caption id="attachment_15462" align="aligncenter" width="238"]Photograph by Kay Heritage Photograph by Kay Heritage[/caption]

The Latest Challenger: Eddie Deloach

Former Chatham County Commissioner Eddie DeLoach had not declared his candidacy for Savannah’s mayor by the time we went to press with the September/October Best of Savannah issue.  But, we reached out as soon as we heard the news.  Kay Heritage stopped him on the campaign trail to ask a few questions.
Savannah Magazine: Why do you want the thankless job of mayor?
Eddie DeLoach:  I came from a family that taught me if a job wasn't getting done, I had an obligation to step in and help make things happen. Right now, I don't think the job is getting done in the Savannah city government. Crime is on the rise, our money is being wasted on studies and failed projects, and no one has proposed, much less implemented, a long-term vision for Savannah. I know I'm capable for the job and I know I'll give it the best I've got, but this isn't about me; this race is about helping the people of Savannah, Georgia, get the services, protection, and peace of mind that they deserve.
SM:  What are your qualifications to represent this city—both in and out of the box?  
DeLoach:  I grew up in the Savannah area, I've owned and operated a business in Savannah, and I served as a Chatham County Commissioner for eight years. I believe my business background will help me tackle the huge amount of money that the [current] Mayor and Council are wasting, which will free up the funding in the budget to fully staff our police force and help reduce crime. Savannah desperately needs real leadership and I truly believe I'm the person for this job.
SM:  What peculiarities do you love about Savannah?
DeLoach:  I moved to Savannah when my wife and I became empty nesters. I quickly learned to love this city. I've always loved to eat with a group of friends and family and being downtown makes it easy to find a local restaurant that caters to whatever you desire. There's always a crowd to enjoy the atmosphere with you and your friends. When my wife and I moved in, it was obvious to us that everyone in the neighborhood was concerned about each other. People brought cakes, food, and all types of things when we moved into the neighborhood. When our neighbor moved out, we celebrated their time with us and hosted parties to wish them well as they moved to a new Savannah location. If you lose a dog in Savannah, people help you find your dog. They'll take the time to call around to find your dog and they'll keep it safe if they find him. I remember I once kept a lost dog for three days. I didn't know whose dog it was, but I knew the owners would show up and I wanted to make sure that dog was safe and loved. That's Savannah for you.
SM:  What, in a nutshell, needs changing?
DeLoach:  I think most of the change in Savannah needs to happen in three main areas; crime, fiscal matters, and leadership. If we set a long-term vision for this city that incorporates a serious reduction in crime and involves cutting out waste, this city will see tremendous growth. There are many things in Savannah that don't need changing; we have incredible people and incredible character, but we need a leader who is willing to tackle the tough questions so that our citizens get what they deserve.

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[caption id="attachment_15188" align="aligncenter" width="585"] DIRTTbags Reggie Smith and Debra Ellison  [/caption] Our article on the corporate citizenship awards in the May/June issue didn’t do justice to DIRTT’s civic contributions.  So, inspired by the sustainable construction company’s clever acronym, we’re Doing It Right This Time. By Amy Paige Condon Used to be that being called a “DIRTTbag” was a bad thing.  But Georgia’s Manufacturer of the Year for 2013, DIRTT Environmental Solutions, has elevated the sobriquet to a term of endearment for all who follow the company’s unwavering commitment to sustainability and collaborative philanthropy. Laura Lee Bocade, DIRTT’s relationship and business development manager in Savannah, explains that the Calgary-based company’s ethos is built upon the edict “reduce, reuse and recycle.” “There’s a better way to build,” she says.  “People watch what you do; they don’t listen to just what you say.” DIRTT minimizes contributions to landfills (saving 65 million pounds of waste in five years) by reusing as many materials as possible in designing, building and shipping their proprietary flexible interiors.  They also source as many materials locally to reduce their carbon footprint—and that includes the proteins and produce the on-site chefs at DIRTT Café prepare for the employees. DIRTT’s unused wood and tempered glass finds its way into community projects, like the East 34th Street greenhouse and a shade house at the West Broad Street YMCA, both completed with Emergent Structures—a nonprofit collective of building professionals that repurposes salvaged materials.  Most recently, DIRTT collaborated with Rives Worrell, IKEA, SCAD and Emergent Structures on a rails table competition for the Creative Coast. During lulls in the manufacturing process throughout the year, DIRTT’s employees contribute time and effort to community organizations that matter to them—Savannah Tree Foundation, Second Harvest Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Emmaus House, among others. “We can be part of something with our hands, our feet, our hearts and our dollars,” says Bocade. Know this, though: DIRTT’s profits are as impressive as its commitment to community.  DIRTT has enjoyed 40 percent year-over-year growth since the day it opened its doors in 2004. “The company is living proof that you can do the right thing by people, by the environment, build the best product possible—and still make money for the company, for the team, the investors and all the stakeholders.” Nothing wrong with spreading a little DIRTT around.   To meet the other winners of Savannah Magazine's Corporate Citizenship Awards, pick up a copy of the May/June issue—on newsstands now.  Or better yet, subscribe TODAY, and enjoy Savannah all year long.

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Savannah is a city of families.  Some of us came over on the Anne in 1733.  Some arrived on Jet Blue in 2014.  And if history is any indicator, many will still be shaping our culture in 2133. In honor of this magazine’s 25th anniversary, we wanted to honor the fiber of our city: the families who helped build it.  We set out to profile a few of the multi-generational dynasties that have left a lasting mark on this city.  We got a lot more than we bargained for—and we were still interviewing as this magazine went off to press. From roots to leaves, Savannah’s family trees are like our signature live oaks: the roots run deep, the branches spread far and wide—and the leaves are always green.
Photography by Cedric Smith [caption id="attachment_14926" align="aligncenter" width="585"] The Ambos Family  [/caption]
The Ambos Family
If you know where to look on Romerly Marsh, near the north end of wild Wassaw Island, you can still see the ramshackle remains of an oyster outpost.  It’s the most remote marker of the Ambos Seafoods empire, a fixture in Savannah since the late 1800s.  It began in 1870 with a waterfront restaurant in Thunderbolt and has grown into a full-scale distributor of seafood, chicken and sausage. “The business has changed a lot through the years, but we’ve always focused on the best product and service,” reflects Hal Ambos, who owns and operates this fifth-generation family business with his brother, Drew.  “That will never change.” Deep Freeze:  In 1948, Henry F. Ambos and his business partner, William Mullis, invented a method to bread and freeze fantail shrimp.  They distributed the ready-to-cook product across America, transforming the seafood industry and bringing shrimp into millions of land-locked homes. —Florence M. Slatinsky [caption id="attachment_14927" align="aligncenter" width="585"] The Bond Family  [/caption]
The Bond* Family
Pin Point Betterment Association president Hanif Haynes is a direct descendant of a slave and a sharecropper on Ossabaw Island.  His great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Bond, came to Pin Point—a tiny African-American hamlet located off Diamond Causeway—in 1897, purchasing the first lot in the tiny waterfront neighborhood.  Over the years, the Bond family helped build the community, fishing local waterways, working at the Pin Point Oyster Factory and founding two local houses of worship. “This community comes from a group of people who persevered through slavery and sharecropping and were able to purchase land for themselves and to enjoy their first freedom,” Hanif observes.  “With such a legacy, it’s no wonder the spirit of Pin Point perseveres.” My Brother’s Keeper:  Almost everyone in Pin Point is related to one another through a common ancestor: David Bond.  The Bond family tree dates back several generations and even includes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, a Pin Point native. —Allison Hersh *We Stand Corrected: In the March/April 2015 print edition of the magazine, we listed the Bond family as the Barnes family.  We deeply regret this error. [caption id="attachment_14928" align="aligncenter" width="585"] The Minis Family  [/caption]
The Minis Family
It remains a family mystery as to what prompted Abigail and Abraham Minis, Ashkenazi Jews of German origin, to board the William and Sarah in 1733 with two young daughters, leaving London for the wilds of Savannah.  They were among the 42 Jews who left without knowing if Gen. James Oglethorpe would receive them into the Colony of Georgia, which he had founded just a few months earlier.  They couldn’t know if he would receive them—because they hadn’t asked for permission to come. After consulting with attorneys in Charleston, Oglethorpe decided not only to let the Jews stay but to grant them land.  Despite the hardship and the uncertainty of life in a colony with foreign traditions and few other Jews, the Minises thrived—and they’ve lived continuously in Savannah for 282 years. From the moment they landed, and through every successive generation, the Minises have invested in this community and been proud to be part of it.  Abraham was a farmer and merchant shipper who supplied Oglethorpe at Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island.  His widow, Abigail, raised eight children, operated a tavern that hosted many local dignitaries, and amassed huge land holdings that she passed on to her children.  She supported the American Revolution.  So did her son, Philip, who also led a failed raid against the British.  Her daughter, Judith, entertained Oglethorpe regularly. Successive ancestors invested in the first steamship, served in the military, in local government and as leaders of their synagogue and churches.  They were founding members of Congregation Mickve Israel, the Hibernian Society and the Oglethorpe Club.  They were doctors, merchants and seamen—most with an interest in business and an affinity for numbers.  Bob Minis started the investment firm Minis and Co. and later owned Carson Products, where his three children—Bobby, Henry and Peggy—were also involved before the company was sold in 1995. Call Declined:  After the Civil War, Abraham Minis and his wife, Lavinia, no longer wanted to vacation in the North.  Instead, they summered in Nova Scotia, where they met inventor Alexander Graham Bell.  Abraham declined to invest in a prototype of the telephone, saying, “I cannot invest in the hope of a solid wire being able to carry a voice.” Law and Order:  In 1867, President Andrew Johnson pardoned Dinah Minis, who was accused of treason for actively supporting the Confederacy.  Dr. Philip Minis, Dinah’s son, killed a man in a duel for allegedly making anti-Semitic remarks. True Romance:  Mary Haskell Minis turned down a proposal from her protégé, writer and artist Kahlil Gibran.  Though her husband disapproved of the emotional relationship, she edited Gibran’s work and supported him financially.  Their letters were published under the title The Beloved Prophet, and her collection of his drawings and paintings now resides at the Telfair Academy. —Florence M. Slatinsky To meet the more Savannah families, pick up the March/April 2015 issue of Savannah magazine today!  Better yet, subscribe NOW, right HERE » Our list of families is by no means exhaustive.  Share your family's story with us today—in your own words—at editor@savannahmagazine.com.

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BacktoSchool Will your future graduate be able to get a job?  How are your educators preparing the next wave of Savannah's workforce.  LAURIE J. FLYNN does the math.  PHOTOGRAPHY BY TERESA EARNEST

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View More: http://teresaearnestphotography.pass.us/marina-runners Savannah has been slow to arrive at the start line of the nation’s running culture. Andrea Goto looks for the key players who get—and keep—Savannah running.  PHOTOGRAPHY BY TERESA EARNEST It’s just before dawn on a chilly Sunday morning.  The intersection of Bull and Broughton streets is mostly dark in the predawn hours, save for a few intermittent headlights—latecomers, usually.  A few dozen runners baring too much skin for the forecast have already congregated in front of Starbucks, their shoulders stooped, hugging their bodies and sporadically bouncing in place for warmth. At precisely 6:30, Tharon Lambert, the president of the Savannah Striders Track Club, the city’s longest-standing running group, waves the runners in for a photo that will later be posted to Facebook, documenting who had the chops to rise and shine.  He energetically welcomes the group and quickly shares news about members’ recent accomplishments. Lara Zoeller has just completed and won a 12-hour race spanning nearly 73 miles.  The unassuming brunette acknowledges Tharon’s shout-out with a slight wave.  He announces that Lara will have the honor of leading the group on the nearly 8-mile track, up and over the Talmadge Bridge to Hutchinson Island and back. Chirps emit from GPS-enabled watches, conversations about pace and turn-around points begin, and the motley crew runs in the direction of the bridge, which is still cloaked in fog and darkness. View More: http://teresaearnestphotography.pass.us/rnr-2014  

»  To reader more about Savannah's running culture, pick up the Jan/Feb 2015 issue of Savannah magazine, on newsstands now.

Next Steps
Join your city magazine on February 6 and 7 for the Critz Tybee Run Fest: two days and five fun races that add up to 26.2 miles. Then, sign up for the Seacrest Partners Race for Preservation: a 5K/10K through the city’s historic neighborhoods to benefit the Historic Savannah Foundation. For a more running events, CLICK HERE »    

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0312-0057 Bumper crops of ginger and turmeric are redefining Southern staples, thanks to a couple of accidental farmers.  Maggie Harney goes in search of the exotic spices made famous by Marco Polo.  PHOTOGRAPHY BY JASON B. JAMES

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Transitioning to retirement living can be as much of a challenge for families as it is for their elders. 

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  Merline Labissiere   ★   Fashion designer and CEO, Provokestyle Fashion Corporation   ★   Neighborhood: Garden City [caption id="attachment_14239" align="aligncenter" width="394"]Photo by Cedric Smith Photo by Cedric Smith[/caption] Growing up in Miami, Florida, Merline Labissiere learned how to crochet at the age of 13 from an older woman who took the time to share her knowledge with an insecure, fashion-obsessed teen. “I didn’t grow up in an ideal situation,” she reflects.  “That skill jumpstarted a lot of my fashion creativity, but it also gave me a safe place.  It helped to restore and build up my self-esteem.  I remember the impact she had on my life by teaching me a simple technique.  I want to have that impact on teenagers today.” That’s exactly what Labissiere is doing through her Provokestyle Fashion Camp for local at-risk kids.  Thanks to her grassroots mentorship, kids can explore fashion design, refine their drawing skills and learn styling secrets. To help fund that project, Labissiere has created a ready-to-wear women’s collection, also named Provokestyle.  A portion of every sale benefits the fashion camp. It’s a big idea, and it all began with a Christian mission trip to Poland two years ago. “They went into the community and loved people and just spent time with people,” Labissiere recalls. “It wasn’t about forcing my views on people or coercing them to buy into what I believe; rather, it was about spending time. When we got back, the trip leader asked us how we could bring what we saw back here.” And that’s when Merline remembered the crochet lesson that changed everything for her. “I want my life to be one that provokes people,” she says now.  “Whether I’m creating a new design, working with youth or having a conversation with a stranger, I want to be provoking them to new ideas and new actions in their community.” And the best way to do that, says the fashionista, is to be yourself. “Identify your gifts and passions,” she suggests.  “There are needs everywhere in our community.” To meet more Givers, pick up the latest issue of Savannah magazine.

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[caption id="attachment_13804" align="aligncenter" width="576"]Vinson_46 Photography by Izzy Hudgins[/caption]

In our Best of Savannah issue (September/October 2014), we set out sights the city's hunting culture, from flint-knapped knives to what we put on our plates.  Pick up the latest issue of Savannah magazine, or, better yet, subscribe, and you'll —

   →   Go on a pheasant hunt with Dan Reel and Chief, his champion Boykin spaniel;

ToohollyFarmHunt103

   →   Visit the drying room of "Trapper Jack" Douglas, who talks turkey about the gator trade;

TrapperJack_01

   →   Sling arrows with Vinson Miner, a marksman and maker whose craft is as old as time; and,

Vinson_28

   →   Get cooking with area chefs, who rely on wild game to draw out the season's most succulent flavors.

[caption id="attachment_13810" align="aligncenter" width="576"]IMG_8207 Photograph by Angela Hopper[/caption]

Join Savannah magazine on the hunt.

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What will it take for Savannah to become a true arts destination?  Cléa Hernández collaborates with three art advocates and one editor to imagine the possibilities.  PHOTOGRAPHY BY KATIE MCGEE

_-39

It’s happy hour in Savannah, and it has arrived not a moment too soon.  Lightning slashes the riverfront and a torrential downpour pummels Congress Street as our cozy group watches the drama unfold safely through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls at Ampersand. As we talk, it’s clear that something else is brewing here besides the storm; something that has been top-of-mind for artists and arts advocates in the community for a long time.  With the city’s historic nod to art and commerce, the explosive creative energy generated by resident artists and students, plans underway for a new cultural arts center, and the recent strides made for public wall art by SeeSAW, why isn’t Savannah more recognizable worldwide as a bona fide arts destination the way Asheville, N.C., Chattanooga, Tenn., and Miami are? Savannah magazine associate editor Amy Condon and I wanted to investigate, so we invited local art ambassadors to join us for a liberating round of libations and confabulation.  Our eloquent escorts through Savannah’s creative landscape represent three examples of arts advocacy powerhouses operating right here on the Creative Coast, each one dedicated specifically to the advancement of the arts in our tableau vivant of a city. “Part of the solution is synthesis, and the need to bring people together, which is what our organizations are here to address,” our guest Christen Clougherty points out, as we all raise a glass to elevating Savannah’s status.

Meet Our Guests

_-1Christen Clougherty
ARC (Arts Resource Collective) Savannah A founding board member of ARC Savannah, Christen leverages the unifying power of her organization to serve as a platform for art advocacy, vision and action.  She is a professor at Savannah State University, where many of her courses deal with the business and legal fundamentals for artists.  In her “spare time” she also helms the Nobis Project, an educational nonprofit that uses service learning to promote global citizenship education.     _-3
Clinton Edminster
Art Rise Savannah As executive director of the nonprofit Art Rise Savannah, Clinton specializes in community building and economic vitalization through the arts in Chatham County.  His lofty imperative is to build up our creative economy by supporting the value of art with programs like the monthly First Friday Art March, Fresh Exhibitions Gallery, and the Savannah Art Informer, an online local arts review journal.    
_-2Jerome Meadows
Indigo Sky Community Gallery A native New Yorker, Jerome Meadows exchanged his subway pass for Savannah’s underground art community in 1997.  Indigo Sky Gallery, which he founded in an old ice house on Waters Avenue, works to forge key alliances between the “powers that be” and the “powers that create.”  A prolific sculptor, Jerome was commissioned by the Telfair Museum in 2009 to create an exhibition called Reframing a Perceptual Paradigm, in which he juxtaposed 130 works from the museum’s collection with his own.   
Is Savannah an arts destination now?  If not, where are we on that spectrum?
Jerome:  I feel confident in saying that the elements are here, the ingredients are here, but it’s certainly not as much of a destination as it can be. Christen:  I was thinking the same thing.  All the ingredients are here, but the chef’s not in the kitchen.  So now, it’s about bringing all the pieces together to orchestrate the “meal” and synthesize the visual, performing and literary arts.  There are lots of layers of art happening in Savannah. Clinton:  I agree.  My question is where do we focus on turning it into (a destination)?  Do we focus on the marketing effort?  Do we focus on the infrastructure?  What is that chef’s position who’s not in the kitchen? I think it’s really about marketing Savannah as an arts destination.  As more arts appreciators come to Savannah because they are enticed by that marketing, all those elements will start to come together. Jerome:  I think it’s important when we think of any location as an arts destination to think of who we are appealing to and what their expectations are. I was recently in Barcelona.  Talk about an arts destination!  And I notice that as I’m sitting in one of the main tourist spots there, the people who comprise the tourist crowd seem very different than those in Savannah.  They seem much more international, having come from sophisticated cities that are also art destinations in their own way.  To host a tourist crowd with that level of expectation, you really need to have your act together. I think that’s the level of challenge we should be taking on. Christen:  It’s true.  We have an enormously rich base of artistic talent that draws inspiration from the environment and history that make up Savannah.  But what’s lacking is a tourist who knows to look for that base. I often think of us as a great arts college town—which we are—but with all of the permanent artists in residence, we have so much potential to grow beyond that.  Once we do, it will allow those who are here to study to gain so much more from their experience.  One of the ways we will achieve that is through synthesis and discourse—doing exactly what we’re doing right now at the table. In the visual art world, we often work in isolation out of necessity, although many artists choose to work in collaboration for different bits of time.  But that isolation makes it hard see the whole picture of the art community. _-22
You mentioned that there are a lot of ingredients in the kitchen, but no chef.  Who is the chef?  Does it require someone at a political level?  Administrative?  Community?  Or do you need someone at each of those levels working in tandem?
Christen: It will have to be a collaborative effort, but one of the first steps will be education.  How do you educate the artists, the public and the city officials on what the tremendous benefit is—both economically and for quality of life? Clinton: Yes, education will open up resources to artists and the organizations that they’re working with.  We don’t even know what we could be capable of with those tools at our disposal, because they currently aren’t available. I really do believe that art can change the world—not in some frou frou way—but just in terms of better communication and health.  That’s really where I see art coming in and shaking stuff up in Savannah.  But it will require the whole vertebrae on the back of the “Savannah animal” to be linked and in communication.  It’s still a little disjointed.  We need some chiropractors to come in and give it a good massage.  (We all laugh.) Jerome: A biggie for me is sustainability.  What’s different about what we’re doing now as opposed to what others have tried before?  How sustainable is it?  Longevity takes commitment, and it takes avoiding certain things that have proven to be pitfalls in the past.  That was one of the main reasons I was excited about ARC Savannah.  Unlike others who have come and gone before, advocates and leaders who represent the structure and the vision are working together.
What are some good concrete examples of synthesis you've seen in other places that you think could help here?
Jerome:  In every city that I’ve ever lived in or I’ve visited that has a robust artistic community, there’s always a very strong department of cultural affairs doing the advocating—almost like  a local art czar—so that grassroots organizations and individuals have that city support. Clinton: One of the main goals of ARC and ArtRise is to connect the creative community and relay those messages on to the administration in the political realm.  We say, “Hey, we represent a sizeable population in Savannah that’s interested in seeing more public art and seeing more arts accessibility and funding for the arts.”  We’re creating a voice from the public that will encourage the political side.  It will be easier for the city to work with ARC or ArtRise Savannah than it will be for them to work with a lot of individual artists. Christen:  Grassroots will absolutely be the way that it will work.  Where we’ve found a pattern of success within Savannah is by going the grassroots route… Clinton: …coordinating all the advocacy into one voice, so that the political realm can hear us better.  Instead of just a noisy crowd, it’s a booming, organized voice. Christen: That also enhances our ability to disseminate information back to the artists and art advocates. Jerome:  In terms of destination and, we’re going to need city buy-in—well beyond what they are giving now.  We’re basically saying that we can’t just wait for that to happen, so we’re going to do our part and hoping that they step up to the plate. Christen: You know, there are plenty of amazing models in what other cities are doing, but we have a great model for what works here: the way different organizations work together to preserve and interact with the historic nature of the city.   Let’s elevate the arts in that same direction, where you have not-for-profit organizations like the Historic Savannah Foundation working with a certain type of agenda, and then the city adds its pieces.  There are all these different departments that play a variety of roles in manifesting the amazing preservation work that makes Savannah such a huge draw. That’s an amazing benefit of coming to Savannah.  You have all of this history and all of this art. One of our goals is to build off of that.  For instance, when you got to VisitSavannah.com, arts and culture are grouped together.  All that history is in with the arts.  We have so much of both here that we deserve to have two pages of each.  That amazingly vital combination is what sets us apart from other cities.  That would be our biggest selling angle. _-18

After two hours of energizing conversation about the keys to arts success in Savannah—such as nurturing a community of collectors, determining the monetary value of art, art education, the psychology of art appreciation, and creating working studio and gallery corridors along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Waters Avenue—something becomes crystal clear: we need to keep talking.

Each one of these topics deserves further reflection and action.  But coming to this realization is anything but disheartening.  It means we have a strong network of artists and appreciators who want to move forward—together.

American realist—and recent Telfair Museums exhibitor—Robert Henri said, “The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.”  The consensus around the table is that Savannah will get there.  For the vibrant community that lives and creates in Savannah, reaching that state will involve transformative collaborations and continuing conversation.

What do you think, Savannah?  Tell us in the comments.  We'll be posting more of our conversation in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

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