Shit got real at this morning’s Creative Mornings Charleston, a monthly breakfast lecture series. This month’s topic was reality — hence the talk of things getting real — and Will Altman, a local rancher and conservationist, took to the task of tackling a 20-minute talk on the subject. 

Altman starts his story from the beginning: a time some years ago when he was drunk-eating Chinese food in his college computer lab. Been there too, Will. His friend called him up and asked if he wanted to go to river guide school out in Wyoming after graduation. He said, “Sure.” 

Altman describes stories of defying fear, namely the time he jumped into an ice cold river to prove that he could wrangle that particular fear — you know, the one of potentially dying. He talked about superficial fears and real fears, showing slides of a woman speaking in public and a man being mauled by a bear. “One of these, you will be OK afterwards,” says Altman.

A lot of Creative Mornings speakers talk about fear, conquering it, facing it, and using it to get to where they are now, i.e. successful enough to be talking to a room of 100 people about their lives. Altman took this theme and ran with it, proving to the audience that he can face one of his fears: public speaking. Oh, and public speaking in his underwear? Yeah, he can tackle that one, too. Altman told the audience to close our eyes and imagine standing in front of a room in our underwear. You know the classic nightmare … well, we opened our eyes to Altman in all of his nearly-nude glory. 

“If you’re gonna do work that matters, you have to dance with fear,” says Altman. His current work is the EATME project, a movement/company/thought process that encourages people to look at both the cultural and historical importance of heirloom breeds. Altman has been raising heirloom hogs for a bit now, selling his product at the Charleston Farmers Market.

“If there’s not a market for these hogs, then they’re going to waste into oblivion,” he says of the importance of breeding and eating heirloom animals. He has also recently started growing the Carolina African Runner peanut, the first peanut cultivated in North America. Stay tuned for the EATME website, launching in the next week or so. Until then, follow Altman here. 

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