Photo by Ruta Smith

More of this, please

Events close to home and far afield cast a long and dark shadow over 2020, and since March, good news has been hard to come by. So to close out this rough year, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the stories that made us smile and may have been lost in the shuffle of fear and uncertainty during a tumultuous year.
Conversations around race

The disassembly of John C. Calhoun’s statue in Marion Square marked a milestone in racial reckoning and equity in Charleston. The eventual removal of the looming figure followed weeks of protests calling for racial justice in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
On the same day they approved Calhoun’s removal, Charleston City Council members created the city’s Commission on Equity, Inclusion and Racial Conciliation.

Local leaders have their work cut out for them to make good on the promises of the city’s 2017 slavery apology. The road ahead, confronting the hard truths about Charleston’s past, is long. But dozens of local community members have demonstrated a commitment to continuing those tough conversations.

Return to public parks

In a surprise twist of fate, during the pandemic, folks left their homes in droves not to crowded businesses and downtown streets, but to explore their public parks. Consumer surveys told the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism that people preferred the great outdoors as a social-distanced sanctuary.

Though parks closed for a month in the early days of statewide shutdowns, park rangers and managers noticed an explosion of visitors after reopening in May. Campground occupancy this year was more than 60% compared to last year’s 48% despite the monthlong closure, according to Director of Corporate Communications Dawn Dawson-House. Not only that, but park revenue is up by almost $6 million, she said.

Holy City Drive-in

Drive-in movies made a comeback

Perhaps a more personal pleasure is the major comeback of drive-in movies, a favorite pastime of times past that has returned in 2020 that made people think twice about sitting for hours in close proximity to others. Local moviegoers rolled up at The Terrace, Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant and The Woodlands for al-fresco flicks. Elsewhere, Charleston residents have had no shortage of options for pulling their cars up to the big screen for some socially distanced entertainment.
It’s unclear whether the surge of interest has sparked a full drive-in movie rebirth, but in Charleston and across the country, these pop-up drive-ins will keep it alive for at least a few more months.

Environment at the forefront

In the wake of the near-global quarantine in March and April earlier this year, Earth saw billions of those who call the planet home stay indoors. Pollution plummeted, noise was reduced and conservation groups began to watch the planet heal as animals returned to their natural habitats in the absence of humanity.

The hope many felt as they witnessed a rebirth of the natural world was a continuation of a trend seen first in the beginning of the year for those in the Lowcountry, after the city and county passed an ordinance banning the use of single-use plastics within city limits in an effort to clean up the Lowcountry’s waterways and coasts.

And though the ordinance was suspended to help keep struggling businesses afloat during quarantines and shutdowns, perhaps knowing our leaders are looking at ways to better the Lowcountry outside of city streets was enough for many businesses to hold onto the ideal as well, serving up drinks with paper straws and bagging groceries in paper instead of plastic.

Pet adoption rush

An early August report from The Washington Post detailed a bona fide sales boom at shelters. Animal societies, nonprofit rescues, private breeders and pet stores alike all reported more consumer demand than there were cats and dogs to fill it.

According to Charleston Animal Society’s Foster and Rescue Coordinator Jodi Osborne, their shelter facilitated the fostering of 1,731 pets since the beginning of the year and 4,020 adoptions, a noticeable bump from previous years’ numbers.

Honorable mentions

There was more good news than many realized this year, much of which went totally unnoticed. Here are a few more stories we encourage readers to check out for a bit of feel-goodness. Bidets are booming; you can now tour parks, museums and zoos virtually; NASA found water on the moon; the 9-to-5 days of the modern office are probably over; some of you are getting really good at Instagram stories (looking at you Tamika and Lindsay); and this year’s election offered voters safe, easy voting options.