Jenn C, a northern transplant and marketing enthusiast (I’m really not sure what that is, but anyway) recently got Charlestonians in an uproar with her recent blog post. In it she explains why Charleston isn’t the town for her. Well, she upset quite a few folks and seems to be at a loss for why. Lemme ‘splain.
First, kudos to Ms C. As a marketing enthusiast, she realized that her blog would get considerable views and engagement with an article than inflames passions. Writing what people want to hear will just get some silent nods and a bunch of shrugs, but get controversial and the boards light up like a Menorah. Now, when she claims:
“I’m decidedly unclear how so many of you could be offended by the opinion of a stranger”
I can’t be clear whether she’s being disingenuous or clueless. It shouldn’t take much to realize that statements such as:
It… is missing that bracket of creative 30-40 year-old professionals who said “marriage and kids can wait while I do me for a minute.”
will certainly bring out those of us single creatives of, oh, let’s say middling age, to declare, “Hey! You missed us! Or do we just not count?” Of course there’s:
It’s also in dire need of ANY kind of subculture.
To which all of our subculture folks have to say, huh? Maybe we don’t know which particular subculture we are lacking? I know a number of Cosplay folks, artists, musicians, actors, comedians, swingers, polies, tangueros – the list goes on. Then there’s:
How do people sustain themselves here? I guess they have kids.
Being close to 50 and never having had kids, and dating a woman slightly (I said slightly, dear) younger who also never had kids, we certainly haven’t had problems meeting people who are also child-free. Maybe we’re too old, but I definitely work with some 30-somethings who are also not on the fast track to family life.
Let’s face it, Jenn, the issue with us isn’t really that you don’t like it here. No place is perfect for everyone. Some people like big cities (like Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, New York) and others like smaller cities, such as Providence, Richmond, and Charleston. Some don’t like cities at all. We cheer on diverse wants and needs to find fulfillment and happiness in your life. If a place isn’t right for you doesn’t mean it sucks, though. I don’t like butternut squash. Lots of people do. They aren’t wrong for liking it but the poor squash, humble gourd that it is, shouldn’t be cursed as being unlovable.
A bit of advice, which is ages old and is used in many different situations: stick to “I” statements. As in:
I prefer brunettes (redheads, actually)
I prefer the mountains
I prefer a city which is not dominated by blond Caucasians.
No one can really question you for that, since you get to own your likes and dislikes. No need to suggest we all suck or somehow our choices are wrong.
Now, just to address some of the things you may have missed regarding Charleston – after all you’ve only been here 6 months. (It takes a bit longer to find these things.)
You mention there’s nothing to do beyond beaches and drinking at the bars. Did you know we have over a dozen theatres that put on amazing work? They include (but are not limited to):
An amazing comedy/improv theater at Theatre 99
Live music? We have The Music Farm, The Tin Roof, The Pour House and at least a couple dozen other venues. All of which can be found listed in the free weekly Charleston City Paper.
I admit, we lack a Portuguese restaurant, but we have 2 great Indian restaurants (Nirlep and Taste of India) in walking distance from my house and a number of others a little further away. There’s Pollo Tropical for terrific Peruvian fare, Reggae Grill for Caribbean food and tremendous jerk chicken, Raul’s Maya del Sol for authenticate Mexican (Raul is a friend and he can kick out some amazing stuff). There’s Thai, Ethiopian, French, Spanish (tapas), and Italian which all kick some butt and none of them are the ultra-expensive variety. Yes, we have fine dining, too. Places like Husk, FIG, Hall’s Chophouse, The Ordinary have received raves and they aren’t dishing up purely fried southern comfort foods. I’ll also say that, as someone who doesn’t care for traditional southern fare and rarely eat fried food (excepting the chicken at Leon’s), I can find a ton of restaurants with good, healthy, non-southern food. Heck, we have a vegan motorcycle bar! What do you mean there’s no subculture?
Pizza? Now, pizza is a battleground I won’t tread onto. Once you’ve found one you like, all others will pale in comparison. Personally, I’ve found many great pizza places, from Mellow Mushroom to Baronis’s to D’Allesandro’s. All are different, but all are tasty. I will suggest you avoid Andolini’s. They don’t offer bacon. Are they crazy? I’ll let you decide.
As to diversity… Um, did you go anywhere other than Mount Pleasant and the tourist sections of downtown? I know you only had 6 months. Park Circle and West Ashley have plenty of non-white faces. Stretch your wings and they’re out there.
Personally, I promised myself 5 years in Charleston before I decided if it was right for me. 3 may work for most, but it seems 6 months is not anywhere near enough time. No, we’re not as diverse as a city of 1,000,000 people and we still have race and poverty issues. It takes those of us who see it as a problem to affect change, though.
As to dating, since Jodi and I host a weekly relationship show, we get to talk about the dating scene here in Charleston quite frequently. Is it harder to find good dates here moreso than other places? That really hasn’t born itself out – for cities of similar sizes. It’s certainly cozier than some places. When I go out to dinner in Charleston there’s a decent chance I’ll run into someone I know. Of course, there’s a chance I’ll run into Bill Murray, too. How cool is that? That was rarely the case when I lived in Boston. I was always anonymous. That just comes with the size. And size really is personal preference.
Look. I’m not trying to talk you out of moving. If you don’t like it, you don’t like it and I wish you peace and contentment wherever you go. Personally, I don’t feel Charleston is deserving of the knocks you’ve leveled against it, since I’ve discovered a very different place than the one you describe. I also have found it rare to meet someone who is a native. Pretty much everyone I’ve run into are transplants, but, then again, that’s going to be based on the circles you choose to enter into. I stuck with groups that were geared towards the new folks in town, such as those on meetup.com.
In conclusion, I certainly don’t feel the personal attacks against you are justified. I encourage respectful discourse and I respect your right to like or dislike any place you wish. I do encourage you to avoid insulting people on your way to declaring your preferences. It doesn’t matter how ugly the baby is, telling its mother that it’s ugly will not go over well.
Addendum: Please note that the author of the original blog has received considerable blowback, not just about the content of the article, but directed at her personally and in threatening ways. Out of respect I have removed the Google cached link from the comments and removed her last name from the blog. I don’t know if it will help now that the cat’s out of the bag, but I encourage all of you to remain respectful. We can discuss ideas without threatening one another. Let’s rise above this one, shall we?
Steve is the founder of Straight Talk Entertainment and currently produces and writes for the audio drama Aural Traditions, recently voted Charleston City Paper’s Best Local Podcast. He’s also an Information Security professional and avid shark tooth hunter.