On November 5, Vineyard Vines hosted a grand opening party at their newest retail location–King Street, Charleston, SC! The event featured live music, cold drinks, and many reminders of “the good life.” The founders of Vineyard Vines, brothers Shep and Ian Murray, were on-hand to mingle with guests. Their love of water is evident in both their nautical-inspired clothing and their story; however, this commitment became more clear when they and the Vineyard Vines team decided to donate 10% of sales from the grand opening party to support Charleston Waterkeeper. Founder Cyrus Buffum sat down with Shep and Ian in our first ever video-style Saloon Session. It’s only been a couple of months, but Vineyard Vines is making quite the splash in Charleston. Welcome to town, guys!
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Carl Cole began volunteering with Charleston Waterkeeper in August under the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program as a Field Investigator. Carl has a natural curiosity for the wonders of the environmental world and this shines through in the quality of his performance. We were pleased to feature him in our first Quarterly Volunteer Newsletter, and hope you enjoy getting to know one of our outstanding volunteers in this very special Saloon Session!
–Tell us about your background.
I was born in California but grew up in Arkansas between the Ozark and Ouachita mountains. I did two tours as a Navy Radioman in Vietnam. On the first, I lived in Saigon and fell in love with the country, the people, the culture, and especially the food. The arid US Southwest, the mountains of Northwest Arkansas, the incense and fish sauce scented streets of Saigon, and the Lowcountry each, in its own way, feels like home.
After a BS in Mathematics from the University of Arkansas, I spent about four decades as a computer programmer and IT manager, much of that as VP of Technical Services or Director of Technology Services for a software company. After retiring, I became a Charleston Master Naturalist and later a South Carolina Statewide Master Naturalist. More recently, I became a DHEC certified wild mushroom forager and I’m two burns away from completing the SC Forestry Commission’s requirements for Certified Prescribed Fire Manager. I keep a vegetable garden and enjoy cooking, especially Vietnamese and other Southeast Asian food.
–If you could live on any waterway in the world, where would you choose and why?
I’m not much for wishing I was somewhere else. As the American Zen Buddhist Jon Kabat-Zinn says “Wherever you go, there you are.” That said, if I were going to pick a waterway somewhere else, it would be on Sông Thu Bồn (the Thu Bồn river) at Hội An, a little gem of a town on the central coast of Vietnam.
–We love hearing your stories, is there a favorite anecdote you would like to share?
I can’t sing (or even tap my boot reliably) so tonal Asian languages have always defeated me. Patti and I were visiting a pottery manufacturer outside Đà Nẵng and our host told the proprietor that we were Americans. I looked up and said that we’re “Mỹ” (Vietnamese for American) but, as usual, I got the tone wrong. Our host got a wet cat look and said “You said noodle!” (“mì” in Vietnamese). After that, I joked that we were the noodle-headed Americans.
–What’s one thing you cannot live without?
Choosing ONE thing between coffee (including the Vietnamese expresso cà phê sữa) and Vietnamese fish sauce (nước mắm) is an impossible choice for me.
–What’s something unique that your fellow volunteers may not know about you?
I’m an occasional artist and poet. For example, I used to paint custom watercolor dog portraits. Appropriate to both the current season and to my current life as a retiree is an old haiku that I call my “Old Man’s Poem”:
Early frost glistens.
Who cares for a distant Spring?
Fall’s last yellow blooms.
–Anything else you’d like to share?
In an essay I wrote a decade ago, I said “Compared to most of the world’s more than six [now seven] billion people, I’ve lived a life of unimaginable and undeserved privilege; I’ve enjoyed years of Patti’s ideal companionship; at times, I actually walk “the Way that cannot be spoken”; and almost daily I’m blessed with experiences like seeing the face of God in the shimmer of a dragonfly’s wing.”
The privilege is much deeper even than that: simple awareness is a stunning blessing. I’ve said for years that I am everything that is, being temporarily and partially aware of itself. More elegantly, Eckhart Tolle said “You are the universe, expressing itself as a human for a little while.” In a Sixties hippie song, the Youngbloods said “We are but a moment’s sunlight fading in the grass”. Oh, but what a gorgeous moment it is!
This month Charleston Waterkeeper is proudly celebrating the one year anniversary of our Mobile Pumpout Program. Since launching our pumpout boat, the No 2, last year we’ve safely removed 13,842 gallons of marine sewage (as measured by our MarineSync MS1). That’s not all, the number grows every week! We regularly service over 40 clients and requests for pumpouts come in daily (call (843) 608-9287 to schedule your pumpout).
Discharging untreated marine sewage in our waterways is illegal. Most marine head systems provide only a minimal level of treatment for sanitary waste. High bacteria levels from sources like marine heads can impact our right to safely recreate and harvest shellfish from local waters.
Cheryl Carmack, our staff water quality scientist, explains: “Data from our water quality monitoring sites in the lower Ashley River show enterococcus bacteria levels that exceed state water quality standards for safe swimming and shellfishing.”
In an effort to reduce bacteria levels, the No 2’s captain, Herman Miller, focuses his work in the lower Ashley River. “Several marinas only offer shoreside pumpout stations” he says “It’s really just a matter of making boaters aware of our service. Once they find out it’s the right thing to do and it’s free, they quickly become repeat clients.”
Charleston Waterkeeper is not content serving only the lower Ashley River though. “Over the next year we’ll be working to expand the program to cover new territory” adds Andrew Wunderley, our Program Director and Staff Attorney. “We’re especially interested in marinas near open shellfish grounds and areas the public uses for water-based recreational activity.” The team’s goal is to remove 45,000 gallons of marine sewage by November 2015.
Operating the Mobile Pumpout Program is truly a team effort. Charleston Waterkeeper is thankful for the support of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Clean Vessel Act Program, the Charleston City Marina, and, of course, our Pumpout Program clients! Their generous support helps make this program possible and your waterways cleaner!
Every week from May through October our Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program tests 15 recreational hotspots for fecal pollution. On Wednesday, October 29, our team collected the last batch of water samples for 2014. This is an exciting time for us. We completed the second year of the program and our first full six-month sampling season!
Over the next couple of months we’ll organize the newest data into our 2014 Recreational Water Quality Scorecard. Our goal is to have the scorecard available for you in early 2015 (see how your favorite waterways fared in our 2013 Recreational Water Quality Scorecard here). In the meantime, here’s a teaser of what we found in 2014:
15 sites monitored weekly
26 weeks of sample collection
390 samples available for collection
376 samples actually collected
96.4% completeness rate
7 samples missed due to Lady C maintenance
7 samples missed due to inclement weather
8 volunteers trained as Field Investigators
1,880 lines of data generated
24,196 MPN/100 mL – Highest sample reading
10 MPN/100 mL – Lowest sample reading
Charleston Harbor 2 (CofC Sailing) – Best overall performance
James Island Creek 2 – Worst overall performance
Keep in mind that these numbers are preliminary. All data produced by the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program adheres to our DHEC-approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). This means we still need to vet the complete dataset to make sure it is top quality.
We verify our data on a weekly basis to ensure we’re keeping everything in order, but we do not stop there. At the end of the sampling season, we hand our data and records over to a third party for a line-by-line validation of the dataset. This process reviews our performance based on the guidelines established in our QAPP.
After all of the review cycles, we will submit our 2014 dataset to DHEC. The data will be used by DHEC to formulate the 303(d) list of impaired waters. This is a list of all waterways in the state that do not meet their water quality standards. The list is put out every two years, so our data from 2013 and 2014 will be used in developing the 2016 303(d) list.
We all know the saying “more is better.” That’s certainly not the case with fecal pollution, but it is true of our data. The bacteria we monitor are highly variable in our waterways. The more data we examine, the better insight we’re able to develop about local water quality. In our 2014 scorecard we will examine our datasets from 2013 and 2014. That way you’ll get the best and highest quality information about swimability of your local waterways in our 2014 Recreational Water Quality Scorecard.
We look forward to taking the next couple of months to analyze our data and plan for the 2015 sampling season. As we work to expand the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program, it is important that we stop to express our sincerest gratitude to all that help make this program a reality. We want to give a huge thank you to all of our hard working volunteers! Thank you to our partners: College of Charleston’s Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences and Charleston City Marina. We also want to give a very special thanks to Charleston Community Sailing for loaning us a boat for the last several sample runs. Finally, thank you to all who continue to support the Recreational Water Quality Monitoring Program through your generous donations. We could not do this work without your support!
We are continuously inspired by local, regional, and national companies who take an active role in supporting nonprofit initiatives and the communities in which they operate their business. This November we have partnered with The Halsey for a screening of the newly release documentary, Watermark, revleaing the powerful connection between water and human existance. We caught up with the Halsey Team to chat more about the film, Charleston and our community’s connection to art:
1.The Halsey was founded on the idea of creating “meaningful interactions between adventurous artists and diverse communities,” can you tell us how you cultivate these interactions? Why are they important to Charleston’s culture?
The great thing about contemporary art is that it is constantly evolving in the present moment. The works are reflections of our current culture and the shadow we cast – it is the art of our time. We feel contemporary art has the ability to resonate within a society. We focus on adventurous and under-recognized artists, people making fascinating and awe inspiring works that the general public may have never heard of. Sometimes these artists are “from off” and add balance to the voices in our local art scene. When we as a community interact with and meet these artists and their ideas, we all benefit from the diversification of thought.
By connecting our community to artists that possess the ability to distill our shared human experiences, we are connecting our community to their voice. In Charleston, we are steeped in history, certainly ours, but also the history of our nation’s founding. Our history is rich and deep, and through the herculean efforts of local organizations, it will be preserved for years to come. This history is only part of our city’s identity. It is important for us to connect to contemporary issues and expressions so that, as a community, we can truly know ourselves.
2.Tell us a little bit more about why you decided to show Watermark.
We had a show of the Edward Burtynsky’s photographs, No Man’s Land: Contemporary Photographers and Fragile Ecologies, in 2004. He is a friend of the Halsey Institute and among the world’s most significant ecologically-minded artists. In addition to the film’s stunning visual imagery, there is an over-arching message of reverence for this precious resource an the need to respect its power – it supports our very existence on this planet. Art has a way of communicating ideas in a way that language cannot. Words have different meanings and impact for different people. With art, we are given a visual representation to connect with. Our hope is that folks will attend the film, learn about Charleston Waterkeeper and their efforts and programming, then become good stewards of our environment.
We need healthy oceans. We need clean rivers. Water doesn’t need us, we need water.
3. In your own words, why is clean water vital to a healthy community, such as Charleston?
It’s a matter of geography! Our city is surrounded by water and our early economic development is tied to our beautiful matrix of waterways. Not only are we interested in clean water for the sake of our boating and swimming activities, but we must also care for the plants and animals affected by our activity on the water. It’s wonderful that Charleston has an organization like Charleston Waterkeeper to help us monitor our waterways with clear, trackable data that can be accessed by any citizen. We are surrounded by natural beauty and the capability to maintain this healthy, vibrant environment. It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the land and water we inhabit because, we are really only borrowing it, caring for it while our children grow up.
Thank you, Halsey Team, for all of your support! We hope to see everyone next Wednesday at the Charleston Music Hall!
Click here for details about the screening.
Click here to view the movie trailer.
A few more images from The Halsey…