Saloon Session with Jamie Gillette

Jamie Gillette began volunteering with Charleston Waterkeeper in December as a general outreach volunteer. Jamie has a passion for environmental education that translates into sheer enthusiasm when engaging with the public. She is always up for an adventure and we are so pleased to be a part of her journey. The following is from her feature in our Quarterly Volunteer Newsletter this spring. We hope you enjoy getting to know another one of our outstanding volunteers in this special Saloon Session!

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-Tell us about your background. 
My family is originally from Keokuk, Iowa, but moved to Charlotte, NC before I was born. I was lucky enough to be raised in the Carolinas, in the small but fast-growing town of Fort Mill, SC. It’s the home of an awesome strawberry festival, relaxed lake living, and the cutest main street you’ve ever seen. It’s not much but it’s home. I would consider my true passions environmental education and civic engagement. I enjoy anything that involves being outside (soccer, hiking, climbing, camping) and I also enjoy doing crafty projects and painting. If I’m not out exploring Charleston or visiting my family in Fort Mill, then I’m usually helping out at events for local organizations or sleeping. Sleeping’s my favorite.

-What’s your local waterway?
I live on the west side of the peninsula, so I guess my local water would be the Ashley River. I love visiting Brittlebank Park to watch the sunset, hanging out on the dock with my feet in the water. I also like to go for runs along the marsh in Wagener Terrace or go do “faux-ga” on the West side dock. If you haven’t sat along the Ashley and watched the sunset, I encourage you to do so. If you take the time, it’s amazing how much life and activity you’ll see in the marsh grass and waters.

-Why do you volunteer with Charleston Waterkeeper?
I got involved with Charleston Waterkeeper through my graduate program at CofC, the Master of Environmental Studies Program. Charleston Waterkeeper offers me an opportunity to get involved with environmental education in our community and gives me a chance to encourage citizens to make educated decisions and instill sustainable habits.

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-Why is clean water important to YOU?
We have such an intense dependency on water and its quality. Every aspect of our lives can be linked in some way to water. From food, tourism, occupation, recreation, food chains, to human health; think of all of things in your daily life that depend on water. Clean water is important to me specifically because of the things I enjoy doing – eating seafood, shrimping, swimming. It’s hard to enjoy these things and the place that I live when the waters are impaired. I bet the aquatic organisms think clean water is pretty sweet too.

-If you could live on any waterway, where would it be and why?
If I could live on any waterway in the world, it would be where the Ashley and Cooper waters flow as one. Too sappy? Okay, well I think I would want to live along Triple Falls in the Dupont State Forest in North Carolina. It may not sound that exciting, but the amount of waterfalls there due to the land’s elevation changes is pretty awesome. My favorite thing to do there is climb the boulders along the stretch of the falls. Also, Hunger Games was filmed there… impressed yet? Katniss and I could be neighbors.


-We love your many artistic endeavors. Where do you draw your inspiration?
A lot of my “artistic” endeavors are focused on repurposing and upcycling. Doing projects with my dad was something I always enjoyed growing up. Recently, I’ve gotten really into taking pictures (with my iPhone). Charleston historical buildings and beautiful landscapes are the inspiration for a lot of them. Many of my pictures are of abandoned buildings, the beach, rusted metals, peeling paint, and of course, the sunset/sunrise. I enjoy finding interesting textures and bright colors on the day to day.

-We hear that you enjoy spending your free time exploring our wonderful city. What is your favorite or most interesting discovery?
That’s close to one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. I think my favorite place to go explore would be the quaint alleys and streets on the peninsula south of Broad Street. I usually ride my bike down to White Point Gardens (Battery Park) and meander through the neighborhoods. Occasionally you discover small gardens and courtyards that you’ve seemed to overlook a thousand times. Each time I seem to discover a new Charleston secret.

-Anything else you want people to know?
There are many great organizations to volunteer with in our area. In addition to Charleston Waterkeeper, there are opportunities to do shark sampling with DNR, community cleanups with Keep Charleston Beautiful, school gardening with The Green Heart Project, beach cleanups with Surfrider, environmental student programs with SEWEE, staffing a multitude of races and runs, and waste auditing with CofC’s Office of Sustainability. Take the time to check out local events and organizations whose missions interest you and donate some of your time. Much of what these organizations accomplish would not be possible without the help of volunteers!


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