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Summer in the city
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In the new August 2013 Southern Living, in “The 10 Commandments of Southern Style,” Editor M. Lindsay Bierman writes, “Thou Shalt Support Local Businesses: When I built my lake house, I could have ordered fixtures, cabinets, and hardware online, but I went to brick-and-mortar shops for some face-to-face help with details and logistics. It may cost more, but it’s worth it when every purchase has the power to support -- or drain -- your local economy.” Another Bierman commandment: “Thou Shalt Reinforce a Sense of Place: Historic neighborhoods that fell victim to the flurry of teardowns and massive additions in the early 2000s have lost most of the charm that attracted folks in the first place. Never ignore established design conventions like roof heights, setbacks and materials -- build upon them.”

Good news: The Greenville-based marketing firm of Arnett Muldrow that council unanimously voted to help us to put our best foot forward will begin working in Camden on September 18 with a three-month contract. They will be collaborating with a 13-member steering committee of community and business leaders and will personally interview at least 25 other members of the Camden community with a history of cultural, political and economic leadership. Stay tuned.

Background information: Arnett Muldrow, an urban planning firm that specializes in community branding, retail market analysis, historic preservation and downtown masterplanning, is currently working in 18 states across the U.S. and have worked in more than 150 communities. Unlike a typical advertising or marketing agency, Arnett Muldrow positions itself as a planning firm that understands the complexities of community issues. Given their success in Greenville and Greer among other South Carolina cities, we are looking forward to welcoming them as city guests; I will report more about them and their progress (I hope) next month.

In March, eight of us, at the invitation of Joe and Sandy Shull, visited the Columbus, Miss., “Spring Pilgrimage,” a 73-year old, two-week long tourist event centering on ante-bellum homes, gardens and cemeteries that brings between 10 and 15 thousand visitors to Columbus. There, we saw for ourselves the dynamic interaction of tourism and economic development, all designed and orchestrated by one Nancy Luke Carpenter. Near the end of July, with private donations for her lodging and meals, the city welcomed the extraordinary Mrs. Carpenter, CEO and executive director of the Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation for a long weekend. Ms. Carpenter, who had previously served as regional vice president of Deposit Guaranty National Bank, First American National Bank, and AmSouth, was named by Governor Haley Barbour to the Civil Rights Museum Commission in 2011. That same year, she was named to the board of trustees of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, receiving confirmation from the state of Mississippi. The purpose of her visit here was to get her “read” on Camden and possibly enlist her professional services on some level yet to be determined. After meeting with leaders of tourist-related programs, she said in effect that Camden has far greater assets than we seem to realize and that we should start stressing what we have, not what we don’t have. A passionate supporter of our military men and women, Ms. Carpenter has also served on the board of directors for the Columbus Air Force Base Community Council and is a wingman and honorary commander at the Columbus Air Force Base. She strongly advocates that we embrace Fort Jackson and Shaw Air Force Base and invite enlisted men and women to our community events. Her definition of “tourist,” by the way, is “a head on a bed, and a meal.” She doesn’t think a visit to a sporting event or a gift shop quite does it.

Announcement: To restaurant owners and their friends (who are all of us): as you may already know, council voted unanimously to allow bistro tables and chairs on our restaurant sidewalks for outdoor dining starting July 1, 2013. Despite intermittent storms, so far this summer we’ve enjoyed moderate temperatures; we sincerely hope to join happy scenes of outdoor diners soon.

Exciting news: Rebecca and Jeremy Wooten’s Wooten & Wooten antiques gallery at 1036 Broad will be holding its inaugural auction, “Fine Southern Estates,” this Saturday, August 10, starting at 10 a.m., with online and in-person clients representing an international base. Their March auction at the Galleria was a resounding success. Preview hours: Wednesday-Friday, noon-8 p.m. Wine & Jazz reception on Thursday evening, 6-8 p.m.

It’s all good.