The Newsletter of the Sapelo Island
Cultural & Revitalization Society Inc.
Summer 2006 / Online Edition

SICARS honored for preservation work on Sapelo

SICARS has been awarded the Preservation Achievement Award from the state of Georgia for outstanding contributions to historic preservation.

The annual award program commends those who have helped promoted the division’s mission, vision and goals through involvement in the division’s programs. Honorees are nominated by the staff of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Historic Preservation Division. The nomination noted SICARS’ restoration of the First African Baptist Church at Raccoon Bluff and its current project, the restoration of the Farmers Alliance Hall (1929) in Hog Hummock. The award ceremony was held on May 19 in Atlanta.

Happy “Birth Place,” Gracie!

SICARS Board Secretary Gracie L. Chandler turned 65 years old in May, so her husband, Tommy, threw her a big bash to celebrate.

However, instead of accepting traditional gifts from her friends and family, Gracie asked everyone to give a gift to SICARS. Tommy and Gracie called the fundraising event “A Birth Place Party.”

The party raised more than $3,500 in donations, and gifts from people who couldn’t attend are still coming in to the SICARS office.

The event was held at the Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity house in Jacksonville, where Gracie and Tommy live. More than 50 people attended.

Gracie presented a photo slideshow for her guests and shared stories about her family history on Sapelo Island. Afterward, the guests dined on fried fish and grits, Sapelo style. The SICARS staff and several board members attended and gave a presentation about the organization’s work to preserve the culture and land on the island.

SICARS appreciates Gracie’s unselfishness and we thank her friends and family for their generosity.

Cultural Village designated a “We the People” project

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently awarded SICARS a $15,000 grant in support of its Sapelo Island Cultural Village project.

In addition to the award, SICARS’ Cultural Village initiative was one of 55 successful grants designated as We the People projects, a special recognition by the NEH for model projects that advance the study, teaching, and understanding of American history and culture.

SICARS’ Cultural Village will be a living-history facility sited on 25 acres that will serve as a primary heritage-tourism destination for the general public, coupled with an education center to accommodate conferences, workshops and resident scholars.

“We are excited and ready to launch this cultural and historic project,” said Carolyn L. Dowse, SICARS executive director. “This project will further enhance our mission to preserve the island’s Gullah/Geechee culture and promote economic sustainability for the people of Hog Hummock.”

The NEH award will fund The Sapelo Island Cultural Village: Consultation Initiative, which will convene a team of historians, museum professionals, educators and community experts to frame the future development of the nationally significant heritage-based project.

Consultants participating in The Sapelo Island Cultural Village: Consultation Initiative include:

Akinyele K. Umoja, Associate Professor of African-American Studies, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Ga.

Vanessa Thaxton-Ward, Curator of Collections, Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Va.

Emory S. Campbell, Gullah/Geechee specialist and executive director emeritus of the Penn Center, St. Helena Island, S.C.

Buddy Sullivan, historian, author (Early Days on the Georgia Tidewater: The Story of McIntosh County & Sapelo), and director of the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, Sapelo Island, Ga.

Benjamin Hall, Sapelo Island historian, Sapelo Island, Ga.

Cornelia Walker Bailey, historian, author (God, Dr. Buzzard and the Bolito Man and Sapelo Voices) folklorist and Gullah/Geechee specialist, Sapelo Island, Ga.

Griffin Lotson, executive director, chief executive officer and founder of Sams Memorial Community Economic Development Inc., Darien, Ga.

Jeanne Cyriaque, African-American Programs Coordinator for the Historic Preservation Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

In November 2005, SICARS was awarded a three-year $149,875 capacity-building grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grant includes funds to conduct feasibility studies and market analysis for the Cultural Village and affordable housing to support employees and residents. The NEH initiative is a companion project within the broad context of the three-year HUD endeavor.

According to the NEH, 281 successful applicants received a total of $20.1 million in grants or offers of matching funds for projects designed to advance research in the humanities, provide high quality public programming in museums and libraries, strengthen and enrich humanities education, preserve our most important cultural resources, and provide greater access to them.

"The humanities convey important stories of our world,” said NEH Chairman Bruce Cole in a released statement. “Today's NEH grant recipients are deeply engaged in advancing those stories through new scholarly research, new educational resources, increased efforts to preserve our cultural heritage, and new public programs that engage our minds and broaden our understanding of human history."

SICARS will soon have a new look
Artist James Denmark is collaborating with SICARS on a new logo design for the organization.

Denmark lives and works in Yemassee, S.C. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, and his Master of Fine Arts degree at Pratt Institute of Fine Arts in New York. He is known for his watercolors, woodcuts and collages.

Want to know more? Visit his Web site:

Hog Hummock’s library seeks volunteer staff
The Board of Trustees of the Hog Hummock Public Library adopted its bylaws and constitution on May 8, 2006. Copies of the documents as well as a reader-friendly summary are available at the SICARS Center.

The Library Board of Trustees members are Benjamin Hall (president); Larry Johnson (treasurer); Susan Bailey; Renee Valle-Hay; and, Michele Nicole Johnson. (Doris Cohrs, who served as secretary, has resigned.)

A grand-opening date has not been announced yet, but the library is getting closer to opening its doors as the newest affiliate of the Three Rivers Regional Library System.

The next step is setting the hours and planning programs for the library. A volunteer staff is needed to get the library up and running.

Volunteers must be at least 17 years old and must complete a two-hour training session in order to become Library Associates. The responsibilities of Library Associates include opening and closing the library, checking out books for patrons using the PINES library system, keeping the library clean, enforcing the rules and policies, etc.

It is a volunteer position with the opportunity to learn job skills and experience that may lead to other paid jobs.

Once the library is open, patrons will have access to more than 7 million items in the statewide PINES system. The library will offer programs for children and adults and serve as a resource center for people interested in the Gullah-Geechee culture and genealogy.

If you want to serve as a Library Associate, call Benjamin Hall at (912) 485-2126.