Lunch #4: In A Good Place

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I like politicians and the political process. I especially like Members of Congress and their senior staff. After all, it is a very select club of 535 individuals who direct our country.

Rep. (and former SC Gov.) Mark Sanford and I met for lunch to catch-up. While Mark is a Repub, and I a Dem, our fiscal policies are similar. We are also both “in the game” on Capitol Hill; although he gets to vote, and I don’t- big difference. It is enjoyable for both of us to have someone to talk to about Congress while here in Charleston. In DC, everyone is going 90 mph in their own directions- no time.

I didn’t know the previous Mark Sanford: rising Congressman, then Governor, talk about him being a presidential candidate, and then it all imploded. What I respect about people who run for office is that they put themselves out there to ask people to vote for them. What I admire about Mark Sanford is that after his Icarus-like fall, he put himself out there again, and won- incredible. (Note: In a town that often takes sides in a divorce, I know Jenny Sanford a bit, and I like her. And I will tell you that Jenny is still well-regarded by many in DC.)

Mark and I had the requisite chat about the shape of the presidential race, and then we talked about his being back in the House. First, from my perspective, Mark Sanford represents one of the premier districts (out of 435) in the country. It is geographically easy to travel, and who wouldn’t love to represent the Charleston area, Beaufort and Hilton Head? Mark is first appreciative to be back in the political game in a substantive way. Second, he is a member on the Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and he is on key subcommittees impacting aviation (read: Boeing) and maritime (read: port growth). And let’s not forget more Federal tax dollars we could use to fix our SC roads and bridges.

What I liked about our conversation is that his goals have changed. Where the pre-crash Mark was on an ambitious trajectory, the current Rep. Mark Sanford is in a calmer place. He is enjoying being back in Congress, and representing his constituents. We talked about his desire to revive a retreat he used to hold at the family farm, Coosaw,  near Beaufort, when he was Governor. The event was a large, informal open house with many people coming to hear interesting speakers, partake in cookouts, and enjoy good conversation.

I noted during our lunch at SNOB the number of people who stopped by to say “hi” to Mark. Time moves on, people move on, and Mark Sanford is in a good place. Mark is profiled in our forthcoming book, Charleston, A Good Life.

Also spotted during our lunch at SNOB were: Hilton Smith, Geof Groat, Adm. James Whittaker, Merrill Benfield, Steve Connor, Jimmy Haygood and Charles Waring.

Charleston, A Good Life, co-authored by photographer, Ben Gately Williams, and writer/editor, Ned Brown, is a book profiling “interesting Charlestonians (old and newer), doing interesting things in a wonderful place.” The book will be released in latter 2016. Charleston, A Good Life,  will tell the story of why Charleston is a special place through over 50 environmental portraits of individuals; the first book about Charleston of its kind. What we are doing with the Charleston, A Good Life blog is telling you a bit about the people we are profiling, and other Charleston topics of interest.

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Lunch #3: Author & Ashley Hall

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John Thompson, author, with middle-schooler and fan, Abbey Force

 

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Ashley Hall Senior, Liza Thompson (left, and daughter of John) with Head of School, Jill Muti

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Paula Edwards Harrell, AH Dir. of Communications & Marketing (left) with 3 AH Seniors

A short hiatus during the holidays from doing my SNOB luncheon blog, but now I am back at profiling “interesting people doing interesting things in our interesting place”, while weaving-in a bit about Ben Gately Williams’ and my forthcoming book, Charleston, A Good Life.

The lunch occasion was with Charleston resident, John Thompson, who has become a successful author writing books targeted to middle-school children, a rather clever market niche, I might add. John also writes books for adults. You can find his works at booksbyjohnthompson.com. John’s first award-winning book for children, Girl From Felony Bay, is being followed by sequel, Disappearance At Hangman’s Bluff. The lead character in the Girl From Felony Bay is Abbey Force, and by coincidence, that is the real life name of girl pictured above, while John was speaking at a local school.

John came to Charleston, a refugee from Wall Street (former Solomon Brothers), whereupon he launched a new career. He is married to Julia Forster, Director of Development at the Spoleto Festival, and their family makes its home on East Battery. Their daughter, Liza, an Ashley Hall Senior, is pictured above with Head of School, Jill Muti.

Ben Gately and I are particularly pleased and appreciative that Jill allowed us to profile Ashley Hall, she and several of her graduating seniors for Charleston, A Good Life. Ashley Hall is the only girls K through 12 grades school in South Carolina. I learned from Jill that girls generally learn differently than boys, and the girls develop their self-confidence much easier in a same sex school environment. As Jill remarked to me with a smile, “Our girls aren’t pushovers”;  I can certainly attest to that. One of the first people I met first coming to Charleston over 25 years ago was then private tour guide, Jane Thornhill. And as all who know Big Jane, even today, she definitely does not lack for confidence. Ashley Hall left its mark.

Also spotted at SNOB the day John Thompson and I had lunch were: John Winthrop, Cathryn Zommer, Ann Long Merck, Joe Qualey, Denva Simpson, Caroline Rivers, Steve Connor and Tommy Hall.

Charleston, A Good Life, co-authored by photographer, Ben Gately Williams, and writer/editor, Ned Brown, is a book profiling “interesting Charlestonians (old and newer), doing interesting things in a wonderful place.” The book will be released in latter 2016. Charleston, A Good Life,  will tell the story of why Charleston is a special place through over 50 environmental portraits of individuals; the first book about Charleston of its kind. What we are doing with the Charleston, A Good Life blog is telling you a bit about the people we are profiling, and other Charleston topics of interest.

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