The Local Life: Experience Beaufort through travel app

lisa@beaufortcountyarts.comJuly 23, 2012 

The "Slowcountry" pace can be an important asset in the creative process. Judging by the hours of quiet and birdsong I hear regularly in my Pigeon Point nieghborhood, as well as the occasional lack of vehicles on Boundary Street, all sorts of people here value the Slowcountry, as well.

So, when I created the Beaufort SC 365 arts and travel app, I didn't expect much change to emanate from a historic landmark district and barrier islands thousands of years old. But no matter how slow the pace, change is as steady as beach erosion, and that means I have to update the app.

The Beaufort SC 365 app is a travel guide built for smartphones and tablets, those devices that lately seem to pop up on sidewalks and coffee shops like a rapid-fire bingo game of "I've got something to share NOW!" Even though I am an official app developer, with two under my belt, I don't own any kind of mobile phone. That's part of my Slowcountry strategy.

The app was published, after three solid months of work on my part, by Sutro Media of San Francisco. When it came time to choose the title, I assured my editor that Beaufort 24/7 would not be right. The app has 153 entries at the moment, categorized much like a traditional travel book: Eat & Rest, Good To Know, History, Nature & Photo Opps, Peformances & the Arts, Shopping & Collecting, Recipes, and a few more.

The smart-platform provides clickability for GPS, maps, links and user comments. Right now 1,180 original photos illustrate the short entries, forming an enticing slideshow for users around the world. The two things I learned in putting together this Beaufort-promoting machine are: 1. This is a reliably photogenic place, so with enough snapping, you will get great shots; and 2. Beaufort has a lot of small businesses and artists who deserve and appreciate exposure.

For the next month I am working on updating and expanding the Beaufort SC 365 app with pictures from the new Beaufort History Museum and Water Festival (smile everybody); links to audio-snippets from the BIG Story Fest; more Lowcountry cookin' ideas for all those poor folks who have to drive 12 hours back home (including Debbie Covington and Paul Nurnberg's new cookbook, of course); dates for ARTworks' theater season; and new entries for Tabby Fabric & Studio in Beaufort and the Port Royal Sound Foundation on Lemon Island. No advertisements are in the app. Everyone and everything is included based on their Beaufort-oriented wonderfulness, such as the sea turtle-shaped breads at SuZara's Kitchen. In this update I also will delete the entry for Joe Wilson's office and add the cycling classic -- that event was certainly a photogenic thrillsville.

I have one major wish for these updates, however, which is not coming true, yet. I would love to show off permanent, outdoor art in Beaufort. We have a few mermaids and one bust of Robert Smalls. Our pedestrian-friendly downtown streets are ready for statues and murals and cooling fountains, such as the outdoor exhibition I saw once in Florence, Italy, of rotund figurative bronzes by Fernando Botero. The Spanish moss rail trail could lead cyclists through a living sculpture garden of vining archways and shapely topiaries created with native plants, such as the sculpture-installation of wire and Spanish moss I saw in the late 1990s at the Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner by Adriaan Geuze, an urban designer and landscape architect from the Netherlands who is now reshaping Governors Island in New York City.

Beaufort has a lot of competition as a destination. But we've got plenty of Spanish moss, artists near and far looking for empty pedestals, properties in need of beautification, and visitors who want to share gorgeous vacation pictures online and off. Outdoor art projects are a lot of work, but it's worth it for Beaufort to have something new and artful to brag about.

Lisa Annelouise Rentz is the transmedia publicity leader for ARTworks, the community arts center in Beaufort, and the author of the "Pencils, Words & Kids" app. She can be reached at lisa@beaufortcountyarts.com.

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