To be clear, the recent events in Charlottesville were deplorable. No one has the right to manifest his or her hatred upon another.
Here on Hilton Head Island, we have made sizable, tangible steps toward unity and equity, including:
▪ Sanitary sewer service for all who desire it.
▪ Funding plans for the acquisition and paving of dirt roads.
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▪ Mitchelville initiatives.
▪ Initiated “visioning.”
▪ Gullah Geechee Task Force for preservation of the Gullah lands and culture.
And, there is more work to do:
▪ Complete visioning.
▪ Provide affordable housing and better transportation.
▪ Promote heritage, history and environmental initiatives.
Your community is just that: yours. It belongs to your children and your grandchildren. So many people across the nation and globe desire to visit here and to live here. We have an amazing past and present that deserve and need our care and attention so they may be preserved for our future.
Most importantly, we have each other. Islanders come from every walk of life and every place on earth.
Unfortunately, we’ve witnessed carnage produced by hate. Our devices, from the many hand-held ones to the high-definition widescreen ones, scream out to us: Conflict, anger, pride, and accusations. Our most prevalent means of communication has become as dangerous a weapon as it is a useful tool.
Our advice to you is this. Turn it off. Go and meet your neighbors. Decide together what you can do to better your community.
Let’s use our difficulties as opportunities to be different and creative. Let’s celebrate each other’s successes and support each other in overcoming obstacles. And, let’s lead in breaking DOWN barriers and build up islanders and their futures.
We have many opportunities right now to do just that.
If you need some assistance getting involved or being heard, get in touch with either or both of us. We serve you because we, too, are islanders.
David Bennett is mayor the Town of Hilton Head Island and Steve Riley is the town manager.