To those at the St. James Baptist Church: The Hilton Head Island Airport provides a golden opportunity to further the Gullah-Geechee tradition and culture.
I know this may be hard for them to swallow, but possibly in their hard attitude toward the airport, they have overlooked a very important conduit to carry their story to the world.
They should petition the Beaufort County Council for retail space in the terminal building. I have been told sweetgrass baskets are emblematic of the Gullah-Geechee tradition. In this retail space, they could offer a variety of baskets to air passengers. The baskets are attractive, unique and very decorative and useful in a home. They would make wonderful reminders of the island and would make great coming-home gifts.
A plastic thread would join the basket to a pamphlet that explains the Gullah-Geechee story and its relation to Mitchelville. It would further explain St. James Church, Beaufort County and Hilton Head Island's part in the history and ongoing preservation of this heritage. Ergo, publicity for each entity.
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I suggest they get Kim Statler and her team at the Lowcountry Economic Network to help them develop and market this project. It's what they do best. About 74,000 people got on airplanes at the airport in 2010 and about 77,000 arrived at the airport, according to airport figures. If a mere 3 percent bought baskets, then at least 4,000 baskets would have the potential to go all over the world with your message.
John MorrissetteHilton Head Island