Letter: Give Gullah Geechee Corridor feedback

Letter: Give Gullah Geechee Corridor feedback

Ronald Daise, Chairman
Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission
Sullivan’s Island, SC

Dear Editor:

The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission’s management plan is available for public review and comment from July 18 to August 17, 2012; in early fall, it will be submitted to the US Secretary of the Interior for approval.

Public engagement has been the driving force behind the long-awaited document; which was produced as a collective effort by the Commission, National Park Service, with developmental assistance from Denver Service Center.

The proposed management plan is based soundly on feedback given by the public, stakeholders, prospective partners, and Gullah Geechee community and grassroots organizations.

The 272-page document, with CD of appendices, provides a description of Gullah Geechee people and culture and brief historical overview.

The Plan highlights examples of important cultural resources throughout the Corridor, summarizes its natural resources, discusses land ownership and land cover, and briefly touches socioeconomic conditions.

It also provides readers with a basic level of information about the Corridor to facilitate a better understanding for future implementation that is outlined in the management approach.

Through feedback from twenty-one public scoping meetings throughout the Corridor in 2009, the Corridor’s implementation theme was selected: “Enlighten and Empower Gullah Geechee People to Sustain the Culture.”

The management approach focuses the Commission’s implementation efforts on three interdependent pillars: Education, Economic Development, and Documentation and Preservation.

The Management Plan, moreover, includes an interpretation framework to raise awareness, understanding, appreciation for the history of Gullah Geechee people, their contributions to the development of the United States, and connection to the African diaspora and other international cultures.

The Commission is grateful to Congressman James E. Clyburn for sponsorship of the legislation and to all who have contributed throughout the planning process.

It welcomes continued feedback and comments.

Management Plan copies can be viewed electronically at libraries throughout the Corridor.

Written comments may be submitted by either:

1) visiting the NPS – PEPC (Planning, Environment and Public Comment) website: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/guge

2) direct mailing to: Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission, c/o Commission Chairman, 1214 Middle St., Sullivan’s Island, SC 29482

Additional information about the Corridor is available at www.GullahGeecheeCorridor.org

Public engagement also paved the way for the Corridor’s development, and the Commission acknowledges organizations that worked toward that end.

Charles Pinckney NHS in Mt. Pleasant, SC gathered themes and stories that reinterpreted Gullah history in neighboring communities for its establishment in 1990.

Afterward, it extended outreach for similar reinterpretation to other sites throughout the South Carolina Lowcountry.

The Gullah Consortium, a group of about twenty individuals from historic sites and Gullah Geechee community and grassroots organizations throughout the South Carolina Lowcountry, formed in the late 1990’s and continued with public scoping meetings about Gullah history and heritage in a larger and more comprehensive way.

In 2004, the National Trust for Historic Preservation designated the Gullah Geechee coast on its 2004 List of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places.

In that same period, the NPS effectively engaged the public for the publication of the “NPS Lowcountry Gullah Culture and Special Resource Study”.

The document expanded the purview of Gullah and Geechee culture and heritage to the coastal communities of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida.

Congressman Clyburn sponsored the bill for the Corridor’s establishment in 2005.

The bill became legislation in 2006.

With comments received through August 17, the Commission will fine-tune its implementation efforts, as needed.

The Commission is particularly interested in feedback from high school students and members of Generation “Y”.

After all, the plans voiced in this document very soon will sustain their culture and that of their descendants.

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