letter to a City Council member

May 27, 2020

Jean-Marie Mauclet, for conNECKtedTOO—>TINYisPOWERFUL conNECktedTOO@gmail.com
68 Devereaux St, Charleston , SC 29403

Charleston, May 8, 2020

Dear Councilwoman Carol Jackson,

Thank you for giving the conNECKtedTOO Art team of the Charleston Rhizome Collective the opportunity to articulate its TINYCULINARY vision for saving the very small restaurants which make up the bulk of the Charleston restaurant industry and give it a local touch.

The Charleston Rhizome Collective is grassroots, inter-generational and interracial. Its vision of the city, now that nothing will be the same, considers the opportunity the City has to remain a unique historic and cultural center of global interest, exemplary and visionary in its approach to Urban adaptability.

On May 4th 2020, we celebrated the 36th anniversary of Gaulart et Maliclet, Fast & French, at 98 Broad street. The Café was started more like an Art in/with community experiment, in a medium size city with lots of European traits. Gwylène and Jean-Marie were pursuing their dream of anchoring, not only a steady business clientele, but one which would also share and carry along a strong sense of local community with universal societal values. They believe they succeeded at this level. And the former employees of the Café who bought the place in 2012, have succeeded as well. Until now that is. We all know, however, that new rules of physical distancing will challenge most Charleston TINY Businesses, restaurants or not, to remain viable.

In 2017, the conNECKtedTOO team was awarded a major grant by ArtPlace America to conduct an Art and Community Experiment for Economic Development centered on the survival of TINY BUSINESS in the age of gentrification. Two years later, the experiment has turned into a vision whose days may have come: to permit TYNY Businesses to expand their operating surface to the common grounds of Charleston: select streets, plazas and other open spaces in the city.

As a matter of fact this vision is fast spreading around America, so fast that Charleston would lose its rank of first US visitors destination, if it did not adopt it right away!

As far as Fast & French is concerned, which we consider as the experimental ground for further citywide developments, we are asking that the County permit the Café to have movable tables in the public space between it and the County Court Building. This would be for a trial period to last until November or so. In a second phase, we propose that the arrangement be permanent, that the lawn area between the County Court , the City Court and Meeting street be made into an Urban Garden. This in itself would create a powerful attraction, showing how a uniquely historic town has the stamina and the vision to update its relevance, enhance its existing beauty and further prove that Charleston has synchronized its business savvy with a sense of urgency to mitigate the consequences of climate change on urban living.

The next steps are even more ambitious, although they simply congeal many visions Charleston citizens have considered for many, many years. Make King Street pedestrian, all the way to MtPleasant street and use Meeting as a public transportation axis. This aspect of the plan would affirm Charleston’s European flair, as most European cities have chosen this model of development. It is imperative however that such changes be profitable to all the actual populations in Charleston. Any displacement would, once again, prove that urban redesign is actually a tool for social discrimination. Particular attention would be payed to preserving the varied cityscapes of Charleston, which would make for a living history lesson, as opposed to what the present trend is: to consolidate one corporate look for one corporate class.

We thank you for your concern and interest in all the issues raised above. Please be sure that the artists, activists and educators of the Charleston Rhizome and conNECKtedTOO are ready to mobilize and support all progressive ideas concerning the survival of TINY BUSINESS in Charleston as its most genuine, friendly and sustainable form of commerce in Charleston.

Jean-Marie Mauclet, for ConnNECKtedTOO—>TINYisPOWERFUL