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Tag : Charleston UP

By Katherine Richards

Homeowner – Mabel Graham

Mabel Graham

Upon entering her house, you can feel nothing but welcomed as a menagerie of colorful art and memories greets you in the decorated den. And of course the homeowner herself, Mabel, was no different. As the first homeowner to be interviewed by the Sustainability Institute, Mabel graciously sat down with us to tell her story. As told through the colors of Mabel’s roots seen throughout the den, Jamaica was her original home address. As the world-traveler that she is, her life’s work as a nurse eventually brought her to London where she met her husband, a Charleston native. In 1968, Mabel and her husband moved to Charleston and bought their first house. With three bedrooms and almost 50 years of memories, that house has been a home ever since.

While she had not heard of the Sustainability Institute prior to a friend from a local Baptist church recommending the Energy Conservation Corps, Mabel has been nothing but pleased with the work that the ECC members have done thus far. Her warm smile tells it all. In the week that they have been there, they have been working on insulating the roof and exposed areas such as windows and doors. Keeping Mabel in the loop with what they are working on, she has nothing but good things to say about them; “good manners and good men, a 10/10 job”. Excited and grateful to the members of the ECC, Mabel looks forward to her newly insulated home where she plans to continue adding to her years of memories.

By Katherine Richards

Equitable Development

Yesterday evening’s Upper Peninsula Initiative gathering focused on equitable development, a major focus in The Sustainability Institute’s, UPI’s parent organization, goal for the Upper Peninsula, as they work towards a more sustainable way of living.

Speakers included representatives
from Neighborhood House, The American Red Cross, and The Sustainability Institute.

Deborah LaRoche, the director of Neighborhood House shared the services and opportunities the agency has been able to bring to the Upper Peninsula through their admirable charitable work.

The local
American Red Cross branch came and talked about their free program, teaching residents to install smoke detectors in vulnerable homes around the neighborhood.

The Sustainability Institute also spoke about their revolutionary weatherization techniques used to reduce energy bills and environmental footprints with the Energy Conservation Corps. The program is designed to teach and train the next generation of industry leaders.

Guests enjoyed fried chicken, mac & cheese, cornbread and sweet tea from Martha Lou’s Kitchen, a New York Times acclaimed soul food restaurant located in the Charleston Upper Peninsula.

The Upper Peninsula Initiative is a public-private planning effort managed by the City of Charleston and the backbone organization, The Sustainability Institute.

For more information, please visit or email

Photos by Stan Foxworthy Foxworthy Studios.

Special thanks to our sponsor, Spectrum
, hosts, The Neighborhood House, and our awesome speakers and volunteers. We couldn’t do what we do without you!

By Katherine Richards


Last night was perhaps the craziest one on the Upper Peninsula events yet. St. Julian Devine Community Center hosted a fun, family-friendly UPI gathering focused on CommUNITY, a message resonating throughout Charleston following the attack on Emmanuel AME Church in 2015. 

The UPI event was in partnership with Charleston Promise Neighborhood,a local non-profit that has a mission to ensure all Charlestonians are engaged in their community, and to ensure every child is on track to graduate high school with the necessary abilities. CPN is located in the Upper Peninsula on upper Meeting Street.

The focus for the night was to bring together like-minded individuals on the Upper Peninsula, committed to uniting together in the face of tragedy. A message of unity is essential to the family oriented atmosphere Charleston is famous for.

Speakers of the night included Samantha Sammis, Sherrie Snipes-William, and Jay Bell.

Samantha Sammis is the Executive Director of Loving America Street, a group committed to demonstrating a love of Christ through community service. Loving America Street operates Laundry Matters, the only remaining laundry facilitator on the East Side.

Sherrie Snipes-William is the Executive Office of Charleston Promise Neighborhood, a long time ally of CharlestonUP. Charleston Promise Neighborhood’s mission is to ensure every child in the neighborhood has the supports they need to thrive.

The Sustainability Institute’s Energy Conservation Corps representative Jay Bell was also in attendance, updating residents on the status of the corps members and explaining SI’s ECC Program, how it benefits at ri
sk youth and veterans, and how the community benefits from their work.

A jump castle, arts and crafts with Enough Pie, basketball and snow cones kept the little future neighborhood leaders entertained.

A delicious variety of grilled chicken, ribs, burgers and hot dogs were available for everyone to enjoy.  A  local church helped to coordinate the selections, and had one of their members, a UP resident, prepare the meal.

This CommUNITY gathering was sponsored by BoomTown. A special thanks to Nina Magnesson, who does an awesome job representing the interests of this local online real estate company

Attendees were encouraged to participate in a survey to offer ideas for future projects and gatherings. The results are as follows.

The Upper Peninsula Initiative is a public-private planning effort managed by the City of Charleston and the backbone organization, The Sustainability Institute.

For more information, please visit or email

Photos by Stan Foxworthy Foxworthy Studios.

*UPI is a community centered, neighborhood oriented planning initiative, created with the needs of the areas it serves in mind. The results of any survey conducted do not use empirical methods of data collection, and are not necessarily reflective of the community at large.

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Equitable Development