Situated by the sunny coast of South Carolina, the Charleston Metro area is the third-largest in the state with over 700,000 people. Frequently voted as a top travel destination and voted the friendliest city in America by Conde Nast, it is an area full of neighborly love and sharing. With emerging nonprofits, civic organizers, and co-ops, Charleston is more than living up to its accolades. Here are just a few of the many local organizations committed to positive community building. and a true sharing economy.
Another recent addition to Charleston, Holy Spokes Bike Share emerged in June to help Charleston residents travel throughout the peninsula. Users can use a smartphone to make reservations, or create an account with a PIN to use the bikes. In partnership with MUSC Health, the program has over 25 hub locations throughout downtown Charleston including a major location in the city’s medical district. In addition to providing some spoking wheels, the service offers special pricing for students and MUSC employees.
This project asks that people “Leave what you can, take what you need.” They solicit donations of non-perishable food and hygienic products to help those in need and organize “boxes” where the items are stored throughout the lowcountry. The storage locations are designed to be easy to access and allow users to remain anonymous. In addition, the organizers of the project host events to gather volunteers and provide more basic services for those in need.
Though shelters often help provide undergarments for women in transitional housing, the articles are often secondhand. The Undergarment Society strives to give such women a sense of pride with new, fresh undergarments. The society regularly accepts donations and distributes them to shelters around the area.
4. Local Works
Renting downtown is expensive, and that’s why Local Works helps to provide local businesses with a coworking space just off of Meeting Street downtown. Businesses can apply for small tables, shared offices, or even private rooms with rates as low as $125/month. In partnership with Lowcountry Local First, applications periodically open for creatives to get 6 months of free full-time access to workspace.
This faith-based nonprofit has worked hard to bring together residents of Charleston’s East Side in a community of love and fellowship. Seeking to build spaces for neighbors to come together and provide needs to each other, the project’s leaders have helped develop green spaces. As a service to the community, in 2015 they leased and renovated a laundromat to fill an essential community need. . In addition to providing free laundry service, Laundry Matters serves as an old school info-shop where residents can find out about all sorts of community events and resources.
Shifa means “healing” in Arabic: a fitting name for a clinic that provides such thorough and compassionate care. This Muslim faith-based organization works to provide women with a wide array of free healthcare services from their Mount Pleasant Office regardless of race or creed. Just a few of their many services include cancer screenings, chronic disease management, and immunizations. The clinic also maintains a dispensary for patients’ medications, provides weekend meals to children in need, and runs a clothes closet from the generous donors of the community.
Based in Mount Pleasant, this co-op retreat house invites people from all different cultures to explore their own path with the help of classes and community. With over 100 different classes offered by their membership, they help foster a community of learning and spiritual awakening. They keep an incredibly packed calendar to choose from. Because Bliss has no membership fees, you can partake in their offerings for free and return the favor to fellow members by offering classes and resources of your own.
Only recently put in motion, the Library of Things has plans to create a community of sharing for large appliances and tools. Based on the idea that it is rare for one person to need a power drill, but frequently needed throughout a community, they are striving to maximize usage for tools that have already been purchased. Join the Facebook group to come in at the ground level and help Charleston share good works.
9. Enough Pie
Champions of civic engagement have come together on Charleston’s Upper Peninsula to organize for a better tomorrow. Enough Pie has a myriad of projects for the civic-minded citizen, engaging talent to create everything from murals to municipal law. The organization also has a special neighborhood toolkit to help organizers create even more localized groups in their own backyards. The organization also funds mini-projects through their UP-Start grants program. By hearing out more ideas for nonprofits and providing seed money, Enough Pie has magnified its effect by helping kickstart many projects that support the community.
CharlestonGOOD started out as a grassroots media platform but has evolved over the last three years into a hub for collaborations in support of the common good. Known as the #Goodsharing Movement, this fluid community of passionate locals come together on a monthly basis to learn of each other’s work and find ways to help one another. The gatherings are full of silo-busting opportunities for supportive conversation, brainstorming, creative visioning, project development, and collaborative planning and networking. In keeping with its media origins, CharlestonGOOD.com pu
Joshua Teves graduated from College of Charleston with a degree in Physics, and currently works as a researcher at MUSC. He lives with his wife Kelsey and dog Ark, and enjoys camping, reading, and writing.