Blog : Board Member Spotlight

Board Member Spotlight – Artist Jonathan Green

Board Member Spotlight – Artist Jonathan Green

Jonathan Green, Artist and Partner with Lowcountry Rice Culture Project

How long has Lowcountry Rice Culture Project had a presence in Charleston?

In reality the Lowcountry Rice Culture, its people (enslaved Africans,African Americans, Native Americans, and Euro-Americans) and their descendents and contributions has existed for over 250 years throughout Charleston and neighboring counties along the coast of South Carolina. The educational foundation known as the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project was officially launched in June of 2012 after two years of working intensely with strategic partners and historians from educational and cultural institutions throughout South Carolina. Our first major educational forum was held in September 2013 to help others discover and revive the significance of rice cultivation and its legacies, and to use this history as a launching off point for board discussions of race, class, art, trade, history and economics.

What do you personally love most about living in Charleston?

I consider Charleston a cross cultural mecca filled with music, dance, theater, festivals, art and historical museums, outstanding libraries, medical services, human scale architecture, educational institutions, and wonderful hotels and places to dine. I thrive on its cross culture history and the energy and enthusiasm I experience with others who are as fortunate as I am to live here. The natives and those who are moving into Charleston have a high level of social interest that challenges my creative artist mind and a drive to honor my own history and heritage.

Why is the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project passionate about World Heritage designation for Charleston?

To have Charleston recognized in the World Heritage List would be one of the greatest honors this city could ever achieve. To acquire such a status would bring a level of positive insight and visibility to a part of American history that has been under recognized, misunderstood, and unfortunately discounted. I have deeply internalized the principle that one can never understand the depth of American history without studying, understanding, and internalize our African and Native American history and its incredible contributions to American history.

Too often when studying the architecture and history of Charleston, it has been recognized for the business enterprise of a small and powerful landed class. What has not been recognized is the enslaved African labor force and their descendents that built and continue to maintain this city through housing, churches, cultural institutions, agriculture, floodways, and spirituality. Recognition on the World Heritage List would help us resolve this disparity in our history. It would be a springboard that would require that we be “indiscriminately inclusive” to provide a clear frame of reference and safe environment in which such discussions can occur without fear of backlash or misunderstanding. By fostering open and informed dialogue, and by exposing participants to the many aspects and interconnections of Lowcountry culture, we could confront differences of opinion directly, resolve conflict, stimulate the local economy, and find common ground on which whites, blacks, Native Americans, immigrants and others can express mutual respect, dampen false debate and celebrate a common heritage.

Thank you to Jonathan and Lowcountry Rice Culture Project for all of your support!

Board Member Spotlight – Gray Coulton

Board Member Spotlight – Gray Coulton

Gray Coulton, Senior Vice President at Baird

How long has Baird had a presence in Charleston? 

We opened our office in 2010.

What do you personally love most about living in Charleston?

I love the fact that Charleston offers almost everything you’d expect from a large, multi-cultural city, but within the confines and culture of a small town. Charleston is a naturally friendly city. People say hello to you, whether it’s on the streets, in restaurants or in shop.  People are proud of Charleston.  There is, in general, an awareness of the history of Charleston and its place within the fabric of American history, and they are proud of that.  I think that was shown broadly in the way the city reacted to tragic events earlier this year.  At the same time, Charleston offers tremendous access to the arts, to great restaurants, and more and more, to modern businesses, including advanced and developing technologies. I’m not sure there is another city quite like it in the U.S.

Why is Baird passionate about World Heritage designation for Charleston?

I believe Charleston deserves a World Heritage designation both as a city of social and historical significance, but also as a nexus for future growth.  It signifies the city’s heritage, its promise for the future and its citizens ongoing commitment to both. Charleston occupies an extremely important, and unique, place in American history.  It’s early days required resourcefulness to promote growth in the face of significant obstacles.  Over time, the blending of many diverse cultures and influences essentially made Charleston the heart of the American south. While well known for its views on independence, it also has a history of democratic thinking and religious tolerance, a history that is intrinsically entwined with the nation’s own development and growth.  Our firm, Baird, decided to join this initiative as a major sponsor not only because of our own deep roots in the city, a number of our employees have lived here for decades, but because we firmly believe in Charleston’s future importance.  It is an incredibly desirable place to both visit, and to live.  As the city continues to expand and grow, the World Heritage designation will continue to remind everyone of our shared history, and the importance of maintaining those qualities of openness, tolerance, and resourcefulness that have been instrumental in Charleston’s development.  It will be an inspiration for future generations in Charleston.

 Thank you to Gray and to Baird for all of your support!