10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head Island (Part 2)

As promised in Part 1, I was going to get a little deeper in Part 2, so here goes…

7) We Islanders HATE the name “Plantation.” – As mentioned in #8, Hilton Head’s subdivided communities are called, plantations. The term is demeaning. While some Americans have romantic notions of the Antebellum South, others do not and would prefer that community names on Hilton Head be amended in a manner that embraces the 21st Century. Just how hard is it to sub the word plantation with subdivision? I think that Hilton Head Subdivision has a nice ring to it.

6) Gated Communities give a false sense of security. – As a planner, I am talking to the Plantation Powers-That-Be, letting them know that gates (manned or otherwise) are a bad idea. While you think you’re providing security to residents and guests, all you’re saying to the would-be criminals is “rob me.” Criminals target gated areas because they know that residents and guests feel safe enough to let down their guard. In my opinion, the best security to have is a vigilant neighborhood watch program, heavy locks, and a good security system. If you want to know the truth though, I personally think the gates are aimed to keep “me” out. Please know that I’m not interested in robbing a home. I’m just an islander in search of beach access.

5) Learn the History. – To piggyback off of #8, I invite visitors to do other than tan, bike ride, golf, and tennis. Learn the history of Hilton Head. Visit some historic sites. Here are some good suggestions of places to learn about and visit:

*Gullah Heritage Tours
*Union Cemetery
*Drayton Plantation Slave Tabby Ruins (Covered in the Gullah Heritage Tour)
*Queen Chapel African Methodist Episcopalian Church (You may also be interested in this post)
*First African Baptist Church
*Greens Shell Enclosure (Indian Shell Ring)
*Honey Horn Plantation (This is a real plantation, so it’s okay to use the term here)

Now, if you want a sense of history in a fictional novel, with real historic elements, I invite you to purchase The Promise of Palmettos and Marshland, both available on Amazon. (Hey my blog, my shameless plug ;).)

This is a good place to leave off for now. Stay tuned for Part 3 of 10 Things You Need to Know When Visiting Hilton Head.


2000 – New in New York

By the time the New York American Planning Association Conference rolled around, I was going strong in Anderson County, South Carolina. I was working with my partner in planning crime and an Alabama A and M Alumni, ‘Mr. C’. Between his Recreation Plan and my Housing Plan, we brought the South Carolina Up Country Planning to a stand still. Working in Anderson was an experience, I particularly remember traversing the hilly land (a serious contrast to the Low Country) to count cow pastures. Yes, cow pastures. It was rural planning at its finest. ‘Mr. C’ did not attend New York, although I had seen him at other conferences. I however, was excited to go. Kevin and I, newly dating, had traveled together flying into Laguardia Airport from Atlanta. I was able to attend the sessions during this conference, which I actually prefer. If asked to recall any of them, I will surely fail in this task so I will stick to the more memorable experiences that occurred in the Big Apple itself.

*I had to go all “Northern New Jersey” on the hotel clerk for refusing to accept my business credit card for the room. It could have all been cleared up with a simple phone call, but she didn’t want to deal with it being that it was nearing time for her to get off from work. I told her to “go home.” She didn’t want to go home because I told her to, so she decided to stay. Well I figured, since she was staying, she could handle my credit card situation. IJS…

*The first bite of food I got to eat was at an authentic New York Style Pizza. My mouth is watering as I am writing this. I might have to get a pizza later.

*Most of my mother’s family lives in New York, so I did get to visit a couple of my cousins and we had dinner at this African Named restaurant in the Village. I do remember dancing with Kevin in the restaurant although there was no dance floor.

*Kevin and I went with his friends to Chinatown. We had a good time. The last I was there, my uncle had taken us to see the chicken who beat everyone at tic, tack, toe (Don’t ask).

*Our group, which included Ms. A and Ms. M visited Malik Yoba’s Restaurant called the Soul Cafe on 42nd Street. I don’t remember the food but it was an excellent place to hang.

*Then there was Joe’s Album release party. I think it was on the East side, if I remember correctly. We saw the singer, Brandy while waiting in line to get in. How come Kevin called her name like he knew her and she turned and waved at him…? There was an incident where some fool decided to get a little grabby, but he got handled.

*We saw Madison Square Garden and the gigantic poster of Alan Houston.

*We’re planners, of course we had to visit one of Olmsted’s greatest creation – Central Park!

*Yankee stadium made the list. So did Times Square, FAO Schwartz, and the Statue of Liberty (from a distance).

*We made several trips to Harlem. We wanted to go to the Schomburg Center, but it was closed :(. We ate at Sylvia’s Restaurant. Excellent food and I’m having another mouth-watering moment. They tried to duplicate the restaurant in Atlanta, but in my opinion, there’s only one. In Uptown. Then there was the ‘oopsie’ on one of our Harlem trips when we took the 1,9 Subway rather than the 2,3. We ended up on an el on the wrong end of 125th and had to go past the Grant Housing Projects on our way to the Apollo Theater. There were some enjoyable performances… and there were performers that were questionable and were subsequently booed off the stage.

New York was indeed a memorable conference. That’s all I remember. Come on planners, fill in those bullets!

1999 – Simply Seattle

For some reason I do not remember a whole lot about the Seattle APA Conference. Maybe it was the fact that as a student delegate, I spent more time in meetings than in actual sessions. Personally, I would have preferred to go to the sessions. If you get into a good one, you can become inspired by a municipality or have a different perspective about an issue (The biggest topics back then were sprawl and air quality). At the very least you could admire graphics of the presentation because you know that we planners like pictures, graphs, and maps :). Anyway, good speakers were usually selected and it’s rare where I left a session asking myself if I could get back those two hours, although it has been known to happen. I think the other issue that I had during the Seattle Conference is that it was my second year at UNO and just before graduation. I was so stressed out because I had exams and my thesis, which seemed to be due at practically the same time. As I am writing this (while wrestling with a toddler), I do realize that do remember certain things from Seattle.

1) The Jet Lag – Seattle was the first time I had ever stepped foot on the West Coast. It had already been an adjustment going from East Coast to Central Time. So traveling from Central Time to West Coast time was no joke. I think that first day, my girls and I just collapsed in beds in our hotel room and slept for the rest of the evening.

2) Sightseeing – I know that we did some, but I can’t remember where. What sticks in my mind is the Fish Market and a Mexican Restaurant. Perhaps my girls can fill me in on the rest…?

3) The Party – Once again, UNO and all of the other universities were outnumbered by Alabama A and M (They knew how to represent). The conversations with the other students were great. Let me be real, I listened while my girls ‘Ms. A’ and ‘Ms. M’ conversed. (Refer to the first post – I’m the shy/reserved one). Unfortunately, I had to leave the mixer early when I grew ill.

4) Exams – Yes you read it right, I had a take-home exam that was due for Planning Theory the day after I returned from Seattle. I couldn’t stand that class. It may have actually been a good course with a different instructor but this dude loved giving out ‘Cs’ on G.P (I’m a teacher now and I still don’t find delight in failing my students) If you have ever attended Graduate School, then you know that you are only allowed two ‘Cs’ on your total transcript. I don’t like anyone who just plays with my grades because they can. Maybe others didn’t like that either because he’s no longer teaching at UNO.

5) My Cuz! – I have a first cousin who was attending the University of Washington at the time for his PHd. Of course I had to have breakfast with him.

6) Job Interview – I was a month away from graduation and I needed a job. That meant filling out applications. ‘Ms. M’ and I got a call from the planning director of Anderson, South Carolina for an interview. It must have gone well because a got a call for a second interview a week after graduation and the following week I was in Anderson working as a planner. Voila!

7) “My Wife and Kids” moment – Let me clarify. If you have ever seen the show “My Wife and Kids” with Damon Wayans and Tisha Campbell-Martin and then you know they went on a trip to Hawaii and what happened to them, happened to me. I misread my plane ticket. I thought I was leaving Seattle at 1:00 when it actually read that I was leaving at 11:00. If there are any airline people reading this, I’m gonna really need you to fix that printing on the ticket. It cannot just be a coincidence that this situation was put into a television sitcom, but I digress. At the APA Conference, no matter what part of the country (or the world) people are from, everyone leaves for the airport at practically the same time, which means that you are waiting forever for the airport shuttle. So by the time I found out that I misread my ticket and that I needed to get my backside to the airport pronto, I was at the end of a very long line of planners. Inevitably, I missed my plane. Fortunately, Seattle is ‘Ms A’s’ home and I was able to hang with her and ‘Ms. M’ who were staying an extra day. I wish I had that option but I had to return to New Orleans to turn in my final… I was able to get on a standby flight for later that afternoon, but as you know, if you are flying back from the West Coast, you are losing time. If there is a layover in that flight, you are pretty much screwed, which I was. I didn’t get back to New Orleans until the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, I think I finished my final in Seattle. Nevertheless, I was falling asleep in Planning Theory.

8) The missing – Kevin was missing from this conference. When I saw him the following year at the Regional Conference in Atlanta, I let him know that I had been looking for him in Seattle. We have been together at conferences ever since.

So that’s all that I remember from the Seattle APA Conference. Friends, help me fill in the blanks.

1998 – Boston Beginnings

It all began with Boston. I was nervous about even going to this conference for the American Planning Association because with it being my first year in school, I wasn’t going to know anyone except for my girls. I met ‘Ms M’ at some crazy cult party in a pool hall off campus. We stepped out of there together before we were forced into drinking the Kool Aid…’Ms A’ came up to me at a meeting and let me know that she made it a point to speak to all the new Black students that she saw. She point-blank asked me my name and where I was from. It works for her because ‘Ms. A’ has some serious connections (She even went to school with one of my in-laws). Anyway, that’s was all she wrote as far as she and I were concerned. We’ve been friends ever since. The girls had attended before, so for them the APA conference was a matter of them reconnecting with old friends. I wasn’t outgoing at all, so I fully expected to be quivering in a corner somewhere waiting for the whole thing to be over. The first day, things went as expected as I awkwardly made my way into my first Planning and the Black Community Meeting. I say “awkwardly” because I was late. Really late. As a result of my lateness, I was doing the “Deacon Walk” – you know the walk where you bow down, stick that one finger in the air and tip toe to your destination as if invisible – to the only seat left in the small room. And it was in the front. I wanted to die right then. And then I saw him. The man on the dias. The man who was speaking. The man who I would someday marry…

I didn’t even think I would see Kevin again. I don’t even know why I thought that because between the job that I took earning extra money by holding up signs to signal people who bus to ride to the mobile workshop, hanging out in the lounge section of the hotel meeting more Alabama A and M folks than I could shake a stick at (Tell me, do you A and M folks still attend these conferences en masse?), and somehow landing a position as a student delegate for my region, I met a lot of folks that I still talk to today. I think I officially met Kevin the day after my first sighting and he and I went on a walking tour of Boston together. Ok slow your roll because we were not alone. Several others accompanied us on that particular tour, including my girls. I am not going to pretend that people have the patience to read all of the details of this conference so I will simply suggest that if you ever visit Boston, keep note of the following: The Hard Rock has great music. Don’t walk on cobblestones if you have recently been in a car accident. Stay away from inebriated people who may or may not be able to give you an internship unless you have a night and shining armor waiting in the wings to rescue you. Sure, swing by Harvard University Campus and take in the “ah-ki-tecture” (Yes, I can definitely pronounce it like that now since we’re talking about Boston!). Do visit Beacon Hill as it was the home to prominent Black figures in history. Single ladies, there was a particularly yummy park ranger that some of our group members thought deserved a second look. There may be a picture of him circulating somewhere…

I plan to return to Boston at some point. ‘Ms A’ just emailed the conference schedule and that conference will come around again in 2021. I would pretty much like to attend, but I’m hoping to get back to Boston before then, like when we go to Providence to visit my mother’s family. I want to do my walking tour again and would like to add the Old North Church to that list. What other places should I visit? So Boston started it all and since Boston, I have been hooked on conferences. Little did I know that once I ceased being a student, I would have to find creative ways to attend and now that I no longer practice, I have to follow the events via Twitter. Good thing that’s an option now, but it’s not the same thing as being there and connecting with old friends. Until next time. Check out what I have to say about Seattle.