A Place to Come Together in Charleston

“I’ve got a really great project to describe to you, to see whether it might be of interest to the Foundation.  Do you think we could get together for a meeting?”

“Sure, how about Starbucks on Tuesday?”

Sound like one of the larger foundations in the area, one that has devoted a third of its grantmaking to the South Carolina Lowcountry for several decades? We didn’t think so either. So GDDF has finally opened a satellite office in Charleston, a permanent anchor that should make it clear that we are moored here for the long haul.

The maritime metaphor is appropriate since the space, while new to us, is located in the 19th century warehouse that once served North Atlantic Wharf. Today, the old wharf has been absorbed into Waterfront Park and the City Art Gallery sits atop it. But the warehouse survived the earthquake of 1886 and today serves as office space. Between the old brick and cobblestone street, it is not hard to remember the city as it once was.

But there is much more to the Foundation’s decision to have an office than a hook on which to hang a hat and a plug for a computer. We find that our best accomplishments result when like-minded organizations, or, sometimes,  people who don’t always agree, can come together and explore issues of mutual concern. The foundation as a convener is a role we take seriously, and while we often joke that we just provide the lunch, the results can be remarkable. More often than not, a gathering will result in a plan of action that no single player would have proposed or could implement alone.

So what we were really after was a space that all could regard as an asset that might help to advance the work of land conservation, artistic vitality, and access to regionally significant collections that we share. It is no accident then, that the signature piece of furniture in the space is the large conference table build of reclaimed heart pine by artist/craftsman Ted Watts of Murrells Inlet. It draws people together and already a number of meetings have proven the worth of the space.

We were proud to be able to formally show off the new offices to both our grantees and our board for the first time on Friday, March 7th. It was not only a chance to see a place that many of you will find yourselves in hereafter, it was also a chance for the GDDF board to meet and chat with many of our partner organizations as a part of its annual spring retreat.

So, do plan to see more of us at 4 North Atlantic Wharf, Suite 100, in the coming years, though for now please make an appointment so we can be sure to be there when you come. And for those of you who are nostalgic for the good old days at Starbucks, we even have a coffee pot—although a Hazelnut Macchiato, not so much.

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