Chris Ervin doesn’t forget where he came from. At 27, he’s moved to Rock Hill and taken his first steps down his chosen career path, but he still remembers and follows the advice of his grandfather, Hilton Head Island resident Tom Barnwell — known as a champion of the island’s Gullah culture, and for his efforts to improve health care, affordable housing, education and economic development on the island.
Where Are They Now?
A FORCE FOR CHANGE
As drivers buzzed by her group of cyclists making their way from Charleston to Savannah, Betsy La Force realized just how important her job was.
The gang of environmentalists and city planners— participating in a New Urbanism professional seminar in Charleston — experienced firsthand during the grueling 130-mile ride how ill-equipped the Lowcountry is to handle traffic of all varieties.
HILTON HEAD ISLANDER ACTS, DIRECTS AND SINGS IN MANY LOCATIONS
Lili Torre was still texting “here” when I spotted her sitting on the wide steps of Union Square. She leapt up and smiled with the same bright eyes I’d known since our Hilton Head Island High School days, when she sang and I played drums in our school’s production of “Les Miserables.” She moved to New York just over five years ago to chase a career in musical theater, and that’s how we found ourselves on a bench in a city most people only visit.
“Meet me on top of the hill.”
On a lull between summer showers, I direct Nicole Arnold to the cylindrical tower atop Fort Greene Park, overlooking Brooklyn and toward Manhattan’s skyline beyond. Though we’ve met over video chat, Nicole’s wide smile is larger in person. She has earthy skin, auburn hair and looks out from patient eyes. We hug like old friends, even though I’m nine years older and we didn’t grow up together. We’re both Hilton Head Island expats, and we share other traits — a love for travel, an openness to strangers. It’s the real reason I reached out to Nicole after the amazing cross-country bike tour that made her famous in the Lowcountry last summer.
Over video chat, sitting on the porch of his Chicago apartment, enjoying a rare pristine summer day in the Windy City, Hilton Head native and percussionist David Agee told me about his life’s unexpected turn. He’d just wrapped up his last semester teaching percussion at Fenwick Park High School, and was spending the week saying goodbye to friends before starting his new adventure. Agee, who uprooted to Chicago eight years ago to pursue his love of music, recently joined the Navy and is heading to boot camp. He joked, “I never thought I’d be graded on pushups in order to play music.”
These aren’t my lungs,” he told his theatre classmates. It was 2013 and Brennen Reeves was facing an eager audience, speaking of an illness without a face. No one knew. Brennen, who was born with the progressive lung disease, cystic fibrosis, has fought for every breath. As a child, doctors told him he’d wouldn’t live until 18 unless he traded the old pair for the new. Not only did he survive a double lung transplant, he would invoke his own story in a oneman play entitled “Breathe. A True Story.” These are his lungs, now.
Lance Little was still in high school when, sitting on the porch shooting the breeze, he came up with an idea that seemed far-fetched — a restaurant that cures world hunger. It was clever, but wasn’t it a bit naive? The fast-food giants were making billions, but the fry cooks came home smelling like cheap grease, earning minimum wage while the money funneled upwards. Meanwhile, even in first-world America, children were going hungry. Of course, this was high school, and Little wasn’t too concerned with the economics of the idea. Enrolled in Hilton Head Island High School’s ROTC program, he had plenty to keep him occupied, along with being an average teenager. But his idea to end world hunger would not be ignored, even as he grew up and moved on with his life.
During our telephone interview, Jillian Traver is negotiating a narrow English country lane in her compact Vauxhall Tigra while chirping away about music festivals in Latvia and the rich craft of winemaking. She’s picking up her fiancé, fresh off work in London proper, at the train station and they’re driving to their very first home in a village outside the city. He hops in the car and greets me in British English that seems to have rubbed off on Traver.