Focusing on development alone is a defensive approach. By itself government regulation will not preserve what is best about Johns Island. A proactive, more positive approach is also needed.

Mission Possible: Grow the good, work together

The Johns Island Conservancy’s mission is to protect the island’s natural habitat, wildlife, historical and agricultural resources. But to accomplish that mission, those resources must be economically viable in addition to being appreciated for their aesthetic and social value.   Some of the choices the Island faces may require thoughtful compromises.

There are many other groups interested in building better opportunities for – and better connections between – Johns Islanders. We will meet and work with anyone that can help Johns Island. We also try and work with local governments, though broader interests do not always make government efforts a positive force for Johns Island. Some of the most important things each individual can do is learn what the County and City are doing, communicate with your local legislators and participate at public meetings.

A New Hope

There are many establishments around the country that are dedicated to improving the quality of life by preserving what is best about their culture and history and learning from the past. Many of these institutions include a focus on sustainable agriculture, traditional crafts and social improvement. In the lowcountry there are places and organizations such as the Penn Center, Boone Hall, Middleton Place, Lowcountry Local First and the Center for Heirs Property to name just a few. There are literally hundreds, thousands of other establishments and groups across the country. A tiny random sample includes the Highlander Center in Tennessee, John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina, the Intervale Community Farm in Vermont and Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island in New York.

There is no such place or organization specifically dedicated to the unique needs of Johns Island. Is there an interest, a benefit, a need on Johns Island for such an institution? A New Hope Center? If so is it best done by a single organization or as a collation of groups? Is it a single location or multiple locations? Where? What facilities would it include? A museum? A model farm? An educational center? A cultural center? Craft shops? An equestrian center?

There would be many issues to work out and plans to be made. It would also be an evolving effort with decisions being made, and changed as plans are developed. It would also require significant resources: the traditional land, labor and capital. Most importantly is there the interest and commitment by enough people to make such an effort succeed?


The Johns Island Conservancy is a small organization with limited resources. Our efforts have been aimed mostly at research, education and advocacy. We believe knowledge is power.

We also believe that the stronger Johns Island becomes, the less vulnerable its land will be to the designs of outside forces. The future of the land cannot be considered apart from the future of the people on it. The quality of life for Johns Islanders is inescapably linked with a healthy future for our natural environment, our working landscape and our culture. These subjects are, like our local culture, interwoven.

We have tried to outline some opportunities for reaching this goal. But we may have raise more questions than we answered in this report. The most important questions may be does Johns Island recognize its unique identity and will its people organize and support efforts to preserve and build on that identity? In the last two years we have heard a lot of talk on this subject (including from ourselves), but too often, with some notable exceptions, not enough leadership, action, participation or support. Will Johns Islanders actively participate in determining our own future or will we continue to be at the mercy of the winds of time?