The future of Johns Island is being written now. Without the participation and leadership of its people, what we get tomorrow may little resemble what we love today.

In that spirit, over the last two years, the Johns Island Conservancy has spoken to people, both on and off the Island, to find out what they value most about this unique place. “Growing a New Johns Island” is the result of that effort. We have concluded that the things we love about our home, both tangible and intangible, cannot be passed along to future generations by freezing them in time.

To sustain the intangible qualities that some call “The Music of the Island,” we must grow meaningful economic opportunities for residents based on the three things we value most: our cultural heritage, our natural environment, and our working landscape.   If we can’t offer people a better living from their land than the one they could purchase for their families by selling it, we can’t complain when they cash in and move out.


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We fear that the inevitable alternative to planting and nurturing these seeds will be a pattern of generic development that will further fray the fabric of traditional Johns Island life. Heritage lost. Farmland paved. Forest habitat subdivided. Just another sprawling suburban bedroom community. Not by hostile design, but through simple, mundane indifference.

To be honest, protecting any living community without draining its vitality is always a tricky thing. It’s unlikely that everyone on the island will agree on every idea that comes up for discussion.   We believe the true value of Johns Island won’t be unlocked and sustained until all Islanders, bin yahs and come yahs, City and County residents and neighboring islanders, recognize that the beauty, history and living culture of this special place represents a unique and irreplaceable authenticity that our frantic world desperately needs and desires.


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So our task begins not with answers, but with a question: “How can we grow a new local economy that benefits all Islanders by enhancing the things we love without sacrificing our values for short-term gain?”

This report will look at the things we think are worth sustaining and options for developing viable, sustainable economic opportunities around those things. It also includes interviews with some notable Johns Islanders who have been and continue to be leaders on the Island. We hope this report will also motivate others, a younger generation, to take on the task of growing a new future for Johns Island.

Part II: Conserve & Grow



Dan Conover

There are many people to thank for the work done on this report.

Dan Conover, a former reporter and city editor for The Post & Courier, wrote much of the report. Dan still works as a freelance writer, but also runs a website covering Lowcountry soccer, a mobile bicycle repair service, and various other endeavors.

We would also like to thank all those who participated in the Johns Island Coalition. The Coalition was a year-long series of group workshops covering a range of topics related to conservation on Johns Island. There were too many people who participated to name them all. The Coalition has evolved into the Johns Island Task Force which brings together various groups and interested individuals to implement programs to help preserve Johns Island’s character. Likewise, the Johns Island Concerned Citizens group provided an excellent opportunity to learn more about Johns Island and meet people who are committed to maintaining our traditional values.

Special thanks also to our four interviewees: Bill Saunders, Murray Neale, Sidi Limehouse and Thomas Legare. They have all worked tirelessly to help our community and have been an inspiration to our work here at the Conservancy