If you’ve ever wanted to learn a new language, why not make this the summer you start on that goal? Upstate International offers more than 30 classes in 13 languages, from beginner to advanced, so you’re sure to find something that fits your interest and skill level.
Whether you are planning a trip to Italy, want to converse with your son’s Japanese girlfriend, work for a German company, or just want to challenge yourself with a new skill, these classes will help you meet that goal. Learning a language is great for brain development, but it’s also a great way to connect with people who speak another language. “There’s nothing more valuable or precious than speaking to someone in their language,” says Program Manager Christine Hofbauer.
Regular classes ($65 for 8 weeks) meet once a week for an hour, and intensive classes ($265) meet twice a week for 90-minute lessons. The classes are only open to members (which requires a $50 fee), but, says Hofbauer, the membership fees help keep the costs down.
All classes are taught by native speakers of the language who volunteer because they want to share their language and culture with others. In the first class session, the teachers find out what the learning goals of the students are and tailor the curriculum around those goals. With class sizes capped at 15 students, that kind of individual attention is possible. “The classes are very informal,” Hofbauer says. “There’s no homework, no testing—but it’s a really high-quality learning experience.”
The language class offerings started 20 years ago with English conversation clubs for immigrants who wanted to immerse themselves in the language and culture of their new home. From there, the offerings have expanded to include not only the popular languages like French, Spanish, and German, but also Thai, Greek, Hebrew, and American Sign Language (taught by a couple made up of a deaf husband and a hearing wife). There is even a Spanish for kids, taught at the YMCA.
If this is something you’ve been wanting to do, check out their summer course offerings and sign up for a class that will expand your world!
It’s going to be a hot one this weekend, and splashing around in some cool water is just the ticket for beating the heat. Outside of your local pool, here are some natural and man-made options to cool off over the long weekend. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
A great place for the whole family, Shipwreck Cove opens for the season on May 25th. It has a splash pad and wading pool area for small children, as well as a lazy river and larger pool with water slides for bigger kids and adults. Plenty of deck area with chairs and umbrellas, restrooms, and a concession stand make it a great place to spend the day!
Swimming Area at Lake Placid in Paris Mountain State Park
The designated swimming area is the only place in the park where swimming is allowed, and use of the swimming area is included in the price of park admission. There are also pedal boats and kayaks for rent to enjoy the lake without being in it (no private boats are allowed on the lake).
This is a beautiful spot that’s sunny on one side of the river and shady on the other, where visitors can wade and splash or swim while enjoying the scenic property that was donated to the Spartanburg Area Conservancy.
Campbell’s Covered Bridge (Landrum)
The only remaining covered bridge in South Carolina is here in the Upstate—and as a bonus, there’s a picnic area next to a creek that’s just right for wading and splashing around.
School’s going to be out soon, and it’s time to find things for the kids to do all summer! Far from the one-size-fits-all camps of yesteryear, there are camps for all kinds of interests for kids these days, from cooking to sports to art and much more.
For Greenville County, Kidding Around Greenville has put together a really nice, comprehensive guide to summer camps, broken out by category, area, month, and other groupings, with great descriptions and links.
Given that the population for the Upstate region is projected to reach 1.75 million by 2040, it is not surprising that the recently released Census Bureau population estimate showed that the Upstate added nearly 20,000 new residents between July 2017 and July 2018.
There are certainly some who will read those numbers and suggest it is just further confirmation that we are growing too fast and need to shut the doors to make sure we maintain the quality of life for those already living here.
As someone who has lived in and studied regions struggling with declining population and economic crisis, it is my opinion that the great community vibrancy and strong economy here in the Upstate is directly tied to the fact that we are a region where people want to move and stay, thus resulting in consistent population growth over the last half century.
Changing policies to specifically discourage population growth would likely have unintended consequences that could directly contribute to a decline in economic viability and quality of life while likely having limited actual impact on the total population numbers for the region.
Instead of focusing on potential policies that could hamper positive growth, for more than a decade, leaders from across the Upstate have been promoting and encouraging efforts that embrace the Upstate as a vibrant and growing region—one that supports policies, investments and practices that help us shape future growth, instead of being shaped by it.
We are at a key juncture in the future of the Upstate. The increase in traffic congestion and land being used for development in many of our counties is now noticeable and starting to impact daily life and decisions across the region.
Fortunately, there are a number of opportunities for the Upstate today to significantly impact our future growth, without trying to limit the number of new residents within our communities.
How We Move People and Goods
Much of the discussion over the last decade in the Upstate and all of South Carolina around transportation has been focused on our deteriorating roads and bridges. The investment in improving our roads that was approved by our state legislators in 2017 was a key milestone, but was only one of many steps that must be taken if we want to efficiently and affordably move people and goods across the state for years to come.
Many local communities in South Carolina, but none in the Upstate, are enhancing their road maintenance and improvements with local financial support. Providing local funding is one way communities can ensure the most utilized roads within their community are able to keep up with traffic demand while remaining safe.
In the Upstate, 94% of people get to their daily job by using a personal vehicle. While we will likely never be able to create public transportation systems that can be used by everyone, just providing alternative transportation methods that reduce the number of people in the region who get to jobs using a personal vehicle to 85 or 90% would have a dramatic improvement on our roadways.
Providing Your Voice on Comprehensive Plans
The South Carolina statutes call for cities and counties to create and revise a comprehensive growth plan every ten years. These plans are designed to serve as a guide for communities to make decisions around appropriate growth within their community. Many of our communities are currently in the process of updating their plans.
Almost all elected officials regularly say that they make their decisions based on the input they receive from their constituents. One key element of the comprehensive plans is community input. If you have questions, concerns or ideas about how your community should try to shape local growth over the next decade, participating in one of the many meetings being held in your community is a great opportunity to share your insight.
If you are interested in the comprehensive planning process within your local city or county, I encourage you to check their web site for upcoming meetings and updates throughout the planning process.
Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem
Nearly 90% of all workers in the United States and 95% in South Carolina work for businesses with 20 or fewer employees. Studies have also shown that being an entrepreneur or small business owner is one of the greatest ways for someone to advance their economic status and in many cases emerge from the historic cycle of poverty.
During a recent visit to the Upstate, Andy Stoll from the Kaufman Foundation said that the communities that will have the greatest overall economic success and stability are those that are able to create a culture where all potential entrepreneurs and small business owners are aware of and have access to what they need to be successful.
The Upstate region is fortunate to have a large number of entities that provide support for entrepreneurs and small business owners. There are many Upstate residents who have the potential to become small business owners, but are likely unaware of the resources available to them. Continuing to develop and enhance connections between available resources and potential small business owners and entrepreneurs is another opportunity for our region to help support growth while building a strong economic foundation that gives everyone opportunity.
Ultimately, what future we leave for our children and grandchildren will be determined by local and regional priorities and investments. Rather than turning our backs on growth and suffering the consequences, if we can embrace the fact that we are a vibrant and growing region and continue to have public dialogue and support investments that shape that growth in a positive and sustainable manner, we can ensure that the Upstate remains a leading place to live, learn, do business and raise a family for generations to come.
You can learn more about Ten at the Top and how you can become involved in regional growth initiatives at www.tenatthetop.org.
From the spring through the fall, towns all over the Upstate have live music—some as often as every week—for free, family-friendly entertainment. Grab a chair, pack a picnic, take the kids, and enjoy an evening out with free music!
Here is a sampling:
Abbeville Live Concert Series will offer two concerts on the square this summer: Fred Engler and the Trouble Shooters on June 7th, and a special Labor Day Cruise-in concert featuring the Super Sixties.
Jazz on the Alley in Seneca features a variety of bands every Thursday from April through October, and many restaurants offer outdoor dining on Thursdays to allow diners to enjoy the music—or you can bring a lawn chair and a picnic!
Main Street Laurens’ Finally Friday on the Square takes place on the final Friday of each month—check their Facebook page and their website for what’s coming up at the end of this month.
Spartanburg has two weekly music offerings: Music on Main on Thursdays, which showcases bands covering a wide variety of genres, and Jazz on the Square on Saturdays.
Music in the Park, in Travelers Rest, has something for everyone, from 80s retro music to rockabilly and much more, every Saturday. There are food trucks starting at 6:00, and the music starts at 7:00.