Patriotic Parties: How to throw the perfect July 4th bash

By Deena C. Bouknight

Independence Day has a myriad of party planning opportunities.

By the time July 4th hits, summer is in full swing. School is out, graduates have walked, pools are crowded, and gardens grow. People are ready for a good bash. And Independence Day does not disappoint with its myriad of party planning opportunities: a red, white, and blue color scheme, a festive patriotic theme, plenty of fresh produce, and outdoor cooking options.

First think about the venue: backyard, lake, beach, mountains? Where the party takes place helps determine food planning. Many Columbia families congregate in a home or condos at the beach. Designating who will bring what enables members to make dishes ahead of time so the July 4th holiday can be enjoyed instead of spent wilting in a kitchen.

And those planning for a lake celebration might consider the logistics of food hauled into a boat. It is a good idea to cut, marinade, cook, prepare, portion out, etc. as much food as possible into zip-lock baggies or some sort of plastic containers. Keep raw foods separate – if possible in a different cooler – from other foods and drinks. Store food in an adequate cooler that will hold its temperature to ensure nothing spoils. Plus, fill a bag will all kinds of serving and cutting utensils that might be needed.

Bring together friends and family for a festive 4th of July bash!

For a no-fuss, wallet-happy party at home consider these really simple tips from Real Simple:

– Do an email invite (or download a free printable one from various sites) that alerts guests to what will be served by you – and then ask them to bring something specific: drinks, paper products, a side dish, their choice of meat for the grills. If you do not have enough chairs, state on the invitation BYOC – Bring Your Own Chair.

– For backyard party fun for kids, a sprinkler, slip and slide, beach balls, a squirt gun station, and some bubbles do the trick. (All can be purchased at a dollar store.)

– Since our city is “famously hot”, supply home-made accordion-style fans made with red, white, and blue construction paper. Plug in some oscillating fans on the patio or deck, and throw some inexpensive washcloths in a bucket of ice.

July 4th parties are when even the least likely cooks can pull together clever, creative edibles that convey a patriotic theme. Pinterest offers endless ideas. Here are some:

Pull together clever, creative edibles that convey a patriotic theme.

– skewers with strawberries, bananas (or marshmallows), and blueberries

– red, white, and blue frosting dipped pretzels

– thick slices of watermelon from which stars can be cut with a cookie cutter and arranged on a plate

– a flag decorated sheet cake

– a watermelon salad with feta and blueberries

Set up an ice cream bar with red, white, and blue sprinkles and candy stars for a colorful, festive treat that will delight young and older alike.

Light up the grill for tasty 4th of July meals.

Concerning grilling, it is a matter of preference whether a gas or a charcoal grill provides the best flavor. Clean before guests come, and soak a paper towel in vegetable oil and rub on the grill Pre-heat the grill up for about 15-20 minutes. The temperature of the grill depends on what is being cooked, but the goal is to sear meats and keep the inside moist and juicy. Invest in an instant-read fork thermometer to learn when meat is cooked. Grill baskets are great for vegetables, shrimp, fish, etc. Prevent flames by trimming fats on meats; keep a spray bottle handy if flare-ups occur.

When it comes to decorating for Independence Day, choices span from easy DIY to elaborate and novel. Specialty party retailers as well as discount stores have the party planning in the bag with banners, buntings, and even hats coordinating with tableware and party favors. Or, go all-out with red, white, and blue paper lanterns, candles, flower arrangements with mini flags, pillows, and/or decorative signware. For a bold statement, make a large stencil of a star out of poster board or a flattened box and spray paint red white and blue stars on a freshly mowed lawn.

Drinks are an easy way to present the day’s theme and can serve as decoration for the table. Simply fill a tub or large bowl with red, white, and blue sodas, juices, or sports drinks. Filling bowls with red, white, and blue fruit also decorates a table covered in a simple white table cloth.

For smaller get-togethers, consider offering baskets of party favors; inexpensive patriotic-themed t-shirts, beach towels, handkerchiefs, glow sticks, koozies, and water bottles can be purchased at discount stores.

End your 4th of July celebration with a fireworks finale!

Seriously Though…

No party is enjoyable if there are swarms of mosquitoes and pesky gnats or flies. Prior to an outdoor party at home, have the yard sprayed or make sure to empty any standing water and keep all areas dry for at least a week before the event. Have bug guard towelettes or bug spray available, or go the natural route and mix up some insect-repelling lavender and olive oil for guests to rub on. Rosemary on the barbie – in sprigs or on meat that has marinated in it – mixes with the smoke from the grill and is also considered offensive to mosquitoes.

Avoid glassware; it and parties do not mix well. Instead, use paper, plastic, and Styrofoam. Environmentally conscious-minded hosts can set up both a recyclable trash can and a regular trash can in a prominent area.

With more than 8,000 grill-associated fires annually, according to the National Fire Prevention Association, it is imperative that there be a fire extinguisher nearby while grill is in use. Double check gas grills to make sure gas is turned off when grilling ends. Keep little ones away. Ahead of time, make sure gas lines from tank to grill are secure and that there are no cracks or leaks. Do not spray non-stick spray onto a grill rack.

Finally, always have a first-aid kit handy. Learn prior to parties if any guests are allergic to peanuts, shell-fish, and bees, for examples. If so, make sure they have their EpiPen handy just in case. And, if sparklers are one of the scheduled activities, have a metal tray or bucket handy where extinguished ones can be placed so no bear feet are scorched.

July 4th is a true day of celebration in honor of tremendous fervor for this great country. Enjoy  – no matter where you find yourself this holiday.








Colla Voce to Perform “Homing” by Celebrated Composer J.A.C. Redford

By Delia Corrigan

“This is the house of your long-exiled soul.” – Homing by J.A.C. Redford   

J.A.C. Redford is a renowned composer, arranger, orchestrator, and conductor of music.

Later this summer Columbians will have a rare opportunity to hear Homing, J.A.C. Redford’s newest oratorio. This is largely due to the personal and professional friendship J.A.C. Redford has with Dr. Larry Wyatt, conductor of Colla Voce.

One may think one is not familiar with Redford’s work, but that is probably not the case. J.A.C. Redford is a composer, arranger, orchestrator, and conductor of music ranging from concert, chamber and orchestral, to film, television, and theatre. His music has been featured on programs at the Kennedy Center, the Lincoln Center, and around the world. Redford has written the scores for more than three dozen feature films, TV movies, and miniseries, and he has composed the music for nearly 500 episodes of series television, such as Coach and St. Elsewhere, for which he received two Emmy nominations. Collaborating with other artists, J.A.C. Redmond has been involved in widely popular projects such as The Little Mermaid, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Perfect Storm, Avatar, The Help, Skyfall, and others.

J.A.C. Redford explores a theme in literature that he terms “crossing over” literature. He says, “By that I mean prose or poetry that imagines the experience of transition from this life to the next, or that renders more porous the borders between the material world and the world of spirit.” He considers the text of Homing to be responsive poetry to various literary passages that are meaningful to him. These passages may come from authors as varied as J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Charles Williams, Dante, George Herbert, and King David. The text and the score of Homing, both written by Redford, explore the human longing, sometimes subtle yet on other occasions sharp, for “home.”

Under the direction of Dr. Larry Wyatt, Colla Voce will perform Homing. Colla Voce is Columbia’s community chamber choir of professional musicians. Mark your calendars for a cool indoor afternoon activity that will stir your heart and mind.

Date: July 30, 2017

Time: 4 p.m.

Location: The Anglican Cathedral Church of the Epiphany. 2512 North Beltline Blvd.

Ticket Price: $10 – purchased in advance. $15 – purchased at the door.

Please call 803-777-5369 to purchase advance tickets.

Childhood Memories Inspire Children’s Books

Dutch Dives In, written by Margaret “Peg” Finlay Averyt, tells the Pawley’s Island beach adventures of a little blonde girl, Dutch.

Peg Finlay Averyt is an artist, gallery owner, little sister of former Columbia mayor Kirkman Finlay Jr., and now achildren’s book author. She combines her knowledge of art as Finleaf Gallery owner, her skills as an artist, and her creative writing talents in her books: Willowbel’s Wagon and Dutch Dives In.

Both stories pull from powerful memories of growing up in South Carolina. Willowbel’s Wagon, published in 2013, is a fanciful tale about a family of brown rabbits who inhabited woods in the Heathwood Circle neighborhood.  Published this year is Dutch Dives In, which revisits time Peg spent on Pawley’s Island with her favorite doll, Mary California, and her family. She conveys at the end of the book how her father, Kirkman Finlay Sr., gave her the nickname Dutch because of her white blond hair, blue eyes, and fair skin.

Peg’s treasured memories include her grandmother making clothes for Mary California, packing the doll’s clothes for the beach vacations, and generally treating the doll as a person. “Mary California and I would swim and swim and then we just played out on the beach,” she says.

In a small cardboard suitcase, Dutch packed play clothes and a pink night gown for her doll, Mary California.
“Oh, Carolina Moon keep shining, Shining on the one who waits for me.”

In the book, Dutch Dives In, the memory of the doll being sung the song “Carolina Moon” is shared, complete with a verse from the song, which was a hit in the 1950s.

Each book features watercolor illustrations by Peg. In Dutch Dives In, the artistic process is explained: “… hand-painted watercolors on squares of cotton batiste found in a mill in Union, S.C.” Edges of the batiste are fringed.

Dutch swam in the ocean, built sand castles, and collected sea shells.

Both books are available at the Finleaf Gallery on Devine Street, along with works by other local authors and artists, plus handmade gifts, bridal registries, a ladies boutique, and teas.

From the Editor: June 2017

Summertime Samplings

Cool foods for hot months 

June marks the beginning of summer with long days, no school, family vacations and fresh cuisine. It’s the season for colorful vegetables, among which squash emerges as a delicious, locally available option packed with numerous medicinal benefits and rich flavor. Read about how to buy, plant, tend and cook this perennial favorite in Helen Dennis’ “mini” on page 22.

Summer is also a wonderful time to bring more of the tropics into your kitchen. On page 28, explore Susan Slack’s Jamaican recipes for zesty flavors of the Caribbean that will brighten your supper plate this season. And for the perfect setting to enjoy these culinary delights, what better place than outside with crickets chirping as dusk envelops the sky? Find out how locals are taking their cooking en plein air and view some of Columbia’s most beautiful outdoor kitchens on page 54.

One of my favorite childhood summer memories is of making ice cream as a family on the front porch. We would take turns pouring the rock salt over the ice and churning the canister within the bucket, turns which corresponded to reverse birth-order as the ice cream thickened, hardened and became more difficult to churn throughout the 30-minute ordeal!

When the ice cream was finally finished, we pulled out the dasher and raced onto the lawn to keep from dripping ice cream on the porch. My two sisters and I would gather around the ice cream laden dasher, licking it like a bunch of puppies as it dripped into the grass and onto our bare toes. Meanwhile, Mom served our individual portions out of the canister into bowls. We then sat in rocking chairs under the hum of overhead fans and tried to strike the delicate balance of eating the ice cream quickly enough so that it didn’t return to its former liquid state in the sweltering summer heat, but not so hastily as to give ourselves a brain freeze.

Ice cream dates back to 16th century England, so it should come as no surprise that making the refreshing delicacy in the summer was a tradition quickly incorporated in the warmer New World. Records show that during the summer of 1790, President George Washington spent approximately $200 on this favorite treat. On page 48, read Melissa Andrews’ article for recipes and instructions on how you can implement the ritual of churning Southern ice cream into your family afternoons this summer. I highly recommend you experiment and even come up with your personalized, unique flavor variations.

And don’t forget to lick the dasher!


Margaret Clay

Ex Libris Online: The Odyssey

Suggestions for Summer Reading

Review: The Odyssey by Homer

Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of that man skilled in all ways of contending,
the wanderer, harried for years on end,
after he plundered the stronghold
on the proud height of Troy.

He saw the townlands
and learned the minds of many distant men,
and weathered many bitter nights and days
in his deep heart at sea, while he fought only
to save his life, to bring his shipmates home…

ex Libris MC (2)

The second oldest piece of surviving Western literature, Homer’s Odyssey exemplifies the timeless power of the written word. Within it lie the seeds of the traditions, atmosphere, and style in today’s literature and art. Its influence on both historic and modern culture in the West cannot be overestimated, with its monstrous creatures living on in a variety of modern guises.

While most people study The Odyssey in high school, I happened to miss it as I changed my allegiance as a Highlander to a Skyhawk; Heathwood scheduled for the 9th grade curriculum while Hammond planned it for the 8th grade. A couple of years ago, I decided to remedy this deficiency and, considering the original poem was composed and preserved in the oral tradition and was thus originally intended to be heard rather than read, I bought a copy on Audible in preparation for a long trip. The rhythm of poetry and the beauty of the descriptions swept me far away to the foreign lands of Ancient Greece, yet the plot was surprisingly relevant. This year, I returned to this classic for a more modern, conventional experience and obtained a physical copy of the text. This Folio Society edition did not disappoint!

Zeus about to loose a lightening bolt at Odysseus’ ship.

Through Robert Fagles’s lyrical translation and Grahame Baker-Smith’s stirring images, I was again enraptured as Odysseus, king of the island of Ithaca, struggled against the monumental supernatural forces to return home to his family. While most people have not faced a succession of fantastical monsters and hazards – from the Lotus Eaters to the Cyclops, the Sirens, and the fearsome crags of Scylla and Charybdis – many can relate to the passionate need to return home and reunite with family against all obstacles … whether separated by war, jobs, or other individual circumstances. Bernard Knox’s introduction to this edition discussing the history, the language, and the nature of Odysseus as a hero was fascinating, and the index in the back listing all the characters was a very handy reference for keeping all the Greek names straight.

Odysseus tied to the mast as the sirens sing.

If you have read Ex Libris in the current June issue on “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” reading The Odyssey is also a wonderful way to follow up with your children on the actual myths surrounding many of the characters in the novel series.

A seminal classical text, The Odyssey certainly remains as essential and as entertaining as it ever was, with Odysseus standing as a refreshingly complex figure, full of cunning and pride.


As Memorial Day passes by this week, heralding summer’s official launch, I highly recommend returning to this ancient classic, or experiencing it for the first time, as the perfect commencement to summer reading.

Buy this book here.

Hair Health Tips

By Kirstie Boone

From hair dryers to curling and straightening irons, our hair takes a lot of heat throughout the year, not to mention the damaging hair products we often use. Summer is the perfect time to revamp your beauty routine and ensure your hair remains healthy all year long. There are many tips on keeping your skin safe from the sun, but how do you keep your hair healthy while lounging on the beach in the hot summer sun? How do you protect your hair from the chemicals found in chlorine pools? Refresh your beauty rituals this summer to have healthier hair. From hats to hair masks, we’ve got tips from the experts on the most effective ways to protect and rejuvenate your tresses.

Sun Safety

Like your skin, your hair can be easily damaged in the sun. According to Blair Wessinger at Studio SB, the best way to keep your hair safe from the sun is “hats, hats, hats!” Wearing a hat while lounging on the beach or by the pool protects not only your face from harmful UV rays, but also your hair. Hats will also protect colored hair from being tinted to undesirable shades.

Kelly Odom, owner of Kalikō Salon, advises the use of leave-in repair serums. “I always have one in my beach bag,” says Kelly. “The heat from the sun actually helps open the hair cuticles for better penetration.”

While many people use products such as lemon juice to “naturally” lighten their hair in the sun, this can actually be very harmful. I’ll never forget the summer my younger sister opted for “natural” highlights from the sun and sprayed a product called “Sun In” in her hair before we went to the pool. She continued this ritual for an entire month, but her hair turned more of a brassy orange color as opposed to the soft blonde she was hoping for. It also became very brittle and began breaking off around her roots. She quickly made an appointment at the salon, and to her dismay, learned that the product she was using to “naturally” lighten her hair was actually a combination of bleach, hydrogen peroxide and some other not-so-natural ingredients. Combined with the harmful rays of the sun, these ingredients temporarily ruined her hair. She was forced to cut the dry, brittle patches out, but her hair thankfully grew back healthy and in a natural color.

While results of using such products may vary from person to person, it is strongly encouraged that you check with a trusted salon before using any product. Everyone’s hair is different, so making sure you’re using products that are safe for your hair is key.



In addition to the sun damage that occurs while you lounge by the pool, the chlorine in the water can also be harmful to both your skin and hair. Wearing a swim cap is one way to prevent hair damage, as is fastening your hair in a high pony-tail or bun before taking a dip.

However, if there is no way around getting your hair wet, there are some options to reduce the damaging effects of chlorine. One way to minimize damage is by wetting your hair before getting in the pool, says Lex Moore of OCCO Luxury Spa + Salon. If your hair is dry when it comes into contact with pool water, the chlorine has a better chance of soaking into the strands of hair. By wetting your hair pre-swim, you’ll minimize the amount of chlorine that soaks in.

Another helpful tip is to rinse your hair as soon as possible after you come into contact with chlorine. Even if it’s only in a poolside shower, it’s best to rinse as much of the chlorine out of your hair and off your body as soon as possible. Later, to make sure all chlorine has been removed, you can use natural remedies such as baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Mix one tablespoon of baking soda with one cup of water for an at-home remedy. Or mix one part apple cider vinegar and four parts water to create a natural method for removing the chlorine post-swim. Lex suggests using L’Oreal Professional Nutrifier Series after swimming. This is a new formula that’s silicone-free and contains glycerol and coconut oil. Its lightweight texture is perfect for dry and undernourished hair.

Also, hair masks are great for repairing hair after exposure to pool chemicals. Lex suggests doing a hair mask at home once a week to keep your hair healthy and stronger between salon visits. Blair also encourages the use of hair masks as a source of extra conditioning, but advises users to get the right mask for your hair type. “With fine hair especially, you don’t want to get anything to heavy,” says Blair. Many hair masks can be applied in the shower after, or in place of, your regular conditioner. Let it sit for several minutes before rinsing it out, or for hair in dire need of repair, leave it in for longer. Others should be applied to washed and towel-dried hair and left in for at least 20 minutes before rinsing.

beauty-15932_1920Hair dryers, straightening irons, curlers, oh my!

When using styling tools, it’s important to be mindful of the heat setting. Kelly advises you to consider the texture of your hair when choosing the temperature for styling tools. Blair says that you get what you pay for when it comes to choosing styling tools. It’s worth it to spend a little extra to get high-quality, salon-brand tools. Joye Fowler of Ashley’s Alley recommends only purchasing ceramic hot tools that have the capability of exceeding 400 degrees, and the higher above that the better — even if you don’t need that level of heat, it ensures that the ceramic is high-quality and thus safer for your hair. Lex advises her clients to go no higher than 410 degrees, however it’s best to stay around 350 degrees. “Play it smart. Start lower and, if you feel like you need to go up more, slowly turn your iron up. This keeps your hair from getting singed!” Lex also says it’s best to use a heat protectant, such as the Infinium 3 spray, when using styling tools.

The possibility of avoiding heated styling tools completely isn’t a realistic option for most. However, summer is an excellent time to take a break from the nonessential tools. There are many fun, summer up-dos that don’t require styling. After drying your hair, hairstyle-1473541_1920try braiding it or putting it in a chic bun for the day instead of using a straightening iron. Bonus points if you can avoid the hair dryer all together for a day or two. Blair suggests using a sea salt spray like R&Co Rockaway when your hair is wet. After using the spray, scrunch your hair to give it a nice “beach wave” without having to use styling tools. When you’re on vacation, give your hair a vacation as well. Ditching the styling tools for a bit will give your hair a much-needed break, and the time you’d normally spend styling your hair can be spent enjoying a vacation. It’s a win-win situation!


Kelly says that the amount of time between washes will vary from person to person. However, washing your hair every day prevents your natural oils from doing their job. If you find that you have an extra oily scalp, try a hydrating shampoo instead of stripping the natural oils with harsh shampoos that often cause your scalp to overcompensate from being stripped and produce even more oils. Kelly also suggests using dry shampoos between washes. They absorb oils and add texture! Blair suggests only washing your hair two to three times per week. In regards to the application of dry shampoo, Joye says the best way to use the shampoo is to shake the can before spraying at the roots. Massage the dry shampoo into your hair, then lightly blow dry on low to get rid of the dry shampoo residue.


The frequency with which you get a haircut usually depends on your styling methods. If you use heated styling tools or chemicals in your hair, Blair suggests visiting the salon every six to eight weeks. Lex says that although it is often assumed that getting your hair cut makes your hair grow faster, that’s not necessarily the case. Getting you hair cut on a regular basis keeps your ends healthy, which makes your hair grow longer and healthier because it prevents splitting and breaking. In the long run, if you don’t maintain a regular haircut routine, you have to cut your hair shorter to get rid of more damage.

Follow these easy tips and hints to ensure your hair stays healthy all summer long. Whether you plan on spending the summer by the pool, on the boat or on the beach, make sure you take the necessary steps to protect both your skin and your hair. Now let your hair down and enjoy our beautiful, South Carolina summer!



Emanuel: Love is the Answer

By Kirstie Boone

Like many people in the South, I have a very special place in my heart for Charleston. I will never forget June 17, 2015, when nine precious lives were taken by someone filled with hate and evil. Along with several others, these individuals were in a place of worship, a place they felt safe — Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. After the events of that day unfolded, many wondered how this church, this city and this state would recover from something so heartbreaking. How would we recover from losing these nine special individuals as a result of such a senseless and hateful crime?

Not only would Charleston soon begin to recover, but it would also set an example for cities across the nation in moving forward after a tragedy. Violence was not met with more violence, as Charleston responded with love, faith, hope and forgiveness. Charleston and the state of South Carolina demonstrated that in the face of evil, love always prevails.

70557237-ccb17-0079 (1)- Ashley ConcannonArtistic and Executive Director of Columbia City Ballet, William Starrett, set out to honor the Mother Emanuel church by creating the ballet, Emanuel: Love is the Answer which took place in Columbia April 7th and 8th. “I felt it was a time where we needed a positive healing tool of transcendence and unity,” says William. “To me, art and particularly dance is a form of prayer. The extraordinary message of forgiveness coming from families echoing from South Carolina took on an unexpected strength and awareness that inspired me to personally commemorate these important individuals whose lives were taken as they were celebrating their God. I wanted to help use this tragedy to learn that we must embrace our differences and that love is the answer.”

The ballet balanced the sadness of tragedy with the hope for unity that came as a result. During one of the performances, the voices of victims’ families speaking to the court room echoed through the speakers during one of the performances. Over and over, the words “I forgive you” were repeated by the family members. On stage, the dancers expertly portrayed the emotion and heartbreak felt by the victims’ families in this difficult moment. Of those who were killed in the shooting, William says, “I tried to makeemmanuel- Kevin Kyzer their voices and lives have even greater importance. We must learn that we are more alike than we are different. Hate is a cancer, and love is the answer.” Later in the ballet, dancers performed to the song “All You Need is Love” and encouraged the audience to clap and laugh. This performance demonstrated the hope and love that were shown in the aftermath of the shooting.

William says that he hopes those in the audience took away a spirit of love from the ballet. “We must live every moment with compassion and kindness. We must celebrate our differences, because they are gifts that we were given when we were placed on this earth. We must use these differences to grow, develop, evolve and become more enlightened. We each have an importance and it starts with us always coming from a positive place of love.”
emmanuel-85 - Kevin Kyzer

Though losing these precious nine lives broke our hearts, it did not break Charleston or South Carolina. We, as a united state, demonstrated what it means to love and what it means to believe that the best thing to do in a time of tragedy, despair or confusion is to show unity, hope and love.

For more information on the Columbia City Ballet, visit

From the Editor: May 2017

Columbia Proud

Celebrating the 2017 CYP finalists

We at CMM are very excited to introduce the Capital Young Professional Awards honoring men and women 35 and under who are excelling in their careers, community involvement and philanthropy. During our celebration on April 20th at 701 Whaley, we honored the finalists — Josh Bennett, Tim Bowers, Peyton Bryant, Miles Coleman, Kim Jamieson, Jeff Manning, Marshall Minton, Drew Stevens and Lauren Wilkie. And we extended a hearty congratulations to the 2017 CYP winner — Joe Walker, III. These exemplary individuals are the next leaders of our great city and serve as wonderful role models to citizens of all ages in espousing a true sense of community spirit and pride. Read more about our CYP finalists on page 64.

During the interview process, we asked each of the CYP Top Ten Finalists what they saw as Columbia’s greatest challenge, and the overwhelming answer was the need for greater pride and identity. For years we have been the city that is “two hours from the beach and the mountains,” and while that’s certainly true, Columbia needs to grasp that our identity is so much richer.

“We are the first to put ourselves down,” Kim Jamieson shares. “We don’t need to try to be Charleston or Greenville, because we are Columbia! It’s similar to wanting to be like your best friend growing up, when you should just be excited to be you. We need buy-in from locals across the city. When hosting the media and journalists who visit to write about Columbia, I wish I could tape their reactions –– they repeatedly talk about how amazing our city is.”

We have so many options for entertainment on the weekends as well as weeknights that the conundrum isn’t finding something to do, but finding a way to decide between all the choices. A vibrant buzz of shopping, museum visiting and historic sightseeing, downtown offers perks for everyone — from the impressive food scene and arts culture in the Vista to Soda City Market on Main Street. Five Points and Devine Street also continue to grow and expand with businesses that put Columbia on the national map. The North Main Street district, “NOMA,” is undergoing exciting revitalization and development, which you can read about on page 116, and our rivers and lakes continue to attract the avid outdoorsman for a multitude of sports.

“Columbia is the most remarkable place I’ve ever been to,” Drew Stevens says. “Having traveled to almost 20 countries, I can honestly say there’s no place like home. The synergy we’re building as a diverse community will set the stage for continued growth that other cities will aspire to have. Anyone here can be a part of the change they want to see –– it simply takes the right attitude and a little courage.”

Well put, Drew. I certainly agree!


Margaret Clay

The 2017 CYP Award Winner: Joe Walker, III

Celebrating the CMM Capital Young Professional Awards

Acceptance speech by Joseph Walker, III

It was with great excitement last Thursday that CMM presented the inaugural Capital Young Professional Awards, honoring some of our community’s finest men and women. We would like to thank everyone who nominated so many excellent local young professionals this past November and December! We were thrilled that community participation brought in more than 70 entries of outstanding young professionals. 

It was a truly difficult process to determine the top 20 who were then reviewed by the CMM team along with a committee from United Way of the Midlands. After a weeks-long process, we then selected the top 10 who then went through an interview process before being confirmed. We extend our hearty congratulations to the official 2017 Top 10 Capital Young Professionals, featured in our current May issue.

On April 20, we enjoyed a wonderful evening at 701 Whaley for our first CYP celebration. As the evening ceremony came to a close, it was our distinct pleasure to announce the 2017 CYP Awards winner –– Joseph Walker III. The acceptance speech he gave was indicative of the many reasons he was selected as our winner. We hope you enjoy his message.

Henry Clay, Joe Walker, Margaret Clay, and Emily Clay


Wow … Thank you on behalf of my team. Thank you also to Columbia Metropolitan Magazine and the Clay family for putting forth the effort and resources to bring about this award and event. I would also like to thank Hammond School for the nomination. What an incredibly humbling honor, not just to receive this award, but to even be considered in the same company of such an impressive group of young professionals.

All credit for this success goes to my teams, both my family unit team as well as my professional team. My wife, Haley, is an incredible woman, my rock, who I cannot begin to thank enough. When I am weak, she is strong, both physically and spiritually, and there is no greater gift than such a woman.

I am also incredibly humbled to have such talent working hand in hand with me, and I want them to stand and be recognized. This team is the reason I am standing here today. They are beyond impressive.

In preparing for the potential of accepting of this award, I realized that there is yet another team from which I draw incredible inspiration, motivation and moral guidance that I also want to recognize. This team is on stage with me now; standing in a squad wedge formation, a formation that is used in infantry combat when walking into impending conflict which represents a posture of strength and cohesive team preparedness to face any enemy. I stand at the point of this triangle, with six shadows in support.

These six shadows represent the six men –– fathers, brothers and sons –– who died under my watch while fighting our nation’s enemies abroad. These six shadows go everywhere with me, in this support formation, much like they did overseas. We continue to face daily dangers, decisions, opportunities and pitfalls together, yet I am the earthly point man.

Joe shares that this photograph captures the face of sacrifice –– five men killed in one engagement with the enemy.

I used to struggle with this concept; what some would call survivor’s remorse, what others may call guilt, and even others call a burden. I used to feel that weight.

This past Easter Sunday I sat in the pews of First Presbyterian Church, a place where I feel at home yet a place where I always find my mind wandering back to those six shadows, the others who survived –– the memories, those moments. As I listened that Sunday, it was as if Dr. Derek Thomas spoke directly to me.

I listened as he outlined a story passed on to him about a veteran long since deceased who used to tell the story of his having been sunk in a submarine by a German U-Boat in WWI. This veteran battled depression all his life and never got over the trauma of having been stuck at the bottom of the ocean and losing many a man after being torpedoed.  You see, in his mind, that is where the story ended. He failed. He had been sunk. He no longer had purpose.

The reverend who was providing counsel to this veteran asked to hear the end of the story, given that he obviously survived. The veteran seemed surprised, “What do you mean, the end of the story? We were sunk. I lost my men.”

The reverend then made an astute observation. He pointed out that for the veteran to be standing before him today, that he had to have survived, found a way to the top of the ocean and furthermore been rescued by some type of vessel. The reverend insisted that there was, in fact, more to his story.

You see, this vet was so stuck on the memory of trauma and hardship that he failed to see the rest of his story and, therefore, the blessing that was the remainder of his life.

Well, I am here. I stand before you today humbled at the chance to be the earthly point man for my shadow team and the incredible blessing that is the earthly life I’ve been given thus far as well as whatever earthly life I have remaining. More importantly, I look forward to the immeasurable blessing of life eternal in the presence of God. I now know that it is not my job to seek my purpose, or wonder “Why am I here,” for I now understand that the very fact that I am here means God has a purpose; my life is His to have, to use and to take as He sees fit. My shadow team has the ultimate point man –– his name is Jesus, and he has already died to protect us.

This is the unbelievable grace of the Gospel, the freedom to live life knowing you’ve already won, that someone ran the race for you and the trophy is yours to keep.

I hope that you can find the rest of your story, that you can look past being stuck in a sunken submarine on the ocean floor and understand that the very fact that you are sitting here tonight means you have purpose. The Lord does not make mistakes.

My prayer is that this platform, this award, and any other opportunities I’m afforded and blessings I am granted on this earth, will all be used for His glory.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

Haley and Joe Walker with their three children, Stuckey, Wham and Danner