Community and culture: Journeys: Georgia Sea Islands / Crafting a trip (that never got to go)

Crafting a trip:

Community and culture: Journeys: Georgia Sea Islands

Sarah Joy Staude / ETA

Nell Ruby / ASC

Possible site visit: October 19-22, 2019

Trip: March 7-14, 2020 (per Anna as of 13 August 2019 – is this correct?)

Group size: 18-20 students + 2 faculty leaders + 1 Tour Manager from ETA

Notes from phone call–8.27.19

Top priority is Queen Quet

Begin or end the trip

  • Dr. Jamal–Savannah tour/ af/am and gullah history, resident scholar in riceboro, and kunda

Dey clean–Tour / (dey clean: gullah term for: start each day afresh)

  • 100-mile, catherine, march 7th, on jeckyll is their annual meeting
  • Queen quet–service day and tour
  • Gullah grub restaurant–santa helena

Draft Itinerary:

We have flexibility with dates: can leave the 7th or 8th, can return the 14th or 15th, may depend on costs in the end

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Morning activity: Start off trip with departure from ASC around 1pm, drive to Santa Helena Island (4 hours 30 min)

Dinner: local restaurant on Santa Helena Island 

Lodging: Rodeway Inn or similar, Santa Helena Island (Rodeway is 5 minute drive from G/G Sea Island Coalition office)

Monday, March 9, 2020

Morning activity: De Gullah Root Experience Tour tour and orientation with Queen Quet on Santa Helena Island, SC with the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition (approximately 2.5 hours – 10am-12:30pm)

Lunch: lunch at De Gullah/Geechee Ga’dun (approximately 1 hour, finish around 1:30pm)

Afternoon activity: Reflection time and explore local area (sites such as the Chapel of Ease church ruins)

Dinner: maybe early at Gullah Grub Restaurant, Santa Helena Island (very checkered reviews, we’ll have to make introductions via the GG Coalition) featured here:

Lodging: Rodeway Inn or similar, Santa Helena Island (Rodeway is 5 minute drive from G/G Sea Island Coalition office)

Queen Quet and g/g island tour/ st. helena SC

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Morning activity: 10am-3pm service work with Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition 

Lunch: Take break for lunch at local restaurant such as MJ’s Soul Food, Santa Helena Island

Afternoon activity: Continue with service work until 3pm

Pending with GG Sea Island Coalition if we can work into this day: York W. Bailey Museum at Penn Center – first school in the US for emancipated slaves (only open Tuesday – Saturday 9 AM – 4 PM) 

Lodging: Rodeway Inn or similar, Santa Helena Island

Wednesday, March 11, 2020 Savannah and Riceboro

Early morning: Drive to Savannah (1 hour 10 minute drive)

Morning activity: Savannah History Tour with Dr. Jamal Touré

Afternoon activity: Geechee Kunda and Riceboro History Tour (possibly with Dr. Jamal Touré)

Lodging: Holiday Inn Express Savannah Historic District or similar

Evening activity: Savannah Ghost Tour (walking)

Thursday, March 12, 2020 from Savannah to Sapelo

Morning activity: group tour arranged by the GA State Parks 8:30am-2:30pm (Thursdays) (will request additional time for the Hogg Hummock visit) on request

Sapelo Island’s Historical and Cultural Legacy

The group will learn about the 4,500 years of Sapelo’s historical legacy. Students will explore the ancient Native American shell rings, plantation era structures, the Sapelo Island lighthouse, Reynolds Mansion (if available) and Hog Hammock community. Students will explore the islands Geechee culture, basket weaving and African origins. A Powerpoint presentation may be added to this program.

Afternoon activity: return from Sapelo,m transfer back to Savannah

Lodging: Holiday Inn Express Savannah Historic District or similar

Friday, March 13, 2020 in Savannah

Morning activity: Pinpoint Heritage Museum (open only Thurs-Sat 9am-5pm)

Afternoon activity:The Beach Institute African American Cultural Center in Savannah (open only 12-5pm Tues-Sat)

Transfer to Brunswick

Lodging: Holiday Inn & Suites, Brunswick, GA or similar (Tentative)

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Morning activity: Brunswick, GA artists (Tentative)

Afternoon activity: Painting workshop (to be confirmed with artists)

Lodging: Holiday Inn & Suites, Brunswick, GA or similar (Tentative)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Afternoon activity: Visit Hilton Head and drive back to ASC, end of program

Meal in Charleston? – checked into it, but better not… big detour from Santa Helena Island and very few local restaurants that specialize in soul food or Gullah Geechee cuisine are open Sundays such as Charlie Brown Seafood


Common course focci of all GBL 102 courses: global patterns of power; why travel?; race and identity

Specific sea island/ gullah geechee Focus: 

  • the experience of culture as the basis for group and individual identity formation
  • How culture is created: humans create expressive responses to their events and conditions in their environment 
  • How are vulnerable land areas affected by ecological conditions
  • Parallels btwn the treatment of land and the treatment of people by owners/powerful (who makes laws? Who writes history?)


In class before trip:

  • History of Gulla – Geechee
  • Language
  • Baskets
  • Lineage to west africa
  • Land laws
  • Influence from west africa (rice and indigo/the song that they traced)
  • Influence ON African/american culture (esp. language)

Exposure to the notion of marshlands and their importance for a natural protective barrier for the coast

  • What lives there
  • What is their part in the chain
  • birds/grasses/bugs
  • The effect of losing marshlands on mainland and on people’s livlihoods

Exposure to commercial build-up. 

  • What is the chain of events / chronology of the building of a “resort”?
  • Who enjoys it?
  • What is lost?

Is there a chance you’ll take a visit to this local restaurant in Atlanta in the months leading up to the trip?:

Experiences on the trip (March 8-15)


On islands when/if we can

Audience with queen Quet

Task: Nell: talk to Lisa J to see if there’s a connection

Night tour of an island?

Ten islands in Georgia are not publicly accessible, four have causeway, others by ferry/boat only.
Reasons: Private ownership (rockefellers/vandys donated for perpetual conservation)

Sierra club


  • Cumberland (National Park)
  • Sapelo
    • Sapelo is a state-managed barrier island, the fourth largest in the chain of coastal Georgia islands between the Savannah and St. Marys rivers. Accessible only by passenger ferry, Sapelo provides a number of public access recreational, educational and lodging opportunities.
    • The Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) manages the island. DNR operates the ferry service and serves as state liaison for the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve, the University of Georgia Marine Institute, and the civilian Hog Hammock community, permanent home to about 70 full-time residents, many of whom are descended from the antebellum slaves of Sapelo’s plantations.
    • DNR operates the R.J. Reynolds Mansion on Sapelo. Built by Thomas Spalding in 1810 and restored by automotive pioneer Howard Coffin in 1925 and tobacco heir Richard J. Reynolds in the 1940s, the Mansion provides overnight accommodations for groups. The mansion also operates a public beach campground at Cabretta.

Gullah geechee corridor heritage center

100 Miles

(Alice Keyes)

Main office is Brunswick/ also have an office in Savannah

Education has a program called: nature in the arts telling stories through arts: writing/drawing/basketweaving

Brunswick has an active artist community

Contact sapalo island/talk to island manager


Hog hammock

Community center

Can stay there (georgia dorms)

Marine institute 

Look up Eugene Odem (ecological father)

Talk to scad for connections–artists and community (DALE have any leads?)

Museums having hard conversations:

THE SHIPS OF THE SEA museum, maritime museum, but doing important work in race relationships

Brunswick artist community

Gulla geechee: michell johnson, lives part time on sapalo and part time in Brunswich, (new grandchildren so less involved rn)

Katherine ridley, director of education and communication at 100 miles

Savannah to brunswick is 1 hour

g/g geechee kunda in riceboro ga, in liberty county, [uglytown wit paper mill] geechee kunda center, have to arrange a visit, ahead of time

Pinpoint heritage museum

(aside: where clarence thomas grew up)

Settled on mainland –after civil war when white people were given the land of the freed blacks, the formerly enslaved moved to ocaba island, where they used their knowledge to pioneer a clamming community / innovations

Alice says “phonomenol” her favorite place on the coast

Savanna cultural center, open most days 

Question from Sarah Joy:
should we assume that this recommendation is for the The Beach Institute African-American Cultural Center rather than the Savannah Cultural Arts Center ?



G/G culture

possibly a start to create a foundation upon which to build to ask for a grant to create a digital archive for g/g oral history?

Nell: talk to Lisa

Priorities List – to start filling in the draft itinerary below… (Nell, please feel free to move these around in terms of your priorities)

Priority Level: Yes! Definitely need to include these activities/sites:

  1. Pinpoint Heritage Museum in Savannah, GA
  2. Ecology service project with One Hundred Miles (best contacts are Alice Keyes and Catherine Ridley)
  3. Meet an artist or multiple artists in a community (TBD, perhaps in Brunswick, GA with a creative co-op like this: – (Sarah Joy received confirmation that their sales gallery is not open but their coop is alive and well)
  4. Seagrass basket weaving

Priority Level: Maybe… would like to include these activities if they fit:

  1. Visit to Hog Hammock on Sapelo Island (GA) and other activities while staying at the Reynolds Mansion (minimum stay 2 nights)
  2. Oral History/Story Corps type project with potential to be a long-term project through ASC
  3. Experience that would show mainstream tourist culture (Hilton Head, SC or similar resort site in GA)
  4. Participate in the historic engagement tour in Savannah, GA and Riceboro, GA offered by the Gullah/GeeChee Nation
  5. Visit Geechee Kunda Cultural Arts Center & Museum in Riceboro, GA (find out if part of above tour)
  6. Participate in the “Igbos and More Tour” (St. Simon’s and Jekyll Islands by boat) led by Gullah/GeeChee natives of Brunswick, GA
  7. Visit to Santa Helena Island (SC) and learn about the Gullah/GeeChee Nation through workshops while staying at the Hunnah Home Gullah/Geechee Research & Retreat Center (Polyrhythms and Language, Traditional Quilting, Cast Net Making, Sweetgrass Basketry, Gullah/GeeChee Foodways, 

Priority Level: Wishlist… if the stars align:

  1. Meet Queen Quet of the Gullah/GeeChee Nation