Adding Value is a Long Term Game – David Twiggs


I wanted to share the great news from Savannah Lakes Village in McCormick SC and talk a bit about pace.  Adding value to create authenticity and the ability to reposition a community does not happen overnight.   The technology project that allowed SLV to become ” High Tech, High Nature,”  a tag line Kirk Smith created back in 2010 when marketing director for SLV,  was developed over many years. Kirk caught on to this concept early and knew the value it would create.  During those years, Kirk and I continued to create other value added products such as the Savannah Lakes Rod and Gun Club,  the Outdoor Adventure Club, and the context brand of the Little River Blueway Outdoor Adventure Region.  We looked at alternative housing typology with smaller footprints and denser design.  In other words, we focused on creating the conditions for future investment.  We did this daily.  The work and value is cumulative.  From planning individual road signs to creating regional partnerships, it is all part of creating authentic value that will attract quality investment.  To the layman, an announcement comes out in a paper such as one below and the thought is how fortunate for them.  In reality it is the result of many years of hard work adding value.  Create the conditions and the investment will come.  Congratulations to Kirk and the SLV Team for having the drive and focus take the value to the marketplace.  Thanks to Bob Stockton for the article below.



New Developers Enter into Contract to Purchase
Resort Peninsula & Undeveloped Village Acreage

Savannah Lakes Village announced last week one of the most significant McCormick County economic development projects since the creation of the Village itself in the late 1980s.

Better Homes and Gardens’ (BH&G) CEO Tommy Stephenson, Joe Todd, BH&G director of new homes development, and their development team have entered into a comprehensive contract to acquire the existing Savannah Lakes Resort lodge, conference center, two townhomes, the lakefront restaurant, and other undeveloped land along Highway 378 and Holiday Road. The deal would also provide access for BH&G to acquire existing homesites located in Savannah Lakes Village to fuel new housing development programs.

“This investment and redevelopment will ignite visitation and home building programs here,” said Village Chief Operating Officer Kirk Smith. “The resort peninsula is a first impression to visitors coming into South Carolina from Georgia, and we are pleased with the potential of Better Homes & Gardens’ acquisition and reinvestment in these important amenities.

“The broad objective is to re-invest in the resort peninsula, lodge, conference center and restaurant to make it a welcoming entrance to the Village and the County of McCormick,” Smith said.

The strategic acquisitions of these assets are part of a larger development initiative to enhance the Village’s discovery and visitation programs and support both residential and commercial growth.

“We are bringing stability to the table,” said Todd. “All the amenities needed for a great community are in place here, but the most important Village asset is the people. We want to help Village residents to grow this community the way they want to see it grow.”

“Beyond the near-term purchase of the assets is a longer-term objective to create various residential and commercial assets for the Village to realize its full potential,” Smith said. “The first phase of the development project for just the resort peninsula, as envisioned by the developers, will represent a multi-million dollar investment.

“Our development partners share in our values of doing this right, while building a good relationship with Village and county residents. They are in it for more than economic benefit. The actions of all parties are to build confidence and trust,” he said.

Increasing evidence of the relationship is visible in new homes under construction: a Discovery Home on Martin Drive expected to be completed in late January; four new models, and three new spec homes under construction. BH&G has begun Village advertising in Augusta media and will announce major kick-off events — ribbon cuttings and open houses — when warmer spring temperatures occur.

Courtesy of the McCormick Messenger, Story by Bob Stockton (Parts Omitted)


Accelerating My Social Media Learning Curve

One of my obsessions over the last several years has been seeking ways to maximize the impact of my passions, theories and concepts to create meaningful work. I have always been one to read the books of design thought leaders in efforts to keep on the front of the curve.  In the past 2 years,  this has drawn me into an evermore connected system of blogs, tweets, and photo services,  Seeing how well this information flowed and constantly connected me to new information sources, I took my first steps into the New Media.  This has been daunting to say the least but I think I am getting a handle on it.

I just read New Media for Designers + Builders  ( It’s a new book from Steve Mouzon, architect and author of one of my favorites: The Original Green: Unlocking the Mystery of True Sustainability.  This book breaks from Mouzon’s eclectic discussions of design philosophy and dives directly into the tools we design professionals need to be remarkable in today’s world of new media.  We are deluged with “how to” books on marketing, but to say this is about marketing would not do this work justice.  This is much more a users manual for creative folk like myself that understand their process but are seeking a new perspective on communication and making meaningful impact.

“If you are willing to remake yourself, instead of just your marketing, then these principles can be used to accomplish remarkable things for your business.”

The overriding theme is that the mindset of how we do business must change for design professionals such as architects, planners, and builders.  I would include many more knowledge and creativity based professions as falling into this category; making the information in the book relevant to a much wider audience. The fact is that the environment in which we work has changed, we simply must decide if we will individually adapt to be relevant in this environment.

Unlike many books I have read on how to tap into social media, New Media For Designers + Builders gives a pertinent point of view in a context I understand. Being written from the perspective of a design professional, it speaks directly to real world strategies and applications in my field.   It would also apply to any ideas base organization looking to be effective in communicating their message and being relevant in the marketplace.

Reading this book through to the end takes a tremendous amount of discipline.  I could hardly go a page without finding pertinent information that I could utilize.  The temptation to drill down deep into a subject before finishing the entire book was mighty. This was my first experience with an electronic book so highly interlinked.  The links intuitively pull you deeper into each strategy.  In my case, I spent a day and a half down the blogging rabbit hole to unpack ways to  improve my own blog before moving on to the rest of the book.  Being a digital format book, every strategy, reference, or example is instantly accessible with examples and tips.

As easy as it is to drill for specifics, the real value for me was a guide into a framework or philosophy for the use of all these tools.  Exploring the “Age of the Idea” takes some of the concepts touched on by other forward thinkers such as Seth Godin and focuses them on the design and building professions. I can now see how to take my dabbling with my blog and twitter into a strategy to drive real business.

Having finished reading the book, my time with the book has just begun.  Each media node has a manual that explains how to start, refine and connect the system. I used to be concerned that putting my ideas out for others to see would be the worst possible business decisions. That is an old way of thinking.  I agree with Mouzon’s concepts that “patience, generosity, and connectedness” are valid business virtues for our new economy. With the enormous amount of energy we spend creating our passions, it is a shame if our platforms and practices for communication almost guarantee your voice not being heard.  This book is a manual for taking ideas to the audience where the ideas resonate.  Our business environment has changed, only we can decide how to adapt.  I will be using this book daily as I refine how my message can best be communicated.

I recommend New Media For Designers + Builders to anyone who has considered using the new medias to drive ideas.  In my case, I have been attempting to use social media for several months never realizing that each media (node) can feed the others, multiplying the content and connectivity drastically.  Another great aspect of the book for those of us into socio-spatial design, is a glimpse into the new media systems of some of the top thought leaders in our industry.  I found many ongoing resources that really exemplify generosity as a business virtue.

You can find the book at   Steve Mouzon is an architect, urbanist, author, blogger, and photographer from Miami. He founded the New Urban Guild, which helped foster the Katrina Cottages movement. The Guild hosts Project:SmartDwelling, which works to redefine the house to be much smaller and more sustainable. Steve founded and is a board member of the Guild Foundation; it hosts the Original Green initiative. Steve speaks regularly across the US and abroad on sustainability issues. He blogs on the Original Green Blog and Useful Stuff. He also posts to the Original Green Twitter stream. While looking at Steve’s stuff be sure to explore The Original Green website at

Changing Values Creating SC Tourism Opportunities

ImageI just got back from listening to SC Governor Nikki Haley, SCPRT Head Duane Parrish and Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt talk about where tourism and economic development are going in SC and I feel encouraged that these folks get it.  They understand that quality of place is essential in building sustainable livable communities that benefit from a strong tourism and traditional economies.  While they will continue to successfully recruit and retain the major economic drivers, they are also focusing on the undiscovered places in SC and how these small towns and unincorporated rural communities can also have tourism as an important economic driver. To take advantage of these opportunities, we must educate our local officials and business communities to understand how hospitality, tourism product development, traditional economic development and quality urban/rural planning design must be done in collaboration to build quality of place.

First we need to understand that we are now faced with creating and recreating destination communities to meet a new set of values that have rapidly shifted from the pre-recession model.  Perhaps it was the financial reality check that accelerated the already growing shift in values into the mainstream.  Many have shifted from seeking a tourist experience to wanting to feel belonging and experience self discovery when traveling.

In 2009, Kurt Anderson began the conversation about a great reset in American values.  He and others speak of a “new frugality” that has resulted from values being shifted away from a consumption-based mentality. Conspicuous consumption has lost favor as a value proposition and is being replaced with a value for simpler honest and authentic experience.  This includes a shift away from credit-based lifestyle, which may slow our traditional metrics for economic growth but those metrics do not clearly recognize the vitality that can come from formally marginalized places being rediscovered and appreciated.  It doesn’t directly show the benefit of the local shops, restaurants, cafes and services being supported by a shift from corporate destination tourism to destination community based tourism patterns.

When we speak of a value shift, it begs the question “from what.”  My favorite vulnerability expert, Dr. Brene Brown (,) speaks of moving away from a culture where being preoccupied, over scheduled and over connected has become a status symbol and into a state of living wholeheartedly. Technological advances allowing industrialization and automation of tasks that formally were part of basic home economics has created a lifestyle free from much preindustrial “drudgery” but it has also a disconnected us from the basic human processes of thousands of years.  Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, described this as our losing the “craft of being a creature. “

In the past, many tourist experiences were designed to allow us escape into artificial environments. Destination communities now are asked to bring us into a different rhythm, show as another lifestyle point of view or seek to connect us to nature and the basic systems of being human. The common denominator in this value shift for a more authentic experience is a desire for greater understanding, physical and spiritual growth and renewal. For some this may be a place for adventure, meditation, or learning.  In looking at how to grow tourism in your community, understand it is not trying to be a Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head or Greenville. You are not trying to attract everyone, you want those visitors and new residents that appreciate the authentic culture of your community and only in numbers that allow you to keep a livable community with local prosperity.  Be who you are.

David Twiggs

Organic Destination Community Systems

Lodge at Santa Lucia Preserve
Lodge at Santa Lucia Preserve


A destination community is defined as a place that uses its quality of place to motivate economic growth, in-migration, tourism with the assurance of access to recreation, entertainment, and leisure opportunities that fall within their interests and values. There are as many definitions of theses needs as there are potential visitors.


This is not striving to become a pure destination. A destination can be a corporately manufactured monoculture such as a Disney or Vegas. These can be highly orchestrated and controlled artificial environments. These are not always the most livable of locations but are typically dominated by large corporations with the financial resources to control and draw a local or recruited workforce.  Who would want to live in a monoculture? Being a destination community is far more desirable from the residents and returning visitor point of view.


The question is what kind of destination community can you authentically be. What will protect values of the area and bring economic vibrancy.  Systems must remain authentic to the nature of the area while also keeping relevant with their chosen recreation subculture trends.  This allows systems to develop that are unique to the municipality or region the system is being designed for. The resulting destination must strive to deliver a triple bottom line: Economics – Conservation –Quality of Life.

David Twiggs


South Carolina’s Overlooked Economic Giant, Ian Sanchez


The following is from our Charleston SC  friend, Ian Sanchez.  He is a high energy environmental educator and proponent of  sustainable tourism.  You can check him out at:




South Carolina’s Overlooked Economic Giant 

This giant is wide awake and active right through the recession.

South Carolina’s wealth has always been derived from her natural resources.  Rice, indigo, cotton and lumber created the wealthiest people in the North American colonies.  Then devastating wars, boll weevils, hurricanes, earthquakes and unfortunate circumstances changed the economic landscape.  Over the past 150 years, nature has reclaimed much of the state’s agricultural land and industrial pockets.  Now that she is again in control, her charming aesthetic qualities are creating a new kind of economic giant that is growing despite economic challenges. 

The outdoor recreation industry has contributed $646 billion dollars to the US economy and created over 6.1 million American jobs according to a 2012 report by the Outdoor Industry Association.  The significance of that is really driven home when one realizes the automotive, pharmaceutical and fuel industries each accounted for less than $360 billion and nearly half the number of jobs.

Back in 2009, the USC Moore School of Business produced a report showing the “Underappreciated Assets” clearly tied to South Carolina’s natural resources (not including agriculture), accounted for $30 billion dollars of the state’s economic output and was responsible for employing over 230,000 people.

These numbers show no signs of slowing down.

When the economic crash of 2008 happened, I called my friends in the outdoor industry and warned them: “You better plan to tighten up in the coming years.  This is going to be serious”.  When I spoke to Charlton Durant, a senior guide who had worked in various parts of the outdoor industry for over 30 years, he was calm.  He said the outdoor industry usually does well in a poor economy. 

He was right.

“Confluence Water Sports has prospered during the economic crisis over the last several years” said CEO Sue Rechner during our interview for the Outdoor Economy segment of SCETV’s The Big Picture in July of last year. 

Confluence Water Sports is the largest manufacturer of kayaks in the world and has been located in the upstate of South Carolina for over 30 years.

“99.6% of our products are manufactured right here in Greenville, South Carolina” Sue said. “We, as a company within this broader industry, spend over $5 million in the state of South Carolina to support our organization. We generate another $11 million in revenue by the goods and services we sell in South Carolina that turn into consumer purchases.  People who engage in outdoor activities continue to buy products, goods and services because it is the kind of lifestyle they like to celebrate.”

When the going gets tough, the tough go camping. 

“We are seeing more visitors who are driving here from as far away as Michigan,” said my friends Anne Goold and Scott Kennedy with Carolina Heritage Outfitters, which offers tree houses rentals, canoes and camping on the Edisto River in Canadys, SC.

Many new businesses that offer camping, hiking, biking, sailing and paddlesports have sprung up all over South Carolina. The outdoor industry as a whole has continued to grow 5% a year across the US since 2008. Why is South Carolina in such a great position to take advantage of the growth of the outdoor industry?

South Carolina is a leader in land conservation and historic preservation. The state is blessed with majestic landscapes and vast expanses of protected lands that support some of the most diverse wildlife in the world.

Wildlife viewing is one of the strongest segments of the outdoor economy with birders making up the largest group.  The film “The Big Year” featuring Jack Black and Steve Martin has inspired even more interest in feathered species.  South Carolina is located right on the Atlantic flyway where thousands of migratory birds pass through every year on their way back and forth from their breeding grounds.  Birders have reported seeing over “50 species in an afternoon” at wildlife refuges such as Cape Romain, Santee, Waccamaw and the ACE Basin.

Birds are just one example of the diverse wildlife that can be found in huge tracts of protected land in South Carolina’s county, state and national parks and wildlife refuges.  From elk and black bear in the mountains to alligators and dolphins on the coast, animals that require a wide range to survive still roam through the South Carolina wilderness. 

As habitats in other parts of the country continue to shrink back in the face of human development, South Carolina’s conservation areas will continue to grow in value and be a desirable destination for animals and nature enthusiasts alike. The protected swamps, rivers, lakes, mountains, forests, barriers islands and the creatures that inhabit them may serve as renewable fuel for South Carolina’s economy for years to come.

It does not seem to matter what happens on Wall Street. Wealth may once again be derived from the natural assets of South Carolina in a way that preserves them for future generations.


Some Sources: