~Sarah Alston, Sweetgrass Basket Maker, Mt Pleasant, SC~
Last August I was driving down Highway 17 in Mt Pleasant, SC, and decided to stop and talk to a few of the sweetgrass basket makers who was tolerating the heat, and even worse - the construction on Highway 17 (in order to have three lanes in each direction). I stopped first at the stand of Sarah Alston - who has been making and selling baskets at her stand near the Sweetgrass Baskets Marker for many, many years.
Evidently at one time her family owned alot of the land behind the stand - but that was quite awhile ago. When I asked her about all of the changes on Highway 17 in these area, she didn't seem happy - but also didn't think that what she felt would matter - in essence, the powers-that-be were going to widen the road and develop this area regardless of her thoughts on the matter.
I suppose Sarah was right. When I was back in Mt Pleasant in August, the woods behind her sweetgrass basket stand had been bulldozed. She was still there, weaving her basket, looking down, trying to ignore the change that was screaming all around her.
This stretch of Highway 17 is known as the Streetgrass Basket Makers Highway - and is a Sweetgrass Corridor acknowledged by the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration.
I know that we need better roads, less congestion - but I just hope that one day we won't look back and sadly realize that we lost more than we gained - that the history and uniqueness of this stretch of Highway 17 was traded for convenience, chain businesses and parking lots. I'd like to think it's not too late, but truthfully, I think we're past the tipping point. When Sarah Alston is no longer coming to her stand, how many of us will notice when her stand sits empty or is torn down?
So support her now, okay? If you find yourself driving by her stand (near the sweetgrass marker), do stop. I also have her phone number - I won't post it here, but if you are interested in contacting her to purchase a basket or two, please email me at US17CoastalHighway@gmail.com. I'll send you her phone number - I'm guessing she ships.
These photographs were posted with her permission.
~marker erected by the Original Sweetgrass Market Place Coalition and The Christ Church Parish Preservation Society (1997)~