For the Peace family, the Greenville News was the family business

Written by Chris Worthy10:40 a.m. ET May 1, 2017

“The paper” – whether on inky newsprint or electronic devices – tells the stories of people who make Greenville what it is and those who call it home.

For the Peace family, the Greenville News was the family business. It shaped the childhoods of city leaders and allowed the family to invest in what would become the cornerstone of Greenville’s arts scene and an anchor for its incredible resurgence. As residents say goodbye to the building that housed the news for almost 50 years, a new chapter begins.

Betty Stall says the location of the news on Main Street was a deliberate choice.

“It’s all a continuation of the same theme – and that’s a commitment to downtown,” she says.

Betty Stall’s father, Bony Hampton Peace Jr., is often credited, along with his brothers, with encouraging his father, Bony Hampton Peace, to purchase the Greenville News in 1919. She thinks that might be the stuff of urban legend more than reality. All three boys were in their teens at the time.

“My father at that time was 13,” she says. “I guess they may have, but I don’t think my 13-year-old father did that.”

Nonetheless, the newspaper and the Peace family became synonymous.

“It was my life,” Betty Stall says. “So many of the family worked there. It was a deep family involvement. And they had that deep family with the employees back then.”

The commitment to making the newspaper a part of the fabric of downtown Greenville began with a plan.

“My great uncle, Roger Peace, he and Mr. (Charles) Daniel committed to each other to build their businesses in downtown Greenville to keep Greenville alive,” Edward Stall, Betty’s son, says. “They built the Daniel Building on one end and the Greenville News on the other.”

Russell Stall, also Betty’s son, says it was a time when downtown was not really considered the place to be.

“Part of the reason they wanted to be there was to continue the vibrancy of downtown,” he says.

Both Edward and Russell Stall have fond memories of visiting the Greenville News. The children watched the annual Christmas parade from the windows and were sure to grab a soft drink from their grandfather’s office.

“It was a great place to visit,” Russell Stall says. “He always had six-ounce Coca Colas in his office. As a grandkid, that’s what you did. You went to get one of those Cokes. We used to go from where they did the news to the press room and there was a spiral staircase between the two.”

But it was more than a place to explore.

“That building was a really important statement about the importance of a vibrant downtown,” Russell Stall says. “It was put there because the newspaper was the community.”

Both Russell and Edward Stall recall the opening of the building in 1969, with tour guides wearing dresses that looked as if they were made of newsprint. The brothers recall watching sports editor Dan Foster in awe as he wrote and submitted sports stories from away games. And Russell Stall remembers watching wire stories come into the newsroom.

“It printed a long single strip,” he says. “They would literally cut it up and paste it to create the story. It was fascinating to watch the news come across this machine one letter at a time.”

The Peace family had a front row seat to much of Greenville’s – and the Greenville News’ – history. Edward Stall says the family was able to see everything happen, from beauty pageants to a visit from Billy Graham.

“We didn’t realize what a privilege that was when we were growing up,” he says.

Ultimately, the Peace family’s exit from the newspaper business resulted in the financial ability to invest in the creation of a performing arts center that would have continuing ramifications for the city.

“The newspaper created this business that created value,” Edward Peace says. “It was the newspaper that allowed the generosity. There would be no Peace Center without the Greenville News. There’s no coincidence that it was built across the street from the Greenville News. It’s that commitment to downtown. The Peaces didn’t think it up. They were just in a position to kick it off.”

“The Peace Center to me is an extension of the public presence of the Greenville News building,” Russell Stall says. “It was a way for the Peace legacy to live on after the paper was sold.”

With its foundation literally and figuratively built on Greenville’s downtown, Betty Stall says the move of the Greenville News to its new location at 32 Broad means the demolition of the old building is like “goodbye to an old friend.” But it’s a move that will continue the legacy of looking to the future.

“Life is change,” she says.

Campaign Fundraiser

Context of talk from March 30.

Good evening! It is great to see you all and I so appreciate you being here tonight. The future of Greenville is bright, and I plan to work to make it even brighter.

We have a slew of people to thank tonight.

Thank you Eva Marie and Tom Fox for opening up your home to over 250 people. What a perfect place for this gathering.

Thank you to the early contributors and tonight’s host committee who were willing to open their pocketbooks generously even before we filing was closed. These campaigns are expensive, and you have helped us raise almost $65,000 among 232 unique donors.

Thank you to our gifted cellist, Gracie Lookadoo, a native of Greenville who is senior at the Governor’s School for the Arts. Gracie will be attending Stetson University in the Fall, and we look forward to her coming back to Greenville after graduation to build our arts community.

A hearty and special thanks to Dorothy Freeman Self and her team at DFS Creative Concepts for planning and perfectly executing this unique and unconventional campaign event. In case you have not noticed, we are using a lot of home grown products tonight. The signature drink, the Bees Knees, features local honey and gin from High Wire Distillery, a Charleston distillery owned by a couple who used to live on Club Drive in Greenville. As you leave, make sure to grab a small sample of local honey.

Please consider Dorothy and her team for your next event and help me thank them.

Of course, I have with me tonight the two most important women in my life. My wife, Susan, who has been my anchor for the past 27 years and my mother, Betty. Local campaigns are normally very civil.  An associate recently commented that ugly local campaigns are not just attacks on the candidate, but also on the candidate’s family, the Garden Club, and other groups. My associate’s comment was, “I have your bumper sticker… ‘Don’t make Betty mad.’” I think I will make one of them for her car.

My mother in law, Sue Schenck is here from Charlotte, and has already told me she is ready to go knock on doors with me, and has promised that she will not get arrested for protesting until after the campaign.

My brother and sister in law, Edward and Stella, are here, as well as a couple of my nieces and their spouses. I am proud to be their favorite uncle.

####

This campaign is about what is best for Greenville RIGHT NOW.

It is a campaign about who is the most qualified, with the most extensive community service. It is a campaign about who has the best ideas for improvement, and relationships that will help move this city forward for all residents. It is a campaign about who has the time, energy, and passion to devote to the job and all that it requires. It is a campaign about who will best represent all the residents and neighborhoods of Greenville.

Filing for office closed today. My opponent, John DeWorken is a good man and a worthy opponent. I like John and believe he would be a great city councilman. We were at the Greenville Chamber together. We have been on weekend golf trips together. And we have worked together on several issues important to Greenville.

John and I had coffee a few weeks ago, and we commented that it is fantastic that two qualified candidates are running for this office.

In thinking about who people in Greenville should support for City Council, what are you looking for and what are the candidate qualities most important to you?

  • Do you want a candidate who is a home-grown Greenvillian, who is the product of our local public schools, and has eight generations of family legacy of philanthropy and making an imprint on the community?
  • Do you want a candidate who has a history of serving Greenville through deliberate engagement with nonprofits and neighborhoods?
  • Do you want a candidate who has been built relationships throughout the city, and in many diverse neighborhoods, and among many diverse people?
  • Do you want a candidate who has raised 95% of his campaign funding from local people, and 100% so far from individuals, not corporations?
  • Do you want a candidate who can dedicate the majority of his time to serving Greenville?

Then, I think your choice is clear.

####

As the founder of Greenville Forward, I had the opportunity to help shape the Greenville we know today. Greenville Forward facilitated the implementation of our bold community vision, Vision 2025. In my years at Greenville Forward, we inspired community discussions and created connections amongst different constituencies throughout our region. Our mission was that Greenville accomplish community goals to be a green, inclusive, learning, connected, creative, innovative, and healthy Greenville. Of the more than 500 goals in the vision, we believe Greenville accomplished over 75% of them.

For 12 years, I was the program facilitator of Leadership Greenville, helping almost 700 Greenville leaders and future leaders identify their passions, and learn more about how our city works. Every candidate running for local office in Greenville in 2017 is a Leadership Greenville graduate. I think this says something about the power of the program.

For nine years, my dear friend, Jo Hackl and I have mentored more than 80 young professionals through the Chamber’s PULSE Pacesetters mentoring program. This has given us the opportunity to help emerging leaders work through personal and professional issues to build more fulfilling careers and personal lives.

I am the license holder and organizer for TEDxGreenville. Next Friday, we are hosting our eighth annual conference to share ideas worth spreading throughout the Upstate. Incredibly, the speakers featured at TEDxGreenville events have over 2.1 million views on YouTube. Tickets are still available for next week’s conference which will be held at the Peace Center if you haven’t gotten your ticket yet.

As have many of you, I have served on numerous local boards of directors and know about the outstanding work being done in our community.

####

This is a campaign about people and relationships, not about power and influence. So many people have influenced my decision to seek this office.

Joe Vaughn was the first black graduate of Furman University, and my homeroom teacher for two years at Hughes Middle School and Greenville High. I am convinced that Joe moved from Hughes to Greenville High so he could be my homeroom teacher twice. Joe taught me the importance of using humor to defuse community conflict.

Max Heller introduced me to politics when I served as Youth Coordinator for his run for Congress in 1978. Max Showed me that visionary leaders value everyone’s opinion.

Chuck Evans, my high school civics teacher, taught me that that inclusion and listening to the community are the most important qualities in authentic community engagement.

Xanthene Norris was my guidance counselor at Greenville High. She recently told me she wasn’t sure if she should take credit or blame for shaping me.

Nick Theodore tried to convince me to run for office a decade ago. I am finally doing it, Nick!

I am a product of Greenville and I am ready to serve this community on City Council.

####

Over the coming months, I will be out in the community meeting people and listening to our neighbors. This is where I need your help.

Let me know where I need to be. Send me notices of meetings and events where I can hear your voice, and be a voice.

Let me know who I need to talk to. I welcome opportunities to meet with your neighbors. I would love to do a lot of neighborhood “Meet the Candidate” events.

Let me know how you want to be involved. As we ramp up the campaign in the summer and fall, I will need volunteers to put up yard signs, make phone calls, and knock on doors.

Thank you for your support and for spreading the word.

This is fun. Let’s get this done!

City Council candidates tout experience to Alta Vista residents

City Council candidates tout experience to Alta Vista residents

Published in the Greenville Journal, 3/23/2917

Although the filing deadline for the three, up-for-grabs Greenville City council seats hasn’t ended yet, that didn’t stop five candidates from starting to campaign at the Alta Vista Neighborhood Association’s meeting Tuesday night. District 2, District 4, and an at-large seat on City Council are up for election.

Incumbents David Sudduth and Lillian Brock Flemming touted their work on council during their four minutes each, while challengers John DeWorken, Russell Stall, and Wil Brasington emphasized the characteristics they said would make them the best candidates.

John DeWorken

Russell Stall

DeWorken, a Republican, and Stall, a Democrat, are running for the at-large seat now held by Gaye Sprague, who is not seeking re-election. DeWorken emphasized his experience as North Main Street Community Association president and small business owner. He said he’d emphasize neighborhoods, growing the right way, being responsive to business owners and quality of life.

Stall, a Democrat who founded Greenville Forward, an organization he established to facilitate Vision 2025, said Greenville’s biggest issues are smart, intentional growth, affordable housing and transportation.

David Sudduth

Wil Brasington

District 4 incumbent David Sudduth, a Republican, talked about results. He told residents during his tenure, the city has built a new Verdae Fire Station and police training facility, raised police salaries, and bought body cameras. He said he helped secure funding for a new connector road that will help alleviate congestion on Woodruff Road and trolley service for the area.

Wil Brasington, also a Republican, said he would emphasize constituent service and pro-activity. When he was neighborhood association president, proposals to build a Walmart at the corner of Church Street and University Ridge, and condominiums on the Cleveland Park Stables property, were successfully defeated.

Lillian Brock Flemming

Lillian Brock Flemming, a Democrat, has held the District 2 seat since 1981. She told residents one of her strengths is “going and listening” to neighborhoods. She said she became involved when a highway was going to split Southernside and 1,140 families would have been moved out of the neighborhood.

Filing ends March 30. Primaries will be held on June 13.

Stall announces City Council campaign, faces DeWorken

Reprinted from the Greenville News.

, econnor@greenvillenews.com Published 8:10 p.m. ET Feb. 7, 2017 | Updated 11:03 a.m. ET Feb. 8, 2017

The founder of Greenville Forward will run as a Democrat for the seat being vacated by Councilwoman Gaye Sprague.

In the park Tuesday morning, Stall was accompanied by community and elected leaders, including former governor and U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley.

In an interview with The Greenville News following the event, Stall shared his vision for serving the city — supporting dedicated funding for affordable housing, more investment and innovation in public transportation, more local control over infrastructure and mindful growth, particularly downtown where construction of new apartment complexes are booming.

The city recently pledged $2 million from this past year’s budget surplus to help affordable housing efforts, with $1 million to come from the private sector.

The vote didn’t, however, set up a dedicated source of funding for affordable housing.

Stall said that should change.

“Two million is a great start, but I hope it’s only a start,” he said. “I would hope that council would not only continue that funding but increase it.”

Stall recalled how in high school he volunteered as a coordinator for the congressional campaign of Mayor Max Heller and how he promised the mayor he would one day run for office.

Heller has been hailed as a visionary in the transformation of downtown Greenville, and Stall said that Greenville needs vision more than ever amid explosive growth.

“I’m a big believer that we have to grow, but we have to grow intentionally and deliberately,” he said.

The city must continue to improve its infrastructure to accommodate new development and needs to update its guidelines that govern the design of new buildings downtown, Stall said. City planning officials don’t have enough tools to make the design decisions they want to make, he said.

Stall pointed to the proposal to build an office building on a small piece of land along the Reedy River in Falls Park in view of the Liberty Bridge as an example of the difficult position city planners are put in. He said the city should consider whether it would be proud of buildings constructed today a century from now.

“There are times when the city’s hands are tied,” Stall said. “They don’t have the ability to tell developers what they can and cannot do. It’s a case of a development that would have destroyed the golden egg we have in downtown Greenville.”

Stall said he supports efforts to have developers contribute to affordable housing, though he said it’s only one piece of what can be done, especially as the city leverages public-private partnerships.

On transportation, Stall said the city must devote more resources to alleviating the one-hour wait times for buses that don’t properly serve the workforce that relies on the transit system, such as those in the Nicholtown and Sterling communities who have to get to Woodruff Road to work.

He said the city should look to trying to get cars off the street and people onto trails and other transportation methods.

“We haven’t funded it to what it needs to be, but we also haven’t looked at viable options outside the bus system,” he said. “It’s a more complicated problem than just throw money at the transit system.”

The city needs to continue its commitment to parks, he said. Stall said he supports the millions that will be spent on the signature city park being developed on the west side of downtown near the KROC Center.

Parks, he said, help a community be distinctive, to avoid looking like “Generica.”

“It’s so important to have places for people to gather,” he said. “A lot of these things won’t affect me, but they’ll affect my children and grandchildren.”

Stall said the city should have more sovereignty over its decisions, particularly in dealing with failing roads that are owned by the state.

For instance, he supports ongoing legislative efforts to allow municipalities to hold referendums on a one-cent sales tax to fund road improvements. Currently, such a tax can only be put to voters countywide. An analysis by The News showed that the failed November 2014 referendum likely would have  passed if it were confined to the city.

Stall said he thinks the state shouldn’t shirk its responsibility, but “that’s probably the only way we’re going to fix what’s going on locally.”

The at-large seat, one of two on the council, is distinct in that it encompasses the entire city. Stall said he thinks the key to successful leadership in the seat is to listen to a broad range of voices.

“I want this to be about the entire city, not just about one district,” he said.

Stall graduated with an M.B.A. from Emory University in 1989 after completing undergraduate work at Washington and Lee in 1982. Stall left Greenville after graduating from Greenville High and returned 18 years ago after time in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta.

He’s served on a litany of public service entities, including president of the Rotary Club of Greenville and board chair of Leadership Greenville. He was also the organizer of TEDxGreenville.

Stall is running as a Democrat, but he said that while he supports the partisan election process, the party of a candidate isn’t as relevant to local issues like sewer improvements and parks.

“They’re not partisan issues,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if I have an ‘R’ or a ‘D’ behind my name.”

The primaries for the seat will be in June. Candidates have until March 30 to file their intention to run.

DeWorken, co-owner of the business and government advocacy firm Sunnie & DeWorken Group, is running as a Republican.

City Council Candidate Russell Stall: GVL at a Crossroads

Reprinted from the Greenville Journal, February 7, 2017

by Cindy Landrum

Greenville City Council candidate Russell Stall is not a proponent of stopping growth. He is a proponent of deliberate and intentional growth.

“Greenville is at a crossroads right now,” said Stall, the retired founder and former executive director for Greenville Forward, a nonprofit established in 2006 to facilitate Vision 2025, a plan developed by hundreds of residents that pictured Greenville as a place with a marquee downtown park along the Reedy River, minor league baseball downtown and an improved bus system. “We must have the courage to plan growth intentionally and deliberately and be smart.”

Stall officially announced he would run as a Democrat for an at-large seat on Greenville City Council currently held by Gaye Sprague. Sprague has held the seat since 2009 and has announced she will not run for re-election.

Running for one of council’s two at-large seats instead of a district that represents only a portion of the city was important to Stall, who is making his first go at elected office. “I have a history of connectedness and a history of listening to the community as a whole,” he said. “That’s really what Greenville Forward was about, collecting the voices of Greenville and responding to them.”

Stall said growth is inevitable and necessary. “We have to grow as a community. If you stop growing, you stop prospering,” he said. “But we’ve got to be smart about it.”

He pointed to the proposed 55 Camperdown project that would have put a modern office building on the banks of the Reedy River near the Main Street bridge. “To me, it didn’t make sense. It destroyed the aura of the Reedy River,” he said. “We just have to think about how the different developments coming into Greenville fit. There are communities across the country that have done a good job with planned growth that we should emulate. We just need to think about it.”

Stall said how the city, along with Greenville County, handles the redevelopment of County Square, which ultimately could be the largest development in the history of downtown, will be “really important in showing which direction the city is going.”

“That is one of the best pieces of real estate in Greenville County and it can’t just be a bunch of apartments and condos,” said Stall, as he stood in Falls Park looking towards County Square as the sound of hammers echoed away from one of the many developments under construction in the background.

In addition to smart, sustainable growth, Stall said affordable housing, connectivity, parks and public spaces, and safe and authentic neighborhoods are keys to Greenville’s continued success.

“As more same-looking apartment complexes are constructed, our city is losing some of the charm derived from creative and varied architectural styles,” he said. Parks and public spaces differentiate Greenville from other communities, he said.

He said Main Street is an amazing example of what planning can do.

“We are at a critical time in our city’s future,” he said.

Prior to founding Greenville Forward, Stall owned ResearchWorks, a strategic marketing research firm focusing on community development and customer satisfaction research. He is past president of the Rotary Club of Greenville, South Carolina’s largest and oldest Rotary Club. He also was the class facilitator for Leadership Greenville for 13 years. He’s also a master gardener and a member of the Woodworkers Guild of Greenville. Stall is a member of the Peace family, one of Greenville’s most prominent families.

Why I Am Running for City Council

Announcement Speech

Below is the text from the speech made by Russell Stall as he announced his candidacy for Greenville City Council.

Good morning!  It is great to see you all and I so appreciate you being here with me for this announcement.

Thank you Yvonne and Secretary Riley for your kind words.  It has been an honor to work with both of you on so many different initiatives in the last decade.

Of course I have with me today the two most important women in my life.  My wife, Susan, who has stood beside me for the past 26 years and my mother, Betty, who has been a wise mentor for as long as I can remember.  My brother, Edward, is here.  He is a man with superb business sense, amazing skills as a granddad, and a great friend.

In 1976 I interviewed Mayor, Max Heller, about the future of Greenville.  I was writing an article for Greenville High’s school newspaper and Max agreed to meet with me.  We walked down Main Street, and those of you who were here 40 years ago will remember that it looked nothing like it does today.  As we walked, Max shared with me his vision for a revitalized and inclusive Greenville. Main Street today is a reflection of the power of vision and planning.

A few years ago someone from Furman University sent me a copy of the thank you note I sent Max after our interview.  Max had kept my note and it was included in the papers he donated to Furman.  My note to him back in 1976 said, “You have inspired me.  One day I would like to run for political office..but never against you!”

So, it has taken 40 years since that pledge, but here I am formally announcing that I am running for the At Large Seat on Greenville City Council.

I have chosen to announce my candidacy for City Council here, beside Liberty Bridge and on the banks of the Reedy River, because this is where Greenville started.  This is where Richard Pearis set up his fur trading business in the 1770s.

This park is also where my late sister, Pedrick Lowrey, worked with Anna Kate Hipp to raise funds to create this beautiful park.  Through the efforts of the Carolina Foothills Garden Club and the City of Greenville, this place, that was dangerous and overgrown with kudzu just 12 years ago, this place in the center of our city was transformed.  Falls Park is now a centerpiece of our downtown where people from all over our community gather to enjoy the natural beauty.  Falls Park is another testament to the power of vision and planning, and the wisdom of our councils past.

I make my announcement here, because I am committed to continuing Greenville’s tradition of vision and planning. I am committed to continuing the work of our current council and of Mayor Knox White. I am committed to ensuring that Greenville a wonderful place for all people to live.

In 2005, I founded Greenville Forward.  The purpose of this nonprofit organization was to facilitate the bold community vision, Vision 2025.  In my 10 years at Greenville Forward, we facilitated community discussions and created connections amongst different constituencies throughout our region.

Through my work with Greenville Forward and the marketing research firm I moved from Atlanta, I provided data driven reports on the medically underserved, race relations, community vibrancy, homelessness, and the brain drain – why our young people were not coming back to Greenville after college.

I have spent 18 years evaluating our community and facilitating connections needed to keep Greenville moving forward.

Having retired from Greenville Forward a year and a half ago, I now have the time and energy to devote to City Council.

Greenville continues to top the “Best of” charts in everything from places to retire to places to raise a family, and my favorite “Top Five Coolest Places in the Country.”  With these accolades has come growth and the strain that growth puts on our infrastructure.  Managing this growth requires continued vision and planning.

The platform for my campaign focuses on smart growth, affordable housing, and multi-modal transportation outlets.  I believe there are 5 key issues that Greenville needs to address:

  • Smart, Intentional and Sustainable Growth. We need to manage the growth of Greenville in a deliberate and intentional way. We could very easily fall into being just another suburb along the CharlAtlingHam corridor. Managed growth includes an interesting and appropriate mix of retail, restaurants, housing, and businesses. Consideration must also be given to adequate parking and infrastructure, as well as traffic management.
  • Affordable and Workforce Homes and Housing. Few working-class people can afford to live within the Downtown district where they are employed in restaurants, hotels and retail businesses. Many long-time residents are being displaced as property taxes become unaffordable due to gentrification.  As more same-looking apartment complexes are constructed, our city is losing some of the charm derived from creative and varied architectural styles.
  • Connectivity and Transportation. Many people in Greenville find it challenging to get where they need to go because our bus system is woefully inadequate. Historically, Greenville has not invested as much in its system of public transportation as have other communities of our size. But transportation is much more than just having a vibrant bus system.I dream of a Greenville that has created an inspired multi-modal, vibrant, and inclusive transportation system, including a series of bus and train links, walking trails, bike trails, pedestrian corridors, and transportation choices that minimize the need for vehicles. Traffic and congestion are symptoms of a bigger issue of getting cars off the roads, providing transportation alternatives, and making Greenville more connected.
  • Parks and Public Spaces. At last count, there were 38 places in the United States named Greenville. We need to keep the Green in Greenville and strive to be the greenest Greenville. The public spaces in the Downtown area are breath-taking and highly utilized.  Anyone who has spent time in Falls Park or on the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail has seen how these public spaces bring people from every walk of life together.  Not only do Greenville’s parks create places for people in Greenville to gather, but they also create a critical sense of place, personality, and authenticity.
  • Safe and Authentic Neighborhoods. As Greenville grows, we need to find ways to preserve the unique personalities and histories of our neighborhoods.  Simply tearing down swaths of neighborhoods and constructing generic complexes with no green spaces or gathering places can destroy the sense of community. An additional part of this is ensuring that our neighborhoods are safe, and crime free.
  • Long-Term Plan for the Future. Greenville is at crossroads. While enjoying the fruits of strong planning and visionary leadership over the years, Greenville must not rest of its laurels. We must have the courage to plan to continue our growth deliberately and intentionally, and be smart about planning for our future to continue to thrive.Over the years Greenville has been guided by visionary long-term planning. With the year 2025 just 8 years away, it is time to develop a new, useable comprehensive plan that will lead Greenville into the future. Part of this plan will be in finding ways to address a crumbling infrastructure including roads, sewer and storm water. We are handling a lot more flushes than we did a decade ago.

David Shi, in a talk at one of our vision update gatherings issued a challenge for Greenville which still holds true.

“We need to risk more than some think is safe;
Care more than some think is wise; and
Dream more than some think is possible.”

We still have some work to do, and I hope you will support me as I try to help move Greenville into what is possible.

To learn more about my position on the issues most important to me for Greenville, I encourage you to go to www.russellstall.com, which went live this morning.

Thank you for being here today, and I hope you will join my campaign as we continue to move Greenville forward.

I am here to listen and connect. I believe I am the right person, in the right place, at the right time. I hope you agree.

Thank you for your support and for spreading the word. Help me to continue to continue the magic of Greenville.

I will now take a few questions.

 

Russell Stall will run for City Council

Sprague announced Tuesday she would not seek re-election to one of the Council’s two at-large seats. She has held that office since 2009.

Shortly after Sprague’s announcement, Greenville businessman John DeWorken said he planned to run for the seat as a Republican. DeWorken was formerly the vice president of the Greenville Chamber and the Upstate Chamber Coalition, vice chair of the Greenville Transit Authority, legislative director of the S.C. Senate Transportation Committee and associate vice president of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce. DeWorken, 44, is owner and partner of Sunnie and DeWorken, a government relations and pro-business advocacy firm.

Stall said in the year and a half since he retired from Greenville Forward, he felt a “huge void” in helping Greenville continue to be an incredible place to live. “The timing is right. I have the time and the energy,” he said. “It’s part of my plan to give back to Greenville.”

Greenville Forward was established in 2006 to facilitate and shepherd Vision 2025, a plan that pictured a place with new, state-of-the-art schools, a marquee park along the Reedy River and minor league baseball downtown. The hundreds of community members that helped come up with the plan wanted a place to live that embraced diversity, offered high-wage jobs and thriving suburban municipalities.

Stall said his platform includes intentional and sustainable growth, affordable housing and transportation. “There aren’t many places that have come as far as this community has come in just a generation,” he said. “I just truly love Greenville and want to be part of continuing to make it one of the best places in the world.”

Stall said he would run as a Democrat. He plans a formal announcement in February.

DeWorken said among the city’s most pressing issues are effectively managing Greenville’s growth, dealing with traffic issues and ensuring neighborhoods have a voice on City Council.

(more…)

Moving Beyond Tolerance

by Russell Stall
Reprinted in the Upstate Business Journal | April 2014

“In 2025, we dream that Greenville is open and welcoming to all, regardless of what you look like, how much you make, where and if you worship, where you come from, or who you love.”

While it may seem like a lofty goal, Greenville Forward spent some time during 2014’s first quarter looking at how we could all create a more Inclusive Greenville. With Vision 2025 as our guide, we spent some time creating conversations and opportunities for understanding in order to move Greenville beyond tolerance to acceptance and appreciation for our diverse people.

The consensus during many our conversations, whether they were during our monthly Momentum series, at our Challenge Film Series or one-one with community leaders, was that we have a come long way to become a more Inclusive Greenville, but that there are several areas that are still holding us back. It is our hope that by identifying these areas and inspiring action, we will see a Greenville that better reflects the Vision.

“What You Look Like”

Our Momentum discussion on race relations asked, “Is Greenville a post- racial community?”  Is Greenville beyond racial discrimination, prejudice and preference? According to our 2009 Race Matters Survey, the answer to that question is ‘not really.’ In the study, 95% of respondents said they believe that race relations in Greenville are better than their parent’s generation. But in the same study, 95% of blacks responded that they believe minorities are still discriminated against in Greenville.

We heard similar sentiments at Momentum, and we also heard that the more we talk of our shared history, the more we will move forward. Organizations like the Upcountry History Museum are helping us remember that history with exhibits like Protests, Prayers and Progress. It’s a powerful exhibit where you can immerse yourself in the struggles and victories of local civil rights activists during the 1960s. It’s not a history that is easy for us to talk about, but according to the group at Momentum, it’s a history that we must talk about.

It’s also a history that we must learn from in order to progress. The Confederate flag remains in a prominent position on South Carolina’s State House grounds. The flag symbolizes for many inequality and slavery and has caused an economic backlash that has affected Greenville, and communities throughout the state. We can change that and it’s time the flag comes down.

“How Much You Make”

We invited the community to try to understand poverty by participating in two events, a Poverty Simulation led by Our Eyes Were Opened and a tour of an area of Greenville with limited resources, the White Horse Road Corridor.

Both events gave participants a first-hand look at the struggles their neighbors face every day, whether that means limited transportation to get to and from work or school, not knowing how you are going to feed your family their next meal or dealing with inadequate living conditions.

The United Way led our tour of the White House Corridor and while we heard about many challenges for the people living in this low-wealth community, we also heard about the great work done by the United Way and by schools like Tanglewood Middle School, to create more opportunities for children in that area. Support and more awareness from the community can help these organizations provide more resources so that all of Greenville can feel the success of an economically vibrant city.

“Who You Love”

When the Vision was written in 2004, the Inclusion statement didn’t contain these words. I added them without knowing the national discussion we would be having in 2014 around gay rights. Our Momentum: “Alphabet Soup – LGBT Relations in Greenville” was one of the most well attended monthly programs we’ve had in awhile. It was clear that this is a conversation the community had wanted and that there was a lot of work to be done in order to make this part of the Inclusion goal a reality.

In response to the discussion, Greenville Forward took the opportunity to add a clause in its Equal Employment Opportunity Policy to explicitly include sexuality. But there are more far-reaching policies that need to be changed, including the anti-gay resolution passed by Greenville County Council in 1996. The resolution caused the County to be shut out of the Olympic run that year, and in 2014 it may be causing new residents from moving to the area and businesses from relocating here.

 Becoming a more inclusive Greenville and state is more than just the right thing to do; it will bring more economic prosperity, more talented people to the table and increase the overall quality of life for all of Greenville’s residents. There are some very real barriers for some of our community members. In order to make sure we take action, Greenville Forward will be reconvening its Inclusion Taskforce to identify what steps we can take to create more opportunities for unity. We hope you will join us as we move beyond tolerance to acceptance.

 

 

Giving Thanks for Greenville

Giving Thanks for Greenville

Editorial by Russell Stall
Reprinted from the Greenville News, November 2013

 

Thanks to way too much time spent browsing Facebook, I know what people are grateful for during this holiday season. Actually, I probably know more than I would like.

I am grateful for Greenville, a community with a rich history that is always looking for opportunities to write the next and better chapter.

Inspired by the gratitude posts that are filling up my newsfeed, I have put together my own list. My friends’ posts talk about their appreciation for family, their health and, of course, great food. People really love food. But while I’m grateful for what we eat, during this holiday season, I am most grateful for the special place where we live.

I am grateful for Greenville, a community with a rich history that is always looking for opportunities to write the next and better chapter. I am grateful for a community unafraid to take the lead in creating a better quality of life for its residents. Most of all I’m grateful for the people of Greenville. Greenvillians have made creating a list like this easy. Here are just a few things that make me thankful that I live in Greenville County.

The Gardening Movement

Community gardens are popping up everywhere – at Greenville churches, in neighborhoods, and at schools; quickly replacing the front porches of old and becoming gathering places for neighbors to reconnect. Greenville Forward’s Gardening for Good program has over 80 gardens in its network, creating access to healthy foods and building a new sense of community wherever they are located. We’re excited about the local gardening movement because we see first-hand how a garden can reinvigorate neighborhoods, improve the health of residents and neighborhoods, and transform Greenville through gardening.

Headstrong Youth

I am constantly impressed with our young people who are writing the next chapter for Greenville. I am amazed with their energy and enthusiasm. Greenville Forward’s Headstrong program, a voice for young people, has joined efforts with Greenville County School District’s Inter-high Council – a group of student council representatives – to develop young leadership, and to build and inspire the leaders for our future. These students have a contagious energy that is great for Greenville.

Economic Growth

Business along the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail is expoding, TR and the other cities are rocking, and it seems like there’s a new development going up daily in Downtown Greenville. I’m thankful that not only does Greenville continue to grow as an international mecca for business, but also that we understand the impact economic growth has on our livability and quality of life. We welcome start-ups and new business models, such as Next and the IronYard, and I’m excited to see what the next year brings for them.

Spirit of Giving and Volunteerism

Greenville is one of the most giving communities in the country, and we give significantly more than the rest of the county. Giving is part of who we are, and we are grateful for the many Greenvillians who volunteer their time, talents, and money to make this community a better place. Greenville Forward has the honor of spotlighting some of these volunteers once a year with the Heroes Next Door Awards, and every year it’s difficult to choose just three “Heroes” out of the pool of nominations.

Creativity and The Arts

The Greenville community continues to support the arts and because of their support, there’s always something to do and see in Greenville. Artisphere just received a record number of applicants for next year’s festival, and it’s hard to find a show at a Greenville theater that is not sold out. The Metropolitan Arts Council’s Open Studios breaks attendance records every year. The Pendleton Arts District is becoming the cool place to hang out. The arts continue to be the soul of the community, and more and more artists are being welcomed into the mix.

Food Trucks and The Foodie Movement

My stomach is grateful for food trucks. Greenville’s growing culinary scene means some great choices for dining out in this town but the arrival of the food truck scene created a whole new and fun way to enjoy food, and demonstrates how the community can come together to change local policy.

Conversations

A generation ago, Mayor Max Heller was known for his talent in creating community conversation. In that spirit, we continue to inspire dialogue to make Greenville better. This community is best when it brings together different perspectives and opinions to create change. I see it every month during our Momentum Dialogue Series where we invite the community to discuss topics such as bullying, climbing the income ladder, and inclusion in the classroom. The room is always full and people are willing to sit at the table to talk and listen. And for that I am grateful.

Thank you Greenville for giving me so many reasons to be grateful. Thank you for letting us be a small part of it.

We Cannot Rest on our Laurels

 

by Russell Stall
reprinted from the Upstate Business Journal | April 2013

The Greenville we know today is an award-winning place that continues to hit the top ten lists almost weekly.  In just the last few weeks, Greenville was named one of Outside Magazine’s Best Towns and one of Forbes’ Ten Transformed Neighborhoods, and Falls Park showed up as one of Trip Advisor’s Top U.S. Parks.

It’s hard not to be proud of Greenville, not just because of our continued presence on Top Ten lists, but because we get to enjoy the amazing quality of life we offer, every day.

The reasons Greenville lands on so many lists – the great Downtown, municipalities, and villages; the private/public partnerships that spur business success; the burgeoning, welcoming neighborhoods; the vibrant economy; the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail – didn’t happen by accident.

Nope, Greenville’s success is not accidental. It did not just happen. In 2002, a visioning process initiated by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce created a list of goals for Greenville County that were thoughtfully planned and carefully developed. Over 1,000 volunteers participated in the process, using the expertise of experts and leaders, reliable demographic and historical data, and the valued input from general public to generate ideas about what our cities, county, and region could look like and function like in the generations to come.

Those ideas became the Vision 2025 and were launched almost ten years ago. Among the goals, are items that are more challenging to reach than others. The Vision needed a shepherd to take these bold and aggressive goals, and to hold the community accountable for making them happen. And that’s where Greenville Forward came in.

Greenville Forward, a nonprofit organization, is charged and challenged with tracking, measuring, and facilitating Vision 2025. As a community catalyst that creates connections, inspires conversations, and develops leaders, we have been able to see some of those big, challenging items on the list of goals for Greenville become a real. We have certainly come a long way and are checking off vision successes continually.

Some people said a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River Falls was not necessary. Taking down the bridge would make commutes longer. Look at the Liberty Bridge and Falls Park now. Some people said that tearing up the abandoned rail lines between Greenville and Travelers Rest was a waste of money and would invite crime and blight. Look at the GHS Swamp Rabbit Trail now. Some said that our governments would never talk with one another or collaborate. Look at them now. And, some said that Greenville County, located in the deep South, could never be progressive and attract businesses from all over the world. Look at us now.

Greenville is the envy of communities from all over the world, and in the words of one of the communities who have visited us, we have moved from “mill town” to “will town.”

But despite Greenville’s successes, we are not done yet. We cannot just sit back and celebrate our success. Everything must evolve, including Vision 2025. As part of our role of as the facilitator of the Vision, we are continually looking at the gaps and identifying the issues most important to Greenville and Greenvillians. For example, a survey conducted by Greenville Forward showed that half of the college students from the Upstate would like to leave the area. Students didn’t think Greenville was creative or progressive enough. Now that we know that, we’re working on the next steps to encourage our community to keep young talent from leaving.

As we work to make sure Greenville is learning, green, healthy, creative, connected, inclusive, and innovative, we understand the need for tools and resources to empower our residents. That’s why if you want to make difference in the future of Greenville, you can volunteer at one of the gardens in our Gardening for Good network, learn more about the needs of Greenville’s most vulnerable populations on the Greenville Indicators website, or join the conversation at our monthly Momentum events.

We should challenge ourselves to embrace Greenville’s next great projects that will continue to make us the envy of the rest of the world, and to find the inspired leadership to make it happen. We cannot do it alone, and Greenville never has. Get involved. Give us a call.