Cultivate South Carolina

Perhaps you saw the post on Oaks or maybe it escaped your notice.

It was short. Only a few sentences long, and contained an attached flyer for a local happy hour + science + art class called Cultivate SC.


So, if you missed it, or read it but thought maybe next time, I’m here to tell you that you are missing out!


I had never heard of Cultivate SC before I saw the flyer on our class page. Immediately the words happy hour, science, and art stood out. Those subjects are all a good time individually and if you put them together…well I definitely needed to see what this was all about. After my last class on Tuesday, I rushed over to Bowties Speakeasy on Maybank Hwy. The timing was perfect as my last class got out at 5:30pm and Cultivate SC began that night at 6:00 pm. I was alone, didn’t know a single person there, though I kept scanning the crowd for one of your familiar faces. I was nervous, so I did what all sober people at an art/science/happy hour do and I got a drink. I took that drink and bellied up to a bar front of a projector and a basket of trash. That’s right, a basket of trash. While everyone chatted and got to know each other I made friends with the trash. I selected a few pieces that I thought were really special and set them aside to look at until the presentation began. Before too long everyone else was sorting through their trash and a brilliant woman named Marielena Martinez began speaking to us about the Hopi Indians and their Kachina dolls.  The story goes that young Indian boys would carve the little figures from the roots of the cottonwood tree and use the figures to teach younger children about the sprits. The Hopi people believed that these figures each represented a spirit god and that each god had a responsibility (of the harvest, the hunt, the weather, the sun, etc.) They believed that the dolls could communicate the wishes of the people to the sprits whom they resembled. Each doll was then painted and decorated with small trinkets and found objects. After we learned about the Hopi’s Kachina dolls we were each armed with a small wooden base, scissors, hot glue and our baskets of trash to create our own Kachina dolls! This is when things got serious and I went to work drink in hand. I was determined to make an amazing doll that would bring me good grades and peaceful naps. While scavenging for the perfect piece of trash (all the trash had been collected from beaches and neighborhoods by the women hosting the event) I met a woman who introduced herself to me as Carolee Williams. She was super nice, and we got to talking about school and interests. Turns out, she is a low country field director for Conservation Voters of South Carolina. Hello Networking! Carolee and I each finished our Kachina dolls just as our speaker for the night took to the stage. Her name was Kea Payton and as it turns out, she was one of Dr. Beckingham’s Graduate students! Small world. Kea talked to us for about 15 minutes on micro plastics and their dangerous roll in our environment. She reemphasized some of what we had learned in class but she also told us some things that I had not heard before. Did you know that fish like to feed in brackish waters where the salty ocean water meats the fresh river water? They choose these spots because there is an abundance of microscopic food in this mixture of water. It is also here that much of our plastics and micro plastics travel resulting in fish ingestion. Did you also know that the Charleston harbor is the perfect place for this tragic combination of fish and plastic? Charleston’s harbor is protected and filled with brackish water meaning that the issue of microplastics could have a big effect right here at home. Thankfully we now know the impacts plastics can have in our waterways and after this class we know some ways we can work to better protect the environment.

In 2 hours I had made a new friend, learned about the Hopi Indians, learned about micro plastics and had a sculpture to keep that I made from recycled materials.

It was a good night!

If you thought this story was interesting or if you have decided to check out Cultivate SC for yourself you can learn more by clicking on the link below. The next and final class will take place on May 8th at 6pm. Hope to see you there!

PS here is a picture of the Kachina doll I made!



Eating For Pleasure

I recently read an article published online by the journal Scientific American titled,

“How Sugar and Fat Trick the Brian into Wanting More Food”

This article was written on January 1st, 2016 by Ferris Jabr


In summation, the article discusses how human advancements have resulted in an overabundance and availability of food. This, in turn, has led to overconsumption or the habit of eating for pleasure and no longer for survival. This change in the way we obtain food has resulted in a chemical change in our brains. According to the article, this is referred to, by scientists, as Hedonic Hunger. Simply put, hedonic hunger is what we consider to be “cravings.” A strong urge to eat foods even when we are not hungry. This urge in combination with copious amounts of inexpensive and unhealthy food has led to rising rates of obesity and associated health concerns.

If the body is functioning correctly, when we are low on energy hormones are released to create a feeling of hunger. Once we have consumed enough nutrients a different hormone is released to create a feeling of being full. These hormones alternate throughout the day to ensure energy levels remain balanced. The control center that regulates this release of hormones is the hypothalamus.

It wasn’t until the late 1990s that rodent research led to a new discovery about food and the brain. The hypothalamus was not the only pathway capable of releasing the hungry/full hormones. Scientist calls it “the reward circuit” and it is the same area that lights up in response to gambling or drug use. This part of the brian is “captivated” by foods high in sugar or fat. This is a problem because the reward circuit is POWERFUL. Studies show that our brain’s reward circuit lights up (releasing large amounts of dopamine) simply by viewing or smelling foods that are high in sugar and fat. The release of dopamine consistently over long periods of time can create dopamine resistance in the body that ultimately results in larger amounts of the sweet or fatty food required to achieve the same pleasure high. On the opposide side of this cycle, we find sharp drop-offs and very low lows. The absence of food that activates the reward circuit, in a person who has routinely consumed it,  can result in feelings of depression, anxiety, and desperation. This often results in the person consuming more unhealthy foods in an attempt to maintain their “sense of well-being.”



This article goes in-depth about the modern relationship that many humans have with food. Now that we no longer have to hunt and gather food to survive we can eat more freely and in much larger amounts than ever before. With so much abundance of food, how do we ensure that we are self-regulating or diets in a way that is healthy but still enjoyable? Much research has been done to answer that question. Today, you can log onto a computer and find resources dedicated to helping you manage your diet through portion control and a balanced diet.

One of my favorite websites for this is

This site has a variety of resources for you to use including a food tracker and lifestyle quizzes.

Let’s be the generation that reverses the trend and lives long, healthy, active lives!


The link for the article is here: