1699 Weekend of Discovery: Celebrating Our Heritage

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Ocean Springs – In 1971, a group of dedicated citizens formed the 1699 Historical Society in order to preserve and celebrate the unique culture and history of Ocean Springs and the surrounding Gulf Coast.

Every spring, the Society stages a dramatic reenactment as the showcase of its annual “Weekend of Discovery.” The event brings to life the April 1699 story of Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d’Iberville and his armada of ships sailing into Biloxi Bay. Commissioned by King Louis XIV to explore the shores of the upper Gulf of Mexico, he and his expedition crew first discovered Ship Island before stumbling upon a high, defendable bluff, known today as Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Stopher Haug, chairman of the event this year, believes it’s important to help the public realize the significance of the landing. “I think that the culture and the heritage and influence that the d’Iberville landing had on the Gulf South in 1699 is essentially equivalent to the Jamestown landing in the Northeast back in 1603,” said Stopher. “So we’ve worked hard to try to get that message out and bring the history to life.”

The weekend kicks off Friday night with the Mary C. House Party featuring the Mardi Gras Indian Collective from New Orleans. Admission to the event is free, but donation opportunities abound with a full bar, art auction, and a Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament. Festivities resume Saturday morning and include a 5K race, kids fun-run, paddleboard races, pet parade, a regatta at the Ocean Springs Yacht Club and will wrap up with the 1699 d’Iberville reenactment. Haug says he hopes everyone goes back home having had a great time at the event, but also with a greater knowledge and appreciation for the significance of the 1699 landing. “One thing that we would like folks to be aware of is that we’ve partnered with the Vancleave Live Oak Choctaw, who descend from original native Americans that were here in 1699. We’ve been working with them to try and bring more authenticity and historical accuracy to the reenactment this year and to recognize their culture and contributions as well.”

Everyone is invited to join in this exciting time and become a part of this commemorative celebration!

Learn more by visiting www.1699landing.com

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Vote for Ocean Springs as US Today’s 10 Best Coastal Small Town

Ocean Springs, MS – Ocean Springs is up for another award, USA Today’s Best Coastal Small Town. As the only town in Mississippi up for the award, the community is encouraged to vote for Ocean Springs now through May 14.

With a population of fewer than 25,000 people, these towns nominated offer uncrowded, unpretentious and affordable seaside fun in small packages. Move over Miami, Honolulu and Los Angeles, Ocean Springs is in the running.

“With its quaint, eclectic charm, we are delighted to have Ocean Springs nominated once again for this award,” says Executive Director Cynthia Sutton of the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau. “Ocean Springs is a tourist favorite and, we encourage our entire coastal community and those throughout the state to promote Ocean Springs for this award.”

Vote for Ocean Springs once per day as Best Coastal Small Town until polls close on May 14 at noon, ET. Visit https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-coastalsmall-town/ to vote.

For more information, contact us at the Ocean Springs Chamber of Commerce-Main Street-Tourism Bureau at 228-875-4424 or visit us at www.oceanspringschamber.com.

Mission: To promote tourism, provide progressive leadership for economic and community vitality for the greater Ocean Springs, Jackson County area and gulf coast and to enhance local culture and preserve quality of life through planned growth, diversification and beautification.

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Spring Arts Festival: Herb, Garden & Art

The annual Spring Arts Festival in downtown Ocean Springs celebrated its 25th year last weekend. Over 150 vendors participated and, while the numbers are still being calculated, it is estimated to have had around 15,000 visitors. The event is looked forward to each year by festival-goers from near and far as well as the local gardening and art communities.

“We are so proud of the amazing turnout of 150 vendors and Nearly 15,000 visitors this year.  The turnout numbers are still being calculated. The weather was amazing and our community and visitors alike were able to get out and find unique arts, crafts and get their green thumb ready for Spring! -We were excited to introduce new vendors and a variety of demonstrations.” ~ Cynthia Dobbs Sutton, Ocean Springs Chamber – Mainstreet – Tourism Bureau

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Walk MS: Uniting Communities to Create a World Free of Multiple Sclerosis

Andy Bell, President of National Multiple Sclerosis Society Alabama-Mississippi and Lt. Doug Adams of the Pascagoula Police Dept. at the Walk Kick-Off Luncheon at Aunt Jenny’s Restaurant in Ocean Springs.

Hundreds of local walkers raised money at Walk MS: Mississippi Gulf Coast last Saturday at Fort Maurepas Park in Ocean Springs. Walk MS is an opportunity for people to come together with friends, loved ones and co-workers to fundraise, connect and advocate for people affected by MS. Each dollar raised is one step closer to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s goal – a world free of MS. Since its inception in 1988, Walk MS has cumulatively raised more than $1 billion. Saturday’s walk was expected to raise more than $25,000.

“Walk MS is all about community – people coming together to raise money and show support for loved ones, colleagues and friends,” said Cyndi Zagieboylo, President and CEO of the National MS Society. “Funds raised have a direct impact in this community, for example – our MS Navigator program. MS Navigators are highly-skilled, compassionate professionals available to connect each person affected by MS to the resources and information they need to live their best lives.”

Multiple sclerosis attacks the brain and spinal cord, and it is the most common neurological disease leading to disability in young adults. The National MS Society is a gathering place for people with MS, their family and loved ones, healthcare providers, volunteers, donors, fundraisers, advocates, community leaders and all those that seek a world free of MS.

Sanofi Genzyme is the premier national sponsor of Walk MS. Biogen, Genentech and Novartis are also national sponsors of Walk MS.

Walk MS helps fuel groundbreaking MS research and provide life-changing services to those affected by MS through creating a supportive community of friends, families, and loved ones who fundraise and connect. To get involved you can visit walkMS.org, call (855) 372-1331, or email fundraisingsupport@nmss.org. For more information about multiple sclerosis and the National MS Society, visit nationalMSsociety.org or call (800) 344-4867.

About Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million worldwide.

 

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Business of the Week: Marina Cottage Soap Company

Marina Cottage Soap Co. began in Ocean Springs, MS in 2012. It all started with Vanessa, who is a Registered Nurse. She created products for those with eczema and other sensitive skin issues out of necessity, in her own kitchen. That passion has created over 100 products in nearly 600 retail locations across the US and Canada, and a 3,300 sq ft retail and manufacturing location! They make natural soaps and other skincare products for sensitive skin. Their operation is a local, family company, with a group of friends and family still making every order by hand, with love.

They use goat’s milk and glycerin to make products for all ages, and it’s safe for even the most sensitive skin!

Check out their new location at 1311 Government Street in Ocean Springs.

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Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc.™ in Ocean Springs, MS lands deal with SeaWorld Corporation

Ocean Springs — Marina Cottage Soap Co. announced that they have landed a deal with SeaWorld Corporation to have their products featured in 7 parks across the USA.

“This is such a dream come true,” said Vanessa Mueller, RN, Owner, of in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co.

Marina Cottage Soap Co. Inc. products can now be found in both SeaWorld and Busch Gardens across the USA.

“The parks are carrying Nourishing Body Crème, Goats Milk Soap, Organic Bubble Bath and Exfoliating Sugar Whipped Soap in 5 different scents” said Mueller.

Talks began last year at Americasmart in Atlanta and the products were trialed in Busch Gardens, Va., over the summer to determine if there was a market for their natural products at the parks. Fast-forward to October 2017 and orders began pouring in from Busch Gardens, VA and ALL 7 parks under the SeaWorld Corporation. “We were very surprised and flattered that our products went over so well in VA.” said Mueller.

SeaWorld Corporation is an international company with theme-based parks located across the United States. US park locations include; Orlando, Florida; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; Chula Vista, California; Tampa, Florida; Williamsburg, Virginia; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Founded in 2012, in Ocean Springs, MS, Marina Cottage Soap Co. has grown their business across the USA. The company offers a wide range of products including all natural soaps, lotions, bubble bath, lip balms and their famous Gneaux more Gnaughty Gnats™ natural repellent. The company specializes in products to help those with Eczema, Psoriasis and other sensitive skin issues.  For more information about Marina Cottage Soap Co., go to:  www.marinacottage.com

 

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Ocean Springs Artist, USM Alumna Chosen for National Honor

Original post from Southern Miss Now. Courtesy of David Tisdale.

From a young girl doodling on her notepad to shaping steel as an art student at The University of Southern Mississippi, Kelsey Wishik has engaged in creative action as long as she can remember.

That creative action earned Wishik, a multimedia artist from Ocean Springs, Miss. a prominent place in the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA) fifth installment of its exhibition series, titled “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018” after being chosen by a national jury to be the state’s representative for the event.  

According to a news release from the NMWA, “Heavy Metal – Women to Watch 2018,” set for June 28 – Sept. 16, will feature “contemporary artists working in metal to investigate the physical properties and expressive possibilities of metalwork through a wide variety of objects, including sculpture, jewelry, and conceptual forms.” The exhibit also “engages with the fluidity between ‘fine’ art, design, and craft categories, whose traditional definitions are rooted in gender discrimination.”

 

“Women to Watch” is presented every three years in a collaboration between the museum and its national and international outreach committees.

“I feel honored and humbled to be a part of this incredible showing,” said Wishik, who earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture from USM in 2014. “It has added a lot of heat to a fire of inspiration already burning [in me] to keep creating, learning, and mastering my craft and skills, and reminds me that we are all ambassadors of culture, in a way.”

The exhibition provides Wishik the opportunity to show several of her pieces, alongside a published statement of her work. She will attend the opening reception to connect with other contributors and facilitators, and speak to an international forum the next day about her work and artistic vision. 

“It’s a unique opportunity to share not only my academic studies and technical skills, but my insights, inspirations, passions, and hopes for future projects and potential collaborations,” Wishik said. 

Reflecting on her still young career as an artist, Wishik looks back at her childhood doodling and the stories and songs she wrote that for her gave life a narrative quality, as the genesis for her success.

“Even as a kid, just walking around, I saw so many things speaking through life, through other people, and through nature,” Wishik said. “Some of these fascinations became content for early work, but it was when I discovered abstract art and surrealism around the age of 13 that I became deeply enamored with creating art, and experimenting with what I was capable of through poetry, art, and music.

“Creating art is how I process and revere my experience. Sometimes I apply it for the sake of sheer curiosity, because studying something brings you closer to understanding it. Other times, creation comes with the sense of purging, that I am letting something go, or even inviting something in.”

Wishik loves all the materials she works with in her art for different reasons, but is most enamored with the steel medium. “Something that seems so rigid, hard, and cold can actually yield to being shaped, changed, and warmed quite easily,” she said. “Working with steel is my humble study of this concept on a small scale. I enjoy being able to apply considerable force to something, and shape it with my intention as well. I get that out of the steel fabrication process.”

 

Wishik points to American sculptor and printmaker Lee Bontecou as a role model. “Her work is fantastic and otherworldly,” she said. “It shows great contemplative power and evidence of many years of immersion into her fascinations and self-education of those forms.”

After attending Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Wishik transferred to Southern Miss, where she received several scholarships that included the Fred A. Waits Scholarship; the Trustmark Bank Arts Scholarship; the Thelma Johnson Arts Scholarship; and the William Clark Art Scholarship.

Wishik said USM’s “incredible facilities, which offer a breadth of possibilities in many mediums” and proximity to home influenced her decision to choose the university.

“I’m proud of the work I did at USM in steel, because I really took the opportunity to immerse in the studio environment, and take advantage of the resources of both studio and creative community,” she said. “I was able to explore creative work processes in clay, metals, wood, fabric, foam, plaster, and many other materials. It helped me grow my skills quite quickly.”

Jennifer Torres, professor of art at USM and a mentor for Wilshik, said her former student is “exemplary, full of talent and intelligence.”

“What makes her exceptional is the way she attacks life as a whole, and explores the world without regard for boundaries or limitations that others might impose,” Torres said. “She is such a shining light and great example of what we wish for all our students to be, as well as a great ambassador for our program and the University as a whole.”

For Wishik, art isn’t contained on a canvas or in a studio – it’s everywhere. “The world is art. The world is in constant flux — a constant act of transformation and reflection of forces at work,” she said. “The word ‘art’ aside, we are creating at every moment. We can’t help it. We interact with our environment and impress upon it through our thoughts, actions, and speech.

“I think when the art process becomes true magic is when we invite it in intentionally. The process of creating can cultivate concentration, develop our emotions and empathy, and encourage abstract thought.”

Wishik’s advice to current and aspiring artists is to avoid artificial restrictions that suffocate creativity. “Focus your mind and intention where there is vastness, space to roam and imagine – do not waste your mind’s capacity on that which is decided for you without exploration or work, including unexplored limitations, doubts, or self-defeating mindsets,” she said. “These are some key truths I’ve found, and applicable in any setting.”

Learn more about and view Wishik’s work at  www.worksbywish.com. For more information about the National Museum of Women in the Arts, visit https://nmwa.org.
For information about the USM Department of Art and Design, visit https://www.usm.edu/visual-arts. 

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Pay It Forward Friday: Shellie Carter Helping Homeless Teens on the Coast

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Many kids look forward to their 18th birthday, but for kids in foster care their 18th birthday is often the day they become homeless. That is when they “age out” of the foster care system, and unless they have plans to go to college or have someone pick them up and take care of them many of these young adults are left with nowhere to go and end up in the streets. A new program through the Community Care Network, Breakthrough, aims to to rescue these homeless kids that are on the streets and give them the housing and necessities they need to help get them on their feet. 

The Community Care Network is a faith-based, non-profit organization located in Ocean Springs seeking to empower their clients and minister to their physical, emotional, and spiritual need, enabling them to move from addiction, homelessness, and/or incarceration to a stable and independent life. The network is made up of different branches, including a long-term transitional home-Sue’s Home. Sue’s Home helps women and children who have either been displaced by incarceration or rehab and are seeking to get their life’s back on track, so they may unify their family again.

The Breakthrough program began in South Mississippi in July and rescues these 18-to 24-year olds who have aged out of the foster care system and have no job or hopes of going to college, said Shellie Carter, director of the program for the Community Care Network. “Many of these kids have bounced around in foster homes or may come from an abusive home and turn to alcohol and drugs to cope”, she said. 

Carter mentions how she can understand and relate to how uncertain and scared these kids are. “I was a child of an addict”, she said, and at age 6 she and her sister were taken from her mother and placed in a foster care in Harrison County. “I’ve been in your shoes”, she tells the kids. 

The program was founded after receiving the Continuum of Care (COC) Grant through Open Doors Homeless Coalition, which is a coalition for the homeless in Gulfport. “When I met Diane Easley, (Founder and Executive Director of Community Care Network), I thought ‘wow what a blessing it would be to work with the community after experiencing what I have as a child in the foster care system and having addiction touch my life'”, said Carter. 

This is her 9th year working with non-profits and second year with the Community Care Network. At 47, she now believes life has brought her to where she needs to be to put her own past to rest and to take those late-night phone calls from kids in Breakthrough who need help or just someone to listen to their concerns.

Homelessness is a challenge in our area 

The homeless population in Ocean Springs has become a  continuous issue in the city. A 2015 count showed a 300 percent increase in homelessness among ages 18 to 24 in the six southern counties, most of them on the Coast, Carter said. In every other age category the numbers went down, she said. The current count of young people living outside in South Mississippi is 54. “I have people call me daily to try and get into the program and on average about 3 people per week”, said Carter. “We’re funded out through the end of the year and at our max capacity with our budget”, she said. “We don’t have any more room- the problem is that big.” There are currently 11 residents enrolled in the program. 

“There’s a lot of barriers that go into homeless youth. If they’re 18 there’s a lot of apartment complexes who won’t accept an 18 year old signing a lease”, she said. “Another issue is employment and transportation that we’ve come across while trying to help the homeless youth.” 

How it works

The homeless youth first go through a centralized intake through Open Doors Coalition and get all of the information to identify their level of need. “A score of one would be the least amount of need and if they score from five to ten they are really desperate”, she said. 

After determining their need, the next step includes finding an apartment so the young person has a warm, safe place to live. The program provides them with everything from furniture and cooking supplies and even food. “There’s a lot to getting a young person housed who has nothing,” Carter said.

Breakthrough also assigns a case manager who provides help learning how to apply for food stamps, search for jobs and even enrolling them in financial counseling. “It’s very overwhelming to 19-year-olds,” Carter said, since many of them don’t know how to cook or parent and “freeze” when asked to fill out job applications.

The program has had many success stories ike a young woman in Gulfport who was homeless and now has apartment and a high school diploma and plans to start junior college this spring. 

“It can happen to anyone”, says Carter. “So if we can all take our shoes off and walk in someone else’s for a day we can all get that perspective and relate in someway”, she added. “I’m sure at some point in life, addiction has touched someone you know or someone in your family and that’s where our human-ness comes in our ability to touch and reach out to these people and give a hand up, not a hand down”, said Carter. 

How you can help

The program is always in need of supplies for the program such as personal hygiene items, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant. Any leftovers are sent back out into the homeless community. “We make care packages and take them back out into the streets to pass out” said Carter.

For more information on the Breakthrough program or Community Care Network, visit their website at ccms.org.

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Ocean Springs High School Presents Award-Winning Production of “Inuk and the Sun”

This weekend in Jackson County, families can beat the chilly weather outside and experience some indoor entertainment as Ocean Springs High School Theatre Department presents its award-winning production of “Inuk and the Sun.”

“It’s a great opportunity to experience the arts,” OSHS Theatre Department Director Chris Permenter said. “These kids pour their heart into their craft. It’s unique to find such a strong group of students who come together and create something beautiful.”

Permenter said the production has a cast and crew of 50 students, half of whom are actors and the other half serve as technical crew. The department does an entire season of shows, including three MainStage productions – a fall show, a winter show and a spring show, with four studio pieces in the spring by the advanced theatre classes.

“Inuk and the Sun,” an original story based on characters from Inuit mythology, follows a young boy named Inuk as he journeys to save his people and become a man. Inuk is the Inuit word for “human being,” and the plot echoes the universal experience of growing up and coming to terms with life and death. 

In his second year as director, Permenter said he has created a student-based program and tries to always choose a strong season that not only fits the actors, designers, and tech crew’s strengths but also their weaknesses –  to challenge them to become better artist and not just do shows that they are comfortable with.

“With the amount of puppetry, mask, and headdresses used in the show it takes a village to make it possible,” Permenter said. “The show is completely student-designed. My set, costume, props, makeup, and sound designer students started designing in May of 2017. It’s a very long process, but that’s why the kids love it – every rehearsal you find something new. The actors play spirits, northern lights, seals, and so many more exciting characters.” 

In addition, Permenter said the fall show is always the show used in competitions. “Inuk and the Sun” has earned OSHS a number of awards, including All-Star Cast, Best Director, Best Costumes and Best Non-Human Characters. “Inuk and the Sun” will also be taken to the Mississippi Theatre Association Festival in Columbus, Miss., from Jan. 11 to 15  to compete for the state title.

The department was also one of 40 high schools across the nation chosen to perform internationally the American High School Theatre Festival. Permenter said 30 students from the theatre department will be going to Edinburgh, Scotland, the first two weeks of August to perform its spring production of “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman. Much of the proceeds from the shows and other fundraiser events are going toward this once-in-a-lifetime experience for these students.

“It is very important to have community support,” Permenter said. “This small town of Ocean Springs is being internationally recognized at the largest theatre festival in the world. My wish is for the community to come together and support these kids and their hard work.”

Performances start at 7 p.m. on January 5 and 6 at the Ocean Springs High School Robert E Hirsh Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Those who are interested in donating to the student trip to Scotland can do so by going to the the American High School Theatre Festival website and enter a “Gift of Performance” or contact Ocean Springs High School.

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Children’s Christmas Workshops Available at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art

Children in fifth through seventh grades can create their own art for the holiday season at a workshop sponsored by the Walter Anderson Museum of Art.

WAMA will be conducting Christmas art workshops from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 20, and Thursday, Dec. 21. In these workshops, participants will learn basic drawing and composition techniques and will make several projects, including a Christmas card block print.

Anthony DiFatta, the director of education for WAMA, said the workshops are part of a strategy to increase the number of classes, workshops and camps that the museum will offer. These will focus on art composition. 

“In these workshops, the children will be learning about composition – using the seven motifs that Walter used,” DiFatta said. “They’ll also learn the process of block printing.” 

The seven motifs include spirals, circles, half-circles, S-curves, wavy lines, zig zags and straight lines. WAMA also currently has an exhibit called Atomic Alternatives: The Block Prints of Walter Anderson, featuring work from when Anderson carved linoleum blocks during the 1940s while he was living at Oldfields, his wife’s family home in Gautier, Mississippi. He transformed the attic of the house into his studio, carving his fantastical images into battleship linoleum in sweeping lines and bold forms.

DiFatta, who will lead the workshops, is an experienced artist himself, with his artwork exhibited nationally and internationally. He’s worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, professional artist and art teacher in the past, and his new role within WAMA will focus on art education.

He added that the workshops are meant to be a tool to introduce art concepts while providing a hands-on experience.

“Our goal is to educate children about the process of making artwork,” DiFatta said. “We will be using the work, techniques, and subject matter of Walter Anderson to introduce formal art concepts.”

Registration is still open for the workshops. They are advertised for fifth through seventh grade, but DiFatta said he will leave it to the parent’s discretion based on their child’s level of interest and attention span. The cost is $20 per student, but WAMA welcomes anyone who hasn’t budgeted for it. To sign up call us at 228-872-3164, or email educate@walterandersonmuseum.org.

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