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Charleston showers its kindness by sharing manners award with Savannah

By Andy Owens
Published May 21, 2009


It’s being reported coast-to-coast. Charleston no longer carries the designation of “Most Mannerly City in America.”

Part of the reason is that, well, we’re just so nice that e wanted to share the award with Savannah after that town didn’t win … again.

Unlike our port volume, our sister to the south didn’t quite snatch the politeness title and its annual claim to fame away from the Holy City. This time, a rules change precluded Charleston from winning for a 13th year running, said Cindy Grosso, founder of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, which tallies the annual list of cities.

Charleston carried 25% of the votes this year — most of them from online visitors to Grosso’s Web site — with Savannah coming in at 5%. When Charleston received a lifetime achievement award in 2007 after being named the “Most Mannerly City in America” for more than a decade, it agreed to step aside.

“It’s the epitome of graciousness, it really is,” Grosso said this morning after returning from presenting the “Most Mannerly” award to Savannah’s mayor on Thursday.

Charleston did receive a preservation award this year, which she said Mayor Joe Riley has in his office. According to the rules the “Preservation Award” goes to a city in lieu of the “Most Mannerly” award when that city is no longer eligible for “Most Mannerly.”

“I think it is wonderful to share the ‘Most Mannerly City’ award with Savannah,” Riley said in a statement. “Two years ago, the city of Charleston was honored to receive the ‘Most Mannerly City Lifetime Achievement Award.’ Having received the lifetime award, the city of Charleston is eager to see the other great American cities that will share the title.”

Grosso took over the annual Most Mannerly Cities list after the death of Marjabelle Young Stewart. For years, Stewart, a nationally known etiquette expert, gave the award to Charleston based on comments from executives and those who attended her etiquette classes. She also considered thousands of letters, faxes, e-mails and phone calls.

“We allowed Savannah to step up for ‘Most Mannerly City.’ It’s the right thing to do,” Grosso said. “They were very, very excited yesterday. They had lots and lots of coverage there.”

The award has become an annual feather in Charleston’s hospitality and tourism cap, but Savannah seems to be taking it in stride. The Savannah Morning News said that having Charleston step aside didn’t quite carry the prestige of winning outright.

“I look at it as sister cities, not rival cities,” Grosso said. “We’ve always been a pioneering city; it’s our history. Charleston never stepped back and waited. How great is that? It really comes back when you give it away. It’s a lesson in manners.”

With the economic and political turmoil all over the world, Grosso said she’s constantly asked — even in Charleston — whether manners still really matter.

“You might not be in control of global warming, and you can’t control the wars that might be going on,” Grosso said. “We can help in global charming. That’s something we can all take part in. We need each other in this new world we’re stepping into, this new business world, this new economy, this way of thinking.”


Author: By Andy Owens

Source: Charleston Business Regional Journal

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