The term crowdsourcing skyrocketed on Google’s search radar around 2010. However, it became a buzzword when it was coined in Wired Magazine by author Jeff Howe in 2006. Since then, the process of using a crowd of people to get something done has infiltrated our lives so much that we hardly recognize it for the process it is. Today, Rock Hill residents are invited to help contribute to the preservation of the space around us as it stands now, so it will last, preserved, into the future for generations to come.
From rail bridges to entire stretches of highway, South Carolina’s landmarks are disappearing and we need to preserve them. Rock Hill is not immune to the cruel hands of nature and progress. Because of time, vandalism, or development, ruins are all that’s left of former beloved landmarks. The South Carolina Picture Project from SCIWAY is trying to change that, and you can help. If you’ve never been to www.sciway.net, you’ll learn that the site helps South Carolinians and people throughout the world find information about South Carolina quickly and easily. The site also gives people a space to create a thriving repository of SC culture and information including 50,000 links to all sorts of South Carolina resources. Among the links to events, tourism information, and city profiles lies a growing repository of images from the monumental task of taking on South Carolina’s staggering number of landmarks and points of interest.
What’s more, is that the SCPP is a nonprofit operating out of funds they raised in the spring of 2017 via donations from the public. Robin Welch, one of only three team members helps to manage and edit the site. That’s right: there are only three people behind the site including Brandon Coffey and Kerri Fitts, who are Robin’s two co-conspirators. “Kerri is based in Columbia and handles all of our customer service. Both of them are made of gold and make my work very happy” Robin says. She goes on to explain that “lots of people think SCIWAY is run by the government, but we’re really just a tiny team of 3 people.” Because of limited resources and no pay, the Project has has an uphill battle with a noble purpose.
“Our most pressing need is a sponsor or sponsors,” Robin explains. “Without support, we will have to shut down, which would be a giant loss to our state because everyone seems to enjoy it so much. The SCPP is just a really positive thing for South Carolina. It is a way of coming together, sharing our collective memories, mobilizing preservation, and creating joy and pride. And it’s not too shabby for tourism either. People constantly use the Picture Project to plan trips!”
The site’s team needs our help, not only with sponsorship, but with photo and art submissions. While there are 8,306 photos currently on the Project’s site, the majority are from other parts of the state like Charleston. Rock Hill and York County in general are sorely underrepresented. Previous to this article, the site had an ever growing hodgepodge list of local landmarks that the SCPP doesn’t yet have or landmarks that aren’t shown completely. And not only specific landmarks are in need of photographic documentation, but SCIWAY also collects many categories of landmarks for the SC Picture Project such as town clocks, bridges, barns, courthouses, mills, and schools.
Rock Hill features some of our state’s most beautiful buildings and scenery that can be captured by you! Counties like Chester and Lancaster have the fewest number of entries in the South Carolina Picture Project, while Charleston County has over 200 pictures, and the gallery as a whole has nearly 2,500. Rock Hill is lost somewhere in the middle, but with art deco architecture and turn of the century barns, buildings, and ruins, there is endless possibility in capturing these treasures.
When was the last time a dilapidated building had a website? A Facebook page? Are you sure you can find mention of that barn in a book? Chances are, your answers are “never”, “no”, and “I don’t know”. Knowledge lost to time is as much of a tragedy as losing a landmark itself. The Picture Project doesn’t rely only on images. Landmarks are researched, but local knowledge including antidotes, legends, author accounts are needed. Even armchair historians are needed to help round out the whole narrative aspect of each picture. What’s more, storytellers in the traditional sense need not be the only folks contributing. If you have information on a landmark’s history, its current use, or condition, you are needed as well. That old story your uncle Louie loves to tell each year at Christmas? Share it, because one day you might not hear that story again.
South Carolina Picture Project on Social Media
Current crowdsourcing campaigns almost always use social media to obtain a higher number of contributions, and the South Carolina Picture Project is no different. You can find SCIWAY’s Brandon Coffey, one of South Carolina’s most surprising historians with a talent like no other, in the Facebook group called South Carolina Picture Project by SCIWAY.
“It has been a neat way to connect with a ton of different people and get stories and insight that we could have never gotten previously,” Brandon says. He explains that the group was started to reach a broader group of people in an interactive way. Where the site itself had lacked some features, like real-time conversation, the group more than makes up for it. The active community is over 15,000 members strong and has dozens of posts a day that feature, not only landmarks, but anything from wildlife to personal expressions of art that feature aspects of our state in acrylic, watercolor, and pastel. Brandon explains that people share their love of South Carolina in multifaceted ways with personal family stories, landmarks they like to photograph, or places they have stumbled across while roaming around the state. The Facebook group is not a free for all, and members do need to abide by some basic rules, but photos and art posted in the group have been known to be hand-selected and the creator contacted to see if they would be willing to share their works and/or information. “When you think you know a lot, someone posts something new and you discover you have much more to find along the way.”
What Does This Mean for You?
Robin explains that contributing artists have had many sales come though the Picture Project. “The site has millions of visitors a year, so it’s is a great way for photographers to be discovered. Sales have come from magazines, phone books, banks, and tons of other businesses. A senator in Washington even decorated his DC office with photos from the Picture Project.” she says.
Contributors retain the rights to their images, get featured on the site, and can share links to their own websites. For those who contribute to at least 15 pages, a profile page can be created that features their work and information.
From the SCPP Website
“If you are a member of a South Carolina business or organization that would like to be part of the South Carolina Picture Project, please let us know. We would love to come meet you and show you our work and how it can benefit you. We have a deeply invested community with a terrific number of visitors, and we play an important role in South Carolina – especially in the fields of tourism and education.
Sponsoring the South Carolina Picture Project would allow you to be part of something tremendously positive and worthwhile in our state, so please reach out, no matter how big or small your group is. If we work together, we can save something special.”