Cathryn Davis Zommer points to her standard protest sign from her desk. “Let all the dreamers wake the nation,” she reads from the poster. She smiles. “This job is totally my calling.”
In just one year as Executive Director of Enough Pie, Cathryn has found a home in using art and activism not only to unite but also to ignite a divided community in the upper peninsula and all across Charleston.
Raised to give back, Cathryn grew up around community and art. She got an early taste of activism at age 12, when she volunteered for Harvey Gantt’s first campaign. She represented organic seed farmers in Osgata vs. Monsanto in 2011. She bravely quit her job to conceive, film, and edit Fully Awake, a documentary about an unaccredited rebel college in the Black Mountains in the ‘30s. As president of her James Island neighborhood, she regularly organizes potlucks and helps protect Maybank Forest (she uses her “Bless These Trees” poster for that). The causes seem disparate, but to Cathryn, they’re all very much interconnected. “When people get together—whether through art or dance or to break bread—they can affect change.”
Like EP’s love bomb, a community-created crocheted heart that hangs 110-feet in the air on the chimney of St. Julian Devine’s, a lesser known community center. Or her weekly Nia classes, also at the Center, that regularly sees black and white women dancing and laughing side-by-side. Or Awakening III, EP’s annual art and community celebration, that became a place for locals of all backgrounds to hold hands and pray right after the AME shooting. And this year’s Awakening IV, during which visitors will dye rags in real indigo—a lost art form—and the collective fabrics will hang permanently in the Dart Library.
Each event is memorable and free; nothing is inaccessible or exclusive, ever. For Cathryn, the arts bring a “joie de vivre” to existing communities. To create inviting, unique, art-centered experiences is paramount to getting people in the same room, talking and thinking together. When people start talking and thinking together, they can make a difference.
“My hope is that Charleston can embrace being radically inclusive,” Cathryn says. “That it will stop shying away from addressing important issues. That we will wake up to how very connected we are, and how that connection is a gift.”
Words by Jessica Kenny
Photo by Landon Neil Phillips, The Royal Wild