Archive for 2015

Walk with light.

Walk with light.

Who doesn’t have a story about that sign? An old English professor of mine found poetry in it. A Quaker friend says that when she came here from Earlham College, she was convinced it was put there for her. Such is its staying power in the imagination that when I posted a photo of it on Facebook, some people didn’t realize it had been missing for years. I missed it terribly. I had chalked up its downfall

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Beyond the box

Beyond the box

Ten years ago, as we worked to create the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness, we held focus groups on homelessness around the county. I’ll never forget a woman I met at one of them. She had been homeless for four years. She had been in prison before that for three. Her prison record kept her from finding work. Her lack of work kept her from finding an apartment. Here she was,

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Banned and beautiful

Banned and beautiful

Walk into the Chapel Hill Public Library and you’ll see a wall filled with imaginative book covers. The seven large ones are the winners in the third annual competition for the library’s Banned Books Trading Cards. So beautiful they all are that it’s hard to remember, at first, that the books they represent were banned, at least in one time and place. Where’s Waldo, for example. Our Bodies, Ourselves. The Grapes of

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Welcoming Greenfield Place to Chapel Hill

Welcoming Greenfield Place to Chapel Hill

For some things, apparently the second time is charm. On its second bid for low-income housing tax credits, DHIC Inc., the Triangle’s oldest and largest nonprofit housing organization, garnered an allocation of $785,000 in annual tax credits for its first project in Chapel Hill. The federal low-income housing tax credit program is “the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today,” according to HUD. It has facilitated the

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The Dream of America (an Irish fable)

The Dream of America (an Irish fable)

We returned from vacationing in Scotland and Ireland Wednesday night: in time to make it Thursday to the rally in Hillsborough honoring the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and offering a crucial history lesson. Tim Tyson explained that North Carolina’s Confederate memorial statues were erected decades after the war, after the defeat of Reconstruction, to cement the new narratives of Jim Crow intimidation and violence. Laurel Ashton demolished “the lie of southern heritage” that upholds

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Atticus, uprising

Atticus, uprising

One of the most unforgettable moments of To Kill a Mockingbird comes at the end of the trial, after Atticus Finch has done his noble best to gain Tom Robinson’s acquittal. Calling her up from her seat in the “colored” balcony, Rev. Sykes admonishes, “Miss Jean Louise, stand up. Your father’s passing.” This moment of reverence, and fleeting racial solidarity, is chillingly echoed at the conclusion of Go Set a Watchman. After a dramatic confrontation

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Why I voted for Obey Creek

Why I voted for Obey Creek

Monday night’s vote in favor the Obey Creek development concluded six years of analysis, exploration, discussion, deliberation, and debate. The debate over the scale of the development was in part (and no small part) about the details of the development. In part it was about something larger, and harder to define. The larger question, one articulated in various thoughtful ways, invokes the question of community character. How can a development that

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“Those Section 8 people”

“Those Section 8 people”

Among my several heroes in the world of nonprofit affordable housing is Sherry Riva, founder and executive director of Compass Working Capital, in Boston. Compass focuses on families in public housing or receiving federal housing vouchers and works to help them strengthen their own financial security. It’s a pioneer among public-private models for empowering families to save and build financial assets. Although the program’s requirements call for technical expertise, the essential factor is

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Hearts breaking open

Hearts breaking open

For such a short month, February laid a tall order of hurt upon us. Three beautiful young adults were killed in cold blood, in their home. One was in dentistry school at UNC. His bride of six weeks was planning to enroll in the same program in the fall. Her sister was a design student at NCSU. Contrary to what was said in the Boston Globe–that “a man gunning down three people in cold

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An MLK Day to remember

An MLK Day to remember

The Martin Luther King Jr. Day rally, march, and assembly at First Baptist Church, sponsored by the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, has become quite a tradition. While the message is always celebratory and challenging, the size of the crowd and the themes of the event have varied with the times. This year, the messages were charged with all the tensions and emotions of the current national conversation on race and power

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