A peculiar patriotism

A peculiar patriotism

“You pretend that you are patriots, but you are anything but,” said Virginia’s governor Terry McAuliffe in condemning the violence of neo-Nazis and white nationalist supremacists Saturday in Charlottesville. To the contrary, American white nationalist belief is grounded firmly in its own brand of patriotism. To fail to grasp this fact is to underestimate the difficulty of the struggle against it. For these folks, the threatened take-down of a statue of Robert

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This beloved community

This beloved community

Paul and I spent Saturday in Rocky Mount at a celebration honoring Allan Gurganus for his inspiring life and literary career. You learn things around writers. I learned, for example, that the word “allow” has no exact equivalent in other languages. In other languages you’ll find the equivalent of “let” or “permit” or “grant,” but “allow” has a special quality, a connotation of generosity. To be allowed to represent you, to

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New life for old Town Hall: share your ideas!

New life for old Town Hall: share your ideas!

Now that the IFC Community Kitchen has gained the zoning it needed from Carrboro, its move out of the old Chapel Hill Town Hall building will certainly happen over the course of the next few years. What will become of the empty building, which holds so much historic significance for the Town, not to mention occupying a prime downtown location? Since October, it has been my privilege to chair a committee to consider

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B-1 Band: Racial progress the Carolina way

B-1 Band: Racial progress the Carolina way

What a happy celebration on May 27, when two of the four living members of the Navy B-1 Band saw their illustrious careers recognized in a state historical marker on Franklin Street. In the marker’s typically laconic words, In May 1942 a group of musicians book U.S. Navy’s color barrier, enlisting at general rank. For the story of how it came to pass that a talented group of North Carolina

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Gap day

Gap day

On Thursday, I spent much of the day thinking about food–not so unusual, perhaps, for someone who eats. The course of my day, however, offered chances to really think about how food circulates in our community. I was left pondering gaps: gaps in access to nutritious meals, gaps in information and understanding, but also new opportunities to support our local food economy. First, I “helped” (rode along with) a volunteer with Chapel Hill-Carrboro Meals on Wheels

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Rendering accountability

Rendering accountability

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send

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Meet Thein Oo, and #MeetDowntown.

Meet Thein Oo, and #MeetDowntown.

Like thousands of others, Thein Oo fled Burma to the safety of a refugee camp in Thailand. There he met the woman he would marry, Lweh Eh Paw, and, like so many others, they found a warm welcome here. Thein has been working at UNC-Chapel Hill as a housekeeper for four years, recently promoted to a team leader. They have two children, a five-year-old and a one-year old. The rent on their Carrboro

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New Mexico solstice as a way to see time

New Mexico solstice as a way to see time

The first thing that occurred to me, driving my family toward Santa Fe across a vast landscape, rocky and rose-colored and inhospitable to vegetation, was that living out here must make you consider, at least periodically, the smallness of your own life, as measured against geological time. Perhaps you get inured to it. I would hope not. No place more sharply evokes this sense of smallness amidst vastness than the Rio

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The art of empathy

The art of empathy

In The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit offers a brilliant discussion of empathy in the course of a discussion of leprosy, of the peculiar nature of the disease. Leprosy is a disease of the nerves. It strangles nerves, kills off feeling, and what you cannot feel you cannot take care of: not the disease but the patient does the damage. You begin nicking, burning, bruising, abrading, and otherwise wearing out your fingers, toes, feet, hands,

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Falling into the Arts in Chapel Hill

Falling into the Arts in Chapel Hill

Looks like it’s going to be great weather for this Sunday’s Festifall on West Franklin Street–Chapel Hill’s 44th annual arts festival. More than 100 juried artists will be there, along with live performances and interactive offerings, as well as musicians, comedy, dance, and magic. For the first time, too, music presented on an outdoor stage by Local 506, emceed by local recording artist/actor/improviser Josh Rowsey. And for the hungry, food

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