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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Our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s: an ethic of care

Our brother’s keeper, and our sister’s: an ethic of care

In the fall of 2004, several hundred people came together to participate in a roundtable discussion on homelessness in Orange County, and out of this discussion the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness was born. In a video portrait of homelessness in Orange County commissioned for that meeting, one young man’s comments stood out, and they’ve stayed with me. He pronounced himself “homeless by choice”: he had opted out of

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“Everything is melting into shopping.”

“Everything is melting into shopping.”

Nothing says “Fourth of July Weekend” like curling up indoors with a good book. Two years ago I was captivated by Danielle Allen’s tour de force Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence In Defense of Democracy, a brilliant reading that demonstrates that the concept of equality is as essential to its claims as the concept of freedom. I found it inspired and inspiring. (OK, last year I was

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Freedom House’s many rooms

Freedom House’s many rooms

Freedom House Recovery Center, based in Chapel Hill, is the only residential detox facility in Orange County and this side of the Triangle. If you’ve heard of Freedom House, chances are that’s why. But since its founding in 1974 the world has changed, and so has Freedom House. Serving eight counties now, it offers comprehensive mental health services for children, adolescents, adults, and families suffering from a broad range of behavioral issues, as well as

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Bonds and bridges

Bonds and bridges

Last week I had the pleasure of attending lectures at UNC by two of my intellectual heroes: Danielle Allen (previously, and previously) and Mindy Thompson Fullilove (ditto). For an audience of UNC professors, Professor Allen took up the daunting subject of “reconciling free speech and social equality on college campuses.” A democratic theorist and a classicist by training, Allen draws from deep wells to support her advocacy for democracy as both a

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We are not this, but we’ve been here before.

We are not this, but we’ve been here before.

The pushback to H.B. 2 is unsurprising in some ways (quick denunciations from Carrboro and Chapel Hill) and remarkable in others. From San Francisco to New York to Seattle, the boycotts are adding up. More than 80 Silicon Valley executives have called for the law’s repeal. The White House minced no words: “[W]e are concerned about the potential harmful impact of this law, especially on transgender youth, and believe it is mean-spirited

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Blending the arts and policy in Chapel Hill: “Keep the whole city in mind.”

Blending the arts and policy in Chapel Hill: “Keep the whole city in mind.”

The Chapel Hill Public Arts Commission is drafting an Arts Plan to guide the Town’s decisions in arts planning and funding for the next five years. The second of three community input sessions took place this past Saturday at the Public Library. The third is scheduled for March 14, 5:30 to 7 p.m., at Flyleaf Books. The draft Plan is scheduled to come before the Town Council by June. If you haven’t

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Community resources for jail alternatives

Community resources for jail alternatives

This weekend the new Town Council spent valuable time outlining our visions for Chapel Hill over the next 10, 15, 20 or more years. One thing that surprised us is our common assumption that the Town will need to intensify its support of human services. In 2012, our Human Services Advisory Board commissioned a study to assess these needs. Leading the list were affordable housing, affordable health care, education and family resources, jobs and job training,

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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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