HOPE for community gardens

HOPE for community gardens

In 2009, the Homeless Outreach Poverty Education arm of the UNC Campus Y founded HOPE Gardens, a community garden on land owned by the Town of Chapel Hill. In partnership with Active Living By Design and the town’s Department of Parks and Recreation, HOPE got into the business of community gardening and urban farming. Initially envisioned as a transitional employment center for homeless people, as well as a source of

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Local law enforcement responds to Ferguson

Local law enforcement responds to Ferguson

The tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri have brought into sharp relief a subject not unknown, but rather lingering at the edge of our collective consciousness: “the militarization of policing.” Sarah Stillman’s essay in The New Yorker and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay in The Atlantic are a couple of thoughtful, provocative responses. When Coates writes that Black people are not above calling the police—but often we do so fully understanding that we are

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DHIC: Down, but not out.

DHIC: Down, but not out.

Last week brought news that DHIC‘s application for low-income housing tax credit funding for a project in Chapel Hill was denied. Although this is terribly disappointing, it in no way dampens my enthusiasm for the project or my interest in seeing it through to another application next year. The application was rejected because DHIC’s own commitment of $300,000–itself a tremendous vote of confidence in the project–was not properly documented. While the mistake is

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Evicting the New Jim Crow

Evicting the New Jim Crow

Say a high school student does something extremely dumb. She calls in a false bomb threat. Naturally, threatening a public building is quite illegal. She is arrested on a felony charge. But she is contrite and cooperative. She completes a diversionary juvenile justice program. Case dismissed. Three and a half years later she applies for public housing. A crim check turns up the charge, and she is denied. What are her alternatives? If she

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The Activist’s Daughter

The Activist’s Daughter

Greetings from on the road. Paul and I are en route to East Texas, via Nashville and the Mississippi Delta. We started out in Asheville, where we attended the North Carolina Writers Conference. This year’s honoree was Kathryn Stripling Byer, a wonderful poet and former poet laureate of North Carolina. On a panel discussion that took up the theme of the global dimensions of southern literature, I was so taken

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Homelessness and human rights: alternatives to criminalization

Homelessness and human rights: alternatives to criminalization

According to a study published last week by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, the criminalization of activities like sleeping, eating, sitting, or begging in public spaces is on the upswing in cities across the country. Even serving food to homeless people in public spaces is being targeted–as we know from recent events at Moore Square in Raleigh. Reporting on 187 cities that it tracked for five years, the

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“I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not.”

“I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not.”

Elizabeth Alexander, the poet, ponders a single sentence from W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk (1903) as she talks about his life and work in a recent episode of “On Being,” with Krista Tippett. Note first, she points out, that it’s in iambic pentameter. Du Bois is saying to Shakespeare, look: I can do what you do. I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. It is a brilliant stroke–Robert

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Reading the Declaration “In Defense of Equality”

Reading the Declaration “In Defense of Equality”

My reading for this July 4 weekend is Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence In Defense of Equality, a welcome contribution to our understanding of our founding document by Danielle Allen, a MacArthur genius and a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton.  With strategies of close reading and recovery of draft work and historical context, Allen argues that within the Declaration, the concepts of

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Habitat Orange County: 30 years strong

Habitat Orange County: 30 years strong

The ache for a home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. –Maya Angelou This year, Habitat for Humanity of Orange County celebrates 30 years of making the dream of home ownership possible for people for whom it would otherwise be out of reach. It was an honor to join some 300 supporters on Saturday at a celebratory

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Housing First in Orange County

Housing First in Orange County

Last week brought news that the national 100,000 Homes campaign has met its ambitious goal of permanently housing 100,000 of our most vulnerable individuals and families. The New York Times noted this milestone’s significance: “It means that many American cities are currently on track to end chronic and veteran homelessness by the end of the decade or earlier.” The 100,000 Homes campaign takes on chronic homelessness with a strategy called

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