Sunday, October 28, 2007

Joe Herzenberg

I don't know if Joe recognized me this afternoon in his hospital bed as I held his hand and told him to rest peacefully, his friends were there with him. I was there with Kathie Young as well as Mark Chilton, Mike Nelson, Mark Kleinschmidt, Lenny Rogoff, a few others I didn't know, as we all held hands as rabbi Jennifer Feldman offered prayers for the dying in Hebrew and in English. Joe died at about 6:15 this evening.

Joe was such a friend and was so inspirational to so many of us. The last time I talked to him, it was about the marker for Peace and Justice Plaza. I asked him what he thought a good date would be to celebrate the installation of the marker. He thought that Easter Week would be as good as any. During Easter Week 1964, some civil rights protesters, trying to persuade the town council to pass a public accommodations ordinance, staged a fast there at the base of the flagpole.

I hope we can have that celebration next year in Joe's memory.

UPDATE 10/29: Thanks to Mark Chilton for posting this obituary.

UPDATE 10/30: N&O's obituary.

UPDATE 10/31: A moving tribute from historian and blogger Ralph Luker.

Friday, October 26, 2007

"It Takes a Candidate."

Last night the Carolina Women's Center sponsored a great talk by Jennifer Lawless, professor of political science at Brown and a recent candidate in a Democratic primary for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Rhode Island. Mixing reports from her own unsuccessful (but energetic!) run for office with conclusions gained from researching some 4,000 men and women eligible for public office around the country, she argued persuasively that although women candidates do not face substantial barriers in terms of fundraising and support once they make the decision to run for office, the thinking patterns behind the decision to run are very different for women than they are for men. Given a man and a woman of equal qualifications, the woman is likely to say she is not qualified--or not yet--whereas the man is ready to jump in. Even men with much lesser qualifications are likely to downplay the importance prior experience, claiming that "vision" and "passion" are more important.

I had the privilege of introducing Dr. Lawless as she spoke from her book It Takes A Candidate: Why Women Don't Run for Public Office.

Project Homeless Connect was a great success.

Thanks, thanks to everybody, especially organizer Jamie Rohe, who worked so hard to make yesterday's first Orange County Project Homeless Connect a great success! By the end of the day, 100 people had received services. There were about 150 volunteers. Clearly this community has the will and the energy to commit its resources to ending and preventing homelessness.

We were honored to have Philip Mangano, the inspirational head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, lead us off with encouraging words. Martha Are of the state Department of Health and Human Services, homelessness coordinator for the state, was also on hand.

But the truly honored guests were the folks we had the privilege to serve.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Dry as dust

Droughts sneak up on you. It's hard to describe how it makes you feel to go for so long without rain. You might never think about it, but it can't be denied or avoided. With every bit as disastrous a potential as a hurricane, still as long as you aren't paying attention to the dead dogwoods and the parched and withering shrubs you can pretty much ignore it. That is, as long as you have water in the faucet.

As of now, according to the update Ed Kirwin of OWASA gave the Town Council last night, our water supply is 50 percent full, or 50 percent empty. Kirwin prefers to think of it as 50 percent full. He shared some very interesting charts. He is certain we will "manage" this drought the way we did in 2002. Still there is cause for grave concern.

We're into Stage 2 restrictions on water use. We're talking about ways to fit or retrofit our homes with systems to recapture waste water, rain water, rigging things up every which way to keep from draining our lakes of precious drinking water.

The third world has been dealing with water management issues for awhile now. What's happening in our part of the world is, by comparison, a wake-up call. It's not like the fires in southern California, but it's just as alarming.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Hard landing for Flying Burrito

Paul noticed it said "closed for renovations" yet there didn't look like any activity was going on. He was worried. He was right. Phil Campbell--the man who was the Flying Burrito--has sold the restaurant.

What will our lives be like without the Flying Burrito? The story says it will come back under new ownership. But it won't be the same. Phil had recently opened another restaurant up in Hillsborough, the Flying Fish. It was trademark Phil, excellent seafood prepared in his unique style. Last time we went there, it was the same restaurant . . . only new ownership and a different name! It was not the same at all.

I could tell the story of my 20 years in Chapel Hill through Burrito meals: hot dates over hot food; watching the first Gulf War unfold on TV in the bar; meals with a toddler knowing it was a place where screaming is OK; graduate school get-togethers; hot food eating contests with Paul's more macho crowd; the place where a mother could explain to her daughter how to root for "our Tar Heels"; the place where father hands down to son the lore of rock and roll; the reliable alternative for dinner when you're too busy to cook (thinking you'll get the cheap burrito but splurging for the seafood special). And beyond that, conversations with Phil, who cares about food and cares even more about people.

What a shock and a loss for Chapel Hill. Not even a chance for a last meal and a farewell toast! Whatever you're doing next, Phil, we wish you well.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

On choosing not to know

Listen as our friend (and senior producer of WUNC's "The State of Things") Susan Davis explains her choice not to undergo a certain genetic test. Do you think she made the right decision?

Monday, October 15, 2007

American Inquisition

Congratulations to Eric Muller on the publication of his new book on the subject of the Japanese American internment.

Leaded lips

How astonishing to learn that some lipsticks contain lead!

I'm sticking with Burt's Bees.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Thomas Ruffin: eyewitness to history

While searching in the Southern Historical Collection for something else, I came across a fascinating letter from Supreme Court Judge Thomas Ruffin to his family, an eyewitness account of the fire that destroyed the North Carolina Capitol building in 1831. So urgent was the occasion that he didn't date the letter with the date, but with the time of day (9 a.m.). Realizing that the building was going to be completely destroyed, happy that by valiant efforts the public records were removed before it was too late, he was most distressed about the certain loss of the marble statue of George Washington: "There is no man alive, who can replace it!"

The state of North Carolina had commissioned this impressive statue by the Italian sculptor Antonio Canova in 1815. It was not replaced until 1970, when a duplicate was placed in the rotunda of the rebuilt Capitol. Meanwhile in 1857, a bronze statue of Washington, from a mold of the statue by Jean-Antione Houdon that stands in the rotunda of Virginia's capitol, was erected on Union Square. It was the first statue placed on the grounds of the North Carolina capitol.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

History, not in black and white.

Charles B. Aycock, venerated as North Carolina's "education governor," was among the state leaders who engineered the Wilmington coup of 1898, ushering in white supremacy for a new century.

Over at ProfsLawBlog, guest blogger Eric Muller has some interesting thoughts about how ("if at all") we ought to honor such a "complex" historical figure.

UPDATE: Responses to the News & Observer article to which Eric was responding.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Fallingwater in 3-D

Via Greenespace reader Justin Watt, a most amazing computer-animated video, etc. of the construction of Fallingwater from the ground up.


Friday, October 05, 2007

Seeking volunteers for Project Homeless Connect

On Thursday, October 25, Project Homeless Connect will take place at the Hargraves Center. This exciting event is sponsored by the Project to End Homelessness in Orange County. Similar events in Wake and Durham County will take place the same day.

Project Homeless Connect is not an "information fair." It is a time and a place where people who are homeless or at risk of being homeless can get "connected"--right then and there--to services they need: housing and employment assistance; health and dental care; counseling for mental health, developmental disabilities, and substance abuse; Social Security assistance; and more.

The event is supported by grants from the Triangle United Way and the Stroud Roses Foundation, as well as by the Town of Chapel Hill, which, in addition to donating the Hargraves space, is allowing town employees to take paid time off to volunteer on the 25th. My hope is that its success will be a model for new ways in which we can serve the homeless year-round.

Jamie Rohe is heading up the project, bringing to it tremendous energy and dedication. Now is the time when she needs folks to volunteer. I'm passing on the following from Jamie:

Volunteers Needed to Assist Homeless

Volunteers are needed at Project Homeless Connect Orange County, a one-day, one-stop center to be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, to provide homeless people with a broad range of services including housing, employment, health, dental and mental health care, social service benefits, disability and veterans’ benefits, legal services, meals, and personal care (haircuts and foot care).

Organizers anticipate serving more than 150 homeless people at the Orange County event, with the help of hundreds of volunteers. The event will be held at the Hargraves Community Center, 216 N. Roberson St.

Volunteers are needed to escort homeless guests through the event, serve as greeters, conduct intake and exit interviews, serve as parking attendants, direct foot traffic, and set up before and clean up after the event.

If you are interested in participating or would like to learn more about the event, please contact Meredith Costa, or (919) 923-2559.

Please consider donating an hour or two of your time to this worthy event.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Sad anniversary

Two years ago today, a young Chapel Hill woman took her own life not far from our house, over in Jones Park.

Her family is inviting people to drop by the park any time today. Here is their invitation.

Please join us for a celebration of Chelsea Huff's life on Tuesday, October 2nd, the second anniversary of Chelsea's death.

We are not planning a group celebration because it is so difficult to find a time when we can all come together. So, we will set up a small memorial for Chelsea by Morgan Creek in Jones Park. You can visit anytime during the day or evening.

Chelsea was very proud of her Native American heritage so we are honoring her Cherokee spirit this year. Native Americans believe that baskets serve as a link between the material and the spirit world, a passageway by which the two worlds become one. We are creating a basket for Chelsea this year, weaving in some of her favorite things as well as photographs of her. Similar to the Day of the Dead ceremonies in Mexico, we hope she will be lured to the park and join us in the celebration. We will have slips of paper if you would like to write something to Chelsea's spirit to be placed in the basket. If you cannot come to the park, you could email your thoughts and we will place them in the basket.

We understand if you are not able to visit the park on Tuesday. We ask that, instead, you light a candle for Chelsea to honor her wonderful life.

Thank you,

Tim, Hjordis, Whitney, Matt and Booda

Directions to Jones Park:

If you are on South Columbia Street, leaving UNC, turn left at Merritt's Grill, onto Purefoy. If you are on South Columbia Street, going to UNC, after you go over Hwy 54, turn right at Merritt's Grill onto Purefoy. Once on Purefoy, take a left then take a right at the entrance of Jones Park. If you walk into the park, you will come to a clearing. Originally there was an observation deck, which is where Chelsea died. That deck has been removed so we will set up a small memorial where it used to stand by Morgan Creek.