Carrboro Commons

An Apology

Posted on March 29th, 2007 in Uncategorized by Robert Matteson

The story in the March 7 edition of the Carrboro Commons, Patrolling in the Passenger Seat, by Nick Sotolongo, detailing a ride-along with Carrboro Police Officer Paul Reinas, contained some story elements that were fabricated. Academic disciplinary action has been taken, and the Commons apologizes to Officer Reinas, the Carrboro Police Department, the readers of the Commons, as well as to the readers of the Carrboro Citizen, which reprinted the story in their March 21 inaugural edition.

Jock Lauterer
Carrboro Commons Faculty Adviser

Robert Matteson
Co-Editor

Community paper takes me back to my routes

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Uncategorized by jock

DEAR CARRBORO…

By Jock Lauterer
Carrboro Commons Adviser

The once and future paperboy at work last week.
(Photo courtesy of Kirk Ross, of the Carrboro Citizen)

As veteran Chapel Hill journalist Roland Giduz reminded me last week, I began my newspaper career by hawking his short-lived but zesty Chapel Hill News Leader around town at the tender age of 8. (The irony is, the News Leader was published out of the present location of Surplus Sid’s, right there in Carrboro!)

Beginning to grow.

As I grew older and stronger, able to tote more papers, so grew my paper route. By the time I “retired” at age 15, I had three paper routes – prompting legendary Chapel Hill Weekly editor Jim Shumaker to quip memorably, “Jock, you’re making more money than my reporters!” (Which was probably truer than I suspected at the time.)

But that would not be the end of my “newsboy” days. By my 20s I had become a co-founding editor-publisher of a pair of community newspaper in Western North Carolina. But don’t think for a minute I had turned into what my mama used to call Mr. Big Britches.

No, for as any small-town editor/publisher knows, when Aunt Sadie calls up and says she didn’t get “her paper,” you’re still a paperboy, regardless of your Rotary Club status in town.

Back to the past.

Not long ago, as I hit AARP age status, I began to get this premonition that I’d be delivering newspapers again some day. But it wasn’t until last week that I “returned to my routes,” as it were.

I’m gonna lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Robert “Bubba” Dickson of Carrboro, who, along with editor Kirk Ross, last week launched the Citizen, a new community newspaper for Carrboro.

Since I’m all about community newspapers, I had to be there. I couldn’t stand NOT witnessing just a little of the insanity of a start-up; moth to the flame, I had to get my fix of that crazy energy. So I stopped by the Carrboro Citizen office at 309 Weaver Street last Thursday, expecting to just take photos of the happy publisher returning with his inaugural run of papers. I even thought it would be cool to accompany Dickson around town as he made his first deliveries.

Sure enough, when Bubba arrived from the printers, loaded with papers and grins, it was a treat to watch the high-fives and hugs, the happy exclamations of joy and relief that Vol. 1 No. 1 was finally out, by golly, after several sleepless nights. I know that feeling so well, and I count myself fortunate to have been there last Thursday to witness the party.

Delivery boy, again.

But then it was time to get down to the practicality of delivering the papers. Kirk was carrying bundles here; Bubba was heading out there. And it became instantly clear to me how I could best help this fledgling start-up: I would deliver papers.

It’s important to know that the Citizen has a fairly unique home delivery vision. If you want free home delivery, you have to ask for it. (Carrborocitizen.com and click on the top right saffron box.) This delivery model may strike some as bizarre, but it fits with Bubba and Kirk’s vision of the Citizen being a “sustainable community paper,” which is to say, one that reflects the environmentally conscious nature of Carrboro. So, with the Citizen there will be no “driveway rot.”

That’s all well and good, but who’s gonna figure out where those first 20 readers live? And who’s gonna deliver those puppies?

Moi, that’s who, I decided, rolling up my sleeves and wrapping newspapers with rubber bands for the first time in oh, say, 30 years. I know it may sound sick, but I do dearly love the scent and feel of good old honest printers ink on my fingers.

“Betcha never thought you’d be delivering newspapers,” kidded James Harris when I stopped by the Town Hall with a stack of Citizens under my arm. Nor did I expect I’d get help from the affable director of economic and community development, who along with Drew Cummings, assistant to the town manager, helped me track down unknown street names.

And into those streets I went, wishing I were aboard a Schwinn instead of a Honda, reminded of how rich a community’s life is when witnessed from the unique perspective of a paperboy quietly plying the neighborhoods of his community. Vignettes of Carrboro flashed before me at every turn:

Kids shooting hoops on Lynn Drive, young mothers out walking their toddlers in strollers along Hillsborough Road, women jogging confidently along Greensboro Street, school kids walking home along Shelton Street, a funky jazz band wailing on the Weaver Street Lawn, a couple working in their yard on Rainbow Drive. Everywhere the peaceful rhythm of a community winding down on a lovely spring afternoon.

Community love.

Maybe I should have been back in my office at the University. I’m sure there was some academic proceeding that I was missing. Perhaps I should have been doing some research on journalism, or writing a scholarly paper on the decline of the American newspaper industry.

No, I think I should have been delivering papers.

Farmers’ Market off to an excellent start

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Features by megcooke

By Meghan Cooke
Staff writer

Eddie Smith has sold his handmade pottery at the market for the past three years.
Commons Photos by Meghan Cooke

The Carrboro Farmers’ Market kicked off its 29th season Saturday, March 24, at the Carrboro Town Commons on West Main Street as local farmers and crafts people sold everything from fresh tomatoes to handmade cedar furniture.

Market Manager Sheila Neal said that Saturday’s market was the busiest she has ever seen it on an opening day. She said that on average the market receives about 2,000 visitors per Saturday. The market’s peak season in July will bring about 60 vendors to the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.

Such large numbers do not detract from the friendly community atmosphere. Melanie Raskin, a market volunteer from Carrboro, said she felt as if she could pick right up on conversations with market-goers she had last seen in December, when the last market season ended.

It is this sense of community that brings many people back to the market each year.
Joan Holeman, who sells tomatoes, lettuce, flowers and herbs from Flat River Nursery and Farm in Timberlake, N.C., said that she sees many repeat customers since she became a regular vendor 15 years ago.

“But I also see a lot of new people every year,” Holeman said.

Eddie Smith, who began his third year at the market Saturday, sold his homemade pottery. He said that there are people he sees every Saturday, who he calls the “constitutionals.” He contributes the market’s success to the quality of the goods available.

“If you compare it to what you can get at the store, the eggs taste better, the chicken tastes better; everything tastes better,” Smith said.

So what’s new this year about the market?

Lori Febbo says she and her sons are regulars at the Carrboro Farmer’s Market.

“T-shirts!” said Raskin as she displayed the pale green shirts with the Carrboro Farmers’ Market logo.

Raskin also said that she saw some produce at Saturday’s opening she had not seen in previous years this early in the season, including strawberries.

Neal said that there are plans to begin using a wireless system that would allow customers to swipe their debit or credit cards to pay for market goods just like they would in a typical grocery store. There are also plans to participate in Electronic Benefit Transfer, a system allowing people eligible for food stamp or cash benefits to buy products from the market.

“It’s a great way to make food more available to all of our community,” Neal said.

Creating a sense of community is one of the major goals of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market. All of the vendors at the market live and produce their goods within 50 miles of Carrboro, Neal said.

“It’s a passion for most of the people here,” Smith said referring to all of the local crafts people and farmers who bring their products to market each week.

It must be that same passion that keeps Ruth Sanford in her kitchen from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in preparation for the Carrboro Farmers’ Market.

Sanford, who has been living in Carrboro for about 40 years, brings homemade pies to sell at the market. Her flavors include pecan, cherry, coconut, apple, sweet potato and even sweet potato pecan pies.

The pies completely cover a small table and plenty more lie stacked in the truck of her car, but they disappear quickly.

“People are so friendly and they get fresh, good stuff,” Sanford said.

Lori Febbo, a Chapel Hill resident, comes to the market on a regular basis to buy vegetables for her 4-year-old son’s garden, but said she usually leaves with quite a few extra items.

“We have a lot of favorite things here,” she said and laughed as she balanced her infant, flowers and preserves.

“It’s a nice way for the community to come together,” she said.

The Carrboro Farmers’ Market will be held every Saturday from 7 a.m. to noon until Dec. 22. Starting on April 11 and running until Oct. 17, the market will also be open on Wednesdays from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. And beginning on May 3, the Southern Village Farmer’s Market will open on Market Street in Chapel Hill from 4 to 7 p.m. every Thursday until Aug. 30.

Cliff’s Meat Market a cut above the rest

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Features by knpope

By Liz Thomas and Kristen Pope

Cliff Collins, owner of Cliff’s Meat Market.
Commons Photos by Liz Thomas

Cliff’s Meat Market has been a Carrboro staple for 34 years, but Cliff Collins’ meat marketing journey started way before his store opened.

Located at 100 West Main St., Cliff’s is in the heart of town, just walking distance from the Carrboro Century Center and Weaver Street Market. If Carrboro were a boneless steak, Cliff’s would be the juicy pink center.

Cliff greets everyone who walks into his store, remembering familiar names and faces. And new customers are likely to find a connection with Cliff because he is so involved in the town of Carrboro.

To Cliff, hospitality is the central part of his business. As a one of nine children, he is all about personal relationships. He opens the door for customers, shaking their hands and asking about their days.

Cliff calls the chance to meet new people a “blessing from God” and the reason he stays in the meat business.

“I could do other things and make more money,” he said.

But he knows his calling is in the meat market.

Cliff first came to Carrboro after flunking English at Pittsboro High School. Since he had to take summer school in the morning, his only option for a night job was pumping gas in Carrboro.

“This one guy who I pumped gas for said, ‘I want you to come work for me,’” Cliff said. “I had hair like Elvis Presley’s. I guess I looked sort of like a redneck, but he hired me anyway.”

That man was the owner of Andrews-Riggsbee grocery store, located on Main Street near where The Speakeasy is today.

When school started in the fall, Cliff, a senior in high school then, had to beg his guidance counselor for permission to do work-study. Five years later, Cliff was meat manager and people knew him by name, Cliff said.

“It was a decent salary, I got to meet new people and was able to eat good,” he said.

He attended college for one year at Central Carolina Community College to study industrial maintenance, but he was doing so well bringing home the bacon in the store that he realized his future was working with people, not studying textbooks.

Cliff prepares cutlets for a client’s dog’s birthday.

Cliff wanted to open his own meat market, and bought Hardee’s Grocery, which was at the same location as his store today, by selling his tractor, his pick-up truck and his motorcycle to make the first payment.

When deciding what to name his store, he realized his greatest asset was the fact that his customers trusted his name. At the risk of sounding conceited, he settled on simply naming the store Cliff’s Meat Market, he said.

Cliff said he grew up in a time when he saw meat vendors cheat their customers by aiming at profit instead of providing quality goods. He says he emphasizes honesty in his dealings with people, because his repeat customers are the basis of his business.

He remembers the first customer he called his “own”, a woman who he met while managing the meat market at Andrews-Riggsbee. She had a reputation for being a particular and difficult customer, Cliff said, but due to Cliff’s sociable personality, he looked forward to waiting on her.

“Now I’m waiting on her grandchildren,” Cliff said.

Cliff’s niece, Jerri Roberson, works full-time behind the cash register, and Cliff makes a point to hire bilingual staff to accommodate Carrboro’s growing Hispanic population, he said.

Working in the meat business since his teenage years, Cliff continues to watch the town grow and develop. He said his customers vary from “people walking the street to Roy Williams to William Friday.” He even remembers when John Edwards used to come into the store, Cliff said.

Cliff has deep connections with the community. He lets friends borrow his truck to transport meat for their church cookout, shares staff with fellow local business-owners and has a fiery opinion about the preacher who sold the church that is now the Carrboro Century Center.

Dabbling in real estate on the side, Cliff rents out apartments next to the store. He puts his maintenance schooling to work by remodeling and making improvements to his store.

With changes in the meat industry and in the culture of the town, Cliff offers what the customers want. He sells more organic meat now and even fills requests for organic dog cutlets, he said. Like the strong bamboo skewer holding together the medley of meat and vegetables, Cliff’s offer a community connection that even vegetarians can appreciate.

Even with Carrboro’s changing flavor, the friendly faces and down-home atmosphere make Cliff’s a Grade A staple of the town. Having marinated for 34 years, Cliff’s Meat Market adds a spice to the delicious environment of Carrboro.

For more information, check out http://www.cliffsmeat.qpg.com/.

Carrboro residents shouldn’t forget about alternatives…

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Editorials/columns by Robert Matteson

By Robert Matteson
Co-Editor

The globe is still warming.
We’re still in Iraq.
But what we’re really ticked off about is signage.

The posting of the “Good Neighbor Rules” signs by Carr Mill Mall was met with resistance because of their placement and wording. The signs quickly were removed. The explanation posted on Weaver Street Market’s Web site stated, “The error resulted when the wrong file was sent to the sign maker. When the error was discovered, Carr Mill immediately arranged to take down the signs and have the wording changed.”

[ orangepolitics.org has a good (if colorful) explanation of differences between the wording here ]

In October, Mayor Mark Chilton and Alderman Dan Coleman met with Nathan Milian, and Paul Greenberg, manager and general partner of Carr Mill Mall, respectively. They worked to resolve the issue and set up guidelines for the space’s use. The group also met with Bruce Thomas. Last we heard, Bruce is dancing again.

The rules they came up with aren’t that unreasonable. Here is Weaver Street Market’s open space policy direct from its Web site:

1. Carr Mill Mall buildings, lawn and parking lots are for the use of customers while shopping and dining, for tenants and their invited guests, and for those attending public events. Event attendees must use satellite parking.
2. Solicitation and distribution of literature or handbills is prohibited except as specifically authorized as part of a Weaver Street Market event.*
3. Loitering is prohibited.
4. Persons panhandling, exhibiting drunken behavior or substance abuse, sleeping on benches, disturbing the peace or acting in a way that is threatening to persons or property will be evicted and subject to trespass.
5. Unauthorized performances and unauthorized large or publicly advertised gatherings are prohibited. “Performance” means any activity intending to attract or having the effect of attracting a crowd of spectators, or that’s volume disturbs others. Performances need to have the advance written permission of Carr Mill Mall.
6. Dogs must be well-behaved (no barking at or sniffing around customers), leashed, attended at all times, not relieve themselves on the property (accidents should be promptly cleaned up after) and watered with disposable bowls.
7. Stay out of all trees, garden areas and the pond. The edge of the pond can be used for seating but not for walking or running. Do not throw anything in the pond.
8. Alcoholic beverages can be consumed only in eating areas and not near the entrance to the offices or the edge of the lawn.
9. Table and chairs should remain in the designated dining areas.
10. No smoking is permitted anywhere on the premises except in specifically authorized smoking areas at the edge of the lawn.
11. Sidewalks must be kept clear for passage at all times.

Some of the points could be debated, such as what exactly would constitute loitering, but it’s one of those “in the spirit of the rule” situations. We’re all adults here. If there weren’t so many cigarette butts and beer bottles lying around, would the signs even be up?

The mentality in Carrboro is that the Weaver Street lawn belongs to the community and that people should be able to use it as they please. There’s certainly some validity to that mentality — Weaver Street Market is a co-op. According to its Web site, its second principle is democratic member control.

However, it’s not direct control. Representatives are elected who are beholden to the membership. Sort of like state government, only less bureaucracy and more organic food.
And like state government, if you disagree with it, the most effective method of change is not printing T-shirts. Speak with your representatives by telephone, or show up at their office and knock politely.

The Carrboro mentality is a little too quick to arm itself.

We are a small community, and rash, outspoken behavior doesn’t make good neighbors any better. There are alternatives available.

Just down the street, there’s a lovely place called the Carrboro Town Commons. Most of the time, it’s empty.

According to section 7D of its use policy, “No reservation shall be required for spontaneous gatherings.” A full version of the policy is available at http://www.ci.carrboro.nc.us/Townwide/Documents/TownCommonsUsePolicy.pdf.

It’s a nice spot — there’s a playground for the kids and plenty of open space for the critters to stretch their legs. The best part — we’re all paying customers there, all the time, regardless of where we bought our herbal tea and organic blueberry muffin that morning. That’s the beauty of taxes.

There are better things to get twisted into knots about. We all want to protect the sanctity of our favorite places, but sometimes the best thing to do is take a step back and breathe.
If Weaver Street Market’s new policy really cooks your goose, then talk to one of the member representatives.

And in the meantime, go check out the Town Commons — the gazebo is pretty neat.

Dancers have a ball

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Features by gsara

By Sara Gregory
Staff writer

Husband and wife John and Nancy McIlwee promenade around the Carrboro Century Center at the 5th Annual Victorian Ball on March 24.
Commons Photos by Sara Gregory

Gayle Robinson walked toward Chris Imershein during intermission to ask for his hand in the next dance.

He said yes, and she penciled his name on her dance card.

“You’re a brave man to schottische with me,” she said.

When the music started, Robinson and Imershein danced the schottische, a partnered country dance similar to the polka, at the 5th Annual Victorian Ball held at the Carrboro Century Center March 24.

Hosted each year by Imershein’s Triangle Vintage Dance, the annual ball is a showcase for Victorian dance – dances such as the waltz, the polka, the grand march and the schottische that have grown back in favor more than 100 years after their heyday.

Throughout the night women in corsets, white gloves and full dresses took dances from elegant men in tuxedos and tails – and from other women.

“Ladies and ladies should feel free to dance together,” Imershein said. “Especially in the Civil War era, when the men were off fighting, you had ladies dance with ladies.”

Attendance at Saturday’s ball was representative of the range of individuals vintage dance attracts, Dawn Imershein, Chris’s wife and co-instructor, said.

“We have one student who’s 11, and then all the way up to people in their 60s,” she said.
Dawn said that dancers are attracted to vintage dance for a variety of reasons and that all have favorite dances.

“It really does depend on the person,” she said. “Some people find Victorian waltzes really hard, but once you get the hang of them, they can be a lot of fun.”

This was Robinson’s second Victorian Ball, and she said she enjoyed last year’s ball so much she decided to come back.

“I do swing dance, but I hadn’t done vintage dance before,” she said. “They’re easy dances to pick up if you have a sense of rhythm.”

Robinson’s favorite dance is the Victorian waltz.

“When it’s really done well, it’s beautiful,” she said.

Making the transition from other social dances to vintage dance is common, and, like Robinson, many at Saturday’s ball started with other forms of dance.

Dawn got her start in contra dancing, and she met Chris at lessons. She said when she saw him at swing dance lessons, she knew she had to get to know him.

“It was the kind of thing where I saw him doing both things and knew there was something,” she said.

Chris introduced her to vintage dance, and the two had been dating for a month when she helped him plan the first ball.

Now married, the Imershein’s have a three-month-old son whom they brought to Saturday’s ball. He spent the night watching from the sideline, just as Chris did when he was growing up.

“My mom used to bring me to dances all the time,” he said. “Mostly I’d just sit and read a book.”

Chris said he didn’t really begin to appreciate vintage dance until his classmates at Duke convinced him to take lessons.

Ball host and dance instructor Chris Imershein gives directions to dance the Bohemian National Polka.

“They kind of dragged me along,” Chris said. “But I ended up enjoying myself and took other classes.”

When he isn’t dancing, Chris mans the microphone, calling out steps to the dancers.

As the ball’s host, Chris is responsible for ensuring the night runs smoothly, a night he’s been planning for since last year’s ball.

With Dawn, Chris heads Triangle Vintage Dance. He started the group six years ago after moving from Connecticut, where he danced professionally with a traveling vintage-dance troupe.

When he moved back to the place he said he has always considered home, he couldn’t find a group to dance with.

Chris said that vintage dance has a following in the South, but that the biggest followings are in the Northeast and California. Chris credits Richard Powers, a dance instructor from Stanford University, for the latest wave of popularity.

“That is kind of where it started,” he said.

But back in North Carolina, Chris still wanted to dance.

“So he just said, ‘Well, I’ll have to start my own now,’” Dawn said.

In its six years, Dawn said Triangle Vintage Dance has grown into core group of about 20 dancers, in addition to the many more who take classes at the group’s two studios.

“A lot of this just takes a core mass of interested people to get things done,” she said.

Triangle Vintage Dance offers a dance on the second Sunday of every month, with a beginner lesson for the first hour followed by Victorian, Ragtime and Swing dances.

They also offer weekly classes for beginning and intermediate dancers.

At the ball, Dawn moves through the room giving instructions. She joins a line to lead it in the Grand March, and later, she stands along the side, nodding her head while calling out instructions as the line of dancers spirals in a giant circle.

“Keep spiraling until you get to the center,” she yells. “Then you can stop spiraling.”

Skill level is as varied as participants’ favorite dances. Some couples floated effortlessly around the room, seemingly unaware of other couples struggling to keep pace.

Dawn said the group encourages both those familiar and unfamiliar with vintage dance to take part in the ball each year.

Sophomores Alex Gorham and Oliver Sherouse at Duke University said they found out about the Victorian ball after taking lessons from the Imershein’s before a Viennese ball held at the school in December.

Sherouse said the dances were not difficult to learn.

“It’s easy to pick up at a level you can have fun with,” he said.

The ball also attracted a following from outside the Carrboro area.

John and Nancy McIlwee, of Raleigh, brought friends Larry Blasco and Helen MacDonald, of Salisbury, Md., with them to the ball.

John said he loves Victorian dances like the Bohemian National Polka and the Spanish Waltz, but his favorite type of dance was Ragtime, the style in the early 20th century that boasts of such dances as the tango and the fox trot.

“The proximity of the dances, the music, the tempos – it’s much quicker and more upbeat,” he said.

John said an interest in vintage costumes led him and his wife to vintage dance lessons years ago.

Now the two are part of Chris and Dawn’s group.

“We’re very interested in the Victoriana time period,” John said. “The food, the dress – just everything about it. It’s all just so much fun.”

Market for ice cream thaws

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Features,Uncategorized by Elsa

By Elsa Hasenzahl
Staff writer

Natalie Archer, Junior at Chapel Hill High School enjoys a scoop of moosetracks flavor of ice cream with her friends outside Maple View Ice Cream on Saturday afternoon. “We go to the other one too, out in the country,” Archer said.
Commons Photos by Timothy Reese

The weather is getting warmer, and ice cream is back up for sale. Last Saturday, Maple View Ice Cream re-opened their doors. Located across from Weaver Street Market, the ice cream shop attracts many customers.

Chapel Hill High student Sara Nour, 18, has worked at Maple View Ice Cream for about a year and says that there has been a line out the door every evening since their re-opening.

“We’re happy the town is supporting us again,” said Nour.
According to Nour, they have been so busy that they even ran out of the coffee and almond joy flavors.

Customer Joanna Lauen enjoyed ice cream with her husband and daughter in Weaver Street Market, across the street from Maple View.

“We love the rocking chairs and atmosphere,” said Joanna. The Lauens have a tradition of getting ice cream in the evening after dinner.

David Burton got ice cream with his family, as well. He said they often go to the location in Hillsborough because of the sunset, but this location is more convenient.

Alison Shea serves up ice cream in Maple View Ice Cream on Saturday afternoon. A senior at Chapel Hill High School, Alison has worked at Maple View for over a year.

“Weaver Street being there makes it great,” Burton said. Their family enjoyed some of Maple View’s flavors: cherry pie, cookies and cream, and cookie dough.

Maple View Ice Cream has been in Carrboro since 2005 and is part of Maple View Farm on Dairyland Road just north of Chapel Hill.

The ice cream is made at the Maple View Farm, then brought over to each location. The Carrboro location sells meat products in addition to ice cream – an interesting combination.

UNC sophomore Jessica Geiss did not know they sold meat, but joked it is probably because she is a vegetarian.

“I wonder if their ice cream ever tastes like salami,” said Geiss.

“A lot of people laugh about it, but they do buy it. I hear the beef stew is pretty good,” said employee Allison Shea. Shea, 18, has also been working at Maple View for about a year.

“You get to work with a lot of different people and make them smile,” Shea said on the perks of working in an ice cream parlor. Nour said her favorite perk is the free ice cream.

Mischa Coleman, 3, thinks the ice cream is the best part too – especially vanilla and cinnamon.
Paula Michaels, who was with Mischa, commented, “Weaver Street is a regular haunt,” and jokingly she added, “so we come when we hear the cows calling.”

Cradle showcase benefits bands and cats

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in A&E by lzjordan

By Jordan Lawrence
Staff writer

David Smith and Benjamin Newguard of Chapel Hill play guitar with their band, The Epics, as part of the Mar. 18 Sunday Showcase.
Courtesy of Michael Sanford

Hailing from Carrboro, Delorean knows better than most area bands the magnitude of a chance to play the Cats Cradle stage.

“It gives you a feeling of accomplishment because of the fact that the Cat’s Cradle has a reputation for bringing in a lot of big name acts to the Chapel Hill area,” said Adam Satterwhite, drummer for the Carrboro band Delorean. “It’s like a status marker.”

Delorean got its shot to play at the legendary music venue on East Main Street as part of the monthly Sunday Showcase a few years ago. This Cat’s Cradle event, which takes place on its namesake day once a month, gives concert-goers the opportunity to see eight local bands for $2.

“It was started as an opportunity for local bands to play here at the Cat’s Cradle,” said Derek Powers, director of operations for the venue. “It is often times the only opportunity that some local bands will get to play here.”

The show, which was first held in 1997, starts at 4 p.m. and runs until midnight, giving each band 45 minutes on stage. The lineup for this month’s show on March 12 consisted of The Epics, With These Hands, Beloved, The Royal Sun, Red Star Movers, Places to Live, Sketchbook, as well as Delorean, which returned to the lineup.

Powers said that although attendance varies depending on what bands are performing, usually about 20 people come for the entire show, and 30 to 40 fans come for one band and then leave. The biggest crowed the music venue ever had was about 400.

The opportunity to play at Cat’s Cradle, which is renown for bringing in well-known acts such as Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard and TV on the Radio, is seen by local bands as a great chance to expose themselves to a wider audience.

Durham band, Red Star Movers, play the Sunday Showcase at Cats Cradle on Mar. 18.
Courtesy of Katie Fullington

“I personally think it’s one of the most influential clubs in North Carolina,” said Nick Wagner, guitarist and vocalist for a Greensboro act, The Royal Suns. “It almost creates a music scene just being there on its own.”

Lee Gunsel of a Durham band, Red Star Movers, said he was thrilled to take the Cat’s Cradle stage because he is from Durham and attended shows at the venue many times.

“Going there seeing shows for like four years, it was cool to be on the other side of the audience, to be on stage,” Gunsel said.

Some bands said they were surprised at how little pressure they felt while playing at Sunday Showcase.

“It’s a pretty relaxed environment; it’s not that nerve-racking,” said Benjamin Newgard of a Chapel Hill act, The Epics. “They have some great equipment.”

Besides affording a great opportunity to up-and-coming artists, Sunday Showcase provides an opportunity for Cat’s Cradle to give back to its community, Powers said. The proceeds from the event are given to the Carnivore Preservation Trust of Pittsboro, a halfway house for large cats such as leopards or jaguars that are abandoned by irresponsible owners.

“It costs a lot of money to run that facility,” Powers said. “That’s why we decided to give them the money from the Sunday Showcase.”

Curtis Armstead of the Sanford band, Places to Live, said that playing along side the different bands that are brought together for Sunday Showcase was one of the best parts of playing the gig.

“They have a good variety of bands,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll get to do it again at some point.”

A firm date and lineup have not been determined for next month’s Showcase.

For more information on Sunday Showcase and other Cat’s Cradle events, visit www.catscradle.com

More information on the bands who played this month can be found at the following Web Sites: Delorean at www.myspace.com/deloreanmusicinc, Red Star Movers at www.myspace.com/redstarmovers, The Royal Suns at www.myspace.com/theroyalsunpage, Places to Live at www.myspace.com/placestolive, The Epics at www.myspace.com/epicsrus and Sketchbook at www.myspace.com/sketchbookrocks..

Tutoring 101: One-On-One

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in School news by allisonp

By Allison Parker
Staff writer

Nicole Atwater, 10 years old, completes a writing assignment with her tutor.
Commons Photo by Allison Parker

Matthew Coplin, a 10-year-old fourth grader at McDougle Elementary School, says he wants to build things just like his father.

“My dad wants me to follow his dream,” he says. “I think I’ve got the building genes.”

Matthew looks up to his dad as his role model.

Suddenly, he busts out in a song about multiplication. “I have trouble memorizing my timetables,” he explains. “But I have cool rhymes that I use to make me learn them.”

He says tutoring allows him to learn from past mistakes. “I like to be tutored in writing because the tutors can help you spell words,” he says. “They tell you to read words, like, 100 times, so you can memorize them.”

Why does he like reading? “Reading is cool because you get hooked on the beginning,” he said. “If the book is magical or mysterious, you want to read more.”

Tutoring 101

After-school programs, student tutoring sessions and parent-volunteer programs are just a few of the tutoring options available throughout the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system to help students like Matthew.

“Through the Parent Teacher Association, parents can sign up to be a tutor,” said Kathie Guild, McDougle school counselor. “The recruits in the county’s district office also advertise in the retirement community and recruit retired teachers to tutor.”

Students of UNC-Chapel Hill are also doing their part to educate younger kids. Through an “Education In American Society” class taught by professor Gerald Unks, college students tutor at the county’s elementary schools for an hour twice a week. “The young kids really like the college students,” Guild said. “They work really well with the kids, and some, such as athletes, are recognized by the kids.”

Angela Alcala, a junior at UNC-CH from Charlotte and student in Unks’ class, said she enjoys the one-on-one interaction tutoring allows. “It’s interesting to watch the children develop, especially since I tutor the same child every week,” she said.

Eye on the prize

“What times what gives you 64? What two numbers?” asks fourth-grade teacher Diana Barefoot during her daily math lesson. About 15 hands shoot into the air as each child competed for her attention. Like with Matthew, multiplication seems to be a popular, sometimes troublesome, subject among elementary school students.

“I like math because I like doing multiplication problems,” says 9-year-old Brittney Gardinier. “When I grow up I want to be an eye doctor, so I want to do the best that I can in school.”

Reading is another one of her favorite activities. “I like reading different book series to see which I like the best,” she says. “Tutoring gives me good reading experience.”

High-stake testing

With the new rules of accountability in North Carolina, children that move from other areas sometimes struggle to keep up in the classroom, Guild said. After-school programs provide students with the help they need to stay on track.

Tutoring sessions held after school are taught by teachers. “The program is meant to support kids that have a hard time with the End-of-Grade Test in May,” Guild said.

She said the after-school program focuses on students who are caught in the achievement gap. “English as a Second Language students and students with learning disabilities have the hardest time.”

Guild said tutoring helps students grasp the material necessary for them to pass the tests. “Kids that move around from school to school and are in transition need continual exposure to the material,” she said.

Students Document Black Communities

Posted on March 28th, 2007 in Features,School news by smithjs

Note: This is a follow-up to a previous story about Because We’re Still Here (and Moving).

By Justin Smith
Staff Writer

East Chapel Hill High School Senior Thomas Moore, UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore Jessica Ra and UNC-CH freshman Maura Bladiga walk through Chapel Hill’s Northside community on their way to conduct an interview for Because We’re Still (and Moving).
Commons Photos by Justin Smith

The three students set out on foot into Chapel Hill’s Northside community armed with a notebook, a digital audio recorder and a disposable 35mm camera. They have everything they need to conduct a field interview – almost everything.

“Do you know where Caldwell Street is,” asks UNC-Chapel Hill freshman Maura Baldiga.
UNC-CH sophomore Jessica Ra responds, “I have no idea.”

Navigating through sometimes unfamiliar neighborhoods is just part of the challenge for students participating in Because We’re Here Still (and Moving), a project in which area high school students team up with UNC-Chapel Hill sociology students to document Northside and Pine Knolls, two of Chapel Hill’s historically black communities.

Ra uses her cell phone to call the interviewee to ask for directions. The woman cancels the interview, saying she is too busy – and it turns out she doesn’t live on Caldwell Street anyway.

Situations like this have forced the project organizers to make adjustments to their original plan, said Hidden Voices Director Lynden Harris.

“It’s become very flexible, but I think that’s great,” Harris said.

During a period of four Saturdays, 10 teams, each with two UNC-CH students and one high school student, interviewed residents and business owners in the black communities.

Team members share the roles of photographer, oral historian and producer.

Thomas Moore, a senior at East Chapel Hill High School, lives in the Northside community and participates in Because We’re Still Here (and Moving).

“We’re trying to save the community,” Moore said.

The 18-year-old said he has seen Northside change in recent years with increased development and the rise in the number of college students living in the area.

Moore said some families have moved away from the area.

“It seems like they’re getting forced to move out,” he said.

Harris said one of the goals of the project is to document the stories of older residents before it is too late.

“Some of the older residents have been interviewed many times, so one of the things we wanted to do is ask them questions they have not been asked before,” Harris said.

On a Wednesday evening, Moore and three other students gathered in a conference room in the Midway Business Center in Chapel Hill as they prepared to interview Fred Battle, president of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“Who are your parents?” Battle asked Moore. “Most of the people around here, I know their parents.”

After the small-talk is done, UNC senior Leniqua Blue gets Battle to sign a release form while UNC junior Amelia O’Rourke-Owens places an audio recorder on the conference table.

O’Rourke-Owens did not have to ask many questions. Battle spoke freely about the changing face of Chapel Hill’s historically black communities.

Hidden Voices Director Lynden Harris.

“The taxes are at a point, they’re so high, a lot of our seniors can’t afford to live here,” Battle said.

He added that many of the houses are being sold or turned into rental property.

The local civil rights leader also complained about the public education that black students in the area receive.

“The biggest difference between the schools today and the schools in the past is back then we felt like a family,” Battle said.

The transcript of Battle’s interview along with the other oral histories will be used to create a live stage production to be performed in February in conjunction with Black History Month.

Harris said the performance, like the field work, is a work in progress.

“On stage, we’re going to have images projected, maps, students, maybe some seniors, and that’s as much as we know right now,” Harris said with a laugh.

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