Carrboro Commons

Capoeira workshop brings dance, culture to Carrboro

Posted on March 24th, 2011 in A&E,Events,Uncategorized by jock

By Alex Linder
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

In Portuguese, bencao means “blessing.” In capoeira, a Brazilian art form that is often called dance fighting, bencao means “a front kick.”

In Carrboro from March 18 to 20, numerous bencaos of both definitions were given out in a workshop directed by The American Society of Capoeira and Arts from Brazil (ASCAB).

Mestre Doutor and Molly Hayes play in the roda while other members chant and play instruments. (Staff photo by Alex Linder)

“The whole weekend is just such an experience for everyone involved,” said Chris Geddings, 36, a systems administrator at Duke University from Durham, who is also the Carrboro capoeira instructor using the name Cebola. “It’s a lot of hard work, but in the in end it really brings everybody together.”

Carrboro may seem like an unusual place for a capoeira meeting, but the art form has been gaining popularity throughout the East Coast. There are other North Carolina-based capoeira groups in Boone and Charlotte.

The workshop, featuring ASCAB members from across North Carolina, was under the direction of Mestre Doutor, a master of capoeira and the founder and artistic director of the ASCAB based in Philadelphia.

Geddings explained that capoeira involves much more than just dance moves by incorporating elements of history, sports, acrobatics, music and philosophy.

He said that capoeira originated in Brazil more than 400 years ago, when slaves began disguising their self-defense training with dance. The name comes from the Portuguese word for “brush covered field,” which was where the Portuguese first saw slaves practicing the martial art.

While the culture and history of capoeira have been preserved, its meaning and practice have shifted through the centuries. Saturday’s performance, the highlight of the weekend’s training sessions, found the brush fields of Brazil replaced by the wooden floor of the Carrboro Century Center.

A capoeira performance is called a roda. In a roda, members gather in a circle. Two members meet in the center of the circle, crouch down and shake hands. Geddings said that what follows is something between sparring and dancing that is best described as play.

The players flip and dive to avoid each other’s kicks. Sometimes the tempo of the match is sped up, while other times it appears as though they are moving in slow motion.

“The rodas are what it is all about for us,” said Geddings. “Playing is serious, but also just awesome.”

The other 25 members who formed the circle played and chanted music. The music consisted of the twanging of traditional berimbaus, the rhythmic beating of drums and the jangling of tambourines. The songs were traditional Brazilian call-and-response songs or chants.

Geddings said the music is supposed to follow the action and rhythm of the players in the center. The chants can be directed at the players themselves and are often teasing.

“Most of it is just mocking each other, but in a good-natured way,” Geddings said.

For instance, during one bout Doutor tripped an unwitting student, which drew a taunting reaction from the chanters.

Apart from the ridicule, the students said they found themselves attracted to capoeira for a wide variety of reasons.

Geddings started practicing capoeira in 2002 and said that it is a great exercise and stress reliever.

Capoeira is a part mix of gymnastics as shown by Cebola (left), who you wouldn’t know suffers from a bad back. (Staff photo by Alex Linder)

Geddings suffered from a herniated disc less than a year ago. He said that even now it can be very painful, but practicing capoeira has helped ease that pain.

“If someone sees the kind of stuff I’m doing out there, I bet they wouldn’t think I would be someone with back problems,” he said.

Other members said that the were attracted to the different features of capoeira that have made it more than just an exercise, but a cultural experience.

Molly Hayes, 33,  a therapist from Chapel Hill, used to take classes in Portuguese. She said she saw capoeira as a way of keeping up with the language and also its history.

“It’s a really excellent activity,” she said. “There are so many different aspects of capoeira.”

Gabrielle Motta-Passajon, a Brazilian native, instructs the capoeira group in Boone and is another student of Doutor. She too was drawn to capoeira because of the musicality of it, but she ended up staying because of the multiple layers that make up the art.

“Art, philosophy, history, life lessons — these are all part of what you can learn when practicing capoeira,” she said. “Once you’ve practiced capoeira for 30 years, you become a wise person.”

Doutor believes a great sense of community is one of the best features of capoeira. There is no higher rank he can achieve in the art. Instead, he has devoted himself to teaching young people why he loves capoeira.

He said he has watched the Carrboro group as it has grown steadily and is very proud of what they are doing.

“It’s such a nice, tight-knit group,” he said. “And it should only get stronger.”

ASCAB Capoeira has all level classes on Sundays and Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:30 at the Balanced Movement Studio. Beginner classes are on Sundays from 5:30 to 6:30.

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A picture’s worth

Posted on March 24th, 2011 in A&E,Features,Uncategorized by jock

By Will Bryant
Co-Editor

When Angie Brammer opened her computer on Friday, March 11, the last thing she expected to see was her former home in the middle of one of the worst natural disasters in human history.

Brammer taught English to high school students in Yamagata City, Japan, in 2001 through the Japanese Teaching and Exchange Programme. A decade after leaving the country, she read the news of the destruction and immediately called her husband, Chris Davidson, who also taught in Yamagata City in 2001.

“We just kind of freaked out,” Brammer said. “We didn’t really understand the scope of what happened. It was just unbelievable.”

A 9.0 earthquake devastated Japan in mid March, leaving behind a country with thousands dead, thousands more missing and the threat of widespread radioactive exposure.

The couple decided to reach out to the victims with the help of photographs. Through their online photography business, ABCD Images, Brammer and Davidson have started donating 100 percent of the profit earned from the purchase of any of their Japanese photo prints.

The photos are comprised mostly of bustling city landscapes and photos of everyday Japanese life that the couple took during their year teaching abroad.

Angie Brammer and Chris Davidson display some of their photos from their website, ABCD Images. All the proceeds from the sales of their Japanese photo prints will go towards helping those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Staff photo by Will Bryant

“Both of us felt compelled to do something to help,” Brammer said. “The whole situation is overwhelming.I wish we could do more.”

Yamagata City received little damage from the natural disaster, and Brammer and Davidson have heard from friends in the city that it has become a safe haven for refugees.

Brammer said that from Sendai, a city that received considerable damage from the earthquake, there is really no way to go but west toward Yamagata City.

“If you go north you are going to run into more hard hit areas, and if you go south you are going to run into the nuclear reactors,” Brammer said.

Yamagata lies a little over 200 miles west from the devastated area of Sendai.

Davidson said they initially received good reports from their friends still living in the city. But recent updates have illustrated a lack of electricity, a shortage of food and a high fuel demand.

“Their biggest problem seems to be getting supplies to all those people,” Davidson said.

Brammer said the toughest part is not being able to offer help to those nearly 7,000 miles away.

“It’s difficult to watch it on the TV or the Internet from halfway around the world, and to feel like you wish you could do more to help,” she said.

But despite the 13-hour time zone difference separating North Carolina and Japan, the Carrboro couple has found a way to give back to the country that gave them so much.

Brammer said the inspiration for their charity work has come from hospitality they received from the locals during their year in Japan.

“Everyone we met treated us like royalty,” she said.

While looking at the pictures of the destruction left behind by the natural disaster, the couple say they felt like they had a close relationship to those in the photos, even though they were strangers.

“Even though I didn’t know those particular people, I felt like I did,”  Brammer said. “I wanted to go and put my hand on their head … just to say that it’s OK … that there is someone here thinking about you.”

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Sacrificial Poets gives voice to teens

Posted on March 3rd, 2011 in A&E,Carrboro children,Features,Uncategorized by jock

By Megan Gassaway

Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Have you ever met the yellow power ranger? Ever held hands with him at the bus stop, or wrestled with him in the basement once? I have. The Yellow Power Ranger and I used to be best friends…

Julia McKeown stands before an audience of peers, teachers and poetry enthusiasts. The stage is empty except for a microphone. She needs no props or backdrops. Her weapon is her voice.

McKeown is one of 10 teenagers who participated in Sacrificial Poets’ February Youth Qualifier at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham on Friday, Feb. 25. The slam, or poetry competition, is only one of several outlets for Sacrificial Poets.

Julia McKeown, fifth from the left, awaits the results of Friday's February Youth Qualifier. Ten poets, including McKeown, performed original poems at the Hayti Heritage Center on Friday, Feb. 25. Photo by Megan Gassaway

“It’s a spoken word poetry organization geared towards youth,” said Sacrificial Poets’ artistic director Kane Smego, 25. “It is a for-youth, by-youth organization.”

Sacrificial Poets is North Carolina’s premier youth poetry organization and the state’s only internationally competing youth performance poetry team, according to the Sacrificial Poets website.

Originally named the Chapel Hill Slam Team, the group has since spread to Durham and Carrboro. It hosts events at the Carrboro Century Center, performs at Festifall and works closely with poetry clubs at local high schools.

As the group evolved, the team shed the name Chapel Hill Slam Team and adopted Sacrificial Poets, which honors a founding member and close friend of the group, Ira Yarmolenko, who died in May 2008. The name also acknowledges the role of the “sacrificial poet,” a poet who makes a sacrifice by performing a poem that acts as the scoring standard for a competition.

While the Sacrificial Poets host slams and attend competitions, its focus is on open mics and other non-competitive poetry events. In this mission, Sacrificial Poets help youth to “construct a platform” for community organizing and building.

“For me, what we try to convey is a sense of sharing identity,” Smego said.

But when the poets stand before the microphone, they are no longer constricted to others’ perceptions. They take their identity into their own hands.

“Poetry is therapy,” Smego said. “Spoken word is an amazing tool for community building because it helps create bonds and webs of understanding that revolve around who people say they are.”

Smego said spoken word poetry is an “outlet for energy” and a place to share struggles and triumphs.

Whereas sports like basketball build community around a shared goal, poetry creates a unique community where interests intersect on a deeper level, Smego says.

“The thing we’re united around, the actual thing we share in common is a mechanism for getting to know ourselves,” Smego says.

The yellow power ranger and I were best friends, but you can’t catch childhood and put it in a jar. So we chased it like the wind in the summer, racing each other around the playground like tornadoes. We found the eye of the storm in our imagination…

“A lot of my writing comes from my emotions,” said McKeown, who has written about topics including sex and society, race and friendship. McKeown said the poem “Power Ranger” stems from a personal experience.

But McKeown does not write just to benefit herself; she hopes that others will relate to her poetry.

McKeown moved from the small town of Ashland, Mass., after her freshman year of high school. When she arrived in Chapel Hill, she didn’t know anyone and felt lost.

“I moved to Chapel Hill where standards were so high,” McKeown said. “I felt like I was falling off the face of the Earth.”

McKeown was introduced to spoken word poetry when Sacrificial Poets executive director and founding member CJ Suitt, 24, performed for an English class at Chapel Hill High. Following Suitt’s presentation, the teacher assigned a poetry project to students. McKeown not only wrote a poem for the class — she decided to perform the poem at a local slam.

She didn’t stop there. McKeown continued to write and perform her poetry, and, after coaching from Suitt, McKeown qualified for Sacrificial Poets’ 2010 Final Slam.

“I owe those guys, like, everything,” McKeown says about Sacrificial Poets. “The poetry they taught me to do was my outlet.”

The group provided McKeown emotional support, but also gave her a community.

“They support me and validate me,” McKeown said. “There’s an automatic community of people who support you. There’s stomping, clapping, snapping encouragement when you go on stage.”

Poetry has also forced McKeown to redefine her outlook on the world.

“Doing poetry, you reassess the way that you judge people. People get on stage and spill their hearts,” McKeown said. “When you get up, it’s about what you spit – the words you use. It’s like the entire audience is blind.”

I was in love with the yellow power ranger, but cartoon characters can’t quite reciprocate because they’re two–, or in your case, one–dimensional…

“Sacrificial Poets empowers youth to tell their stories and speak their truths,” says Mackensie Malkemes, a supporter of the group and a creative writing and English teacher at Carrboro High. “The focus on both exposing and provinding a call-to-action for basically every social justice issue one could think of is one of my favorite aspects of the group’s work. The members are involved in the community and inspire others to come together to promote positive change.”

“The Sac Po organization and the people who run it are people who let you tell your stories,” McKeown said. “There’s a general sharing of culture and fears. You feel that connection that is so lacking in society.”

Sacrificial Poets, or “Sac Po,” is seeking change throughout North Carolina, and Carrboro is no exception.

The group has come to fulfill a unique niche within the communities of Carrboro, Chapel Hill and Durham by building community and encouraging self-expression among local youth.

“It really is the only one of its kind in the area,” Malkemes said. “I think Sac Po no only encourages people to speak out about pressing societal and community issues, but the group really serves as a catalyst in producing informed, tolerant, impressive individuals.”

Smego says that at any of the group’s events “you can see a diverse crowd of poets that interact, respect and support each other, who often times would not have otherwise come into contact or forge friendships.”

At Friday’s slam, there was a “representation of black, white, Christian, Muslim, male and female poets,” Smego said.

“We like to think that every event we have is like a classroom where youth teach and learn from each other,” Smego said.

McKeown said that the group serves as a way for local teenagers to become more self-confident.

“Spoken word is no rules, and that is so freeing. You don’t have to rhyme and you don’t have to make sense,” McKeown said. “It’s a really good outlet for teenagers to say who they are and not be ashamed.”

I want to remember the 4-year-old yellow power ranger. I want to remember what it was like to have a best friend.

For more videos from February’s Youth Qualifier, go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/megsie513#p/u. For more Sacrificial Poets videos, go here: http://www.youtube.com/user/sacrificialPoets.

A place of the flow

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in A&E,Business,Lifestyles by jock

By Megan Walker
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

What do a Quaker meeting house, a teen center, a magic shop, an auto dealership and a recording studio all have in common?  They were once all located at 100B Brewer Lane in downtown Carrboro, but this space will soon be reincarnated as a movement and music studio called the Flowjo.

Co-owners Julia and Scott Crews pose for a photo outside of what is soon to be the Flowjo in downtown Carrboro. The movement and music studio is set to open at the beginning of March. Staff Photo by Megan Walker

Carrboro residents Julia and Scott Crews said they will open the Flowjo at the beginning of March. The Flowjo will have a hoop focus, but classes in aerial dance, poi, staff, fire spinning, circus fundamentals, music and other arts will also be offered.

Hooping is a form of dance or meditation using larger, more durable hula-hoops.

“Carrboro has turned into what is known as a hooping mecca amongst the global hoop community,” Scott Crews said. “It has given Carrboro notoriety.”

Several pedestrians and surrounding business owners stopped in to see the work taking place at the soon-to-be Flowjo on Saturday, Feb. 12.

With a dusty floor, a busted drinking fountain and graffiti on the walls, the place may not look like much yet, but Scott Crews said things will soon change.

The Crews’ landlord just got the building brought up to code, and they will be working in the coming weeks to install a dance floor, paint, clean and build a stage.

Carrboro is the ideal place to build the Flowjo, as the town is home to many originators of the modern hooping movement.

“I’d say that per capita there are more people hooping here than anywhere in the world,” Julia Crews said. “For being a small town, it’s got a lot of hooping that’s going on, so it seems like a perfect spot for one of the world’s first flowjos.”

The idea behind the name is based off a dojo, which translates to “a place of the way.”

Chris Hall, an employee at neighboring business Aventine woodworking, welcomes Julia and Scott Crews to Brewer Lane. Hall tells the two about the many businesses the space has housed over the past several years including a recording studio and teen center. Staff Photo by Megan Walker

“The Flowjo is a place of flow,” Scott Crews said. “When you go to work, and you get into the flow, and you’re cruising along, and it feels good. Well, that ain’t nothing compared to this artistic creative expression that is flow.”

Julia Crews said she decided to pursue hooping as a career after seeing and then talking to a circus performer hooping in New York.

“She told me she was making her whole living off of it,” she said. “It was just a splash of wow. You can do what you love for your job.”

Scott Crews met his wife, then Julia Hartsell, in 2005 when she hired him to play the drums for her at a wedding. He said, “We ended up falling in love and have been working together ever since.”

Scott Crews will be overseeing the musical side of the studio. He has been drumming since he was 13 and currently teaches lessons out of their home.

“One of our biggest challenges has been that our art forms in practice are big, and it’s not easy to practice an act of that zone in my home space,” Julia Crews said. “And I know that other people struggle with this.”

The Flowjo will have a large open dance floor, a shop for flow art paraphernalia, a stage and a lounge area.

The Crews said they are also planning to use the building for events space, summer camps and weekend workshops, including the fourth annual Hoop Convergence in May.

Julia Crews said that hooping and the Flowjo will appeal to a broad audience.

“When you think of classic hula hooping, it looks a little awkward, kind of frantic to keep the hoop up,” she said. “These hoops are different … people are coming to them for different reasons. It is a really good core exercise and a good, moving meditation for people like me who don’t have an easy time sitting and meditating.”

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Carrboro Elementary’s ‘Seussical’ brings classic tales to life

Posted on February 17th, 2011 in A&E,Carrboro children,School news by jock

By Will Bryant
Co-Editor
the Carrboro Commons

Walking into Deb Lederer’s art classroom at Carrboro Elementary School last week was like entering a portal to another world.

Students at Carrboro Elementary practice one of the scenes from "Seussical Junior." More than 150 students took part in the musical Thursday and Friday. Staff Photo by Will Bryant

On one side of the room are six large refrigerator boxes, painted on all sides with vibrant scenes of a make-believe world. Next to the scenery, on a table, is a pile of green glittery hats that looks small compared with the enormous face of the cartoon elephant leaning against the wall. Giant fluorescent papier-mache fish are scattered across the paint-splattered floor, and a large cat in a red-striped hat, stands in the corner grinning from whisker to whisker.

They’re pieces of the world of “Seussical Junior,” a musical based on the books of Dr. Seuss. Carrboro Elementary students brought it to life at three performances Thursday and Friday in the school’s auditorium.

The show’s plot features characters from the classic Dr. Seuss tales that have been read aloud to children for generations, such as “Green Eggs and Ham,” “Horton Hears a Who,” and “The Cat in the Hat.”

About 150 students, mostly fourth and fifth graders, handled the production’s singing, dancing, puppeteering, sound, lights and backstage responsibilities.

The papier-mache Cat from Dr. Seuss’ book "The Cat in the Hat" in the art room of Carrboro Elementary. "The Cat in the Hat" is one of the titles featured in the school’s production of "Seussical Junior." Staff Photo by Will Bryant

“I am excited and a bit nervous at the same time,” said cast member Alec Caruana, 10, on the night of the show’s opening. “I mean, everyone is going to be watching you.”

The production comes at a time when state school boards are cutting back on fine arts programs in public schools because of repeated budget cuts. Although arts programs in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools have not borne most of the burden of cuts, money is still tight.

“We hear all the time what we don’t have time for and what we don’t have money for,” Lederer said.

But Lederer, who directed “Seussical” and designed the sets, said the show brought the school together. “Seussical” was in the works for about six months, Caruana said. And nearly all of the children in the production, Lederer said, came to school early, stayed late and even skipped their recess periods during the week to work on the show.

“I think we have learned collaboration is a huge key and that you need to be a team player, work together, listen to each other and know that you have something to offer,” Lederer said. “Every single person has some bit of creativity.”

Lederer said “Seussical” is all about giving kids an outlet for that creativity and potentially getting them interested in the arts.

“Some of these kids, if they didn’t have this experience, might not go on to audition for shows in middle school, high school or college,” Lederer said. “Now we’ve got some kids that have got the theater bug in them.”

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Internationalist Books stays true to its radical roots

Posted on November 23rd, 2010 in A&E,Books,Carrboro Connections by jock

By Gloria Lloyd
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Internationalist Books and Community Center, located on West Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, is an independent, nonprofit cooperative and alternative bookstore that has served as a hub for social activism and grassroots organizing for the past three decades.

Animal advocate David Cantor gives a talk on Nov. 19 at Internationalist Books, a nonprofit bookstore and community center in Chapel Hill. Cantor spoke about how environmental policies affect animals. (Staff photo by Gloria Lloyd)

Internationalist Books is often described as a “radical” bookstore, a description that its volunteers and customers embrace.

Outreach manager Laurin Gioglio said of the term, “We’re trying to own it a little bit.” Longtime volunteer Mike Cohen called the bookshop a “nest for radical action.”

The bookstore provides meeting space for a number of area nonprofits, including the Carrboro Community Garden and other environmental or social justice-related groups.  Inventory manager Lydia Powers said the Internationalist is a space where any group can “study, work, talk and promote their interests.”

Although the shop runs on a tight budget and is mostly run by dozens of volunteers who sign up to work in the store for at least three hours per week, the bookshop also has three part-time staffers who manage operations.

The store sells books that cover a variety of topics, on nearly every day of the year but one. On Friday, Nov. 26, the Internationalist will not be selling books but is instead promoting its 12th annual Buy Nothing Day, a local celebration of an international movement designed to protest consumerism.

On its website, the Internationalist describes Buy Nothing Day as a “response to the consumer-driven post-Thanksgiving shop-ocolypse known as Black Friday.”

The store urges its potential shoppers to instead come into the shop and make arts and crafts or play board games.  In past years, Carrburritos and other local restaurants have donated food for the store’s Buy Nothing Day participants.

Some of the most dedicated Internationalist volunteers have worked shifts at the shop since it opened in 1981. In February, the shop will celebrate 30 years as a community meeting space and resource.

In the 1980s, the Internationalist served as a hub for anti-apartheid organizing at UNC-Chapel Hill. More recent activist groups have opposed the Iraq and Persian Gulf Wars.

The store’s founder, Bob Sheldon, was murdered while closing the shop in February 1991, a crime that remains unsolved. Sonic Youth wrote a song about the incident called “Chapel Hill,” and the Indigo Girls referred to Sheldon’s murder in the song “Jonas and Ezekiel.”

In the years after Sheldon’s death, the Internationalist moved from West Rosemary Street to its present location on Franklin Street, which increased street traffic and prominence.

Gioglio said that in addition to the usual contingent of Chapel Hill and Carrboro activists, “A lot of people coming between Chapel Hill and Carrboro stop by because it’s on the way.”

The store also reorganized as a cooperative, with a sliding scale fee to become a member and receive store discounts and voting power on the Board of Directors.

Politically, the Internationalist is often described as having a leftist bent.  “We may be towards the left of the spectrum, but we’re an umbrella of a collective,” said Gioglio. “Some volunteers are interested in prison rights or abolition, some are interested in anarchy, some are interested in political and philosophical theories, some are interested in animal rights.”

Powers said that Internationalist Books has functioned as a living room and meeting space for an assortment of groups throughout the community who have not been welcomed by other nonprofits, including a homeless group that wrote a letter of thanks to the bookstore for providing a meeting space.

A chair outside of Internationalist Books gives shoppers a taste of what types of books will be on the shelves inside. (Staff photo by Gloria Lloyd)

The Internationalist regularly holds author appearances and film screenings, including an upcoming Dec. 16 screening featuring a documentary, “River of Waste,” about the environmental damage caused by hog lagoons.

Other events include appearances by touring activists, such as an event held Friday, Nov. 19 in which David Cantor of Responsible Policies for Animals, Inc. spoke on land use policy and the human disconnect from animals as part of RPA’s “This Land Is Their Land” campaign to move beyond factory farming and promote a different way of looking at animals and the Earth.

“Humans have ceased being citizens and have become consumers, TV watchers, spectators,” Cantor said in his talk. “Very few people have any idea what an ecosystem is.”

The shelves of the bookstore are filled with books, magazines and pamphlets on topics such as feminism and veganism.   A lending library is named in honor of Lisa Garmon, a longtime local activist and 20-year volunteer at the Internationalist.

Along with printed literature and information, the store now has computers that people can use. The Internationalist hosts music events as well as book readings and monthly discussions on various topics.

The Internationalist is a supporter of a number of long-term local projects, including the monthly Really Really Free Market held at the Carrboro Town Commons, as well as newer events such as the Carrboro Anarchist Bookfair.

Many local initiatives, such as the Carrboro Community Garden and Croatan Earth First!, hold their meetings at the Internationalist.

The cooperative also hosts the Chapel Hill stops of numerous traveling exhibits and groups in the summer, including Think Outside the Bomb and the Beehive Design Collective, a traveling mural show that seeks to educate and mobilize consumers against mountaintop coal removal.

Cohen said that the Internationalist is important because “the Chapel Hill activist community shouldn’t be dependent on the university for resources.”

With the stability that the Internationalist can offer of a permanent storefront dedicated to promoting activism, dedication to local causes doesn’t always have to end with graduation in Chapel Hill. Cohen said the community cooperative bookshop can “provide a level of continuity that student groups can’t maintain.”

As a nonprofit organization, Internationalist Books accepts donations, including book donations that are either sold in the store or sent to political prisoners as part of the Prison Books Collective.  The collective mails about 12,000 books each year to prisoners throughout the South for the program.

As part of the Prison Books Collective, the bookstore also hosts a monthly birthday card writing night for prisoners. “We know about their struggle,” Gioglio said. “Prisoners need love, too.”

Gioglio said that if the Internationalist received more in donations, the bookshop would be able to stock and sell more new books on its shelves rather than used. The store managers would also like to have enough funds to hold a speaker series that could bring more well-known speakers to the store.

Carrboro Film Festival is bigger and better

Posted on November 10th, 2010 in A&E,Events by jock

By Meredith Sammons
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

The Carrboro Film Festival will celebrate its fifth annual collection of short films in Carrboro’s downtown Century  Center on Nov. 21, 2010.

Jackie Helvey and Nic Beery discuss the Nov. 21 Carrboro Film Festival in Century Hall in downtown Carrboro. All films will be projected on a 12.5 by 16 foot screen in the stage area. (Staff photo by Meredith Sammons)

In its fifth year, the festival serves as a platform for filmmakers to share their art with the town of Carrboro. Along with viewing films, attendees will be able to purchase refreshments and take part in question and answer sessions with filmmakers.

Co-founder of the Carrboro Film Festival and filmmaker Nic Beery emphasized the importance of making and celebrating short films. “What I really love to do equally to making films,” he said, “is promoting local talent and to shine as bright a spotlight on local films—to see what wonderful talent is out there made by local residents.” Beery added, “People in this community have really caught on to their craft. They are seeing others and going, ‘Wow, I can try this or that.’”

Five years ago Beery agreed to head-up the festival with Jackie Helvey, a member of the Town of Carrboro Arts Committee Advisory Board. It was Helvey who proposed the idea to the Town of Carrboro Arts Committee and said, “‘You know what you guys need? We need a film festival.’ Their faces lit up and they said, ‘Oh my god, that’s a great idea.’”

This year the festival has more momentum and bigger audiences. Beery said, “The support of Carrboro and the arts—it’s wonderful.” Beery also said this year has the “best group of films that I’ve ever seen.”

Putting it all together hasn’t been easy, according to Helvey and Beery. Both agreed that organizing the event has had its intricacies. “We happily do all the logistics,” Helvey said, “Logistics are hard to do, but ultimately it’s worth it.”

Helvey and Beery received numerous entries for this year’s festival. “We easily could’ve had two or three times more films,” Beery said.

Helvey and Beery screened each entry and judged which films best fit the 2010 festival. Helvey said when it comes to choosing films it is like solving a puzzle. “Every film has a redeeming value,” she said. “There are such good films and content of movies but we don’t want to have 400 animations. At the end of judging we look at the type—it’s like a little puzzle and this one fits better,” Helvey said.

“It’s like a museum. You have to curate how people see the films, almost like a rollercoaster,” Beery added.

This year 28 movies will be screened within three blocks of time between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Question and answer sessions along with breaks will follow each 75-80 minute block.

As for the quality of films submitted, Beery said it has never been better. “Technically and creatively the films this year have been better than before. There is more variety than before— there’s music videos, animations, comedies, dramas.”

The festival will take place in the Century Center’s Century Hall at 100 North Greensboro St. Admission is seven dollars for adults and three dollars for children 12 years of age and younger.

Carrboro DJ celebrates 300th consecutive radio show

Posted on October 19th, 2010 in A&E by jock

By Mary Stewart Robins
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Inside Carrboro’s community radio station, WCOM, disc jockey Rocco Nittoli’s smooth and professional voice enlivens the small station and the sleepy Saturday mornings of Carrboro listeners and online fans across the country.

Rocco Nittoli announces his music selections during his 300th consecutive "Music Hall" show with community radio station WCOM. (Staff photo by Mary Stewart Robins)

Every Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon, Nittoli mixes a variety of popular music spanning the past 70 years on his radio show, “Music Hall.”

However, Oct. 9 marked a special occasion.  Dedicated listeners and fans joined Nittoli in celebrating his 300th consecutive Saturday morning radio show with WCOM.

“It’s been quite a ride and so much fun,” Nittoli told listeners at the start of his show.

To mark the occasion, Nittoli played all No. 1 and top ten Billboard hits from the 1930s to today, a type of program he used when he first started with WCOM.

WCOM, Carrboro’s only low-power FM radio station, was founded in 2004.  Because the station is a non-profit, community radio station, it provides an alternative for local listeners who are looking for a different type of program, Nittoli said.

Today, WCOM has 50 live voices who DJ a variety of shows, including several Spanish programs. The station is funded by local donations and underwriters, who sponsor segments of programming.

Shabazz brings his love of poetry to McDougle students

Posted on October 19th, 2010 in A&E,Carrboro children,School news by jock

By Gloria Lloyd
Carrboro Commons Staff Writer

Ask students at McDougle Middle School in Carrboro what they think of their guest poetry teacher Phillip Shabazz, and you will invariably receive the same enthusiastic answer:  “I love Mr. Shabazz!”

After a week of reading and writing poetry at McDougle Middle School, Carrboro poet Phillip Shabazz helps the young eighth-grade poets in Kimberly Battle’s Language Arts class get started on writing the poem that serves as their final quiz. (Staff photo by Gloria Lloyd)

Shabazz is a working poet who lives in Carrboro and has published three books of verse.  Shabazz typically teaches poetry during residencies at 30 to 50 schools throughout North Carolina and the United States each year, spanning third grade to college, with a focus on middle school students.

For more than a decade, Shabazz has taught poetry, a week at a time, to McDougle students. Beginning in fifth grade at the adjoining McDougle Elementary School, students spend a week studying poetry with Shabazz each year through the eighth grade.

The week of Oct. 11, Shabazz taught over 100 eighth-graders in Kimberly Battle’s Language Arts classes how to find their inner poet and express themselves through verse. Some of the students look forward to the week of poetry all year.

“To have someone here who is a working poet—it says that men are poets, African-Americans are poets, you can be a poet, you are a poet.  It engages every student,” McDougle Principal Debra Scott explained. “They see he is here and real and authentic, writing poetry you can understand.”

Carrboro Music Festival caters to variety of musical tastes

Posted on October 6th, 2010 in A&E,Events by jock

By Mary Withers and Stephanie Bullins
Carrboro Commons Co-Editor and Staff Writer

The Mighty Gospel Inspirations, a traditional African-American a cappella gospel group, performs “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at the Carrboro Century Center during the 2010 Carrboro Music Festival.

The Light Revolution performs “Across the Universe” at Open Eye Cafe during the 2010 Carrboro Music Festival.

Read the full story about the festival here.

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