Amber Nimocks

Producer, "The State of Things"

Amber Nimocks came to The State of Things in January 2009. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a survivor of 15 years in the newspaper business. As a reporter and editor, her posts have included such exotic locales as her hometown of Fayetteville, Robeson County, Wilmington, Raleigh and Fort Worth, Texas.

In her spare time she drinks wine and writes about it for The News & Observer, eats and writes about it for Edible Piedmont, and travels and writes about it for anyone who’s interested. She lives with her husband, her son and two dogs in downtown Raleigh.

Ways to Connect

When organizers of North Carolina's public Governor's School summer enrichment program learned that the state General Assembly had cut their funding, they went to work raising money. So far, the group has secured more than $100,000 in hopes of keeping the program afloat, but not every public educational program at risk has the ability to keep itself funded. What problems arise when we rely too heavily on private donations to pay for public school programs?

It's Electric

Jul 22, 2011

The Plug-In electric car conference wrapped up its four-day run this week in Raleigh. It's the first time the conference, which draws car makers and utility planners from around the country, has been held on the East Coast. Conference planners were drawn to North Carolina's capital by the growing demand for electric vehicles in the Triangle.

The Small Ponds

The Small Ponds combines the vocal and instrumental talents of Triangle musicians Caitlin Cary and Matt Douglas, backed by Jesse Huebner and Skillet Gilmore. Their music has been described as gorgeous art folk.


Jul 15, 2011
Filthy Bird

The partnership that fuels the heralded local band Filthybird is both creative and romantic. Renée Mendoza and Brian Haran found personal salvation and professional redemption when they met in Greensboro, NC a few years ago.

Great Dismal Swamp

It's tough to imagine the 112,000 muck-filled, bug-swarmed acres of the Great Dismal Swamp looking like paradise. But for enslaved people in the 18th- and 19th-century, the swamp provided protection from those who wished to keep them in bondage.

Author Tom Franklin made his name with a collection of short stories called “Poaches.” His latest novel is a murder mystery that mines his Southern boyhood for material. Not only does “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” (Harper Perennial/2011) keep the reader enraptured with its well-paced crime story, it also explores truths about race relations and friendship in the modern, rural South.

The key to greater peace and health is as simple as "mindfulness" - the act of paying attention on purpose. However, practicing mindfulness isn't as simple or as easy as it sounds. Dr. Jeffrey Brantley helps patients find their way to mindful living and a stronger connection between their minds and their bodies.

Film poster ''Talmage Farlow'' by Lorenzo DeStefano
Lorenzo DeStefano

In his heyday in the 1940s and '50s, jazz guitarist Greensboro native Tal Farlow wowed the Down Beat crowd, playing with Charles Mingus, Red Norvo and the like. His large hands and his intrinsic sense of harmony distinguished him from his contemporaries. Farlow walked away from the jazz scene in the late 1950s, but he never let go of his love for the music.

Economists say that the current recession ended two years ago, in June of 2009, but what about those soaring unemployment rates, the stagnant housing market and the growing divide between rich and poor? If this is the recovery, are we in bigger trouble than we thought? Host Frank Stasio talks with Mark Vitner, managing director and senior economist at Wells Fargo in Charlotte; David Zonderman, professor of American labor history at North Carolina State University; Alan Wolf, assistant business editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh; and Erika Bell, vice president of Strategy and Services at the Latino Credit Union in Durham. Listener call-in.

In the first decades of the 20th century, the eugenics movement led scientists and policy makers to embrace radical tenets of genetic engineering. This movement included involuntary sterilization of criminals, poor people, the mentally impaired and minorities – in hopes of breeding out undesirable traits. Most Americans refuted eugenics after World War II, but a small contingent of influential researchers and social engineers remained devoted to the flawed science. Their persistence led to state-supported, involuntary sterilizations as late as the 1970s. In 2002, then-Governor Mike Easley issued an apology for the atrocities the state committed in the name of eugenics.

The future of the state’s Tobacco Trust Fund, which provides financial compensation to North Carolina’s former tobacco farmers, remains in question. Budget proposals for the multi-million dollar program diverge widely between the state House and Senate. Senators have suggested continuing the distribution of funding dollars. State House members have suggested cutting funding all together. Small farmers and the organizations supporting them worry that losing this money could mean the demise of many enterprising agricultural projects.

More than any other American sport, baseball is a game where mental focus is as important as speed or strength. The challenge for coaches has long been how to get top athletes to exercise the muscle between their ears. One of the leaders in that area was Harvey Dorfman, who is considered the father of sports psychology. He had a long career helping some of the world’s most famous baseball players — Roy Halladay, Alex Rodriguez, Greg Maddux among them — learn to think more rigorously about the game. Dorfman died earlier this year at his home in Brevard, North Carolina.

When Father Andrew O'Connor started his Goods of Conscience project several years ago, he had no idea that Cameron Diaz and Julia Roberts would end up wearing his clothes. O'Connor, a parish priest in the Bronx, designs casual, upscale clothing made from cotton hand-woven by Mayan workers in Guatemala. Seamstresses in the Bronx put the pieces together. The project raises money for the weavers, seamstresses and the parish, and could serve as a model for other communities across the country. Father O'Connor talks with host Frank Stasio before delivering the baccalaureate sermon to Elon University’s graduating class.

North Carolina was among the last Southern states to secede from the Union and the complex factors that led to the state's slow conversion to the Confederacy are more nuanced than history often remembers.

Journalist and historical researcher Kevin P.Duffus has unraveled some of the most puzzling mysteries of the North Carolina coast. Duffus argues that the popular image of the 18th-century pirate bears little resemblance to the historical figure. As the fourth in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, “On Stranger Tides,” debuts this weekend in theaters across the country featuring a Blackbeard character, played by Ian McShan, Duffus will present new findings about pirate culture at a conference in Washington, N.C. called “Pirate Parley on the Pamlico.”

On Saturday, the inaugural OutRaleigh festival on Fayetteville Street's City Plaza will celebrate lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered lifestyles with entertainment and information. Activities will range from a kids play zone to an appearance by The Tranny Roadshow, a traveling group of all transgendered performers who present songs, comedy and commentary across the country. Host Frank Stasio talks with three performers: Jamez Terry, Modern Day Pinocchio, and Ryka Aoki de la Cruz about keeping the “T” in LGBT. He will also speak with Bobby Hilburn, executive director of the LGBT Center of Raleigh, about the first OutRaleigh festival.

This year’s session of the North Carolina General Assembly has already been pretty heated. Lawmakers have to hammer out a budget agreement this summer, so things could get even more tense before the session ends. Revenue is down and budget cuts are inevitable, but how much to cut and where remains to be seen. Yesterday, the State Senate began its work drawing up a new budget. Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue and the State House of Representatives have hammered out plans as well.

How we spend our money says a lot about what we value. This holds true for governments as well as individuals. As we make our way through this lengthy recession, host Frank Stasio takes a look at what is really important to North Carolina, based on the state's budget priorities. Joining him to read the tea leaves in the state budget are Louisa Warren, senior policy analyst for the North Carolina Justice Center; John Hood, head of the John Locke Foundation; and Scott Huler, journalist and author of the recent book "On the Grid: A Plot of Land, An Average Neighborhood, and the Systems that Make Our World Work " (Rodale/2010). Listener call-in.

An 18th century home and several other historic buildings sit on a tract of land on Wake Forest Road in Raleigh known as Mordecai Historic Park. Neighbors of the property are atwitter about the city's plan to build an interpretive center at the site. At one time, the Mordecais owned one of the largest estates in Wake County and were among the area's most powerful families. They were also one of the few prominent Jewish families in central North Carolina during the 19th century. Host Frank Stasio talks about the family's remarkable history with author Emily Bingham, author of the book "Mordecai: An Early American Family" (Hill and Wang/2004).

The North Carolina Symphony follows the path of our country's cultural development, from ragtime to blues to jazz to gospel, with a program titled "Blues In the Night.” Joining the symphony will be guest artists Phil Wiggins on harmonica and Corey Harris on guitar.

For the first time in more than 90 years of awarding the top honors in journalism, the Pulitzer Prize jury decided not to hand out an award for breaking news this year. Experts say the jury's decision reflects a disconnect between traditional and new media. It's also a harbinger of a local news crisis.

Raleigh Ensemble Players has been presenting provocative theater in the capital city since 1982. Earlier this year, the company moved into a renovated theater space on Fayetteville Street, defying a recession that has plagued many arts organizations. REP’s first full-length production in the new facility will be "Distracted," a play about the challenges of dealing with Attention Deficit Disorder.

Most Biblical scholars recognize that many books of the Bible were not written by the authors commonly attributed to them. But academics often excuse this because they believe writing in the name of another was a commonly accepted practice in the ancient world. In his latest book, "Forged" (HarperOne Publishers/2011), Bart D. Ehrman argues that forgery was not sanctioned in the ancient world.

Raleigh will get a little bit hipper this weekend when the Contemporary Art Museum - CAM Raleigh - opens in the downtown warehouse district. The organization behind the museum has been around for a couple of decades, but their new building marks a new era.

Chris Hondros

Photojournalist Chris Hondros was killed in Libya on Wednesday along with Tim Hetherington, the Oscar-nominated director of the war documentary "Restrepo." Hondros grew up in Fayetteville, graduated from North Carolina State University and worked for a time at the Fayetteville Observer. After Hondros left North Carolina, he became an acclaimed war photographer, winning numerous awards and becoming a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2004.

Sir Walter Raleigh never hoisted the English flag on the coast of North Carolina. He did not throw his cloak across a puddle for Queen Elizabeth I. And though he liked to smoke, he did not introduce either tobacco or potatoes to Europe from the New World. Though history has misconstrued much of the story of Sir Walter Raleigh, for whom North Carolina's capital is named, he was a compelling character nonetheless. Host Frank Stasio talks about this explorer, historian, poet, courtier and self-made man with Mark Nicholls, co-author of “Sir Walter Raleigh: Life and Legend" (Continuum International Publishing Group/2011).

Jimmy Creech had been an ordained United Methodist minister for 14 years before he came to understand the plight of homosexuals within his congregation. A parishioner, whom he calls Adam, came out to him in 1984, revealing the hurt and rejection he felt at the hands of a church that condemned him. Creech became a crusader for homosexual rights within the church, and that crusade led the Methodist church to strip him of his ordination.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival
Full Frame

The Full Frame Documentary Film Festival's annual celebration of the documentary brings artists from around the world to Durham. This year, the lineup includes a rich variety of offerings from filmmakers based in North Carolina.

The North Carolina Museum of History has mounted an exhibition of the photography of Lewis Hine. His bleak, black-and-white prints paint a vivid picture of young people, some not yet teenagers, covered in the lint and grime of the state’s textile mills. Meanwhile, University of North Carolina at Greensboro public history students, under the guidance of associate professor of history Benjamin Filene, have created an online project called “Community Threads: Remembering the Cone Mill Villages.”

Maureen Quilligan
Chris Hildreth, Duke Magazine

As a scholar of Renaissance literature, Maureen Quilligan made a name for herself by re-examining the role of women during the Elizabethan age through the lense of art and literature. As the head of the English Department at Duke University, she helped stabilize a respected institution during a tumultuous time. And as a resident of Hillsborough, North Carolina, Quilligan has helped support the small town's independent merchants, including sewing lamp covers for a new book shop.