Laura Pellicer

State of Things Producer

Laura Pellicer is a producer with The State of Things, a show that explores North Carolina through conversation.

Laura was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec, a city she considers arrestingly beautiful, if not a little dysfunctional. She worked as a researcher for CBC Montreal and also contributed to their programming as an investigative journalist, social media reporter, and special projects planner. Her work has been nominated for two Canadian RTDNA Awards.

Laura loves looking into how cities work, pursuing stories about indigenous rights, and finding fresh voices to share with listeners. Laura is enamored with her new home in North Carolina—notably the lush forests, and the waves where she plans on moonlighting as a mediocre surfer.

Ways to Connect

Don McCullough / Flickr

Updated at 11:20 a.m.

UNC spokesman Randy Young said no arrests had been made as of Tuesday morning.

Updated at 7 p.m.

UNC Police have taken out arrest warrants for two suspects involved in the racist vandalism on University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus, said UNC Police spokesperson Randy Young.

UNC Police said they are "conducting a thorough criminal investigation" and "will not be releasing any details that could impede that investigation or subsequent prosecution," including the language used in the graffiti.

Barricades have been reerected around the Unsung Founders Memorial "to deter future incidents," and police "continue to monitor any threats to the campus," according to Young.

Updated at 3:30 p.m.

Early Sunday morning, two individuals defaced the Unsung Founders Memorial on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus with racist graffiti, according to a statement issued by UNC-CH Interim Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz. The memorial is located in McCorkle Place at the heart of the campus, not far from the site where the Silent Sam Confederate monument was toppled and the base later removed.

A Duke Energy power plant and coal ash ponds outside Asheville.
Zen Sutherland / Flickr / www.flickr.com/photos/zen/1796555301/

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

Duke Energy Corp. has been ordered to excavate coal ash from all of its North Carolina power plant sites, slashing the risk of toxic chemicals leaking into water supplies but potentially adding billions of dollars to the costs consumers pay.

NC General Assembly; State Legislature.
Dave Crosby / Flickr Share-Alike

North Carolina Democrats have found strength in numbers, and they are using if to push for an ambitious – if lofty – agenda.

Courtesy GoTriangle

The plan to establish a Durham-Orange Light Rail line is over. The GoTriangle board of trustees voted Wednesday to discontinue planning for the 18-mile line that would have connected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and UNC Hospitals with Duke University and Duke Hospital and end at North Carolina Central University. 

Courtesy Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble

The Triangle Youth Jazz Ensemble may be a group of teenagers but they pack a serious musical punch. For the fourth year in a row, the ensemble made the cut to compete on stage at New York’s Lincoln Center as part of the Essentially Ellington Competition. More than 100 bands tried out for the competition with only the top 15 earning a spot.

Cover of "Blood Letters" book
Basic Books

Lin Zhao was a poet and journalist who was arrested as a political dissident during the Mao Zedong regime in China. She stands as the only known Chinese citizen to have openly and steadily opposed Mao’s communism, an opposition rooted in her Christian faith. After her arrest, she dedicated her time in prison to writing letters and poems, sometimes in her own blood, in opposition of the regime.

Panorama of United States Supreme Court Building at dusk.
Joe Ravi / Wikimedia Commons/ CC-BY-SA 3.0

The U.S. Supreme Court listened to oral arguments Tuesday morning in a North Carolina gerrymandering case that dates back to the 2016 election. The case, Common Cause v. Rucho, is a major test for the court’s position on political gerrymandering.

The Last Battleground Book Cover
UNC Press

Author Philip Gerard has spent years unearthing the lesser-known stories of the Civil War. In order to better document the history beyond the grand military strategies and exalted generals, Gerard dug deep into the archives, reading first-person testimonies, searching through hand-written letters, and speaking with a range of experts, from historians to longtime civil war reenactors.

Lilly Knoepp / Blue Ridge Public Radio

The Nikwasi Mound in downtown Franklin, North Carolina looks like a small, grass-covered hill, but for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians the site holds great importance.
 

Creative Commons / pxphere

This winter, waves of journalists across the country lost their jobs as major media organizations made significant cut backs. Among them, media giant Gannett cut an estimated 400 people, and The McClatchy Company offered voluntary buyouts to about 450 people. The mass layoffs follow years of staff cuts at newspapers and media outlets across the country. 

Courtesy Marty Richardson / Fotoworkz by Ivan Studio

Marty Richardson wanted to know more about his culture. He grew up with his family in Maryland, a ways removed from the Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe in North Carolina to which he is a member.

Juli Leonard / The News & Observer Pool

Republican Mark Harris has announced that he will not run in a new election in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District. His decision comes after state election officials conducted an investigation into the Harris campaign for hiring an operative who allegedly harvested absentee ballots. At the end of a hearing last week, the State Board of Elections ordered a new election for the district's U.S. house seat.

Portrait of Max Roach, Three Deuces, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1947.
William P. Gottlieb / Library of Congress

North Carolina-born jazz musician Max Roach carved out a creative legacy in music that spanned genres. Roach grew up in New York City and during the 1940s he drummed alongside artists like Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. 

His recordings were innovative and during the civil rights movement, even political. To honor Roach, Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center is hosting a restaging of Roach’s “We Insist! Freedom Now Suite” recording.

Several communities in rural North Carolina struggle with water infrastructure maintenance.
Courtesy of Flickr user mycieau

A number of North Carolina communities are struggling to access safe drinking water. A WRAL investigative team tracked two decades of data and uncovered high rates of water violations, which are most pervasive in rural areas including the towns of Carthage and Butner in central North Carolina. 

Courtesy Tom Merrigan's Hot Raccoons

Raccoons. For many, they are scheming trash denizens and a neighborhood scourge. But musician Tom Merrigan has a deep and mildly obsessive relationship with the creatures and shares their propensity for night roams and mischief. His band name, Tom Merrigan’s Hot Raccoons, is a tribute to that bond. 

Screenshot from the award-winning film, 'Minding The Gap.'
Courtesy of Kartemquin Films

Bing Liu documented skaters in his hometown of Rockford, Illinois for more than a decade. Through the years, that footage became a complex documentation of youth culture featuring two young men who open up about the pressures of adulthood, abusive families, and modern masculinity. 

Official portrait of U.S. Representative Walter Jones
U.S. Congress

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina died this Sunday at age 76. He was the second in his family to serve in Congress and was known for voting across party lines and for crossing those lines himself. He served as a Democrat in the North Carolina General Assembly for five terms before switching to the Republican party ahead of his first run for the U.S. House. 

Don Harder / Flickr/ www.flickr.com/photos/dharder9475/5396413821

In 2018, Durham mother Fatimah Salleh repeatedly listened to her son complain about his experience during in-school suspension, or ISS. The program is much like detention: Students spend the day in a classroom, and they are instructed to plug away quietly at school work. Curious about her son’s experience, Salleh decided to accompany him for a day to see for herself what ISS looked like at Durham School of the Arts

Tang Dynasty, CD Premier Concert, January 1999: Left to right: Kaiser Kuo, Ding Wu, Gu Zhong. This was the launch concert for Tang Dynasty's second album, Epic, in January 1999.
Courtesy of Kaiser Kuo

American-born Kaiser Kuo is one of the godfathers of Chinese rock. The son of Chinese immigrants, he co-founded the band Tang Dynasty in the late ‘80s. The group brought the long-haired, head-banging metal aesthetic to the Chinese scene. 

arbyreed via flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/19779889@N00/28347664145

The Department of Agriculture has put forward new rules that would make it more difficult for some working-age adults to access SNAP food benefits. The suggested rule change comes after a failed effort by House lawmakers to tighten work requirements through the farm bill. Currently, states have flexibility to waive work requirements for some recipients depending on factors including the state’s unemployment rate. The new USDA rule would strip states of that general waiver option.

On a remote, volcanic island in Indonesia, the Lamalaran Tribe is fighting to preserve its ancient language and traditions. The community is thought to be the last subsistence whaling tribe in the world, and it is one that writer Doug Bock Clark knows well. Over the course of three years, Bock Clark spent intimate time with the Lamalerans. He learned their language, got to know the depth of their culture and examined their connection with the natural world.
 

Photo of author Lori Leachman
Courtesy Lori Leachman

In Lori Leachman’s family, football was life. Her father Lamar Leachman was a former player for the Calgary Stampeders and later a coach with the NFL, Canadian Football League, and now-defunct World Football League. He was a defensive line coach with the New York Giants when they won Super Bowl XXI in 1987. But later in his life, his family started to notice changes in his personality, including increased anger and forgetfulness.

Many Americans know fascism as an authoritarian ideology which blossomed in early 20th century Europe — first with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and later with Adolf Hitler and the rise of Nazi Germany. But historian Michael Joseph Roberto argues that while Mussolini and Hitler were capturing the world’s attention, a type of fascist ideology was also taking hold in the United States, although the system looked different.

Roberto says monopoly-finance capitalism and the dominance of big business over personal liberties is America’s own mutation of fascism. He articulates this argument in the book “The Coming of the American Behemoth: The Origins of Fascism in the United States, 1920–1940” (NYU Press/2018). Michael Joseph Roberto is a former professor of contemporary world history at North Carolina A&T State University, an activist and a former journalist.

Photo of artists Bless Nova (right) and René Roman
Laura Pellicer / WUNC

By age 6, Brenda Nolasco had already laid down her first professional recording — a youthful iteration of Whitney’s Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” Nolasco was surrounded by music as a child: her uncle was a professional trumpet player, and her brother, sister and aunts were all gifted singers. But Nolasco got a late start on telling her own story through music. 

Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange.
Courtesy of Kendall Bailey

Mandolin Orange is known for its intimate harmonies and delicately layered instrumentals. The duo, made up of husband and wife Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, has won accolades with that distinct sound. Their 2016 album “Blindfaller” debuted at number three on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart and was named one of Rolling Stones top 40 country albums of that year.

Shanelle Nicole Leonard and April Mae Davis to star in 'Jump.'
Courtesy of HuthPhoto

The latest play on stage from Playmakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill is centered on the topics of suicide, grief and depression, yet playwright Charly Evon Simpson still threads theatrical whimsy and humor throughout the production. Simpson draws from her background in social work to create characters who are honest and funny despite the grief they are experiencing, like the protagonist Fay. 

Frank Harmon sketch of Wesley U.M. Church in Jacksonboro, South Carolina.
Courtesy of Frank Harmon

Frank Harmon has made a career of designing buildings that reflect their owners and the landscape. In 2013, the architect started a blog to celebrate the beautiful and often humble designs he encountered. The process for the posts was rather simple: 

Jani Radebaugh will discuss the wonders of Saturn's moon Titan as part of Astronomy Days at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh.
Courtesy of Jani Radebaugh

On Jupiter’s moon Io, lava sweeps across the surface and shoots in a giant arc hundreds of miles into space. Saturn’s moon Titan, meanwhile, has lakes made of liquid methane and is decorated with mountains, lakes, rivers, and cryovolcanoes. For geologist Jani Radebaugh, the marvels of these distant moons never cease to amaze. 

Jeff Tiberii / WUNC

A fresh batch of state lawmakers were sworn in last week bringing with them sweeping changes to some North Carolina districts. Both Wake and Mecklenburg County now have no Republican representatives in the House and only two Republican senators between them. Nearly 40 new representatives will officially start work for the long session in two weeks. 

Graduate student Lindsay Ayling speaks to a couple dozens activists about outgoing Chancellor Carol Folt's decision to remove the Silent Sam pedestal from campus.
Rusty Jacobs / WUNC

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt will leave her post at the end of the month. In a university wide email on Monday, she first announced she would leave this spring. But after the UNC Board of Governors called an emergency meeting, the board moved up her resignation to January 31.

Folt’s tenure came amidst an ongoing battle over Silent Sam, the Confederate monument in McCorkle Place that was torn down by protesters in August. 

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