The State of Things

 

The issues, personalities and places of North Carolina right to you, every day in your podcast feed. Hosted by Frank Stasio and Anita Rao. Listen and subscribe on Google PlayApple Podcasts or wherever you get your favorite shows. Tweet us @state_of_things and see more show content on Facebook and Instagram.

 

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Democratic presidential candidates are traveling from Iowa to New Hampshire after facing their first test with voters. There is still about a month to go until North Carolinians weigh in on who will face President Donald Trump in the general election.

Headshot of Canales.
Courtesy of Carla Canales

American classical music is overwhelmingly male and white, so if you’re trying to encourage diversity and equity in youth orchestras, the repertoire choices are not great. A new partnership between Durham-based El Sistema USA and The Canales Project is trying to mix it up.

Vince Rozmiarek

Hold your groans! Wordplay can be inventive, poignant and, at its finest, a shared discovery.

NIAID

The Wuhan coronavirus epidemic is officially a global public health emergency. The World Health Organization’s declaration frees up resources for nations to contain the virus’ spread outside its origin in central China.

Alex Maness

In 1991 a chicken processing plant in Hamlet, North Carolina caught on fire, killing 25 people and injuring 55 others. The Imperial Food Products plant fire is one of the worst industrial disasters in U.S. history — and now the subject of a new play.

Fruit of Labor logo
Courtesy of Angaza Laughinghouse

Members of The Fruit of Labor Singing Ensemble perform five-part harmonies and play instruments. But do not make the mistake of calling them a band. Their mission is much broader than playing gigs and producing albums.

North Carolina Climate Office

Many people could have worn flip-flops in the last days of 2019. The week before New Year’s Eve featured 70 degree days — but it was not a fluke. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 2019 was the warmest year on record in North Carolina so far. 

Scott Sharpe / News & Observer

In an ambitious new project, visual journalists from The Charlotte Observer, The News and Observer and the McClatchy Company spread out across the state of North Carolina to record the concerns of regular people.

Book cover reads: The Future of Feeling: Building Empathy in a Tech-Obsessed World.
Little A Publishing

Do you say please and thank you to your smart speaker? With each update, technology inches closer towards a greater understanding of the human condition. Empathy remains a trait exclusive to people, but that could change.

A military member in distress
Alex Pena / U.S. Air Force

A clinical trial of active-duty military members showed for the first time that a known pain treatment can also be effectively used to treat post-traumatic stress disorder.

Jamea Richmond-Edwards / Courtesy of E. Patrick Johnson

Writer E. Patrick Johnson was hesitant to collect the stories of queer black Southern women. He is a cisgender gay black man, and the divide between the male and female experience was something he felt he could not portray on the page. But after being encouraged by women who wanted their experiences known and shared, he found a way to spotlight their voices.

University of South Carolina Press

More than thirty years after his death, James Baldwin is recapturing the American imagination in politics and popular culture. Black Lives Matter, “Moonlight,” “Between the World and Me,” and Raoul Peck’s Oscar-nominated documentary “I Am Not Your Negro” all resurrect Baldwin’s voice. The major themes of his writing are also evident throughout today’s headlines: police malfeasance, expansive sexuality, class struggle, and the marginalization of black Americans. Baldwin drew on his struggle of overlapping marginalization in his writing — in one interview he described being born poor, black, and gay as “hitting the jackpot” for sourcing material. But his intersectional politics made it hard for the author to find a home with the political movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Baldwin was an exile who remained intensely realistic, patient and hopeful about his country’s transformation.

Collie in a hospital bed with many tubes and wires hooked up to him.
Courtesy of Mark Collie and WRAL

North Carolina has the 9th highest uninsured rate in the nation. More than one million citizens do not have health insurance, and many are priced out of traditional insurance plans. Faith-based programs, also known as health-sharing ministries, are stepping in to fill the gap.

University of Nebraska Press

M. Randal O’Wain’s memoir features standard ingredients of a classic country song: beat-up trucks, cigarette smoke, and a nostalgic father-son relationship. Yet at the same time, it manages to pull the rug out from under stereotypes of working class life in the South.

Violence soaks the pages of “Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working-Class South” (University of Nebraska Press/2019), not in gory detail, rather as a wry aftertaste.

Commissioners sit at a table.
Cory Vaillancourt

As a package of gun control measures makes its way through Virginia’s newly-Democratic legislature, gun rights activists around the South are turning to their county boards of commissioners to go on the record in opposition to gun control.


Freelon sits on a tractor wheel with one of her tissue-paper pieces draped on the tractor.
Chris Charles for Garden & Gun

Durham artist Maya Freelon’s large tissue paper installations have hung in the halls of the Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building and the North Carolina Museum of Art. She has received commissions from Google and Cadillac and was recently named one of five young artists to watch during Miami Art Week 2019. Her techniques transform tissue paper from schoolhouse craft to fine art and create community in collaborative quilt-making workshops.

Adam Schiff stands at a podium holding his hands above the surface of the table.
(Senate Television via AP)

This week the U.S. Senate formally began the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump — the third such trial in American history. Democrats made their arguments this week, with the president’s lawyers making their case starting on Saturday. Political Junkie Ken Rudin shares his analysis of the trial so far with host Frank Stasio.

Black and white still image from a Bollywood film.
Wikimedia Commons

From indie rock to local rap, WKNC has built a loyal following of “hipsters and, well, more hipsters,” according to one station promo. But every Sunday morning, a totally different audience tune into North Carolina State University’s student radio station.

Ellis stands in wooded area with cloud graphic floating behind him.
Mike Lento

Justin Ravary Ellis is no stranger around the Triangle music scene. The multi-instrumentalist has played bass in — and fronted — multiple bands and often has a number of collaborative projects on the go. But in 2015 he made the explicit decision to carve out more space and time for something a little more intimate.

Two images of the same street show stark differences in development.
WUNC

Affordable housing is in limited supply in many communities in North Carolina. The problem is particularly acute in Wake and Mecklenburg counties, where the population growth has outpaced that in more rural parts of the state. WUNC data reporter Jason deBruyn explored what is happening to housing in the Triangle region for his new in-depth series “Where We Live.”

Gold Oscar statues.
Praytino / Flickr

The nominations for the 2020 Academy Awards came out last week and the usual uproar followed. For this edition of Movies on the Radio, we asked listeners, staff, and film experts Laura Boyes and Marsha Gordon which Oscar nods they agree or disagree with.

Headshot of Holloway
Esther Hicks Photography / Courtesy of Karla Holloway

Karla FC Holloway was raised in Buffalo, New York in the midst of the battle over school desegregation. Her parents were both school administrators, and although she was not aware at the time of just how involved they were in that fight, she keenly observed their commitment to racial equality.

North Carolina legislative building
Wikimedia Commons

State lawmakers met for a one-day session this week, but in the end, not much has changed. There is still no budget for the current fiscal year as lawmakers enter their longest break in four years.

Billy Dee

What does it mean for a black journalist to remain neutral when writing about police brutality? Can young reporters be objective in their coverage of climate change?  Soon after the 2016 election, while working at American Public Media’s Marketplace, Lewis Raven Wallace wrote a blogpost saying: “We must change what we are doing to adapt to a government that believes in ‘alternative facts’ and thrives on lies.”

Carl Tanner's headshot
Courtesy of Carl Tanner

Growing up, Carl Tanner did his best to hide his vocal talent. He played keyboard in a rock band in high school but was reluctant to let out his booming voice. Eventually, a friend overheard him singing and pushed him to join the school choir. His natural ability stunned the instructor, and he started singing hymns at church, too.

Animated hands with words like 'calm, friendly, curious, inviting, attentive' frame an animated image of a toddler throwing a tantrum.
Pixabay

 

Parents in the United States typically have very little institutional support when it comes to raising children. The Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 guarantees workers 12 weeks of parental leave — but that leave is unpaid.

Lizzo sits naked with her long hair draping over her body.
Atlantic Records

The flute-wielding singer and rapper Lizzo is the artist of the moment. She secured the most 2020 Grammy nominations of any artist, including nods for best album, song and record.

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Are wood pellets a renewable energy? In 2009, the European Union declared wood pellets a “carbon-neutral choice,” and in 2018 the EPA followed suit. Yet pellets are less efficient than fossil fuels. To make the same amount of energy, wood pellets release more carbon than both coal and natural gas.

Even before the Civil War, the North Carolina General Assembly was reckoning with prohibition. Women led the charge against drinking mostly through church organizations and behind-the-scenes political advocacy.

Refugee  children pose for a photo in front of a school bus.
Courtesy of the New Arrivals Institute

Southeast Asian refugees first arrived in Greensboro after the Vietnam War. Now, more than 40 years later, the city continues to welcome families fleeing violence.

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