Timber

Deuel News Co./UNC Libraries Commons

Coming of age in a decaying milltown is a common American recipe for brain drain. While growing up in Canton, Zeb Smathers anxiously watched his community struggle with the fallout from globalization. 

Pittman Drug Co. / UNC Libraries

Summers were spent at his father’s gas station. Charles Townsend met all sorts of folks while manning the ice house. In the muggy lowlands of Robeson County, ice was a sought after commodity — no matter if you were raising tobacco or bidding on it in the warehouses. But as the cash crop went into decline, and Townsend considered his career prospects, he chose to leave the town of 2,000 people to work in retail. 

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.