February 2008

Hidden Voices - Because We're Still Here (And Moving)

I just saw the 10:00 AM performance of Because We're Still Here (And Moving) at the ArtsCenter. If you're not familiar with the show yet, it's a theatrical retelling of 140 years of Chapel Hill and Carrboro's African-American History. The fine people at Hidden Voices have spent two years working in the community to collect hundreds of stories and photographs.

The production was wonderful. It uses an authentic style of African-American multi-generational storytelling to make connections between the past and present. I most enjoyed the stories of Ruth Stroud, especially her recollections of her grandparents' story about being freed from slavery. I also picked up a copy of the accompanying neighborhood walking tour guide, and I learned so much about what was here (long) before I arrived in 1998.

I highly encourage you to see the FREE production tonight at 8:00 at the ArtsCenter. And if you know a young person that you can take with you, make sure you do. It has the potential to be a wonderful opportunity for community building.

"Monitoring Civil Rights on the Ground" & OCBORDC Meeting

From Peggy Misch:

Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee Friends,

In order to have two speakers talk to us and have a DVD player, I've called the meeting this month in a public room with equipment when guests are available. Please come and bring someone else.

The BORDC website (www.bordc.org) is filled with lots of information on pending legislation. We can make a difference by contacting David Price, responding to candidates with questions when they appeal for money, writing letters to the editor.

Below details of the next meeting, I've copied some current activities in Congress, taken from BORDC's website.

You may support Tamara Tal's arraignment in Chapel Hill Courthouse (enter from the East Franklin Street Post Office), Feb 18, sometime after 9AM. The charge is "failure to disperse" from Burger King during the national campaign to support tomato pickers supplying this chain, November 30.

"Monitoring Civil Rights on the Ground": Screening by local videograher of UNC students supporting citizens of Jena, LA, during town's commemoration of MLK Day, Jan 21, 2008, and report on incident of arrest for failure to disperse at Burger King on Elliott Road Nov 20. All welcome for discussion. Orange County Bill of Rights Defense Committee, 7 PM, Feb 27, Chapel Hill Town Hall, Training Room. 942-2535.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008 - 2:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, Training Room

WCOM 103.5 FM Broadcasts 11th National Homelessness Marathon

WCOM 103.5 FM Broadcasts 11th National Homelessness Marathon: 7-10 PM live, Feb 20. Local speakers: Laurie Tucker and Chris Moran of IFC, elected officials Sally Greene, Mark Chilton, Eric Hallman. Webcast www.communityradio.coop.
10PM-8AM Feb 21 Homelessness Marathon National Broadcast. www.homelessnessmarathon.org.

February 20, 2008 from 7pm to 10pm live on WCOM 103.5 FM, webcast www.communityradio.coop

7-8pm Who Are the Homeless?
Laurie Tucker, Residential Services Director for the Inter-Faith Council and her guests Abdul and Elaine put a face on homelessness.

8-9pm How Can We Help?
Sally Greene, Chair of Orange County's 10 Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, Mark Chilton, Carrboro Mayor and Eric Hallman, Hillsborough Commissioner struggle to find answers.

9-10pm Your Voice,Your Turn Call 929-9601
Chris Moran, Executive Director of the IFC, a local non-profit organization that operates two shelters for the homeless, will be availble to take your calls.

10pm till 8am on Thursday the 21st Homelessness Marathon National Broadcast

The Homelessness Marathon's mission is to raise awareness about homelessness and poverty in America and around the world. Go to www.homelessnessmarathon.org. for more information!


Wednesday, February 20, 2008 - 2:00pm to 5:00pm


WCOM 103.5 FM, webcast www.communityradio.coop

Pauli Murray Awards Ceremony

This just in from Orange County:

Pauli Murray Awards Ceremony

The Orange County Human Relations Commission will present the Pauli Murray Awards and Human Relations Essay Contest winners from 3-5 p.m. on Sunday, February 24, 2008, at The Little Theater of New Hope Elementary School (1900 New Hope Church Road, Chapel Hill). Additionally, the student winners of the 2007 Human Relations Month Essay Contest will be acknowledged and the winners will read their essays. This annual contest is open to students from all schools in the County and offers cash awards of up to $100. During this ceremony, Durham’s Instruments of Praise Dance Ministry and The Newman Center Choir of Chapel Hill will provide entertainment.

The award is in recognition of the life and legacy of the Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray. The Reverend Dr. Pauli Murray was a remarkable woman who never let racial and gender discrimination and intolerance keep her from achieving her goals. Instead, these events were a catalyst for a life of activism. Former recipients include Rebecca Clark, Lightning Brown, Joe Herzenberg and Shirley Marshall; Balloons & Tunes (Carrboro) and Sports Endeavors (Hillsborough).

This event is free and opened to the public.

Contact: James Spivey, Orange County Human Rights and Relations (919) 968-2288



Sunday, February 24, 2008 - 10:00am to 12:00pm


The Little Theater of New Hope Elementary School, 1900 New Hope Church Road

Planning Board Diversity

Last November I made a comment here on OP about someone who observed that recent appointees to the Chapel Hill Planning Board had close ties to those on the Council and their campaigns for reelection. You can follow the thread to see the reactions. Today, George C reported that a UNC professor was recently added to the Planning Board. I think that's great!

Military recruiters in Orange County schools

I was pretty shocked to read this news:

Three students were sent to an in-school suspension classroom after refusing to take a military aptitude test at Cedar Ridge High School on Tuesday.

Principal Gary Thornburg said the students were not being disciplined, rather the in-school suspension teacher was the staff person available to supervise them.

More than 300 juniors spent two hours Tuesday and again Wednesday taking the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery.

Thornburg said the test, which the U.S. military calls the ASVAB, is traditionally administered to juniors at his school. The military provides the tests, proctors and grading without charge. In exchange, the scores are sent to military branch recruiters and the school.

- newsobserver.com: 3 decline to take military test, 2/14/08

It turns out people are resisting these tests all around the nation:

Do we need a Chapel Hill Farmers Market?

Will students shop there? Will downtown residents? Will it draw customers away from Carrboro's market?

The Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership is working with local farmers and the town's Parks and Recreation Department to establish an afternoon market on top of the Wallace Parking Deck this spring.

- newsobserver.com | Chapel Hill seeks farmers market, 2/18/08

And my main question: Will the Town finally clean up the scuzz at the Wallace Deck? The place is currently filthy, dark, and smelly. One of the least appealing parts of our downtown.

I'm all about supporting local businesses, fostering vitality downtown, and sustaining local agriculture. But I'm not clear how a farmer's market makes the top priority list, especially when we have a great one established a mile away in Carrboro (and sometimes in Southern Village). I'd like to hear more about the rationale for this.

How can we let this happen

I found this very disturbing because we are on one hand trying to help people who are homeless - who probably have mental health problems and don't have any health insurance and don't have a provider to give them help - and we are shutting down another health provider that was doing great work in all three counties. Here's the article:

Around 1500 mental health patients won’t get services this year because of cuts in state reimbursement rates [says] Doctor John Gilmore, a psychiatrist at UNC Hospitals. The funding cut has caused mental health assistance group Caring Family Network to cease offering services in Orange, Chatham and Person counties.

CFN received around 12 million dollars from the federal and state budgets this fiscal year, and has dealt with financial problems. Gilmore says mental health funding for the state doesn’t provide enough money to go around.

Gilmore believes the problem centers around the privatization of local mental health centers so that public mental health systems are now in the hands of private companies.

It's going to cost how much?

Note: The DTH source article was incorrect; read Bob Hall's comment below. Thanks, Bob. -JB

Did anyone else read the article in today's Daily Tar Heel about the meeting of the Mayor's Committee on Campaign Finance on Monday? Below is an excerpt, which concerns me a bit..

The committee decided to include rescue funds as a separate provision despite concerns about complicating the campaign process, financing the fund and enforcing the necessary spending reports.

Benchmarks for matching candidates' spending with public funding also were also established.

Candidates for council office will receive $3,000 in public funds if they can raise $750 from personal contributions and $2,250 from other local avenues.

Mayoral candidates must raise $1,500 in personal contributions and an additional $4,500 from community sources to be matched with $6,000 in public funds.

"It does open up the field to more citizens who do have a real base in the community but may not necessarily have access to a lot of money," said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a Durham-based nonprofit that advocates for campaign reform.

Years of Planning Down the Drain?

I was glad to read in Lisa Sorg's article in the Independent ( www.indyweek.com/gyrobase/Content?oid=oid%3A168911 ) a couple of weeks ago that OWASA is contemplating emergency back-up plans for providing water to Chapel Hill and Carrboro.  But I was concerned to read that one of the options under consideration is the construction of a new water-intake at Jordan Lake.

While we all hope that the drought will break before we run out of water, it is only prudent to consider what our back-up plans will be.  Even with more drastic mandatory conservation measures on the way next week ( http://owasa.org/Press_Releases/press_release_20080218.pdf ), it is possible (but not likely) that our water supply could run out.



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