August 2009

Pet Food Drive this Friday! (Carrboro Plaza Vet + Orange County Animal Shelter)

I just did the following commentary for WCHL which will play on Friday of this week.  I've organized Carrboro Plaza Vet's 2nd Annual Pet Food Drive in conjunction with the Orange County Animal Shelter.  My first blog posting on this site was about this about the first pet food drive that I organized last year which you can see here:


Food Collected during the 2008 Pet Food Drive



Whither Kerr Drug, University Mall?

Kerr Drugs will soon move from University Mall to a new location on rte. 54.

That may not seem a particularly earthshaking bit of news. However, for those of us who have a long-standing relationship with that pharmacy, it is a bit of a tremor. For those of us watching the economy change the paths and patterns of Chapel Hill, and for those who've kept an eye on the Mall ever since Belk closed and the K&W moved, through at least two (is it?) changes of ownership, it's at the very least a notable rumble underfoot.

As I learned visiting in Florida, Dillard's recently announced that it was closing both Sarasota stores, shocking the non-Saks shoppers in the area and, even more, the other occupants of the Dillard’s-anchored malls. I instantly thought of the valiant survival of our University Mall Dillard's, despite the opening of Southpoint and shifting ideas about the Mall’s target market. It's hard not to wonder whether it can yet survive the shaky consumer economy, especially if the parent company is sharpening its cost-cutting razors.

Water Becoming Unaffordable in Orange County

The vicious cycle of annual OWASA residential rate increases many times the rate of inflation is rapidly making water unaffordable. These exorbitant increases are unwarranted, reflective of poor management decisions. OWASA has set-up a vicious cycle of rate increases leading to reduction of water usage, which leads to further rate increases, leading to further usage reduction, ad infinitum. This system is not sustainable.

Hole foods?

This hurts me. I have good friends at Whole Foods. But now I have another reason not to shop there. If you are a progressive and you are shopping at Whole Foods, you are feeding a high-priced machine that violates many of your personal principles. Please join me in shopping elsewhere. And just so you know what soapbox your hard-earned dollars are funding, consider this from Whole Foods CEO John Mackey in the Wall Street Journal.
The last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. ::

Reality Check Report: Guiding Principles for Quality Growth.

This coming Tuesday, the Orange County Commissioners are scheduled to endorse the Reality Check Report: Guiding Principles for Quality Growth. Apparently this was a conference held back in February for visioning the ideal principles of growth in the 15-county local area. The 3 guiding principles adopted by this group are:

  • Transit
  • Vibrant Centers
  • Sustained Greenspace 

These are all solid principles, but are they really the top three? What about clean air and water? What about human issues like education?

Does anyone know anything about this process or the groups sponsoring it? The only local name that I recognize is Rosemary Waldorf.

Sustain Foundation Looking for Board Members

Looking to get more involved in the Chapel Hill/Carrboro community? Interested in environmental awareness, healthy lifestyles, educational access, and international partnerships?

Sustain Foundation is a growing, grassroots, community service organization seeing passionate and committed individuals to serve on the board in an advisory role. The requirements of the position include a regular monthly meeting lasting no longer than 90 minutes and critically reading comprehensive ‘update’ documents every other week. Board terms last one year, and additional information is included below. Send an email to Sustain Foundation at to inquire more information about Sustain Foundation and this opportunity to substantially contribute to the development of a local non-profit.

More information: The mission of Sustain Foundation, a 501c3 based in Carrboro, is to create and implement sustainable solutions to health, environmental and education challenges in the local and global community. The organization focuses on promoting partnership of mutual support in order to match the strengths and needs of different communities. Within the local community the organization has focused on Latina women's health through a walking program as well as environmental awareness through the publishment of the Community Trail Guide, which mapped natural surface trails in the area. Sustain Foundation is also active in promoting well-being through a local women's running group. In Sakina, Tanzania, Sustain Foundation is implementing community-based educational and health programs.


PO BOX 1195 Carrboro, NC 27510

Herrera's New Family

Congratulations to Carrboro Alderman John Herrera on his recent remarriage.  (A beautiful wedding ceremony it was, too!) John's new blended family has six (!) children and I received the news this afternoon that his new family is making a new home in Holly Springs, which necessitates his resignation from the Board of Aldermen.

I want to say that although I will miss having John on the board (and in Carrboro), I know he is doing the best thing for his family and I wish him all the best.  I am also confident that John will remain a leader in North Carolina and I look forward to hearing what he is up to next.  Congratulations and thanks for your service, John.

Here's the email he sent the BOA:

Kennel Permit Places Orange County Rural Buffer and New Hope Creek at Risk

I am sure most, if not all, Orange County residents are unaware that a Special Use Permit (SUP) to cram a large dog boarding and training facility on a portion of an occupied residential lot bordering New Hope Creek in the Rural Buffer of Orange County has been granted by our Board of Adjustment (BOA). I am nonplussed how this came to pass.

Orange County’s 1981 Comprehensive Plan describes our Rural Buffer as “a low-density area consisting of single-family homes situated on large lots…a minimum size of two (2) acres…rural in character and which will remain rural, contain low-density residential uses.” New Hope Creek is a primary tributary of Jordan Lake. Several communities draw drinking water from Jordan and thus have a direct interest in protecting its watershed. It is one of the most important wildlife habitats in the Triangle.

Herald-Sun Improves Lackluster Website By Stealing NY Times Online Layout

In one of the most transparent website design copy jobs I have ever seen, the Herald-Sun stole basically the entire frontpage format of the online version of the New York Times this week, and as far as I can tell, does not give the NYT any credit as the inspiration for the visual upgrade. 

Open the two websites in two browser windows to compare:

New York Times

Durham Herald-Sun

At the top left in light blue, the NYT lists: Jobs, Real Estate, Autos, All Classifieds

At the top left, in light blue, the Herald Sun lists: Jobs, Real Estate, Cars, Classifieds, Obituaries

The NYT has a Most Popular feature with three tabbed rankings for stories that are either Emailed, Blogged, or Searched. The Herald-Sun has a Most Popular feature but its tabs are Recommended, Commented, and Viewed. 

The NYT encourages people to Log In at the upper right.  The Herald-Sun encourages us to Sign In at the same location.

Trail Guide Coordinator Needed

Community Trail Guide

Sustain Foundation has published the first comprehensive mapping of the natural surface trails in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. These important natural resources are unknown to the community at large.  In response, members of the organization used GPS/GIS to walk to trails, researched and designed 12 trifold brochures about the 12 main trails in the area and linked them all on general map of Chapel Hill/Carrboro. There are over 25,000 brochures in print and they are currently for sale at several businesses and at UNC Student Stores. However, Sustain Foundation needs help in accomplishing our mission of providing these trail guides to the community so that people are introduced to these beautiful trails and begin utilizing them.

Position: Sustain Foundation is looking for volunteers who genuinely appreciate running in nature or being active in the environment more generally to promote the Community Trail Guide. We are building a Task Force of volunteers to attend events and lead creative efforts in which awareness and sales of the Trail Guide are increased. In addition, Sustain Foundation hopes to have a weekly guided hike and/or run of each of the 12 trails over a 12 week period to students or community members. This volunteer opportunity would be a great way to serve the community by making information about the vast, beautiful natural areas and trail network known to all who seek to trail run, hike or connect with nature. Also, volunteers would be able to network with businesses, non-profits and students/community members with similiar interests in active living and promoting natural spaces. Positions could vary from a structured weekly engagement with the community such as leading a walk/run on a trail to consideration leadership and creativity in event planning or fundraising for the Sustain Foundation and for the team through selling the guides on commission and splitting the revenues. Semester commitment of 3 hours per week. Visit our website: to learn more and contact if interested.



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