Lindsay Foster Thomas

Producer, "The State of Things"

Ways to Connect

Occasionally, there are headlines about a new company coming to the area and bringing a certain number of jobs with it. Politicians love to talk about job creation, but what does it really mean for a local economy when a handful of people have a shot at employment? How many new jobs would it take to have a truly positive impact on a down economy and does it matter if the jobs are low wage?

Legend has it that Baldemar Velasquez led his first fight for migrant farmworkers’ rights at the age of 12. He started working in the fields at 4 years old and soon became a self-taught scholar of social justice.

There was never any doubt that Yolanda Rabun was cut out for the spotlight. She attended a performing arts high school in Atlanta, GA where she honed her singing and acting skills.  She continued to perform while attending law school where she soon learned that the courtroom is just another kind of theater.

Songwriter Willie French Lowery is best remembered for penning Indian heritage anthems like “Proud to be a Lumbee” and writing the original music for “Strike at the Wind,” an annual outdoor drama that honors a Lumbee cultural hero.  Lowery was also a successful rock musician, educator, activist and Robeson County community leader before he passed away in May at the age of 67.

What did Chapel Hill look like during the Civil Rights Movement? Photographer Jim Wallace captured images for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. But Wallace didn’t see fire hoses or police dogs turned on protesters.

Fresh off of an international tour with Grammy-nominated duo The Foreign Exchange, vocalist Jeanne Jolly is hard at work on her full-length solo debut. The Raleigh native draws inspiration for her songs from the country music classics she grew up listening to, her hometown roots and the grief she’s experienced over losing her mother to cancer.

“One Man…Two Titanium Legs…100 Chickens.” That’s the tag line for a forthcoming documentary called “The Farmer Veteran Project” produced by Vittles Films. The movie centers around the story of Alex Sutton, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who was seriously injured on his final tour of duty.

Writer Moira Crone makes her first foray into science-fiction with the novel, “The Not Yet” (UNO Press/2012). In it, the year is 2121 and New Orleans is mostly underwater and the wealthy elite can use their fortunes to live for hundreds of years.

An assignment from his kindergarten teacher to make a book about the alphabet set Ashley Bryan on the path to become a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. It was unchartered territory for an African-American at the time, but Bryan broke through the barriers of the publishing industry and has written more than 30 books since 1962.

Writer Leonard Pitts Jr. is known for his nationally syndicated, award-winning newspaper column. Recently, he began trying his hand as a novelist. His second work of fiction is “Freeeman” (Agate Publishing/2012), a historical novel set in the post-Civil War South.

Novelist Tayari Jones is the author of three books, all set in Atlanta, GA. Her latest, “Silver Sparrow” (Algonquin Books/2011) introduces readers to Atlanta’s black middle class through the story of two sisters, Dana and Chaurisse, whose father is married to both of the girls’ mothers.

More than 13 million American children and teenagers suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, hyperactivity and other mental illnesses. The naturally irrational, impulsive or volatile behavior kids exhibit every day makes it tough to accurately diagnose them and medicating minors is a controversial practice, particularly when the study of child mental health is considered under-researched.

Rosemary Thornton may have driven by your house a few times. She may have even slowed down, whipped out her camera and snapped a few pictures. But, she’s not casing the place. Thornton is documenting history. If she’s interested in your dwelling, it’s likely you live in a kit home, a mail-order house that could be purchased out of a catalog in the early 20th century.

Ntozake Shange’s 1977 choreopoem, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” rocked audiences when it was initially staged in California and later on Broadway. It has since been performed on stage countless times around the world and was recently adapted into a film directed by Tyler Perry.

Singer-songwriter Tom Maxwell was an eyewitness to how the Chapel Hill, NC music scene changed in the 1990s after it was dubbed “the new Seattle” by music critics. Suddenly, local rock bands were being courted and exploited by major record labels and making music became less fun for Maxwell.

Businesses in North Carolina with three or more employees are required by law to purchase workers’ compensation insurance if they can’t cover the cost of employees’ injuries outright. But, News & Observer reporter Mandy Locke discovered this law is seldom enforced and that thousands of employees are put at risk everyday on the job. 

Senior Reed Turchi is graduating from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with something more than a degree. He’s leaving college with a business: a record label he built from the ground up as a sophomore in college.

Public art brings people together and creates community conversations. When town leaders in Clayton, North Carolina set out to launch their public arts program, they enlisted the help of an outsider named Jody Servon. Servon was hired to consult on how to make a sustainable public arts program and she took her role a step further by making a documentary about Clayton’s efforts to create a vibrant public art scene.

In 2002, theologian and writer Lauren Winner was feeling blessed to have found what felt like faith’s perfect fit in Christianity. She converted from Judaism and wrote about her spiritual transition in the best-selling memoir “Girl Meets God.”

Singer-songwriter Gigi Dover has been a staple of the music scene in North Carolina since the late 1980s when she performed with Americana band The Rank Outsiders.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is a rock star of the stars. The astrophysicist is one of the most famous faces in science. Tyson is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the host of the PBS show, “NOVA scienceNOW.”

An assignment from his kindergarten teacher to make a book about the alphabet set Ashley Bryan on the path to become a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. It was unchartered territory for an African-American at the time, but Bryan broke through the barriers of the publishing industry and has written more than 30 books since 1962.

Chef Njathi Kabui spends a lot of time thinking about his native Kenya while he tends to his Apex, NC garden. Kabui spent much of his childhood working in the coffee fields of the country’s Central Province.

Emily Pilloton’s course, Studio H, is unlike any other offered at Bertie County Early College High School. The students who are enrolled get a break from staring at computer screens to work with their hands, constructing projects that benefit the local community.

Brian Horton honed his saxophone skills as a student at North Carolina Central University’s world renowned Jazz Studies Program. The education and connections he made there have served him well in his music career.