Lindsay Foster Thomas

Producer, "The State of Things"

Ways To Connect

One year ago, a jazz advocacy program called the Art of Cool Project started having a monthly concert series at an art gallery in Durham.  Today, that project has expanded to Raleigh and is living up to its mission of creating spaces for jazz artists to perform and supporting musicians financially.

Creepy crawling creatures co-exist among us in our homes, but before you whip out the bug spray, consider this offer from scientist Michelle Trautwein. She and a team of researchers would like to inspect, collect samples from and analyze the insect species found in and around your home.

Coach, educator and activist LeRoy T. Walker spent his career breaking the color barrier. He was the first African-American coach of a U.S. Olympic Track Team, the first black president of the United States Olympic Committee and the man who, along with Duke University coach Al Buehler, united the races around the sport of track and field in Durham, NC.

“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. Sutton now raises heirloom chickens in North Carolina and uses farming as a way to heal from the trauma of combat.

One night in December 1995, Jill Marker was leaving her job as assistant manager of an artificial flower shop called the Silk Plant Forest in Winston-Salem, NC when she was savagely beaten and left for dead. A few months later, police charged a man named Kalvin Michael Smith with the crime and he was convicted by a jury the next year. Smith has always maintained his innocence and several follow-up investigations show that police may have mishandled the case.

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.