Shawn Wen

Associate Producer, "The State of Things"

Shawn Wen joined the staff of The State of Things in March 2012 and served as associate producer until February 2014.

She is a writer and multimedia artist. Her radio work has aired on This American Life, Studio 360, Marketplace, Freakonomics, and Rhode Island Public Radio.

Her video work has screened at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Carpenter Center for Visual Art at Harvard University, and the Camden International Film Festival.

Shawn is the recipient of the Royce Fellowship and the Third Coast Scholarship. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Literary Arts.

Claudia Horwitz of Stone Circles teaches activists to engage in a spiritual practice.
www.stonecircles.org

Claudia Horwitz was a young political activist who worked to raise awareness around hunger and homelessness.  She found a high burn-out rate among activists she worked with it. Through her career, Claudia saw people drop out of political organizing for a variety of reasons, such as exhaustion, lack of progress, illness and addiction.  

The film adaptation of Frank Yerby's 1946 best-selling novel, The Foxes of Harrow.
wikipedia.org

African-American literary authors like James Baldwin or Zora Neale Hurston are famous for their depictions of black life. But these novelists have also written books with white protagonists. Why is this unexpected? Is there a mandate that black authors write only about black characters?

Roger Manley

Thousands of curious visitors have made the trek out to Lucama, North Carolina.  The tiny rural town, home to just over a thousand people, has become an unlikely tourist attraction. The visitors come to see the whirligigs.  These are giant windmills, measuring up to six stories high and 50 feet wide, with hundreds of small moving parts. 

Hannah Shaw

Mount Moriah fans are familiar with Heather McIntyre’s heart-wrenching vocals.  But they may not be familiar with her work with the summer camp Girls Rock NC.  In fact, several fan favorites of the Triangle music scene support Girls Rock, including singer-songwriter Laura Thurston and Maria Albani of Schooner.

David Alsobrooks

When Nike used the Beatle’s song “Revolution” in an ad campaign, the Beatles sued. Their lawyer released a statement: “The Beatles’ position is that they don’t sing jingles to peddle sneakers, beer, pantyhose or anything else.” 

State Senate chamber
Dave DeWitt / WUNC

Benjamin Franklin famously said, "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."  But in the North Carolina legislature, three competing plans seek to reform the tax code, and the future of these plans is all but certain.  Two bills are waiting in the Senate Finance Committee. One bill passed the House yesterday and will move to the Senate.

Cover of Tracy Thompson's New Book, 'The New Mind of the South.'
http://www.tracythompson.com/new-mind-of-the-south.php

As the economics, politics, and demographics of the South change, what happens to the culture and identity of the region?

Smithfield Foods promised to cut emissions.
humanesociety.org

Smithfield Foods is set to be sold to Chinese firm in a $7.1 billion deal. The Shuanghui Group is the largest meat processor in China, and they have agreed to purchase Smithfield Foods to satisfy a large demand for American-made pork in China. If the deal goes through, it would be the largest ever Chinese acquisition of an American company.

A drone
U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Brian Ferguson / http://commons.wikimedia.org

Last week, President Obama laid out his strategy for a new phase in the war on terror.  He repeated his belief that Guantanamo Bay should be closed and cited the political reasons for his failure to do so until now. 

Obama also outlined a new policy that scales back the use of drones to kill suspected national security threats.  What are the laws and policies that President Obama faces? 

A crowd od protesters in Miami rallies against the confirmation of Judge Samuel Alito, who opposes abortion.
Danny Hammontree

Host Frank Stasio speaks to a panel of experts to discuss the fight over abortion legislation in North Carolina. Jessica Jones is WUNC’s Capitol Bureau Chief; Suzanne Buckley is the Executive Director of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice North Carolina; Tami Fitzgerald is the executive director of North Carolina Values Coalition; and Erika Levi is an OB/GYN and abortion provider in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Homeward Bound: The New Domesticity by Emily Matchar
Emily Matchar / http://emilymatchar.com

You may have noticed a DIY trend among young people these days. Some are getting into knitting sweaters; others are keeping backyard chicken coups. Otherwise, they are making cheese, canning, beekeeping and growing their own vegetables. These labor-intensive homemaking projects may not be just a trend towards rustic pleasures.

Emily Matchar calls this movement the New Domesticity.  And she documents this phenomenon in her new book, "Homeward Bound: Why Women are Embracing the New Domesticity." Generally, she is writing not about people who embrace DIY culture out of necessity, but rather as a voluntary lifestyle. 

Downtown Raleigh Skyline
http://www.flickr.com/photos/tsolson / flickr

It’s no secret that Raleigh and other parts of the Triangle have changed drastically in the past decades. But new linguistic research shows that along with social and industrial change, the Triangle is seeing its Southern accent fade.

The new album Coyotes by Birds and Arrows
birdsandarrows.com / Birds and Arrows

When Birds and Arrows first started making music, they were writing a lot of love songs. But after 10 years of living in Chapel Hill, their music has evolved and become grounded in the North Carolina landscape. They've recently released their new album, Coyotes, which features a great deal of collaboration with other friends and musicians.

Seal of Winston-Salem
City of Winston-Salem

  The Rhino Times has been the signature conservative newspaper in the Triad since January of 1992. But it’s recently announced its closing, after 21 years of service. In other news, today marks the centennial anniversary of the joining of Winston and Salem, to become Winston-Salem.

Underwater photo of a whale
UNCG BioMusic

Music production is often considered a very “human” creation. But scientists have recently discovered the songs of mice, elephants, and other animals that human ears are unable to capture.  Scientists and musicians in Greensboro have been exploring the world of biomusic, music produced by nature, beneath the ocean surface.

home page for TracTerrorism.org
TracTerrorism.org / TracTerrorism.org

Veryan Khan has devoted the last decade to researching terrorist groups across the globe. Trackingterrorism.org is a database created by Khan, to curate information about different terrorist groups.

Bertie County schools has a deficit of $700,000.
RambergMediaImages / Flickr/Creative Commons

The previous State Elections Board's term expired just as they were beginning to investigate $235,000 of allegedly illegal political donations.  The donations implicate Gov. Pat McCrory and legislators from both parties.  Governor McCrory made the unusual decision of replacing all of the board members. 

http://elizabethspencerdocumentary.org / Landscapes of The Heart

Elizabeth Spencer’s most famous book is called “The Light in the Piazza.”  It’s the story of an American girl who falls in love with a man in Italy.  And it’s been adapted to a movie and a stage musical.  But Elizabeth has created a large body of work, though none is quite so famous. There’s a new documentary based on Elizabeth Spencer’s life called “Landscapes of the Heart: The Elizabeth Spencer Story.”

Chef Ashley Christensen is a finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef in the Southeast.
ac-restaurants.com

To Ashley Christensen, a restaurant is not just a place where you sit down to eat.  It’s an entire concept.  She carefully plots an immersive experience for her diners. 

Staffers from Carolina Connection, a student-run radio program, present the work on the State of Things.  From left: Instructor Adam Hochberg, Wesley Graham, Mike Rodriguez, Kirsten Chang, James Kaminsky, and Mark Haywood.
Shawn Wen

A group of student journalists is getting a course in professional radio reporting at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The class has opened a world of experience to them. One of the students, Mark Haywood, had the opportunity to report on an incident of human trafficking right in his hometown of Randolph County, North Carolina. 

North Carolina's Congressional District 12 in 1992.
http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us

In 2010, when Republicans won control of the state House and Senate, they radically redrew voting districts in favor of their own party.  In previous elections, Democrats have done the same.  Now, there's a bipartisan effort in the state House of Representatives to reform the redistricting process.

The original deed book of slave records from Buncombe County.
Max Cooper, via mountainx.com

During the Great Depression, the New Deal funded a project to collect the narratives of former slaves.  Sarah Gudger came forward to give an account of her life as a slave in Buncombe County.  Her testimony was the same brutal story that is familiar to many of us.  She described a “hard life” of nothing but “work, work, work,” under the threat of abuse. 

US Army image of a bassoon from the US Army Band Europe.
Flicker user SJrankin

  The music critic and composer Cecil Gray once said: "The bassoon in the orchestra plays the same role as Gorgonzola among cheeses -- a figure for fun. Actually, the bassoon can be the most romantic and passionate of instruments, and Gorgonzola can be the finest of cheeses, but they must both be treated properly."  Why would anyone pick up the bassoon?

BBC Radio 4, via Flickr

Margaret Thatcher is as divisive in death as she was in life.  Even as many around the world mourn her loss this week, others celebrate it.  London police are bracing for protests and possible violence at her funeral.

lystrabooks.blogspot.com

  On Christmas Eve of 1963, a young woman named Lucille Rinaldi was murdered in her apartment in downtown Chapel Hill.  Later the same day, her husband Frank Rinaldi was arrested and charged with murder.

Over the next two years, the trial consumed the attention of the town.  Nora Gaskin was 12 years old when Lucille Rinaldi was killed. The case left an indelible impression on her. She is the author of "Until Proven: A Mystery in Two Parts" (Lystra/ 2013). She joins host Frank Stasio to discuss the novel she has written based on the murder.

Nicole Triche
twitter.com

Rivalries are fierce at the World Taxidermy Championships. Judges, armed with flashlights and magnifying glasses, examine anatomy and artistry. And taxidermists, who fancy themselves artists, vie for the legitimacy of their craft.

Nicole Triche’s new documentary, “Taxidermists,” premiers at the annual Full Frame Documentary  Film Festival. Triche is also an assistant professor at Elon University in the school of communications.

Poet Natalie Diaz
coppercanyonpress.org

Natalie Diaz grew up on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation. While many of those around her struggled with the lack of opportunities, she saw basketball as her way out.

The Status of Girls in North Carolina
Meredith College

Two new reports examine the status of girls and women in North Carolina.  As it turns out, girls are bucking the stereotype. They’ve seen gains in math and science testing.

"Middle school is when we typically think of girls sort of disengaging from science and math," Amie Hess told Frank Stasio in an interview on The State of Things.  Hess is the lead researcher on The Status of Girls in North Carolina. "What we found when you look at the 8th grade end-of-grade testing rates is that girls are right on par with boys.  In some cases, [they are] slightly ahead of boys," she said. 

Jill McCorkle
Tom Rankin

Jill McCorkle's first novel in 17 years, “Life After Life” (Algonquin/ 2013), is set in a retirement community. There, the dying grapple with life and death in humorous, dark turns. One character moved to the area to be close to the grave of her former lover. Another fakes dementia to avoid having to deal with his adult son. Jill McCorkle joins host Frank Stasio to talk about her newest work.

Amazon.com

The Pew Research Center released its annual State of the Media report for 2012, and television news viewership is down. Political coverage has declined, and on local TV news, 40 percent of the content is made up of traffic, sports and weather. Meanwhile, newspaper newsrooms in 2012 employed 40,000 people, the smallest number of full-time journalists since 1978.

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