The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:

Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.

Visit the main SOT page.

Jonathan Byrd

Growing up in Chapel Hill, Jonathan Byrd never thought he could make a career out of playing music. But some soul-searching after a stint in the U.S. Navy and a series of disappointing jobs led him to question why he was forcing himself into doing things he wasn’t good at and didn’t love. Jonathan began touring and performing his original songs, folksy ballads infused with bluegrass-style flat-picking and classic rock foundations. With “Pickup Cowboy” Johnny Waken, the duo aims first and foremost to put on a great show that will energize the audience. 

pipeline construction
Public Herald / Flickr - Creative Commons

The federal regulatory body responsible for assessing for the environmental effects of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline recently released their final report. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission determined the project will incur “some adverse effects” but proper safety and environmental mitigation will reduce the risk “to less-than significant levels.” 

Jeff Myers rides a wave in Rodanthe in 2012
Chris Bickford / Chris Bickford

Photographer Chris Bickford has traveled the world and soaked in different landscapes and cultures, but there is a special kind of serenity he only finds at the North Carolina shore. For more than a decade, Bickford has lived in the Outer Banks taking pictures of the region's shifting sands and close-knit surfing community. He's gathered a collection of black and white photographs in a new book called “Legends of the Sandbar” (Burn Magazine/2017). 

Cover of Coconut, Ginger, Shrimp, Rum cookbook
Brigid Washington / Skyhorse Publishing 2017

Brigid Washington grew up with the Caribbean flavors of her family's native Trinidad. Ginger, coconut, fresh seafood and other ingredients shaped her palate and her experiences in the kitchen.

But food was not an important part of her adult life until, as a dissatisfied writer living in Raleigh, she felt compelled to walk into the kitchen of Bloomsbury Bistro and ask the chef to teach her the culinary arts. That brazen request led to culinary school and a cookbook. “Coconut. Ginger. Shrimp. Rum.: Caribbean Flavors for Every Season” (Skyhorse Publishing/2017) highlights the mainstay flavors of the islands with American fusion twists. 

This Wednesday, March 29, 2017 photo shows Ana Albuquerque, 25, during an interview in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. Albuquerque traveled to the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale, N.C., from Brazil 11 times over the course of more than a decade.
Silvia Izquierdo / Associated Press

Over the course of two decades, church leaders of the Word of Faith Fellowship in Spindale, North Carolina manipulated and abused congregants from Brazil, according to an investigation by the Associated Press. More than a dozen former members report being told to leave their family in Brazil to join the church in N.C. However, after they arrived they say they were forced into hard labor without pay and physically and emotionally abused.

Tashni Dubroy
Tashni Dubroy

Tashni Dubroy has served as president of Shaw University in Raleigh since 2015. As president, Dubroy has helped bolster the South’s oldest historically black university. She has been credited with increasing the school’s enrollment and closing a $4 million fundraising gap. Earlier this month, Dubroy was recognized for her work and awarded Female President of the Year at the 2017 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Awards. Now Dubroy is stepping away from Shaw University to work for Howard University in Washington D.C. as executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Bill T Jones
Bill T. Jones

Legendary dancer and choreographer Bill T. Jones was inspired to create his dance trilogy “Analogy” after reading W. G. Sebald’s novel “The Emigrants.” The book, like Jones’s resulting oeuvre, deals with issues of persecution, trauma, war and memory.

woman holds sign as man speaks into microphone
Marc Faletti / Rewire Media

As some states move to crack down on abortion clinics, protests at some facilities are heating up. In North Carolina scores of activists descend every weekend on A Preferred Women’s Health Center, an abortion clinic in Charlotte. Calla Hales, the director of the clinic, says anti-abortion protestors have become increasingly aggressive, and local police navigate a gray-zone of enforcing city ordinances.

stars at night
Jeremy Nicholson / Flickr - Creative Commons

Listening to audio is something we often do alone, whether it is in the car on the way to or from work or through a set of earbuds during an evening run. But people in Durham have another option for listening to audio stories with an event series called "Audio Under The Stars,” which gives adults permission to partake in their own kind of storytime. The events take place summer evenings on the lawn of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University. The series is now in it's fourth season.

Photo of Reverend Mykal Slack
Courtesy Mykal Slack

Mykal Slack grew up in rural Georgia in an enormous extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins. He was raised as a girl — the sex on his birth certificate — but from a young age he remembers crafting imaginary worlds in which he had a boy’s name.

Children sitting at the base of a tree.
World Relief Durham / World Relief Durham

In January President Donald Trump issued an executive order that capped the number of refugees who could enter the United States at 50,000. That number more than halved the quota the previous administration had advised resettlement agencies to prepare for. 

Jocelyn Olcott / Oxford University Press - 2017

In 1975 thousands of women from across the world gathered in Mexico City to discuss the state of the feminist movement. The U.N. had declared 1975 “International Women’s Year,” and a governmental conference in Mexico City served as the capstone event. 

Meanwhile, an NGO tribune took place in the city at the same time and drew some of the key leaders in feminism like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. The tribune and governmental conference also included women from poorer countries whose views of feminism were often at odds with their American counterparts.

Che Apalache / Che Apalache

The word ‘che’ is ubiquitous on the streets of Argentina. It is a term of endearment that people use often in casual conversation – similar to a word like buddy in American slang. So when North Carolina native Joe Troop decided to form a band in Buenos Aires with a group of his students, he found it fitting to characterize themselves using the term ‘che.’ The band Che Apalache is comprised of four musicians from three countries who fuse Appalachian folk with Latin American music. 

Image of two best friends
Flickr/ Stuart Seeger

Best friends are the constant in many people's lives. They rescue each other when a car breaks down. They join go on late-night quests for fast food. And they console and support each other in a time of need. The relationships of best friends have been fodder for movie plot lines for decades and exist in all genres.

Pollution in Shanghai, China
Leniners / Flickr - Creative Commons

Burning fossil fuels through cars and coal plants is exacerbating the presence of ground-level ozone gas in the air we breathe. The gas has been linked to negative effects on pulmonary health, but a new study from Duke University shows ozone may have serious consequences for heart health as well. 

Lanier Falls Cape Fear River, Raven Rock NC
bobistravelling / Flickr - Creative Commons

Last month a chemical compound found in the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority (CFPUA) water supply caught the attention of local officials. The contaminant GenX is manufactured by the Chemours Company at its Fayetteville Works plant. It is a replacement for a hazardous ingredient in Teflon.

Penguin Random House

Historian Nancy MacLean stumbled upon the work of James M. Buchanan when she was on the hunt for the ideological roots of the school voucher system. The Nobel Prize-winning economist was at the forefront of a push to popularize libertarianism. 

Outdoor Afro / Outdoor Afro

There is a common misconception that black people do not hike, camp or spend much time in the outdoors. This perception is perpetuated by images featured in nature magazines and fitness Instagram accounts that still predominantly feature white individuals and families. 

Photo: A Massachusetts voting station sign
Katri Niemi / Flickr

State lawmakers are considering another voter ID bill that would be brought to voters as a constitutional amendment. In 2013 lawmakers passed a voter ID measure that was deemed unconstitutional last year by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals . 

Author of 'Borne,' Jeff VanderMeer
Jeff VanderMeer

In Jeff VanderMeer’s highly successful Southern Reach trilogy, characters were cut off from one another, and their stories unfolded against the backdrop of a devastated landscape. In his latest novel “Borne,” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux/2017) he highlights how a new cast of characters attempt to make connections with each other.

Cover of 'The Reason You're Alive' by Matthew Quick
Matthew Quick / Harper Collins - 2017

In his new novel “The Reason You’re Alive” (HarperCollins/2017), writer Matthew Quick tells the story of an aging Vietnam veteran grappling with civilian life.

Profile photo of Wendell Tabb outside WUNC Durham studios.
Courtesy Wendell Tabb

Wendell Tabb spent much of his life training for a career as a stage actor. So when an opportunity arose to teach drama at Hillside High School in Durham, he thought the gig would be a detour on his life journey.

Donald Trump Jr.
Richard Drew / AP - 2017

Senate Republican leaders unveiled the newest version of their health care bill intended to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The new bill differs from the Senate’s last attempt in a few significant ways, namely a resurrection of two Obama-era taxes on high-income individuals. 

Woman's hand gesturing 'no'
Robert Couse-Baker / Flickr - Creative Commons

The 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling in State v. Way declared that women cannot legally revoke consent during a sexual encounter. 

Lizzy Ross and Omar Ruiz-Lopez
Violet Bell

Last year Omar Ruiz-Lopez began playing alongside songstress Lizzy Ross. Ruiz-Lopez is a classically trained violinist, viola and cello player who complements her folksy sound. As their collaboration grew, he became more than just an accompanist, and the duo became known as Violet Bell.

The band has since performed about 200 shows together and recently returned from a tour that took them from the Outer Banks to Massachusetts. Their songs reflect the beauty they find all around them and their sense of wonder and gratitude. 

foster care children
Credit U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons

The opioid crisis continues to ravage the United States. Children of family members caught up in the epidemic face a particular set of pressures. One of the markers of that extra pressure is the steady rise in foster care rates around the country. In North Carolina the number of children in the foster care system has risen 28 percent in the past five years and is now at a 10-year high. 

Two eagles flying
Ellen Tinsley / Dreaming Song Photos

Ellen Tinsley is acutely aware of the behavior and patterns of bald eagles in North Carolina. The retired equine veterinarian is a bald eagle monitor for the United States Army Corps of Engineers. She spends most mornings at Jordan Lake tracking the behavior of Petruchio, Kate, Hershey and Godiva – eagles who have nested in the area. 

An image of the book cover for 'The Blood of Emmett Till'
Simon & Schuster

In 1955, a group of white men in the Mississippi Delta kidnapped and murdered a young boy named Emmett Till. Till was 14 years old from and was visiting relatives in Mississippi. News of the tragedy spread as Till’s murder helped spark the modern civil rights movement.

Big Dubya / Flickr - Creative Commons

A federal voter fraud commission’s request for voter data from individual states has prompted concern from voters and politicians. The commission was formed at the behest of President Trump in reaction to claims of widespread voter fraud. In North Carolina the state elections board is facing a wave of calls from voters who want to voice opposition, or even cancel their voter registration in reaction to the federal data request.

Promotional still for the movie, 'Citizen Kane'
Alexander Kahle, RKO Radio Pictures / Wikimedia Commons

For decades, Hollywood has reigned as an industry that offers entertainment for mass audiences.

In his new book “Hollywood Aesthetic: Pleasure in American Cinema” (Oxford University Press/2017), Todd Berliner explores Hollywood as an art form that appeals to a mass audience. From “Citizen Kane” to “Starship Troopers,” filmmakers have used unique styles to construct narratives, ideologies and genres that challenge the industry’s standards.

Pages