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.

Cover of 'Lending Power' by Howard Covington
Courtesy of Howard Covington

When founders Martin Eakes and Bonnie Wright started the Center for Community Self-Help in 1980, they did so with the fundamental belief that low and middle-income homeowners and small business owners would not only be a safe investment, but also a profitable one. 

Laura Pellicer / WUNC

Sijal Nasralla grew up hearing stories about the bucolic hills his father used to roam as a shepherd in Palestine. He also learned early on about efforts his family members had made to preserve access to land they had lived on for hundreds of years.

Jason Thrasher

John T. Edge is a James Beard award-winning writer and author of the new book “The Potlikker Papers” (Penguin Press/ 2017). Edge grew up in rural Georgia eating biscuits and drinking sweet tea. He spent his career amassing stories of Southern food and the people who cook it.

Steven Diaz of Mountain Lions
Courtesy of Steven Diaz

Singer-songwriter Steven Diaz allows the natural world to both sooth and inspire him. Under the name Mountain Lions, Diaz creates intimate and introspective songs that reflect familiar people and places. In his debut EP “Calm Wind, Starry Night,” Diaz explores motifs of nature and personal identity. 

Petty Officer 3rd Class Robert Brazzell / Wikimedia Commons -2017

Two-thirds of states used chronic absenteeism as a metric for school evaluation in recently submitted federal plans.

Actress Rose McGowan stands with Tarana Burke, the founder of the #MeToo Campaign.
Paul Sancya / AP Photo

The number of women coming forward with accounts of sexual assault and harassment continues to grow.  The recent surge in allegations has put toxic masculinity in the spotlight, but many questions remain, such as: are black and white accusers are treated differently.

RuPaul Charles accepts the award for outstanding host for a reality or reality-competition program for "RuPaul's Drag Race" during night two of the Television Academy's 2016 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in 2016.
Phil McCarten / AP Photo

In art and pop culture effeminate men are cast in very different light. Some are revered, like artist Liberace or drag queen and TV star RuPaul Andre Charles. But other times, effeminate men are seen as simultaneously fascinating and grotesque.

When Connsuela Bautista got to school for her first morning class at Southeastern Randolph Middle School, she says she was immediately called to the principal's office. When she arrived, she saw sheriff’s deputies waiting for her. 

Women walking down a street.
Isaiah Rice

Isaiah Rice spent decades working as a beverage delivery man in his native city of Asheville, but around town he often went by another name: the picture man.

 Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin speaks during a press briefing in Bridgewater, N.J.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo

When service members are discharged from the military, the degree to which they can receive benefits from Veterans Affairs depends largely on their characterization of service.

Margaret Bauer had what many would consider an idyllic childhood. She was raised in a restored plantation house in southern Louisiana on the bayou and spent her time with either her feet in the water or her nose in a book. She came from a long line of notable figures, including state politicians and renowned attorneys, so her name often preceded her, but Margaret just wanted to fit in. 

Donald and Melania Trump take a tour of the Forbidden City while visiting Beijing, China as part of their five-country trip through Asia.
Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

President Donald Trump has returned from his five-country tour of Asia. He characterized the trip as a “tremendous success,” but political analysts say his exuberance does not align with the political accomplishments. 

Judge Roy Moore is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct from multiple women who say he tried to date them when they were teenagers and he was in his 30s. 

Tim Fain playing violin
Courtesy of Tim Fain

 Violinist Tim Fain is a classically-trained musician, but his talents extend far beyond a classical repertoire. 

In this Monday, Nov. 6, 2017 file photo, Native people from Fiji sit in the convention center during the opening of the COP 23 Fiji UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.
Martin Meissner / AP Photo

Nearly 200 countries are wrapping up the annual U.N. climate summit in Bonn, Germany this week.

 Pastor Mack Wolford’s rattlesnake slithers around his neck at an outdoor service, Panther Park, West Virginia, 2011
Test of Faith, Lauren Pond

Serpent handling is a religious practice where individuals hold and wear poisonous snakes during worship services to prove their faith in God.

President Harry Truman with his wife, Bess.
National Archives and Records Administration. Office of Presidential Libraries. Harry S. Truman Library. / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/bzswcq

In “The Gifted Generation: When Government Was Good” (Bloomsbury/2017), historian David Goldfield examines the baby boomer generation and argues that more than anything, the opportunities provided to them by the federal government created the conditions for unprecedented confidence and success. 

Main building at UNCG, 1893
Gove, Anna M. (Anna Maria), 1867-1948 / UA2.1 Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906

The institution that would become the University of North Carolina at Greensboro opened its doors in 1892 to 198 young women. Today more than 20,000 students attend class, conduct research, play sports and live in 30 residence halls on a 210-acre campus. 

Robert Shetterly and 'Americans Who Tell the Truth'

Ella Baker spent decades fighting for civil rights and promoting grassroots activism. 

The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Carmen Bliss. The Greensboro-based singer-songwriter combines rhythm and blues compositions with lyrical narratives. Listen to her perform the song "Around" below.

 

 

Kenneth Wainstein, lead investigator into academic irregularities at UNC Chapel Hill, holds a copy of his findings following a special joint meeting of the UNC Board of Governors.
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s accreditor is looking into recently disclosed statements made by the university to the NCAA. 

Child at computer.
Kevin Jarrett / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/igWhB9

Thousands of North Carolina students attend virtual charter schools. The program began in 2015 as a pilot project, and the flexible format is a boon for students pursuing some professional careers, like athletics. 

John Carroll Whitener
Courtesy of John Carroll Whitener

 John Carroll Whitener could have easily avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War. He could have truthfully checked the box marked “yes” on the military form that asked new recruits if they had homosexual tendencies. But doing so would have meant admitting a truth he was not ready to accept and facing the consequences of a future that did not include his family and church.

Vi Lyles
Skip Foreman / AP Photo

Democrats claimed big wins across the country in this week’s elections. Meanwhile, a series of mayoral races took place in North Carolina. 

Cover of Hue 1968
Courtesy of Mark Bowden / Atlantic Monthly Press/2017

Almost 50 years after the epic battle that changed the course of the Vietnam War, author Mark Bowden visited the city of Hue to piece together what happened. 

Zen Reyes, aka ZenSoFly
Courtesy of Zen Reyes / ZenSoFly

Growing up, Zen Reyes thought she would establish a career in the fashion industry. She spent some time studying fashion in New York City and figured she might become a designer one day. But eventually a different passion came calling and Reyes began producing and recording her own music under the name ZenSoFly. 

Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, evening gown
Courtesy of NC Art Museum

In 1958, African-American women donned designer dresses and walked the runway for the first Ebony Fashion Fair. 

The charity fashion show was the brainchild of Ebony Magazine co-publisher Eunice Johnson and it showed African-American women as rich and successful. The fair ran for 50 years, and in that time it continued to be a space where African-American women could re-imagine their role in American society and reclaim their beauty.

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies continue to try to gain influence with medical providers.
AP

North Carolina's doctor offices are awash in pharmaceutical and medical device industry cash. These financial relationships are starting to raise questions about prescribing habits and other conflicts of interest.

Already, some large pharmaceutical companies have paid millions to settle allegations of kickback schemes, and watchdog groups are asking questions about deep relationships between some doctors and drug and medical device companies.

Courtesy of Indigo Cox

Indigo Cox read many excellent academic books on women's reproductive health. But as a physician herself, and one who performs abortions, she wanted a book that told a story from both sides. 

One of the handmade whirligigs at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
Courtesy of Henry Walston / Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum

When Vollis Simpson began constructing his mammoth whirligigs out of spare machine parts, old paint and highway signs, he did not set out to create an artistic legacy. 

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