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:

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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.

Duke University professor Henry Petroski is fascinated by disasters. He believes tragedies can also serve as valuable learning experiences. In his new book, "To Forgive Design: Understanding Failure" (Belknap Press/2012),

When guns, drugs and cash went missing from the Asheville Police Department's evidence room last year, the city council wanted to get to the bottom of it. They allocated money for an audit, which was completed about three months ago. It still hasn't been released. Freelance reporter Jon Elliston has been following this story for the Carolina Public Press. Host Frank Stasio talks to him about the case.

The American Institute of Architects Center for Architecture and Design in downtown Raleigh is like nothing the capital has ever seen. It eschews traditional building styles in favor of a more environmentally friendly construction that has left some in awe and others confused.

Two years ago, the Supreme Court allowed unlimited corporate political spending, paving the way for companies like Bank of America to contribute millions of dollars in political donations.

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.”

The Upside of Irrationality

Apr 27, 2012

We all do irrational things. Perhaps the strangest thing of all is convincing ourselves that we don’t. What if we embraced the irrationality of human decisions? Would we find that there are advantages to making illogical decisions?

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.

The Novel World

Apr 26, 2012

Steve Jobs famously said, “People don’t read anymore.” Ironically, after his death, his biography went on to become the bestselling book on Amazon last year. Nancy Armstrong researches how books –

Il Trovatore

Apr 26, 2012

It's one of the most popular operas of all time and notoriously difficult to perform, but the North Carolina Opera is bringing it to the Triangle this weekend. Il Trovatore, Giuseppe Verdi's masterpiece, pits two enemies against each other in a dramatic love tale that ends with a twist.

North Carolina lost one of its most beloved writers and teachers this week. Doris Betts died of lung cancer at the age of 79.

Erik Lars Myers was disguised as your average IT guy, but he was also diligently spending his nights and weekends brewing beer in his backyard for 13 years. He found the world of beer so interesting that he wrote a popular blog about it called topfermented.com.

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.”

Goliath

Apr 25, 2012

Outsourcing has sent many of North Carolina's manufacturing jobs overseas, siphoning the lifeblood out of some small communities.Author Susan Woodring witnessed this when she moved to North Carolina in the late '90s, and she decided she wanted to write about it.

NC’s Amendment Decision

Apr 24, 2012

North Carolina voters have been asked to decide on a constitutional amendment to provide that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union recognized in the state. There's a lot of information and debate surrounding the ballot question and the implications of the amendment are fraught, but polls suggest many North Carolinians don't really know what it is or what it would do.

Playwright Monica Byrne's latest work tackles the Catholic Church, Margaret Sanger and women’s rights through the story of a group of adolescents learning about their bodies and the world. It's called "What Every Girl Should Know," and it takes place in a Catholic Reformatory where four girls worship Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, and create fantasy lives inspired by her example. Things take a turn when tragedy strikes and tears apart the girls' make-believe world.

Host Frank Stasio talks to Byrne about her new production and how her experience as a Catholic influenced her writing.

Christian belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ is fundamental to the faith. A recent book by James Tabor, chair of the department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, describes the discovery of evidence that casts doubt that Jesus rose again. Has the final resting place of Jesus been found?

Mandolin Orange

Apr 20, 2012

Mandolin Orange has ripened since their first album. Their recently released double CD "Haste Make/Hard-Hearted Stranger" includes new instruments, new collaborators and sophisticated production.

After her mother’s death, photographer Jamaica Gilmer interviewed the women in her family about the times they struggled with identity and how they developed their notions of beauty.

Writer Edith Pearlman has become an overnight sensation - but it took a half a century. Her most recent short story collection, "Binocular Vision" (Lookout Books/2011) won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was a finalist for nearly every big American book prize this year.

In an age that demands more skill and higher levels of education from its workers, some students still choose to drop out. What can be done to help them? Guilford County Schools in North Carolina has tackled that question and made a lot of headway encouraging students to stay in school.

Slow money is a movement that grew out of the 2008 financial collapse. The first principle of that movement is to “bring money back down to earth.” It calls for investing in local farms and food products. On today's program we are going to consider the Slow Money movement in North Carolina and ask this question: what if we applied the principles of Slow Money to things beyond food and farms? What happens when we create a system that values businesses that create healthy local economies and environments?

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.

Lizz Free or Die

Apr 13, 2012

Lizz Winstead is funny for a living. She travels the country doing stand-up comedy in clubs and at conferences, and she has an edge. In the spirit of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin, Winstead uses humor to pry into the hidden spaces of American culture.

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.

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