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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An assignment from his kindergarten teacher to make a book about the alphabet set Ashley Bryan on the path to become a writer and illustrator of children’s literature. It was unchartered territory for an African-American at the time, but Bryan broke through the barriers of the publishing industry and has written more than 30 books since 1962.

Mandolin Orange

Jun 8, 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. But they have held onto their signatures – the poetic lyrics and elegant melodies that first attracted attention. Host Frank Stasio will speak with Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz about the progression of their music and Mandolin Orange will perform live in the studio.

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? That system is slowly taking shape and it's called Impact Investing.

North Carolina voters recently approved an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment outlaws same sex marriage and threatens the recognition of civil unions and domestic partnerships.

Jay Leutze was a non-practicing lawyer writing a novel, working for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and minding his own business in his home in western North Carolina when he got a phone call from an impassioned and outraged 14 year old named Ashley.

Writer Leonard Pitts Jr. is known for his nationally syndicated, award-winning newspaper column. Recently, he began trying his hand as a novelist. His second work of fiction is “Freeeman” (Agate Publishing/2012), a historical novel set in the post-Civil War South.

When the AIDS epidemic hit in the 1980s, it was a scourge unlike any other, one that weakened the body’s defenses and left victims to die an agonizingly slow death. Now, new treatments have made HIV/AIDS a manageable disease, while a cure and vaccine seem like more of a possibility than ever.

When the book “Empire” (2000/ Harvard University Press) first came out, it was called the “Communist Manifesto of the 21st Century.” Co-author Michael Hardt and his collaborator Antonio Negri were hailed as the Marx and Engles of the Internet age and they went on to work on three books that are sometimes called the “Empire Trilogy.” It’s a hypothesis about the state of our political culture.

Leaving No Child Left Behind

Jun 1, 2012

Although put into law with bipartisan support in 2002, the No Child Left Behind Act has failed to create a good accountability system to best serve schools. Due to its shortcomings, many states have petitioned for exemption from the act. This Tuesday, President Obama granted eight states, including North Carolina, exemptions from the most rigorous parts of No Child Left Behind in exchange for state-developed accountability systems. Host Frank Stasio is joined by Dave Dewitt, WUNC’s education reporter, to take a look at the changes and their potential effects.

Writer Christopher Tilghman is known to some as the bard of the borderlands. His short stories and novels, including the much acclaimed “Mason's Retreat," are set on the eastern shore of Maryland. It's a place where water and land meet, where slavery existed north of the Mason-Dixon Line and most of life is a calculation rather than a dream or a conviction.

The Bulltown Strutters bring the street band traditions of New Orleans to their own home in Durham, NC. The 20-member group urges their audiences to join them in parade, dance, and merry-making.

Bo Xilai was a fast-rising politician in China. His sudden downfall plays out like a soap opera, with stories of corruption, hidden money, and murder. This story was picked up by the international press, but the details first broke on a Chinese language website called Boxun.com, which is run out of an office in Durham, NC. Host Frank Stasio will take a look at citizen journalism, working from half a world away with Watson Meng, the founder and editor of Boxun.com, and Scott Savitt, a China journalist and translator.

North Carolina music legend Doc Watson died yesterday in Winston-Salem, NC. He was 89. Watson was a guitarist and folk singer, best known for his flat-picking style on the guitar.

More than 13 million American children and teenagers suffer from anxiety, depression, eating disorders, hyperactivity and other mental illnesses. The naturally irrational, impulsive or volatile behavior kids exhibit every day makes it tough to accurately diagnose them and medicating minors is a controversial practice, particularly when the study of child mental health is considered under-researched.

The Nazi invasion of Poland launched World War II in Europe and ushered in one of the most destructive periods in world history. A group of freedom fighters called the Polish Underground fought the Nazis throughout the war.

Rib spreaders allow doctors the ability to get inside the human chest and fix the internal organs. However, these devices, created in the 1930s, can do a great deal of damage to ribs, nerves and ligaments. Hugh Crenshaw and Charles Pell, co-founders of the medical technology company Physcient wanted to change that, so they designed a new kind of rib spreader, one that spares the patient the needless agony caused by old models. Host Frank Stasio talks to Crenshaw and Pell about their medical innovation.

Bull City

May 29, 2012

In Stuart Albright's new novel, "Bull City" (McKinnon Press/2012), protagonist Sid Ellison is a high-school teacher living peacefully in Appalachia. But when a crime hits close to home, he is forced to return to Durham, NC and confront an unresolved past.

Special: The Monti American Graduate

May 28, 2012

The Monti - American Graduate Special is an hour of true stories from the front lines of North Carolina’s high school drop out crisis. It's hosted by Jeff Polish. He's the founder of The Monti, a local non-profit whose stated mission is to create community through the story-telling. For this collaboration with WUNC, Jeff sought out North Carolinians with personal stories to tell about the struggles that get in the way of a successful high school education.

The Fracas over Fracking

May 25, 2012

Just a few years ago North Carolina state geologists began reporting that prehistoric geologic formations beneath our feet may be good candidates for shale and gas deposits. The only way to release such deposits is through hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” Other states like Pennsylvania and New York have legalized fracking in recent years, but have had to retroactively enact regulations on the practice. North Carolina wants to do it differently.

White Flour

May 25, 2012

Five years ago, the Ku Klux Klan held a rally in the town square of Knoxville, TN. Instead of responding to hatred with hatred, a group called the Coup Clutz Clowns responded with humor. When Klan members yelled, "White Power!” the clowns yelled back, "White Flour!".

Jule Brown

May 25, 2012

Mark Holland and his twin brother Michael found success in the music industry with the band Jennyanykind. They were signed to a major label in the mid-90s and in 1994, Mark created Jule Brown, a southern blues and rock persona to serve as a solo side-act to Jennyanykind.

Last month, a conference in Greensboro brought together more than 70 attorneys, activists and average citizens to talk about human and civil rights violations at the hands of law enforcement. Among the issues discussed were racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration, torture and rendition. The event was a call to action and the message was that every member of society is responsible for speaking out about abuses of state power.

The changing needs of today's workforce are transforming our system of higher education. For-profit colleges are an integral part of that change, but controversy plagues them, including worries over low graduation rates and the high volume of federal loans for its students. How is higher education going to continue to transform in the future, and what role will for-profit colleges play?

The North Carolina Hops & Roots Festival brings together local music, local beer, and food grown on local farms.

Angeline Echeverría grew up the daughter of two Cuban immigrants, but it wasn't until she came to the South that she truly learned about racism. Her exposure to racial injustice led her to a life of social activism that has taken her to Arkansas, Costa Rica and New York. In April, she became the executive director of the Latino advocacy organization El Pueblo in North Carolina.

As the John Edwards trial winds down, North Carolina sits back to watch the final act of a Greek tragedy: the rise and fall of one of its native sons. Edwards is charged with using more than a million dollars of political donations to hide his extramarital affair. If convicted, he faces more than 30 years in jail. Host Frank Stasio gets an update on the trial from WUNC reporter Jeff Tiberii.

For the past 25 years, North Carolina’s once-vibrant furniture industry has been dwindling. Factories have moved abroad and thousands of jobs have been lost. But now, things might be turning around. As countries like China develop a higher standard of living, it's no longer cheaper for companies to move there. Some businesses are finding it cheaper to operate in the U.S. where, conveniently, there already are empty factories and a trained workforce.

On the album "Muse and Bones," Crystal Bright's voice is clear and theatrical. She plays accordion, saw, keyboards, adungu, concertina, and bombo.

The Woodwright's Shop

May 17, 2012

Roy Underhill has been host of “The Woodwright's Shop” on PBS since 1979, making his show the network’s longest running “how-to” program. Underhill’s show is designed to reconnect us with our woodworking roots and he offers strategies on how to make everything from book stands to full-size furniture.

Rosemary Thornton may have driven by your house a few times. She may have even slowed down, whipped out her camera and snapped a few pictures. But, she’s not casing the place. Thornton is documenting history. If she’s interested in your dwelling, it’s likely you live in a kit home, a mail-order house that could be purchased out of a catalog in the early 20th century.

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