Opinion

Old Poops on Patrol!

Ask any college town “townie” what’s their favorite time of year — and many are likely to say, now. From Athens, GA, to Lawrence, KS; to State College, PA, to Chapel Hill-Carrboro, the start of the fall semester…

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Helping Our Schools in a Time of Need

One of the best parts of our community is our unwavering dedication to our kids and public education. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic has turned what should be a great time of year — Back to School — into so much uncertainty.



More than a Car Wash

Driving around Chapel Hill it’s impossible to miss the Carolina-blue building at the intersection of Franklin and Main Streets. It juts out like a small peninsula at the precise spot Chapel Hill and Carrboro meet.



Killer Petunias

This season I’m trying out some forthcoming Wave petunias that are faring well. Although pleased with them, I’m now saddled with a chore I don’t enjoy. If you’ve grown petunias you know what I’m about to say — they are sticky.


A Small but Important Town Icon

Across from the President’s House on East Franklin Street on the northeast corner of East Franklin Street and Raleigh Road sits the Phillips Law Office. Its small size is easy to overlook while driving through this busy intersection, but this is an important town icon recognizable to residents, UNC graduates and students, and visitors.


How a Troll Brought My Neighborhood Together

When you picture suburbia, you’re probably picturing something like my neighborhood. Streets lined with mature trees, kids on bikes, joggers, people out walking with their dogs … and most of the people you’d see are white.


Attacking Systemic Racism in Higher Ed

If predominantly white institutions of higher education are serious about eliminating systemic racism on their campuses, they must begin with an honest and transparent benchmark assessment of who cleans, who teaches, who attends, who plays which sports, who gets research support and who holds leadership roles that control decision-making and shape policy.


An Outbreak of Kindness

The bumper sticker on the back of the old pick-up truck outside of Carrboro caught my attention. It read, “Make America Kind Again.” Permit me to riff off a recent New York Times op-ed piece that opined thusly: that if there’s any silver lining to the double-whammy of the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd, it has to be our heightened awareness of our common humanity and mutual interdependence.



In Praise of Ed Kerwin

July marked the retirement of Ed Kerwin as executive director of OWASA, the Orange Water and Sewer Authority.


Black Lives Matter

Recently Orange Slices turned to longtime columnist Neil Offen to reflect on Chapel Hill and the Black Lives Matter movement. Here’s what he had to say: In Chapel Hill and Carrboro, increasingly, many express a belief that Black lives matter. You can see it in the protests and the proliferation of yard signs. But to be honest, Black lives haven’t always mattered here.


More Lazy Gardening

In our last column, Mark Weathington mentioned that turf was terribly labor-intensive, soil improvement was imperative and we should buy good plants while disposing of those plants that failed to perform. Here are the additional points that he makes:


Gardening while Lazy

This summer, what with dealing with a changing world due to COVID-19, I find that I’m not as enthusiastic about spending time in the garden. Whether it’s due to a creaking, aging body or a loss of concentration, my enthusiasm has waned a bit.


Jim Wallace: f/8 and Be There

“f/8 and be there!” — the old-school photojournalist’s equivalent cheer of “GO HEELS!” for Tar Heel fans — might as well have been created by James (Jim) H. Wallace Jr., fabled DTH civil rights photographer.


The Triumph of the Hypocrites

This is the season for hypocrites. The sinners have already had their time (Yes, it was far too long.). The saints (that’s a 19th-century, abolitionist word for “woke”) have now had theirs, but only in the street. It was as short as the flicker of a firefly. Now the hypocrites have theirs.


The Rocky States of America

Tiring of building dams in the mountain creek below the cabin, one day I spied a flat rock that had the distinct shape of North Carolina, only fatter. Picking up the husky N.C. rock, I began wondering, what other state-shaped stones might I find in the clear gurgling waters of Silver Creek?


Planning for Saffron

I have a ridiculously small garden that is both a source of frustration and relief. While there are dozens of plants I yearn to add to our landscape I’m relieved that I don’t have to dig the holes. So, while my expansive-garden friends are toiling in their fields, I can relax, happily researching potential candidates for our tiny patch of heaven. 


We’re Losing Our Quality of Life

Construction is not progress. Destroy the woods and you destroy what Mother Earth has to offer. Continued and improperly managed construction puts our ecosystem out of balance and engenders the beautiful yet struggling wildlife.


Historic Preservation and the Need for Belonging

The need for belonging. When you think of historic preservation, it’s not often that you think of the need for belonging. Until you read Tom Maye’s book. Then it all makes sense. Historic preservation are simply two big words for saving old places.


A Photo-Haiku from the Beach

Dear Reader: This week the Townie is on vacation at the beach, having quarantined for two weeks prior, so he can hug his grandkids. Without apology, this week’s abbreviated Lens turns to haiku.




Stop Cutting Down the Trees

Chapel Hill (at least those persons responsible for zoning and development) seems to be in the process of destroying our environment and town.


Homegrown National Park

Global pandemic, crazy weather, invading pests: things feel beyond my control — but only when I forget about my gardening super powers. I imagine you’re finding solace in your garden these days, too. Digging in the dirt has never been so satisfying, it helps anchor my sanity. Having just finished Doug Tallamy’s new book, “Nature’s Best Hope,” I’m now feeling more powerful than ever.



Of Twine and Tendrils

If a global pandemic disrupts food supplies, I’ll be ready — at least that’s what I told myself when I planted eight cucumber plants. Yes, there’s a story lurking here of mismanagement, poor planning and my inability to pick just one variety of cucumber. But I’ll save that for another day.


Traveling Far to Find Your Home and Yourself

New Year’s Eve 2017 will always stand out for Jill McCullough. She got a lot of paperwork done. As revelers gathered at parties large and small across the Triangle, McCullough hunkered down inside her home in the Caldwell community in Orange County and filled out her application to join the Peace Corps.


This One is for My Sub-Dads

Father’s Day, in the home in which I grew up, didn’t exist. The third Sunday in June was just another day. But I’m certain that wasn’t true for my heartbroken divorced mother, nor for my big brother, Nick, traumatized by the betrayal of his beloved dad. Father’s Day was a cruel reminder of abandonment. How does a 7-year-old boy grow up when he feels rejected by his own father?


A Call to Action: Time for UNC to Act

I am a member of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward, which was formerly called the Commission on History, Race, and Reckoning, which is a successor to a 2015 task force on the same subject. 


East Rosemary Street

Rosemary Street Chapel Hill is a major east-West Avenue, which is actually a contraction of the names of two young girls who once lived on the street, Rose and Mary. As Chapel Hill plans for the future, there’s a significant redevelopment plan on the table that will likely shift a significant portion…