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DQM

fall 2019 DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 1


photograph by Emily Lyons-Wood 2 fall 2019


stories under the stars at weaver street market, spellbound square at moore square, make shift happen at the durham hotel, barktober fest at durham central park, supper club at crook’s corner, día de los muertos celebration at artspace, american indian heritage celebration at the north carolina museum of history, the raleigh christmas parade...downtown, this is fall!

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downtown quarterly style 09 books

fitness + wellness 44 BY:NEST, health and social consciousness

the season’s best picks for adults and kids

10 art Lakeshia Reid on art and identity

12 design Flitch Furniture on design + function

people 48 Alan Thompson on jazz and life 51 Ana Maria MuĂąoz on design and community

14 fashion our favorite fall trends from Vermillion

24 home 3 beautiful, party-ready blue rooms

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eat + entertain 31 the case for joining a local co-op 32 elegant DIY entertaining ideas adventure + go 36 tour a chic downtown Durham Airbnb 41 tips from a favorite local travel blog

in every issue 6 welcome letter 7 contributors 4 fall 2019

photograph by Emily Lyons-Wood


magazine 66 photograph by Forrest Mason

features 55 1 holiday centerpiece styled 2 ways 62 the Helping Hand Mission Marching Band is ready to celebrate

66 Jenn Rice and Justin Burdett pay tribute to 1980s comfort food

family 73 3 creative generations collide in a child’s downtown Chapel Hill room

go green(er) 78 Fillaree on making a difference the future (back cover) The Zen Succulent on their new Fernever home

Keep your eyes peeled for illustrations throughout this Issue by Rachel Holt Rachel Holt Art & Design rachelholtdesign.com

photograph by Mikkel Paige Photography

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photograph by Emily Lyons-Wood

First, thank you. Thank you for reading these words. Thank you to all of the generous people who contributed to these pages. You have been the most humbling part of this experience. Our goal in creating this issue was simple. We sought to create a publication with the potential to have a positive impact on readers and communities. We’ve asked ourselves in the past, with so much media at our fingertips, why is it that we feel worse about ourselves and our situations, and more disconnected from others, after consuming it? There must be a better alternative, we thought. We hope that our pages spark conversations. Turn to us for that. Turn to us for a visual feast, or at least a small delight for the eyes, here and there. We simply created the publication we wanted to read with stories inside that we wanted to share with our friends and families. A publication with soul. For thinkers who don’t take themselves too seriously. Where fun and substance coexist. And we hope you will share it, too. There are so many stories in this issue that have inspired us. In Pivotal, we hope you will be inspired by the woman behind the paintings, and how she decided not to give up on herself. Look what Lakeshia Reid has done in less than a year. How can anyone not be 6 fall 2019

inspired by that? When reading Good Move we hope you’re as moved by Charman Driver’s description of the collective power of women as we are. And by what she does while sitting in the carpool line. In Sound Advice read about how Alan Thompson continues to uplift others. His radio show only scratches the surface of his influence. Despite his hectic schedule, he still found time recently to create a support group for artists who experience mental struggles. In All in the Family, a simple room tour and q & a turned into a conversation on the power of trust. It illustrates how having someone who believes in you, and believing in someone else, can lead to beautiful ideas. In Modern Day read about Ana Maria Muñoz’s thoughts on design and why it matters. We hope you’ll also take something away from her emphasis on supporting others and how sometimes it’s as simple as just showing up. We thank you, again, for showing up here, where we believe that downtown isn’t an address, it’s a state of mind. Welcome to Downtown Quarterly Magazine.


Contributors Emily Lyons-Wood thelyonswood.com Rachel Holt rachelholtdesign.com Mikkel Paige Photography mikkelpaige.com Danielle Joseph masondixondesigns.com

DQM Molly Dansby Publisher Jade Laurent Jackson Creative Director

Eve Hobgood petitesimone.com

Jessie Ammons Rumbley Editor at Large

Jenn Rice jennricewrites.com

downtownquarterly.com @downtownquarterly

Forrest Mason fmasonmedia.com Katherine Miles Jones katherinemilesjones.com Katherine Johnson instagram.com/katherinejohnsonphoto/ Eli Gray eli-gray.com Catherine Nguyen www.catherinenguyen.com Lissa Gotwals lissagotwals.com Jillian Clark jillianclarkphoto.com Rebecca Aimes becciames.com Ethan Messina ethanmessina.com

Special Thanks Flyleaf Books Read With Me Lakeshia Reid Flitch Furniture Melinda Jackson PR Vermillion Nichole Blough Moss Construction and Design Martha J. Schneider La Maison Sydney Durrett Falkner Tacey Hesmer Weaver Street Market Durham Co-Op Market Heather Ann Miller Eclectic Sage

Junction West Gabie Frantz CE Rental Cottage Luxe Ellie Snow Dan Woodruff Charman Driver Alan Thompson Ana Maria Muùoz The Helping Hand Mission Sylvia Wiggins Justin Burdett Crook’s Corner Lisa Gaither Art Alyssa Cherry Fillaree Megan George DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 7


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well read Spruce up your shelf with fall’s biggest titles. From families to outer space, moving essays to baby’s first read—and the children’s book you’ll want on your coffee table—local booksellers share their favorites. adult picks

kids picks

Dutch House by Ann Patchett “With its layers of family dynamics—love, mistakes, and if you’re lucky, forgiveness—this novel is a way to link yourself to your people.” —Erica Eisdorfer, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

Mythologica: An encyclopedia of gods, monsters and mortals from ancient Greece by Stephen P. Kershaw, illustrated by Victoria Topping “Mythologica is in a class by itself for its jaw-dropping art. While the publisher recommends it for ages 6-10, this is easily an adult coffee table book.” —Christine Brenner, Read With Me

How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together by Dan Kois “Hilarious, honest, harrowing, and hip. And also informational. If you don’t have the cojones to actually make this happen for yourself, at least here, you get to read about it.” —Erica Eisdorfer, bookseller, Flyleaf Books Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi “At once expansive and microscopic, dazzling and dark, Alharthi is a writer of formidable deftness, compassion, and intelligence.” —Ben Newgard, bookseller, Flyleaf Books In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado “A revelatory, inventive, and profoundly poignant braiding of memoir, surrealism, and essay. Machado raises to an emphatic and urgent pitch a discourse that has remained too long dormant.” —Ben Newgard, bookseller, Flyleaf Books

COG by Greg van Eekhout “The perfect family or classroom read-aloud, everyone will hang onto every word in this funny and adventurous story.” —Christine Brenner, Read With Me Astro Kittens: Into the Unknown by Dr. Dominic Walliman, illustrated by Ben Newman “Little ones will travel to space, learn about space rovers and worm holes, and more.” —Christine Brenner, Read With Me Stargazing by Jen Wang “Charming, sweet, and real. Jen Wang is a star in the world of graphic novels.” —Elese Stutts, bookseller and children’s manager, Flyleaf Books The Crossover by Kwame Alexander “With wide appeal across age levels and with references to both UNC and Duke basketball, this is sure to be a hit” —Elese Stutts, bookseller and children’s manager, Flyleaf Books Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia “From local Raleigh author Kwame Mbalia comes a fantasy middle-grade novel set in the world of West African mythology and African American legends.” —Elese Stutts, bookseller and children’s manager, Flyleaf Books

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Raleigh artist Lakeshia Reid turned 30 back in January, and the birthday hit her hard. “With it being a landmark year, I felt like I wasn’t where I wanted to be with my design career or my art,” Reid explains, just nine months later, from her corner studio at Artspace in downtown Raleigh. Reid became determined. “I wanted to go into the year with a focus on creating work so that I could eventually get a solo show.” She’s well on her way, painting evocative pieces that suss out the complicated strands of confidence and identity. Reid has a background in graphic design and has taken a few art classes, but until recently she shied away from painting. She even once convinced an instructor in a painting class to let her do collage instead because she was too self-conscious to paint. The story seems inconceivable when surrounded by her latest work, a collection of large, striking portraits of women of color. Reid explains that lately she’s inspired by the science-fiction writing of Octavia Butler, the #blackgirlmagic movement, and literature. Her current work reflects these diverse muses while dealing with issues of identity, something Reid says she’s always grappled with. Reid is a black woman, a first-generation American, and a selftaught artist. All of these parts of her, and the tension stemming from them, are explored in her work.

PIVOTAL One local portraitist is on a mission to reach her full artistic potential. And we’re here for it.

photographs by Emily Lyons-Wood text by Molly Dansby

It has taken time for Reid to treat the tension as a source of motivation. While she’s been creative all of her life, Reid says she joined the art club in high school only to drop out later because she didn’t fit in. The experience was a complicated microcosm of the identity tensions faced by Reid through the years.“Over time I realized that the dissonance I felt was not actually a hindrance but a gift,” Reid explains in her artist statement. Reid’s vision is kaleidoscopic. Her studio is packed with big, bright portraits of women. And while they often spark conversations on representation and inclusion, Reid’s sheer skill as a portrait artist can’t be overlooked. Especially since back in January she had only ever finished a few paintings. “My favorite thing has always been people. Right now I’m really into capturing emotion but doing so with as few brush strokes as possible,” Reid says. Making the switch to oil, not long ago, made all the difference in her work, Reid says. Her husband, Raleigh artist Kenneth Proseus, was the one who encouraged her to try oils and suggested painting larger works.

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Honing her skill has given Reid more insight into herself,


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she says—and what she’s discovered is pertinent to her work at large, as well. “I gave up on myself too quickly,” she explains. “Now I know that every little bit of practice matters and that you need to dedicate time to your craft, not only to improve but to be fulfilled.”

“Now I know that every little bit of practice matters and that you need to dedicate time to your craft, not only to improve but to be fulfilled.” Reid’s Artspace residency wraps up in December and her first solo show is scheduled for February 2020. It will be presented by the Durham Art Guild and Triangle Community Foundation. That’s impressive on its own, even more so considering where Reid was in her creative journey less than a year ago. But now she knows her craft matters, and she’s dedicated to putting in the work. The future seems to be as bright and layered as her work. “There are so many different ways that the next few months can play out. I didn’t see myself here last year so I get chills when I think about what could happen next.” DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 11


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multipurpose Thoughts from Raleigh’s furniture fam

Raleigh natives Richard Stephenson and Travis Leager consider each other family. Work family, that is. They figure it’s important to spend their days working with “people that we care about and genuinely like to be around,” the craftsmen say. That same intentionality infuses their Raleigh furniture company, Flitch, where they design and produce functional pieces—stools, plant stands, and modular units that are wonderfully easy to assemble, as well as mix and match and use for many purposes (who says a stool can’t be a side table?). “Our design philosophy is to make a few things and make them well.” Here, a few more philosophies from the thoughtful founders.

play a small part in contributing to a better living experience, we feel that we have done our job.” on home, part 2 “All of us were born and raised here so the Raleigh roots run pretty deep—minus our designer, Julia, from Vermont, which we like to give her a hard time about. But she’s called Raleigh home for the last 6 years. We’ve enjoyed watching our city grow over the last few years and are excited to be a part of its future.” (Editors’ note: All Flitch furniture is designed and fabricated in the team’s Raleigh shop, full stop.)

on home, part 1 on all the good things “People’s homes and the spaces they reside within are sacred. Our goal is to create products for these spaces that are fun to assemble, easy to use, serve a purpose, and add joy to everyday life. If we can 12 fall 2019

“Living in the Mordecai and Boylan Heights neighborhoods, we have a huge appreciation for their history and the unique architec-


“People’s homes and the spaces they reside within are sacred.” ture that is an important part of Raleigh’s identity. We’re all for pre- olis on a project that merging our design methods with its mission serving as much of Raleigh’s history as possible. to improve the health and habitat of honeybees. We’re creating a product with a big environmental impact.” A perfect weekend for us looks like: Morning Times for coffee, Union Special Bread for breakfast, Transfer Co. Food Hall for lunch, Dorothea Dix Park for an afternoon stroll, Stanbury for dinner, and to top it all off, Person Street Bar for a night cap.” on future buzz “We can’t give away too much, but we can say that we’re super excited to have partnered with the wonderful people of local apiary Apiop-

photographs by Ethan Messina

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VERMILLION CRUSH When it comes to fall fashion, nobody compares to Vermillion. photographs by Eve Hobgood styling by Vermillion

Layer up! From coats to color, pattern to python, don’t hold back when it comes to layering this fall. Pile it on!

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photographs by Eve Hobgood styling by Vermillion 16 fall 2019


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coming in hot four ways to wear this season’s favorite hue — true, showstopper red. photographs by Eve Hobgood styling by Vermillion DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 19


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WHAT WINTER BLUES? Our favorite Raleigh rooms lean into the season’s coolest color. text by Molly Dansby

As temperatures drop and seasonal entertaining commences, can we please all make a pact to resist the urge to paint everything in autumnal shades? Three beautiful, party-ready spaces illustrate just how versatile and inspiring blue can be. In a change of pace, the photographers who captured each room share their favorite details.

1: Wow Factor Designer: Nichole Blough @nichole_blough Photographer: Katherine Johnson @katherinejohnsonphoto “The wallpaper is just breathtaking. I love the way Nichole uses spaces that most people overlook.” - Katherine Johnson

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2: Perfect Mix Designer: Martha J. Schneider of La Maison @lamaisonraleigh Photographer: Catherine Nguyen @catnguyenphoto “My favorite thing about this blue dining room is the color palette. It's bold and unique as well as elegant. The lacquered blue shelves against the orange fabrics in the room really draw you in. I am always inspired by the way Martha Schneider of La Maison is able to style a room so that the finished effect is effortlessly chic.� - Catherine Nguyen

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3: Happy Place Designer: Nichole Blough @nichole_blough Photographer: Katherine Johnson @katherinejohnsonphoto “The drop zone is so cheerful and eclectic, and instantly lifted my mood when I walked in the door.� - Katherine Johnson 28 fall 2019


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eat + entertain

groceries 2.0 The case for co-ops As far as food goes, shopping local is a worthy but tricky cause. Some staples—looking at you, avocado toast—just aren’t North Carolina crops. Enter the co-op, an opportunity to support local growers as much as possible, as well as other community efforts. While you can simply grocery shop at any of these stores, joining is the way to feel good about your purchase, even when it’s not locally grown. Here’s how it works: Pay a one-time fee to become an owner/member. You’re now considered a shareholder of the co-op; you’ll get the chance to elect the Board of Directors and weigh in on important issues. But no pressure, you can skip those chances and still take part in member benefits each month (discounts, free chocolate), plus you get annual cash back from the store’s profits (proportional to your purchases that year). “When you buy a share in a co-op, you’re making a commitment to your community,” says Ruffin Slater, founder and general manager of Weaver Street Market, which has four local locations. “Weaver Street Market is about more than the goods we sell, it’s about the good we do in our community. Our owners enable us to pay living wages, feed hungry neighbors, support local food producers, eliminate single-use grocery bags, and so much more. At Weaver Street Market, we take pride in being a grocery that is built for the community and owned by the community.” Durham Co-Op Market would likely echo Slater’s sentiment. Find your best nearby option to the right. —Jessie Ammons Rumbley

Photograps by Sylwia Stevens courtesy of Weaver Street Market

Durham Co-Op Market 1111 W. Chapel Hill St., Durham Open daily, 7am–9pm Durham’s large storefront offers ample weekly incentives, including daily lunch specials, meatless Monday, brewsday Tuesday, and wine Wednesday. Feel-good fact: Every Thursday, the store serves hot dinner for $3. There are always traditional and vegan options, and the weekly event has become a community tradition. Weaver Street Market 101 E. Weaver St., Carrboro 404 W. Hargett St., Raleigh There are also stores in Southern Village in Chapel Hill and downtown Hillsborough Open daily, 7am-10pm The Triangle co-op OG is best known for the lawn of its Carrboro location, where you’ll find a constant eclectic mix including hula hooping, family picnics, and academic meetups. The market now has 4 locations, including that brand-new one at The Dillon in downtown Raleigh. Feel-good fact: Earlier this year, Weaver Street became the first grocer in the state to eliminate all single-use checkout bags—paper and plastic. If you don’t bring your own bag, you can buy a reusable one or a 15-cent “bring it back sack” made from recycled plastic sturdy enough to be reused up to 125 times. DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 31


photographs by Mikkel Paige Photography produced by Danielle Joseph and Heather Ann Miller text by Molly Dansby 32 fall 2019


eat + entertain

Easy Elegance A professional florist and event designer breaks down how to create a stylish, sophisticated table perfect for entertaining...on almost any budget Heather Ann Miller, the owner of Eclectic Sage, is a seasoned artist and a professional. She’s the mastermind behind countless events for corporate and wedding clients in the area (and beyond). “I love getting to come up with design elements that really tell the story about what they are celebrating or who they are,” Miller says of working with her clients. She also created the dramatic centerpieces for the Friendsgiving 2019! story in this issue. But she’s not above dishing on how to set an elegant table yourself at home. Miller recommends beginning by zeroing in on a personal item you already own. “Make the details personal; it makes them more impactful. They don’t have to be complicated or expensive,” she says. And if you’re on a budget, Miller encourages using what you have. “Find a cool textured grass in your yard and mix it with loose flowers from your local florist, farmers market or even grocery store,” she says. For this table, Miller kept the arrangements soft and neutral, a nice contrast to the sleek black accents like the candleholders and silverware. The overall look is elegant but stylish.

Miller also recommends not shying away from simple DIY projects, especially those that make a big impact for little cost or effort. She says being resourceful and seeing the potential in things you already own is key. It’s something she, too, does. For the vessels holding the arrangements on this table, Miller says, “I used some ceramic pots I had in my studio. They were originally light grey, but I wanted them to coordinate with my candlesticks, so I hit them with a little bit of a matte graphite spraypaint. Never be afraid of a quick paint job, just make sure it dries before you add your flowers!” Miller says the key to doing DIY well is knowing when to pull back. “Sometimes simple is better. Keep it clean, focus on your craftsmanship and you can get a refined elegant look,” she says. And if you do decide to dive into a DIY project, take your time. “When you rush or get sloppy, the look instantly reduces in value,” Miller says. Miller stresses the importance and value of working with florists and designers on events but insists that with a little creativity and resourcefulness, a great looking table is possible even on a dime or in a pinch. DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 33


eat + entertain

Photography:Mikkel Paige Photography Production + Styling: Masion Dixon Designs Venue: Junction West Flowers: Eclectic Sage Rentals: CE Rental

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design destination Durham designer Ellie Snow created a chic penthouse getaway on a tight budget and even tighter deadline. 36 fall 2019


photographs by Lissa Gotwals text by Molly Dansby DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 37


When Ellie Snow heard that the penthouse in Durham’s landmark Snow Building was available, she seized the opportunity to turn it into the ultimate downtown Airbnb. But her budget for the project was tight, and her timeline even tighter—like six weeks tight. Visit her final product, the Vintage Penthouse, and you’d never guess. The enclave is as bold and chic as it is charming. And its design perfectly matches its downtown location.

thetic I wanted.” Another thing Snow had to nail down immediately was the budget. And while she admits that her initial budget for the project was “unrealistically low,” she says she made it work by being persistent and creative when it came to furnishing the space. “I browsed craigslist and went to secondhand stores daily,” she says.

Snow, a Durham designer and owner of Hello Tenfold, says she immediately fell in love with the space. The building, known for its Art Deco architecture and Main Street location, is a design enthusiast’s dream. It was commissioned by Anna Exum Snow (no relation to Ellie Snow) in the 1920s and remains one of downtown Durham’s architectural gems.

Her penchant for vintage wasn’t Snow’s only reasoning for buying secondhand. Her vision for the space lent itself to the practice, too. Snow wanted the penthouse to feel eclectic and homey, and also luxe and stylish. And she wanted it to be a reflection of its location.

Snow made bold choices when it came to the space’s palette (her faSnow recognized the penthouse’s design potential immediately. vorite part of the design, she says) and furnishings. A black and blush While graphic design is her specialty, she knew she could translate kitchen anchor the penthouse on one end and a deep berry-hued her expertise to interiors, and the penthouse was the perfect canvas bedroom is at the other. She wallpapered part of the space and filled on which to prove it. Snow’s design studio is in the same building, so it with beautiful rugs and vintage art. The space feels fresh and soshe was familiar with and fond of the location. phisticated. And while its design is a visual feast, Snow says the penthouse isn’t perfect. The bathroom has its design flaws (but the view Her design experience eased the project from the start: Snow knew from the tub is not one of them) and the floors are dated, for examorganization was key to meeting her deadline. “One thing I’ve ple. But its imperfections show the penthouse’s grit, right in keeping learned as a designer is how to curate, and that definitely came in with the vibe of the building and its neighborhood. handy,” Snow says. “I was able to pretty quickly hone in on the aes-

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adventure + go

When it comes to the neighborhood, there is no shortage of lodging options, including higher-end ones, located nearby. But this is where the Vintage Penthouse shines. Its stylishness is matched only by its spaciousness. And its huge private roof deck overlooking downtown Durham is impressive. “I also love that it’s a historic building with character,” Snow says. Having an appreciation for design and location aren’t guarantees when it comes to potential guests, but Snow says she considered visitors at every stage of the design process.

And the Vintage Penthouse may be just the beginning for her. “I think as a creative person it can be hard to keep doing one thing only, so for me, it’s ideal to have at least two projects or businesses going,” Snow says.

“ I didn’t want it to feel too precious. Somehow luxurious but homey and comfortable at the same time.”

“I thought a lot about the guests’ experience … how they’d use the space, and how it would feel to be there. I didn’t want it to feel too Snow is also interested in working on projects that differ in style: precious. Somehow luxurious but homey and comfortable at the “I’m dying to do another Airbnb with a totally different aesthetic, same time,” she says. actually.” Snow says she designed for guests who might appreciate the local art, culture, and food of downtown Durham. And for locals looking for a chic staycation home base. “It’s the first space I’ve designed in full, start to finish, and I had so much fun with it,” Snow says.

For now, Vintage Penthouse guests can enjoy Snow’s work along with sweeping views of downtown. “I’ve always loved the idea of interior design, and creating an Airbnb was a longtime dream. I learned so much, and I hope someday I’ll be able to do it again, whether it’s for myself or others,” Snow says. DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 39


adventure + go

ELLIE’S TIPS FOR DESIGNING A GREAT SPACE ON A BUDGET -Create a Pinterest board for the project and reference it while shopping for furnishings, paint, etc. -Buy vintage/thrifted items when you can. -Be determined and open-minded when shopping. Thrift regularly and be ready to purchase something in the style you’re working with, even if you’re not entirely sure of how exactly you’ll use it. -Prioritize and decide which items you want to splurge on. Be flexible with the rest!

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JUSTGO! Local travel bloggers offer tips for near and far photographs by Mikkel Paige Photography text by Molly Dansby Whether you’re looking for a specific itinerary for a weekend in Maribor, Slovenia or a practical rundown of the best photography spots in downtown Raleigh, the travel blog Sometimes Home has you covered. Local couple Mikkel Paige and Dan Woodruff run the site from their Raleigh (sometimes) home, fusing their shared love of travel and photography into a helpful, down-to-earth resource for wanderlusters of every kind. Paige and Woodruff are as detailed in their posts about Raleigh’s Morgan Street Food Hall as they are in those about markets in Western Europe. The uncompromising attention to detail, regardless of locale, is inspiring—and so is the creators’ love of traveling together. “From our first date, we discussed our dream places to travel. Shortly after that date, I was off to Europe for a river cruise with a friend, and I’d FaceTime Dan from Budapest so we could keep in touch,” Paige says. That was four years ago, and they’ve since married. “Traveling together enhances our experience. We love traveling as a duo. There’s nothing like being able to share a great meal together or an interesting site as a couple,” Paige says. The blog covers destinations in Europe, Asia, the United States, Central America, and North America. It’s not pretentious. It’s fun, insightful, and useful. It combines gorgeous travel photography—Paige is a wedding photographer by trade—and practical advice. And it’s diverse, from Walt Disney World to Phuket to the

best hotel to book near the Durham Bulls stadium. Here, they tell us the plane ticket to book for a long weekend this fall and which local hotel is perfect for a staycation.

Top picks for a long weekend

Washington D.C. is perfect for fall. Rock Creek Park will showcase beautiful fall colors; or Theodore Roosevelt Island, which is a walk away from Georgetown, is filled with beautiful trees, a memorial to the President, and good trails. Don’t forget that the Smithsonian museums on the National Mall all have free entry! New York City is perfect for the holidays. There’s so much to do and see, and that time of year is truly special there. Be sure to visit the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue, walk around Central Park (we recommend near the Bethesda Fountain by Central Park’s Boathouse), and see a Broadway show. If you happen to be there the day before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, go see the huge parade balloons being blown up on the west side of town.

Best nearby getaways

We love Goldsboro—it’s just an hour away from Raleigh and packs a big punch for things to do and sites to see. It’s a hidden gem; it’s gone through such a renaissance in recent years that if you visited years ago, visiting again should be on your radar. Don’t miss DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 41


walking around downtown, visiting the Heritage General Store, and eating at Grady’s BBQ nearby (remember to bring cash since it’s cash only). Another favorite is Winston-Salem, under two hours from downtown Raleigh. We love the Kimpton Cardinal hotel downtown, which allows small pets to stay overnight. Go to breweries Foothills and Wise Man, experience Old Salem, and walk around the Arts District.

Staycation stops

North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) for the outdoor art park and Iris restaurant. Picnics at JC Raulston Arboretum, Sarah P. Duke Gardens, and Raleigh Rose Garden. We really enjoy German food, and Gugelhupf in Durham has the cutest garden and restaurant that transports you. J. Betski’s is great, too.

Stay tuned

We have a podcast in the works, interviewing couples that are home but travel often, like us. We’re starting with travel writer couples. We also have a fun travel app in development. Meanwhile, our next big trip is Japan for a belated honeymoon! Find posts with more information about most of these mentioned places at Sometimes Home.

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good move BY:NEST marries healthy living and social consciousness photographs by Jillian Clark creative direction by Eli Gray text by Jessie Ammons Rumbley

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fitness + wellness

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When we feel good, we do good. Ask Charman Driver about wellness and that’s what it boils down to. The Raleigh resident, arts and community advocate, and Pilates instructor and health coach should know—for more than a decade, she’s devoted herself to the fitness community, where she noticed a mighty common theme. “Women. The power of women. [While training,] women would feed me stories, their stories,” she says. “When women are together, collectively”—she lets out a powerful exhale—“Oh man. It’s magic.” Magic is the impetus for Driver’s latest project, BY:NEST, an acronym for the practices of nourishment, empowerment, shape, and transformation. Through these practices, she hopes to empower community, especially local female community. On her website and social media, Driver presents practical advice through a thoughtfully styled lens: soulful portraits, vibrant photos of fresh produce. Holding a 60-second plank has never looked so dreamy. “It was important to me that it be visually beautiful,” Driver says. Art resonates. “I want people to come for the photographs and the artistry. If they keep reading, that’s the gravy.” Keep reading, and you’ll learn basic fitness moves—lunges, down dog, the effectiveness of jumping rope—and also gratitude meditations and affirmations. You’ll learn about self-acceptance and sleep (“I am a sleeper!” Driver declares. “I think it’s the best thing you can do for yourself, your child, your body. It’s the greatest healer.”). And you’ll read stories. Here’s that magic, that female community. In the spirit of the stories that motivated her, Driver shares interviews with local women doers and leaders about their passions and how they’re giving back. This is BY:NEST’s empowerment principle, and Driver believes it’s as essential as exercise (shape) and nutrition (nourish): “empowering yourself with community, talking to women, listening to women, opening yourself up, supporting women.” Ultimately, the goal is transformation, both on a personal and societal level. Transformation starts as an undercurrent of grounding awareness in your day-to-day. “I sit in the carpool line and think ‘loving-kindness, loving-kindness,’” Driver laughs. Hopefully, it sparks inspired change. “The thing that I hope BY:NEST brings to women—and it’s certainly helping me do—is realize that we have a social responsibility. Women, all women and certainly women of color: I’m hoping we can make our community super-strong, like a nest. You have to build that nest for yourself first. We all know it breaks apart sometimes, and rain comes, but know you have the tools to fix it, these principles, rituals, habits. When you’re able to build that nest for yourself, then you’re able to care for others. I think that’s how this community things happens and how it’s stable.” 46 fall 2019

Join Charman Driver and other women in BY:NEST’s new wellbeing workshop series, which just launched October 11. (For the record: intrepid men are welcome, too!)


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SOUND ADVICE Meet Durham’s purveyor of good vibes and tunes

photographs by Emily Lyons-Wood text by Molly Dansby It should come as no surprise to fans of Morning Jazz on WNCU 90.7 FM that host Alan Thompson says putting happiness, optimism, and art out into the world is his biggest intention. That is what he’s done for the past two years since he took an unexpected call from the station’s general manager. It was out of character to take an unsolicited early morning call, Thompson says, “but something told me to answer.” Thompson, a 27-year-old from the east side of Greensboro, hadn’t applied for the job, but he had stopped by the station earlier that year with his band. After that visit, and that fateful phone call, he began a short apprenticeship. A few days later, and to his surprise, he was asked to host the show. “It was humbling and I took it very seriously,” Thompson says. Earnest, thoughtful, and passionate, Thompson continues to answer the call to build community, on many levels, through music. Morning Jazz, on-air every Tuesday through Friday, is known for great music and better company. With a voice like butter, Thompson sprinkles affirmations throughout his show. It’s an intentional choice. Thompson says he’s cognizant of media’s affect on people, especially during what seems to be an especially feverish time in history. “I put extra emphasis on sharing positive energy. I too am an inhabitant of the world,” Thompson says.“Because I am inside a box with a microphone and don’t know who is listening … who they are, I want to be an inspiration to people.” Thompson knows his music inside and out. In addition 48 fall 2019

to radio host, he is a composer, songwriter, and saxophonist. He’s a member of the popular Durham band ZOOCRÜ, formed in 2012. Their first album was funded by a Kickstarter campaign and Thompson describes it as “a community band” and “a collective of the area’s most talented artists.” He met his bandmates while attending North Carolina Central University. Before NCCU was on his radar, Thompson always knew he wanted to be a musician. As a child, he sang in church and at school. Thompson says he gained an appreciation for gospel from his family, for classical in elementary school, and Southern hip hop during his formidable years. But he experienced a shift in middle school. It was then that he faced an internal struggle wherein his love for music challenged ideas about masculinity he was confronted with in his neighborhood. Loving music wasn’t considered masculine enough by many of the people surrounding Thompson, and he grappled a lot with that. It was also in middle school that Thompson became exposed to old-school hip hop. He used his allowance to buy music and was particularly moved by the Nas album ILLmatic. He fell in love with the song The World Is Yours, which includes a piano sample from artist Ahmad Jamal’s I Love Music. Thompson wanted to learn more. The song was personally pivotal and it turned him on to jazz. Around this time, he got Herbie Hancock’s album Maiden Voyage for Christmas, and his love for jazz solidified. In high school, Thompson became serious about playing


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the saxophone. His dad arranged for him to take private music lessons at Greensboro College, where he played the sax and studied music and music history. Meanwhile, renowned saxophonist Branford Marsalis was an artist-in-residence at NCCU and taught a masterclass at UNC-Greensboro. Thompson heard about it, showed up to the class, and chatted with Marsalis afterward. Marsalis told Thompson he should strongly consider going to NCCU. Thompson had a similar experience when he met the famed saxophonist and flutist Dr. Ira Wiggins. Thompson picked his brain on a career in music. Wiggins, too, encouraged Thompson to set his sights on NCCU. So he did. Thompson’s thirst for knowledge and boldness in asking questions is inherent, he says. He loves learning about people, what they do, and how they got where they are. He says he’s instinctually inquisitive, and he credits his late mother, a teacher, for nurturing the trait. Thompson describes her as being extremely patient with him as well as inquisitive herself. Meanwhile, Thompson’s father, he says, always encouraged him and found a way to get him into the classes and spaces where his passions could take root and grow. Durham has been one of those places. Thompson was familiar with Durham from playing frequent gigs there in high school, and he dove right into the music scene when he moved to the city to start classes at NCCU. He credits music with exposing him to all facets of the city—and its soul. For someone who loves people and learning about them and their lives, this exposure is priceless. “Music has taken me to the poorest of communities and to the richest of communities,” Thompson says. Music is also Thompson’s platform, his way to explore other areas of his community and himself. Morning Jazz fans know Thompson as a positive personality, and that’s no accident. But he’s experienced hardships throughout his life that deeply affected him. “Even from childhood,” Thompson says, “I experienced darkness.” Music was—is—the balm, helping him choose to put forth positivity. Because of his reverence for community and his mission to inspire, Thompson has harnessed his hardships and mental health experiences into a new project, Bull City in the Basement. It’s one of the endeavors he is currently most excited about. Thompson created Bull City in the Basement to support and provide opportunities to artists, especially those who experience mental instability or struggles. The organization partners with a mental and physical health and wellness company to offer counseling services to artists. It also provides musical entertainment and developmental opportunities to artists, ranging from vocal training and music lessons to portfolio and website development. “2019 has been a season of going after opportunities,” Thompson says. Perhaps an understatement. In addition to his radio show, ZOOCRÜ, and Bull City in the Basement, Thompson is playing in a second band and con50 fall 2019

tinuing to embed himself ever deeper in the community. His life is hectic, he acknowledges, and he’s happy and inspired. When he’s not working, Thompson cherishes a closer-tohome community. He says he enjoys spending quality time with his family the most, including his wife and kids, a daughter and a son. They love to visit the Museum of Life and Science and other local museums. Thompson also loves to eat, and the restaurant scene in Durham perfectly suits the self-described foodie. As far as the future, Thompson is open and enthusiastic. He’ll follow the inspiration to inspire.“I think my purpose is to bring people together and to break barriers.”

“Music has taken me to the poorest of communities and to the richest of communities.”


modern day Meet Raleigh’s downtown design enthusiast

photographs by Emily Lyons-Wood text by Jessie Ammons Rumbley

On the counter of Ana Maria Muñoz’s downtown Raleigh condo sits a fiery red fruit bowl. The steel wire container is bright, striking, modern. It’s pretty and it’s practical, and it’s important, because it was one of the first pieces to spark Muñoz’s love of design. She and her husband, Joe, bought the bowl years ago when they were living in a tiny London flat. It was a basic IKEA purchase (from a limited collection by Swedish industrial designer Ehlén Johansson), but Muñoz says it livened up the space and left an impression: “It’s a little bit elevated. We treated it as an art piece! Through that simple bowl, I personally learned the power of design of everyday objects in your space.” Since then, Muñoz has honed her singular eye for design and channeled it into Port of Raleigh, her home and lifestyle design store in downtown Raleigh. Her style is not unlike that bowl: The shop is cheery and full of functional, design-driven goods that don’t sacrifice the fun factor. “I get excited about good design … about things that you enjoy using, on all levels: it feels good, it works well, you get value from it. Everything we do all day involves things. Good design can make our everyday experience.” Likewise can good retail make a community. With spunk and style, Muñoz is our resident design-minded advocate for creative community in downtown Raleigh. DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 51


At Port of Raleigh, Muñoz sells a mix of wares best described as delightfully modern. “I prioritize function and simplicity,” she says, while allowing for “intrigue and novelty.” From soap dispensers to wall art, “I think designers have this really awesome role and purpose of making things better and either more efficient or enjoyable … I love bringing those things into one space and sharing it with those that maybe haven’t seen them before.” When Muñoz opened Port of Raleigh in 2015, most of her customers were design newbies. In fact, some of the first visitors thought her shop was a gallery because of its sparse aesthetic. On the flip side, her fresh retail vision was welcomed by local design enthusiasts. “Ana Maria’s store brings a unique type of design to not just downtown but Raleigh as a whole,” says Neil Gray, CEO of JDavis Architects and chair of the board of directors of Downtown Raleigh Alliance. “She curates a style from all over the world that is very clean with modern sensibilities, while still being highly functional … Her store lets residents have more diversity in the types of design they can find downtown.” Now Muñoz stocks a lot more product and there’s a heavier dose of whimsy, but she still regularly introduces customers to a form-and-function mindset. Luckily, her timing matches the influx of downtown residents; and four years in, the shop is hitting its stride. “Port of Raleigh is an essential anchor store in a growing part of downtown Raleigh,” says Pam Blondin, owner of DECO gift shop, another longtime anchor store downtown. “Ana Maria has curated a beautiful collection of goods that work in urban apartments and homes, an essential resource given the explosive growth of downtown.” Being squarely in the middle of Raleigh’s growth is no lucky coincidence. Behind Muñoz’s unmitigated enthusiasm is smart strategy. Inclusive strategy. Talk to her for a while and you’ll certainly get excited about design—“I’m a professional design enthusiast,” she laughs, and it’s contagious—but you’re also likely to get excited about shopping. More specifically, about shopping local. Before choosing to settle in Raleigh 5 years ago, Ana Maria and Joe lived globally, moving and traveling often, including time living in London, Kuala Lumpur, and L.A., where Muñoz grew up (after being born in Australia to Colombian parents, plus a brief family stint in Colombia). Traveling strengthened their shared love of design, as well as Muñoz’s belief in retail, from roadside flea markets to London’s famed High Street. “Every independent store 52 fall 2019

can create the character of the community. A shopping district or street represents the people in that place, to some extent, and it can evolve with the community. I just love that.” When they landed in Raleigh, Muñoz realized retail was her way to both pursue a passion and civically contribute. “Five years ago, downtown—our neighborhood—was so poised for growth. Becoming part of that fabric was such a possibility … I wanted to do something meaningful for the community that we are making our home.” There’s meaning beyond her lively homewares. Along with running Port of Raleigh, Muñoz is a cheerleader for her fellow downtown Raleigh retailers. “As both a downtown resident and business owner, Ana Maria has put a lot of effort and thought into the downtown community, particularly helping create a close-knit group of downtown retailers and business owners who mutually support and lift each other up,” says Bill King, president and CEO of Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Muñoz was a driving force behind the 2018 launch of DTR Independent Shops, a collective of locally and independently owned outlets in downtown Raleigh. She’s worked closely with other small retail owners, such as Blondin of DECO, Christine Brenner of Read With Me, and Josh Lamm and Kim Hammer of Raleigh Provisions, to keep the group going, and her passion stands out. “Ana Maria has helped cultivate an atmosphere where retailers see each other as friends and collaborators working towards a common goal, rather than competitors,” King says. Blondin adds: “She knows that we will all succeed together.” To Muñoz, this is just how local community works: You find your groove and you support others’ grooves and you keep showing up. It’s like design: make it better and more enjoyable. Since opening her shop, Ana Maria and Joe have had two daughters, now 4 years and 6 months old. Life is hectic and full, and Muñoz is a happy, strong thread in the fabric of their family’s home. And she’s quick to point out that she’s only a single thread—there are many in Raleigh’s emerging, exciting retail scene. “Everyone’s putting their best foot forward … and their belief that their business can be a part of creating a better community, a more interesting community, a dynamic community.”


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“Everything has become about how it will take a picture—I actually think it’s a good thing. It’s forcing people to consider all senses. Now, we don’t just think: our food’s good enough; we care about what the tables look and feel like, what the chair looks and feels like. People are going to get better experiences. You can’t get away with blah-ness. We expect more now.”

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Friendsgiving 2019! A statement (DIY-able!) centerpiece, styled two ways, proves that setting a holiday table doesn’t have to be a chore. photographs by Mikkel Paige Photography produced by Molly Dansby and Danielle Joseph text by Molly Dansby and Jessie Ammons Rumbley DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 55


We enlisted the help of our favorite local event experts to reimagine a holiday table. Whether you’re hosting a fashionable Friendsgiving this year or you just want to spice up a regular Wednesday night, now you can do so with style.

For these centerpieces Heather Ann Miller, owner of Eclectic Sage, says the boldness comes from height, and how they relate to everything else on the table “The drama came from the exaggerated scale and the use of uncommon materials and finishes,” Miller says.

Start with dramatic accents to set the tone, and go from there. Pick Look 1: More is More one or two elements—we went for gigantic, textured floral centerpieces in trendy opalescent vases and fun taper candles—then don’t The holidays are hardly a time for cutting back. Go ahead, have your overthink the rest. cake and eat it too: Inspired by the vibrant centerpieces, we used a bold copper and purple tablecloth as the foundation for this look. “Pick one piece that is really bold or inline with the holiday and let Pink candles provided an unexpected jolt of color. it shine!” Danielle Joseph, owner of Mason Dixon Designs says. This practice keeps the table from appearing cluttered, or overstyled, Jo- From there we kept the place settings unfussy. We used simple plates, seph says. She also recommends adding candles whenever possible. glasses, and only the flatware needed for the meal. But we kept those She says it’s one of the simplest ways to set a festive mood. pieces modern, and the clean lines help direct the eye to

photographs by Mikkel Paige Photography 56 fall 2019


the table’s more dramatic elements. Same goes for the sumptuous At once laid-back and memorable, a measured amount of flair keeps napkins kept in check by their neutral color. both tabletops exciting. Look 2: Less is More

Here’s to keeping entertaining just plain fun.

OK, who are we kidding? This look isn’t exactly subtle, but simple changes toned down the table. We kept the centerpieces, vases, and candleholders in place and tweaked everything else to keep the focus on the florals.

Photography: Mikkel Paige Photography Production + Styling: Masion Dixon Designs Venue: Junction West Flowers: Eclectic Sage Chairs: Cottage Luxe We swapped the colorful tablecloth with a simple white one and the pink candles with more demure tapers. We kept the napkins but em- Rentals: CE Rental ployed a sleeker fold. The look stays interesting thanks to nuanced details: ombre candles and cool chargers add depth to the neutral tablescape.

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photographs by Mikkel Paige Photography 60 fall 2019


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this is not a drill: it’s HHM Marching Band season! The most wonderful time of the year photographs by Eve Hobgood text by Molly Dansby

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There is no shortage of holiday events in the Triangle, and for many, none of them compares to seeing the Helping Hand Mission Marching Band perform. Sylvia Wiggins, the mission’s executive director of nearly 40 years, says that the band is looking forward to performing after what she describes as a bittersweet year with a hefty dose of sorrow. There’s no easy way to say this: One of the band members was tragically killed earlier in the year. He was one of four band members lost throughout the group’s history. The entire event underscores the fragility of life and the organization’s mission to make it easier for Raleigh’s kids and teens.

“Everyone is welcome.”

Wiggins says the Helping Hand Mission Marching Band is “a place for kids to come and hang out. We have a big space for kids to practice and exercise. It’s like a home space for them, a place where they can feel secure.” The marching band welcomes 7-to-17-year-olds and practices most Tuesday and Thursday nights. “Everyone is welcome,” Wiggins says. The marching band is just one of the mission’s many community programs, and they are regular participants in Raleigh holiday events, including the Christmas parade. But Wiggins points out they perform across the state, including in some of its smallest towns. The band makes their costumes and many of the instruments are donated. Band alumni have returned through the years to volunteer; they do it to give back, Wiggins says, and because “it keeps them grounded.” The band is a source of great pride and joy for Wiggins and her community. It’s also a lifelong dream. Wiggins always wanted to be a marching band member, she says, but when she was younger she felt unwelcome because of the color of her skin. “I just felt it,” Wiggins says. “When I get grown I’m getting a full band,” Wiggins promised herself. Turns out, Wiggins keeps her promises. And she’s not kidding about everyone being welcome. In fact, she encourages any young person interested to “come on down on Tuesday around 6 p.m.” 64 fall 2019


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Modern Love Seeking value in old-school comforts photographs by Forrest Mason text by Jenn Rice

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My right of passage into the world so graciously happened in the early 1980s—1982, to be exact. And it was truly a time to be alive. I wore neon stretch pants with stirrups and slouchy socks with color coordinating scrunchies. I desperately wanted a perm by the time I was 8 years old. I watched episodes of Family Ties and Golden Girls, lengthy commercials and all.

It was truly a time to be alive.

I played outside until the sun set, flying june bug beetles around on a string, like a kite. I longed for mom’s green bean casserole and tri-colored pasta salad out of the box. Pineapple dump cake, created with a box of Jiffy yellow cake mix, was a dessert I looked forward to. Cell phones, CDs, PCs, and space exploration became the norm. Saved by the Bell became my post-school pastime. And in 1989, the internet went global. “Our toys were way cooler and we played outside more,” says chef Justin Burdett of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill. “I love 80s culture—when MTV actually played music and we could watch Beavis and Butthead.” Those were indeed the glory days. And little did Burdett know at the time, one day he’d take the reins of Crook’s Corner, one of the South’s most highly acclaimed restaurants, opened by 68 fall 2019

Gene Hamer and chef Bill Neal in 1982—ironically Burdett’s birth year. Cue the nostalgia. In August 2018, Burdett entered his own rite of passage into the kitchen at Crook’s Corner, to work alongside legend and chef Bill Smith a few months before officially taking the reins. “Farm to table was never a thing for me, it’s just the way that I eat—the way that food inherently tastes the best—so I’ve always paid attention to Bill’s work,” he adds. “On top of being my mentor and a wealth of knowledge about Southern food and ingredients, we found we have a lot in common otherwise.” Consider yourself lucky if you’ve seen the two interact together in the same space. Burdett’s influence is subtle and strong. “Some of the more iconic dishes will stay the same, while I’ve slowly made some changes to other dishes.” Rest assured the shrimp and grits will never die. “I really wanted to stay true to everything that makes Crook’s Corner authentic while incorporating some of my own style,” Burdett says. His terrine varieties are a true testament to a traditional dish reinvented. “I’ve been incorporating recognizable flavors, just in a terrine format,” he says. “A couple of my favorites are the Nashville Hot Chicken terrine and the collard and boiled peanut terrine.” It’s similar to throwing an 80s party in a non-gaudy, nontacky, non-neon kind of way. Employ your subtle and your strong. Think balance—bits and pieces of of the glory days mixed up together with the present.Then the magic starts to happen. “I like to


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make nostalgic food with recognizable flavors—with some elevation incorporated either through ingredients or technique,” Burdett says. Looking back for inspiration is key, whether it be a marathon of Golden Girls, adding a neon-hued nail as a pop of color to a fall wardrobe, or updating an oh-so-80s canned green bean casserole recipe with haricots verts, fresh mushrooms, and made-from-scratch fried crispy onions. No matter what, nostalgia is always present.

Burdett on Modernizing Nostalgic Bites

Tuna Salad Think “tuna tartare in the style of traditional tuna salad,” by way of thinly rolled out white bread that’s been buttered and toasted into a crispy, thin crostini-like vehicle. (PSA: Try this at home.) Aioli instead of mayonnaise and housemade pickles in place of dill relish make for a memorable bite.

Chicken and Dumplings

“Chef Bill Neal included a great chicken and dumpling recipe in his cookbook,” Burdett notes. The reinvention? Chicken and pillowy Here, Burdett reimagines a handful of dishes he grew up eating in pocket-like gnocchi. “I wanted to honor the original spirit of the 80s the 80s. “The dishes were inspired by food I ate growing up—a lot dish with some updates.” His Parisian-style gnocchi includes fresh of dishes that my nanny made, just updated,” he adds. “They’re fun herbs that brighten up a traditional comfort food. because they’re dishes that people recognize, but have playful spins that stay true to the original, just presented in a more modern way.

Nutty Buddy

Waldorf Salad

“I love them and I have since I was a kid,” says Burdett of the ice cream cone topped with ice cream, chocolate, and peanuts concoc“My nanny made Waldorf salads so it’s a nostalgic dish from my tion. His updated version showcases all of the flavors, but in a more childhood,” Burdett says. Muscadines instead of regular grapes, sophisticated format. apples, celery, watercress, and spicy mayo give it a “nice balance of sweet and peppery.”

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FAMILY

All in the family A closer look at a sweet downtown Chapel Hill bedroom and the mother-daughter relationship behind it

photographs and styling by Katherine Miles Jones Photography mural by Lisa Gaither Art

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Last year when it came time for Molly Dansby’s daughter, Maeve, to transition from a nursery to a big-girl room, Dansby knew just who to call. Lisa Gaither, the prolific artist in Raleigh known for her massive murals around downtown and beyond, is Dansby’s mom. Dansby, this magazine’s founder and publisher, and Gaither have been collaborating on creative projects throughout the Triangle for years, but Maeve’s room is special. It’s bright, happy and inspired by her home’s downtown location and her love for the Madeline book series. We picked the mother-daughter duo’s brains about the process, and what it’s like to work together creatively. And about being a creative person in general.

DQM: What’s it like working together on projects? Dansby: We are both very over-the-top when it comes to creative projects. It’s just how we are both built. We also trust each other creatively, which helps. We don’t have to worry about selling ourselves or our ideas. We have the luxury of skipping that step with each other and not being self-conscious, which really opens us up creatively. As far as work goes, it’s usually hectic. Ha! And we usually wing it! But we’re both hard workers and sometimes perfectionists. I think it shows in our work. Gaither: We both usually have strong/bold ideas and ways that we work. Some are alike and some are very different. It’s fun, it’s organic, it’s so...weird! It is mostly fun but can get tense as we both want everything to be perfect.

Dansby: Always. Ha. We are both very passionate and excitable. We are extra and constantly biting off almost more than we can chew. When we talk about a project we’re passionate about others have trouble keeping up. We have a shorthand, we’ve been working together for so long.

DQM: Why do you like working together on Gaither: It is always too much! If it is not too much then I don’t want projects?

to be involved. I think I can say the same for Molly. We want to go Dansby: She’s always open to my ideas. She doesn’t bat an eye no above and beyond and are constantly looking for projects that will matter how wild. And she’s incredibly talented, knowledgeable and let us do that. I want to push myself harder with everything I do and I hard working. Often I’m the idea person and she’s the executor. She am sure she is the same way. We are out here doing too much! is a wealth of knowledge and experience.

DQM: What are some of your favorite Gaither: We can be ourselves. No need to hold back anything. We projects you’ve ever worked on together?

can bounce weird ideas off each other. I can throw something at her and she makes it make sense. I am good at creating and she is the best Dansby: As a child whenever I had a school project, like a book report, mom and I gave it our all. I remember one time I was assigned at communicating. a book project about a character who lived in a cold climate. I vividly remember my mom and me deconstructing an Alf doll and fashionDQM: Is it ever too much? ing it into this elaborate fur coat. I mean, looking back, my teachers must have been like, whoah. Ha! As an adult, I cherish those mem74 fall 2019


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ories. Lately, I have loved bouncing ideas off of each other for mom’s murals. It’s fun to take a challenging project and craft it into something manageable and inspiring. Gaither: I’d have to say my first mural, as she was there. My doctor made me quit work and go on early maternity leave. I got so bored after a couple of weeks and decided to paint a mural in her nursery. I gathered all of my paints from school and went for it! It was so great and I knew then that this was what I wanted to do.

DQM: Do you ever fight? Dansby: Yes. We are both passionate and sensitive. But as we’ve gotten older I think we both realize that our criticism and arguments come from a place of love and truly wanting the other person to be their best self. And I think because we had such different upbringings and we are different in ways, we find common ground in creative projects. It’s one way we express our love for each other. Gaither: Of course! We are sensitive and both take things personally. We are alike in some ways, as far as being creative, but we are also very different. It’s normal, we don’t always have to agree.

together simply and organically. I pitched my idea and mom freehanded it. I mean it wasn’t that simple but it kind of was. I love that it’s happy and encourages my daughter to be creative. I love that it pays homage to my love of downtown cities/neighborhoods. But more than anything I love that it is a reflection of the bond between the three of us. It’s a concrete symbol of that bond. Gaither: I love the little person that lives in this room! It is bright, happy and simple.

We are both very passionate and excitable ... and constantly biting off almost more than we can chew. When we talk about a project we’re passionate about others have trouble keeping up. We have a shorthand, we’ve been working together for so long.

DQM: What are each of your weaknesses and strengths?

DQM: What is your favorite creative project the other has done?

Dansby: On creative projects, I get very passionate. And I sometimes have a chip on my shoulder. I think it comes from being creative in a world that isn’t always accepting of that. I can be blunt or assertive with my viewpoint sometimes. It’s a coping mechanism. But ultimately I’m open to feedback which I think is a strength. Other than her raw talent and expertise I think that mom’s biggest strength is that she never asks “why?” about creative projects. Instead, she typically asks, “why not?” This has had an enormous impact on me and how I view the world. I never really view a creative project as a risk. Also, we are both very bad at math.

Dansby: That’s hard because I love so many! I love her big downtown murals and how huge a part of the communities they’re in they’ve become. The scale of her projects is so grand and it’s inspiring to watch her create at that level. I also really love some of her small residential mural projects. Her spirit is visible in all her work, as is her perfectionism, and I love seeing it!

Gaither: I have a hard time saying no, and Molly is the opposite. I’m not afraid to take on anything new. I welcome it. I always research to make sure I can handle new things. Molly is strong and can get a better sense of things in the beginning. She is also eager to do new and/or different things. We both get bored and want to do our own thing. She has a sense of knowing what is cool and now and I trust her, even when I don’t trust myself.

DQM: What do you love most about this room? Dansby: Visually I love so much about it. And I love that it came 76 fall 2019

Gaither: I remember when Molly was in the 4th grade she came home from school one day and said she knew she wanted to be a writer. She went into her room and came out with a book!!! I can’t describe how I felt! I knew there was no stopping her. Now I think this magazine might be my favorite. I am anxious to read/see it!


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FILL ME UP! Talking squeaky-clean reuse with Fillaree’s Alyssa Cherry photographs by Rebecca Aimes Reducing waste can feel like an overwhelming cycle of not knowing where to begin, reading up on climate change, stumbling into, say, the ocean plastic problem, going down a vicious, disheartening rabbit-hole of turtles eating plastic bags and yogurt containers from the ’70s washing ashore today (litter takes thousands of years to decompose, folks), and then still not knowing where to begin. Do metal straws really matter? (Yes.) Who actually composts? (That’s more complicated, but it’s not as scary as it seems.)

“I believe the world can be a better place if we have the tools to make it so.”

Alyssa Cherry felt this way, too, and set out to create one simple, tangible way to make a difference. “I believe the world can be a better place if we have the tools to make it so,” Cherry says. In April 2014, she launched Fillaree, a Durham-based natural bath and cleaning products company. Buy a bottle of Fillaree soap and keep it forever:

There are bulk refill stations throughout the area, including The Zen Succulent in Raleigh and Durham and Be Pure Beauty in Carrboro. When you run out of soap, just swing by, fill ’er up, and go on about your way. “No landfill, no recycling, just reuse,” Cherry says. We sat down for a quick chat with the founder.

78 fall 2019


go greener DQM: Why soap? AC: It was the one thing that I couldn’t find it bulk—it was actually a natural cleaning spray (that I couldn’t find). I would buy the plastic refill container and recycle it, buy it and recycle it. I realized I wanted to be able to refill my refill! The only alternatives I could find were a bunch of DIY recipes. At the time, I had two kids under age 5, and I found it beyond frustrating that, on top of all of the other million things expected of us as moms and humans, in order to live a more zero-waste lifestyle I also had to make my own soaps.

How does a subscription work? We have dozens of refill stations across the country, but if you don’t live near one or it isn’t convenient, you can subscribe to our refill jugs. We send you a 32-ounce bottle of soap, and once it’s empty you send it back in a prepaid envelope. You can use this to refill soap bottles you already have at home, or buy one of our bottles. We wash, sanitize, and refill the jug, then send it back to you.

Where else can we find Fillaree soaps? We have refill stations across the Triangle and a storefront in And here you are, doing that. But thanks to you, we don’t! How did Durham. There are also dozens of local businesses who use and you figure out how to make completely natural soap that actually refill our products, including Bull City Burger, Cocoa Cinnamon, works? The Durham Hotel, Fullsteam Brewery, Mother & Sons, St. James It took me over 60 tries to get it right. My background is in social Seafood, Tazza Kitchen in Raleigh and Cary, Trophy Brewing, and work, sales, and HR…but I was really good at chemistry in high Community Power Yoga. school. It’s intimidating to know where to start reducing plastic use. Besides In theory, how many plastic bottles can we save in a year, here? Fillaree, what are some of your favorite easy tips? With a year-long subscription, we estimate you’ll save 38 bottles per Reusable water bottles and beverage cups. Just always be prepared. year. And bring your own bags to the grocery store.

DOWNTOWN QUARTERLY 79


the future

before the bustle of the holiday season begins we caught up with Megan George of The Zen Succulent to chat about her new downtown Durham shop, her downtown Raleigh shop, and what she’s looking forward to this fall what Megan is most looking forward to these days: Our grand opening on Saturday, November 9th! Alongside our new neighbors Jeddah’s Tea we’re hosting a celebration at CCB Plaza for the community including a makers market, ribbon cutting, craft articles, and games. what’s new with the Raleigh shop: Our Raleigh location is continuing to flourish with its own unique vibe based on the community that surrounds it - we have expanded our DIY Terrarium Bar to allow 8 people to make terrariums at once and added in our Dried Flower Bar where you can design your own preserved flower arrangements, all using flowers grown by a small family farm based in Washington State! what Megan is most looking forward to this fall: I am excited about the cooler temperature and enjoying time with family and friends (and a good plant book). Fall is a great time for retailers before the welcomed Holiday rush and that is how I am going to be spending this downtime before it gets here. Thanks for catching up with us Megan and we hope you have a great fall!

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DQM Issue 1 - Downtown Quarterly Magazine Fall 2019  

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