INDY Week 12.01.21

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Chasing the slippery trail of a dwindling salamander species that’s threatened by burgeoning development BY LEIGH TAUSS, P. 18

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December 1, 2021

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Raleigh Durham Chapel Hill


Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 38 NO. 46

CONTENTS NEWS 8

Tensions are simmering between Durham County Commissioners and activists opposed to a new youth detention center. BY THOMASI MCDONALD 10 Orange County has a new collaborative plan for racial equity, but residents are skeptical that it will make a difference. BY HANNAH OLSON 13 Summers are getting wetter, winters drier—and climate change comes with a cost. BY JASMINE GALLUP 18 A once common salamander species found only in North Carolina could be threatened by development. BY LEIGH TAUSS

ARTS & CULTURE 21

The artist and naturalist Christopher Marley's Exsquisite Creatures exhibition lives up to its name. BY RACHEL SIMON 22 Carolina Performing Art's ambitious Atmospheric Memory exhibition reframes the science of sound. BY BYRON WOODS 25 Durham writer Barbara Kremen's new short story collection takes shape. BY EMILY CATANEO

BILL BURTON ATTORNEY AT LAW Un c o n t e s t e d Di vo rc e SEPARATION AGREEMENTS Mu s i c Bu s i n e s s L a w UNCONTESTED In c o r p o r a t i o n / L LC / DIVORCE Pa r t n e r s h i p MUSIC BUSINESS LAW Wi l l s INCORPORATION/LLC WILLS C o l l e c t i o n s

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THE REGULARS 3 15 Minutes

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WE M A DE THIS P U B L I S H E RS Wake County

MaryAnn Kearns Durham/Orange/ Chatham Counties

John Hurld E D I TO RI A L

Contributors Will Atkinson, Madeline Crone, Grant Golden, Spencer Griffith, Lucas Hubbard, Layla Khoury-Hanold, Brian Howe, Lewis Kendall, Kyesha Jennings, Glenn McDonald, Anna Mudd, Dan Ruccia, Rachel SImon

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BACK TA L K

Last week, we published a Raw Story piece analyzing Facebook’s algorithms following the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict last month that found that right-wing websites dominated engagement on a scale of nine to one. We feel like, with most of what happens on Facebook, this probably isn’t a good sign for democracy. Our readers had thoughts—and debates—on the issue as well.

“Right-wing propaganda is very profitable!” wrote Facebook commenter AARON AVERILL. “The multinational cabal of fascist elites are very happy with their return on investment for social media spend!” “If that were the case,” replied commenter DAVID LYKINS, “we wouldn’t see the predominant broadcast media covering the news four liberal to one conservative. ‘multinational cabal of fascist elites,’ that’s just too funny.” “Fox News alone exceeds viewership hours of the next four channels,” AARON AVERILL clapped back. “Combined. “FACTS: The ‘msm’ is right wing. “An inconvenient truth, especially if you’re selling grievance kool-aid by the gallon. Its no wonder the right wing has gone post reality ‘Alternative Facts.’ “*laughs in Orbán*” Lol. We also continue to get comments from readers on Sarah Edwards’s story on Pioneers Durham, including this letter from P.D. WEDDINGTON: “Many of my criticisms of this ‘church planting’ echo what you already printed. I wish to add another significant point. These newly-graduated ‘ministers’ do not have enough experience, or the knowledge that comes with age, to launch a church. Her doublespeak on LBGQT+ presence has nothing to do with the Jesus who ate with prostitutes and thieves, fed the poor and overturned the merchant’s tables in the Temple. One must spend many years attending the dying, comforting the grieving, caring for the sick, and being deeply involved in the dark margins of life before ‘growing’ a new church. The location and intent of this new enterprise ignores the existing community and shows no knowledge of Durham’s people and needs. Making random remarks to a journalist about visions of wedding dresses is nothing more than soothsaying, which is not taught at any reputable seminary. To me this seems nothing more than a well-funded scam.”

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Raleigh

15 MINUTES Windi White, 45 Director of development for Healing Transitions

PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA

BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

Winidi White is the director of development for Healing Transitions, an addiction recovery center in Raleigh that takes a multifaceted approach to healing. She is an artist and teaches painting as a form of therapy for those in recovery.

What role has art played in your recovery?

What is intuitive painting?

Fast-forward through 20 years and a roller coaster in my own addiction—I got sober when I was 40, and all of a sudden I really needed something to do different from what my nightly routine was. So, in an act of desperation, I started painting again.

Intuitive painting is the art of letting go of the picture in your head of what you think art should look like or what your creativity should look like. I took different processes and methods I’ve learned along the way and morphed them into this practice. To me, it’s all about not believing the itty-bitty shitty committee in your head. Intuitive painting is a process of meditation and breathing exercises. It is exercising your ability to let go by turning on some music and doing some free drawing to the music. It’s just pen to paper—to go fast, go slow, change hands—to kind of let go of controlling each motion of the pen or the paintbrush and just seeing what comes of it. In my painting I use a lot of gel mediums to build up a lot of texture and layer that gel and paint in multiple layers, so by the time I’m done the painting is revealed from beneath—the actual picture. That process teaches how to pause and walk away when something’s not working, or how to dig in a little bit deeper. And most importantly, not seeing an end goal of what it should look like but just enjoying the process. When I’ve been able to give these workshops—it’s amazing. To see the [students’] transformation happen in the moment, it’s being able to provide that medium for them to express themselves and work through some of those issues.

Growing up, I always wanted to be an artist, but when I got older I started to let that itty-bitty shitty committee in my head tell me I wasn’t good enough.

This time I didn’t care what it looked like. I just needed to be busy, and that’s where I really found peace, acceptance, and my own authentic voice in my creativity because I just let it all go. I stopped listening to that voice in my head. I just kept painting, canvas after canvas after canvas. That’s really where I found that peace and comfort and changed my whole pattern. In the evenings, instead of opening up that bottle of wine, or two or three, it was work on a painting. That really helped me grow in my recovery, grow in my art. When I came into my own with the whole intuitive painting process, other people started reaching out and asking if I did art lessons and if I would be willing to teach. From there, I was able to develop a workshop and provide intuitive painting to other people in recovery. W INDYweek.com

December 1, 2021

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For their patients’ sakes, North Carolina hospitals and medical centers can’t afford not to pay their nurses more. BY AMALIA POSTIER backtalk@indyweek.com

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t was seven p.m. when I discovered I was the only nurse on the floor for the shift. There were seven acutely ill patients, one of whom was actively receiving blood and should have gone to the ICU, “but they didn’t have space.” I did the math: How am I going to do this by myself?? What if someone needed CPR? Or if someone fell while I was trying to control another’s bleeding? A pizza party or one of those ubiquitous “Heroes Work Here” signs popping up outside of hospitals was not adequate support for this kind of situation. This scenario happened while I was working a travel assignment in southeastern Wisconsin during December in our first COVID winter. It was my worst shift in almost eight years of nursing, though the memories of many shifts stir up similar feelings of dread. Chronically high stress caused me to leave nursing for a career in public health, but my experiences sound tame when compared to nurses on the COVID front lines. Check out #nurseburnout on Twitter, if you’ve got time to spare. Since February 2020, almost one in five nurses have quit their job. I’m not surprised: pre-pandemic undervaluing and underpaying of nursing staff has been compounded by a crushing increase in patient load, higher exposure to traumatic situations, and constant ethical dilemmas—if burdens at work are already unmanageable, why not take a travel assignment and make a lot more money for it? Or, better yet, why not get away from the bedside, where both pay and treatment are better? A 2021 McKinsey survey found that 60 percent of nurses stated they were more likely to leave nursing since the pandemic began, with 22 percent contemplating leaving within the year. Based on pre-pandemic numbers, the interactive NC NurseCast

“Since February 2020, almost one in five nurses have quit their job.” website projected a statewide shortage of 12,500 nurses by 2033—with COVID factored in, it’s more likely that number will be close to 20,000. North Carolina hospitals have already delayed needed expansions due to inadequate staffing, and over 1,500 nurses are needed at Duke Health and UNC alone. Low staffing levels lead to higher stress and potentially unsafe nurse-patient ratios, which exacerbates burnout— and the cycle continues. North Carolina currently is one of several U.S. states without formalized nurse-patient ratios, and state officials have only just begun investigating what this would look like. Being in the hospital already puts one at increased risk of medical error and preventable death, made worse when caregivers are maxed out. Multiple websites claim North Carolina pays relatively average nursing wages, around $31 per hour, or $58,000 annually. However, the Duke Health medical system, despite providing care for the sickest

patients in the state, currently starts new grads at $25 per hour—$3 lower than the worst-paying state in the country. Based on a 36-hour workweek, this totals an annual salary of only $47,000. The national average salary is close to $80,000. Weekly, Duke nurses make less than $1,000; travel nurses in the same institution can make more than $5,000 weekly. Why does payment make a difference in patient safety? When nurses are paid well, they are incentivized to stay and contribute their expertise and patient loads are more evenly spread. Not only can nurses keep patients alive and safe, but they have time to act as the go-between for doctors, physical therapists, laboratory and imaging services, and family members of their patients. Travel nurses are worth their weight in gold, but they typically only get a couple of days of orientation—barely enough time to find out where all the supplies or the emergency numbers are. A staffing shortage of 20,000 nurses could be apocalyptic. What could stem this hemorrhage? A minimum base wage of at least $35 per hour would increase North Carolina’s competitive draw, coupled with state-mandated patient staffing ratios and adequate mental health services. This is only the start of what nurses need to recover from the COVID onslaught. Hospitals have shown in hiring travel nurses what they are willing to pay when desperate. From what I’ve seen, it’s an issue of respect and the least we can do for those with front-row seats to daily suffering and death. Looking at other states, unions advocate for fair pay and appropriate ratios. Should North Carolina nurses unionize? I’m not saying they shouldn’t. Something needs to change, and it can only be for the better for the state’s thousands of patients. W


$0.5 million

BY JASMINE GALLUP jgallup@indyweek.com

N

1970–80

orth Carolinians let out a sigh of relief this year when hurricane season passed mostly without incident (ending November 30). But just because the state didn't get hit by a Category 4 doesn't mean we escaped unscathed. Global warming is making storms wetter, more intense, and more frequent and keeping towns constantly on the brink of recovery. For more, see our story on page 13.

Property Damage

$367 million 2010–20

Damage by Cause in 2020

NC Hurricanes Over Time 50

40

30

20

10

0

19 00 -0 9 19 10 -1 9 19 20 -2 9 19 30 -3 9 19 40 -4 9 19 50 -5 9 19 60 -6 9 19 70 -7 9 19 80 -8 9 19 90 -9 9 20 00 -0 9 20 10 -1 9

Q UIC KBA I T

Hurricane Season

Strong Wind: $1.6M Thunderstorm Wind: $670K Tropical Storm : $250K

8.95 in.

107 °F

Highest Temperature July 29, 2011

Flash Flood: $130K Lightning: $25K

Record Rainfall October 9, 2016 Source: NC Climate Office and NOAA Storm Events Database INDYweek.com

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N E WS

Durham A rendering of the proposed youth detention center COURTESY OF DURHAM COUNTY

Detention, Centered Tensions simmered between Durham County commissioners and “no youth jail” activists during a town hall earlier this month. BY THOMASI MCDONALD tmcdonald@indyweek.com

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n March 20, 2019, Julia Graves filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against Durham County that claimed the sheriff’s office and county jailers’ neglect led to the wrongful death of her 17-year-old daughter, Uniece Glenae Fennell, who died by suicide at the downtown detention center. County detention officers found Uniece hanging from a bedsheet attached to the bar across the raised window of her cell on the fifth floor of the detention center. At the time of her death, Uniece was a minor being detained among adult inmates, Graves stated in the wrongful death complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina in Greensboro. Uniece died May 23, 2017. She had been in jail for more than a year after she was one of three people charged in a drive-by shooting that killed a 19-year-old. A May 2019 settlement with Durham County included a provision requiring the Board of Commissioners “to study, explore, and construct, if feasible, an expanded 8

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Durham County Youth Home, or develop some alternative plan for total sight and sound separation between juveniles and adults in Durham County. Only after all reasonable efforts to find an in-county placement solution have been exhausted can Durham County children be housed in an out of county facility.” Durham County commissioners in recent days have pointed to their legal obligation to address Uniece’s death as one of the reasons behind their support for the construction of a new and expanded $30 million youth detention center that will house 35 to 40 juveniles. Architectural designs also indicate the detention center space could be expanded to house 60 children awaiting the resolution of their criminal court cases. The new detention center will be built on undeveloped land where the current 14-bed youth home shares space with the offices of Durham County Emergency Management on Broad Street.

Groundbreaking for the new facility is set to take place next year. It’s expected to be completed by 2023, and the old youth home will be demolished. Last week, Uniece’s mother questioned the wisdom of building a new detention center during a virtual, twohour town hall, “Youth Heal in Communities, Not Cages,” hosted by members of Durham Beyond Policing (BYP), a coalition of local groups who want divestment from jails and prisons and investment in evidence-based crime prevention models. Graves described a West Coast program that offers wraparound services to troubled youth and their families. One of the key elements of the program are vouchers allowing children to participate in martial arts, cheerleading, basketball, and vocational training. “I think that would make more sense, stuff like that, than spending $30 million,” Graves said. “Add a few more beds, or remodel the current facility. But 60 [beds] is a little bit too much. Because you will fill those [beds] and it will be with mostly minorities. But it’s not helping.” Emotions ran high during the town hall as participants described a juvenile justice system that failed them and how responsive mental health intervention early on could have made all the difference. One mother, a single parent of four children struggling to make ends meet, talked of seeking mental health for her daughter who lit fires in the living room, became violent with her siblings, showed signs of kleptomania, began to hear voices, and was in and out of emergency rooms, only to be told her child “had no obvious signs of mental health challenges.” Another young woman described “the psychiatric side of incarceration” that’s “disguised as rehabilitation.” Toward the end of the town hall, organizer and moderator Ronda Taylor Bullock asked everyone to “take some deep breaths.” Several county commissioners present at the town hall, along with the current youth home’s director Angela Nunn, while sympathetic, said the present facility is not a secure setting for troubled children. Wendy Jacobs, cochair of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, said that Nunn has been telling the board since 2002 that the condition of the current youth home is “not OK” and that renovations of the facility are not cost effective. “What we have now is more like a jail,” Jacobs said. “If we don’t want a new one, the old one will close down, then our youth who are court-ordered will be sent out of the county,” away from the support of their families, local mental health services, and the public schools they may have been attending. Brenda Howerton, chair of the board, pointed to an even more dire and uncomfortable reality: the widely reported increase in violent crime among young people in Durham County.


A 2015 report made public last week on the county website indicates that the detention center is admitting more young people with severe behavioral, emotional, and mental health issues who have been charged with serious offenses such as murder, rape, and serious physical asssaults. BYP member Meghan McDowell, an assistant professor of history and social justice at Winston-Salem State University, pointed to decreasing juvenile delinquency rates nationally, across the state, and locally, following the efforts of Durham district attorney Satana Deberry, whose reforms had led to a dramatic drop in juvenile cases before the onset of the pandemic. McDowell and other detention center opponents also challenged the county’s decision to build a youth detention center as the most effective means of addressing the 2017 death of a teen who died by suicide while in custody at the downtown adult detention center. McDowell questioned whether the county had fully explored other alternatives cited in the language of the settlement. The county commissioners and Nunn said a new and expanded youth detention center is needed in anticipation of an increase in the number of juvenile offenders after the “raise the age” law, which bars most 16- and 17-year-olds from being automatically charged as adults, went into effect in December 2019. In a statement earlier this month on the county’s website, the commissioners said that the raise-the-age legislation “would inevitably result in needing more beds as the age for youth that could be housed in the adult detention center would be lowered.” Nunn noted that the new detention center will include a separate nonsecure assessment center to provide resources and services to families in crisis. “It’s based on families calling us for help,” explained Nunn, who added that the youth home phones have “been ringing off the hook” with families in crisis who are in need of preventive services. “With the new assessment center they can receive an evidence-based assessment and enter into an intervention program. The assessment is not related to the court. It’s not a secure setting at all.” BYP members are not convinced. “Incarcerating youth is inherently anti-therapeutic, especially for youth who have endured harm and for those who have caused it,” BYP member Manju Rajendran told the INDY following the town hall. County commissioners in their statement pointed to the county’s legal obligations following the 2019 settlement with Graves

and her family. The teen’s death was also behind the state’s “Sight and Sound” legislation that goes into effect next month, mandating that young people awaiting trial as adults not be held in any jails for adults. McDowell during the town hall pointed out that the county frequently uses the phrase “legally obligated” to explain its rationale for building a new youth detention center. “We believe this is a misrepresentation of their obligations,” said McDowell, who questioned whether the county had “developed some reasonable alternative plan.” “That is where we, Durham County residents, come in,” the professor added. “To dream up, to name, and to fight for these reasonable alternatives.” McDowell said that Durham’s juvenile delinquency rate is “well below the state’s average” and that the average daily population at the youth home has not been above 12.6 since 2016. But Nunn said McDowell and detention center opponents don’t understand the data behind the detention center’s average daily population. “It may be 14 today, 12 tomorrow, and five by the weekend,” said Nunn, who added that she often has to spend money to send children out of Durham County because the current facility may not have adequate bed capacity. “I am totally opposed to such a sick idea,” said “Momma” Ruby Johnny, a West African dance instructor and cultural educator who has spent decades teaching children. “We don’t need a detention center. African societies, which I base my work on, say that producing successful happy, well-rounded children comes from the elders helping them to be that way. And as leaders and teachers, we should not allow our money to be used that way. We need to use our money to educate and empower our children.” But on the other side of the issue, Howerton said that prior to the town hall, she had met with mothers whose children had been murdered. These meetings took place at the county justice center, where the Durham Homicide Memorial Quilt is on display in the lobby. “I have not heard you talk about the damage,” Howerton said near the town hall’s end. “I’m a Black mother. I don’t want any child to be in jail. But I also have to understand that when somebody picks up a gun and murders someone else’s child that that child is in pain. And if you want to put them back on the street to murder someone else before they have a chance to be healed, is that what you’re looking to do?” W

NCDOT TO HOLD VIRTUAL PUBLIC MEETING REGARDING US-1 CAPITAL BOULEVARD UPGRADE BETWEEN I-540 AND HARRIS ROAD/ PURNELL ROAD IN WAKE COUNTY

STIP Projects: U-5307

Raleigh –The public is invited to a virtual public meeting with the N.C. Department of Transportation this month to discuss the proposed project to make improvements to U.S. 1 (Capital Boulevard) in Wake County. The proposed improvements include conversion of U.S. 1 (Capital Boulevard) to a controlled access highway from I-540 in Raleigh to Purnell Road/Harris Road in Wake Forest. Controlled access means access is provided only via ramps at interchanges. Some cross-streets will be grade-separated, and no driveway connections will be allowed. Project details, including maps and a video can be found on the NCDOT project web page: (ncdot.publicinput.com/capitalboulevard-upgrade). A project presentation will begin at 6 pm on Dec 9, 2021. Interested persons are encouraged to register by visiting https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/3944497283958451981. To listen to the presentation by phone, call (415) 930-5321 and enter audio pin 268-435-629. People may also submit comments by phone 984-205-6615 project code 3243, email (capital-boulevard-upgrade@publicinput.com) or mail at the address shown below by Jan 7, 2022. By Mail: Terry Farr, PE NCDOT Project Management Unit 1582 Mail Service Center Raleigh, NC 27699-1582 NCDOT will provide auxiliary aids and services under the Americans with Disabilities Act for disabled people who wish to participate in this virtual hearing. Anyone requiring special services should contact Diane Wilson, Environmental Analysis Unit, at 1598 Mail Service Center in Raleigh; 919-707-6073; or pdwilson1@ncdot.gov as early as possible so that arrangements can be made.

Those who do not speak English, or have a limited availability to read, speak or understand English, may receive interpretive services upon request prior to the meeting by calling 1-800-481-6494.

Aquellas personas no hablan inglés, o tienen limitaciones para leer, hablar o entender inglés, podrían recibir servicios de interpretación si los solicitan antes de la reunión llamando al 1-800-4816494. INDYweek.com

December 1, 2021

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Orange County Betty Curry PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA

Meet the New Plan Officials in Orange County hope the new, collaborative racial equity plan will yield measurable results in creating equity among the county’s residents. But some of the residents worry it’s more of the same. BY HANNAH OLSON backtalk@indyweek.com

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arrboro resident Betty Curry began paying attention to local racial equity issues when she saw the way her grandsons were treated in Chapel Hill–Carrboro City Schools. Curry, a mother of three and grandmother of nine, says Black students are given far more suspensions and are scrutinized more by school resource officers. Seeing this through the lens of her grandchildren, and learning how it directly contributes to the school-toprison pipeline narrative, made Curry determined to work toward change. “A lot of the school policies are only applied to Black students,” Curry says. “That’s been an ongoing battle in this district on how our children are treated. They don’t say ‘racism’—a lot of people don’t want to accept or admit that race is in everything.” Recently, Curry has gotten involved with the Orange County Racial Equity Plan—a newly developed, multimu10

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nicipality effort intended to unite often well-intentioned but slow-moving local governments to work toward dismantling structural racism and ensuring that potential impacts on marginalized communities are fully considered in every decision. The initiative, officially known as the “One Orange” Orange County Racial Equity Plan, will see the towns of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough join with Orange County in this effort. The plan is available for viewing on Orange County’s website. Organizers say they hope it will serve as a living document, one that doesn’t just gather dust on the shelf. Curry is skeptical, and she’s not alone in this, but she got involved anyway. The Orange County Board of Commissioners approved staff moving forward to develop a countywide racial equity plan, dubbed One Orange, back in October 2020, with the goal of uncovering and addressing implicit biases in

local institutions in order to dismantle racial disparities in the community. At the forefront of this effort is Annette Moore, the human rights and relations director for Orange County, who has done civil rights work for more than 25 years. “Race is on everyone’s mind right now,” Moore says. “There’s a tendency to want to hurry the process of getting a racial equity plan in place. [But] people have to understand the reasoning behind the process. The process has to be embedded into the system so that it can become automatic.” Anita Jones-McNair, the race and equity officer for the Town of Carrboro, echoes this and says she hopes this framework will become embedded in every aspect of local government. “This is not [something to do] when you get some extra time; this should be embedded in our daily operation,” she says. “[Then] this becomes not even a second thought, it just rises to the surface.” The plan is broken into five sections—a racial equity assessment tool, a data index, community engagement, training, and evaluation and accountability. It centers around a framework of questions that encourages decision-makers to consider disparities among marginalized groups. The questions can be applied to any new or existing policy initiative, program, or budget item, examining the impact with examples, including “What data can you provide on your targeted community?” “Who benefits and who is negatively impacted?” “What are the consequences?” and “Have you addressed the concerns raised by the community members?” Moore explains the plan is needed to help institutions look at their individual impact on systemic inequities. Ideally, she explains, the housing commission, the fire department, the parks and recreation department, and many others will all take into consideration the racial equity plan in routine decision-making. She says the ultimate goal of racial “equity” is for race to no longer be used to predict life outcomes in the community. “It’s not enough to declare the factors are the results of racism,” Moore says. “We must be able to show it. The strength of our racial equity plan is data driven; we must have consistent, measurable, accurate, and reliable data.”

Data-driven plan According to county data, income disparity between Black and white residents is greater in Orange County than in the rest of the state. In Orange County, Black residents are more likely to rent, while white residents are more likely to be homeowners. The already small Black population in Orange County has declined in recent years. The 1990 popula-


tion of Orange County was 80 percent white, 16 percent Black, and 3 percent other racial groups. In 2019, Orange County was 70 percent white, 11 percent Black, 9 percent Hispanic, and 8 percent Asian. Moore and Curry suggest the declining Black population in the county is due to the lack of affordable housing and jobs that provide a living wage. According to data reported to the FBI, Black people are arrested four times more often in Orange County than white people. Systemic racism is also evident in healthcare data. In Orange County, the infant mortality rate is four times higher for Black infants. In 2018, there was a rate of 4.4 deaths for white babies and a rate of 22.7 for Black babies per 1,000 county births. The Orange County Black infant mortality rate is nearly double the statewide Black infant mortality rate of 12.2. Another major inequity concern in the community remains the proficiency gap present in Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill–Carrboro City Schools. Data presented at a joint Orange County, OCS, and CHCCS meeting in September showed a drop in proficiency in end-ofyear tests for third through eighth graders in CHCCS. In the 2020–21 school year, only 28.2 percent of Black students and only 31 percent of Latinx students were proficient, compared to 76.7 percent of white students. According to the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s 2019–20 Racial Equity Report Card, Black students were 6.7 times more likely than white students to receive a short-term suspension in the CHCCS district, despite making up only 10.9 percent of the student body population. Many hoping to fix the gaps in achievement in schools look to in-school solutions, but educators say the issue goes much deeper. “Achievement gaps are a reflection of the opportunity gaps that exist in society, and schools alone will not be the entities that close these gaps; it will take a whole-of-community approach,” explains Rodney Trice, the chief equity and engagement officer for CHCCS. Trice says the equity departments of both OCS and CHCCS have been working with One Orange and comparing strategies.

Taking it to the community An all-encompassing project like this requires community buy-in to work, says Moore.

“We want to bring people along, not shove it in their faces,” Moore says. “We want them to be full partners in this with us.” Curry says a successful racial equity plan means ensuring fair treatment in public schools. It means actually talking about systemic racism, even if it makes people uncomfortable; securing affordable housing; calling out relatives and friends who make racist remarks; and paying a living wage. “I keep going because I can,” Curry says. “There was a time where we weren’t allowed in spaces. And a lot of us aren’t in spaces. Because I can be in these spaces, I’m going to be in them, even though I’m frustrated. I’m still going to be there and hope that one day they’ll get it.” Of the feedback she’s received on the racial equity plan so far, Moore says she was surprised by the lack of hope in the project. Community members, like Curry, seemed supportive but skeptical, and Moore acknowledges that people are hungry for tangible change, not just talk. “We have to show them; they have to believe that what we’re saying is true for them to open up to the possibilities that this is real, that this can work,” she says. “There’s been a lot of plans, and they have not come to fruition. They’re skeptical. They haven’t dreamed big enough. That’s the surprising thing, they’re not optimistic enough—it hasn’t caught fire in their belly.” This skepticism is what urges Moore to continue working—and to do so quickly, so people can see the plan in action. “Building that trust with the community is us ensuring that [the plan doesn’t sit on the shelf], that they see results going forward,” she continues. “We need to get to work because people need to see us doing something and not just talking about it. If it’s not going in the direction they want it to go, to criticize us. I really want to be criticized. We’re not perfect— we’re government.” Curry says while the plan seems good, it’s just a plan and that it’s up to white people in positions of power to make space for people of color by listening to their stories and concerns, elevating their voices, and changing policies and laws. “The plan is the plan, but it’s the actual work of the humans that’s going to make the plan work,” Curry says. “Some people want to hear it and a lot of people don’t. But I’m not going to stop until my last breath. I’m going to tell the truth no matter who likes it. White America, your ancestors did a lot of stuff. It’s time for them to really face that.” W INDYweek.com

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N E WS

North Carolina

The Costs of Climate Change Summers are getting wetter, winters are getting drier— and North Carolina is spending millions to address the environmental impacts. BY JASMINE GALLUP jgallup@indyweek.com

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n October, nearly five inches of rain poured down on Raleigh, flooding homes, washing away roads, and bringing down power lines. In Holly Springs, a section of asphalt collapsed. In Raleigh, 23 people were evacuated from their homes by boat. It was the most rain seen on October 9 (outside of 2016, during Hurricane Matthew) since 1894, almost an inch more than the previous record, according to the North Carolina State Climate Office. Unfortunately, extreme weather isn’t unusual for the newest generation of North Carolinians, who are growing up amid the consequences of climate change. Records for Wake County’s highest temperature and greatest one-day rainfall were each set in the past decade. “As the planet warms, a warmer atmosphere can hold more water. Our storms are just getting wetter,” says Kathie Dello, North Carolina’s official climatologist and director of the climate office. “The extremes are getting more extreme.” The immediate consequences of extreme weather are obvious—trees fall, houses flood, and people die. But there are also more subtle effects. As cities get hit by storm after storm, water pipes and sewer systems start to break down. People are subject to continued flooding that can force them out of their homes. Small towns in eastern North Carolina are even worse off, since they get hit harder and have less money to rebuild. Rural communities like Fair Bluff (near the South Carolina border) and Princeville (east of Rocky Mount) are on the brink of bankruptcy. “We’ve had these hurricanes over the past five years which keep communities in constant recovery mode,” says Dello. “It only takes one storm or one hurricane to really

disrupt a community or their way of life.” Raleigh doesn’t often get hit directly by severe storms, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe from global warming, according to Dello. Flooding is a statewide problem. In the past five years, Wake County has sustained about $188 million in property damage. Much of that damage came from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and a series of severe thunderstorms in May 2019. With a population of almost half a million, Raleigh has a bigger tax base than most other cities and towns in North Carolina. But like many towns across the state, Raleigh is also struggling with crumbling infrastructure. As more people move to the city, and more storms hit, more demands are put on the system. “Our stormwater infrastructure was designed with the historical climate in mind. So when a lot of our culverts and roads were built, people weren’t thinking about climate change,” Dello says. “Now, we’ve shifted into this place where we’re seeing wetter storms … [and] places in our communities that constantly flood, even with what we would think would be a pretty manageable storm, because the system can’t handle it anymore.”

Low-income communities of color The people who are getting hit hardest by climate change are low-income people of color, Dello says. Historically, segregation has isolated Black communities, often in areas more prone to flooding. Princeville, the first town in America chartered by freed slaves, is a good example, according to Dello. Like some other places along the Tar and Neuse Rivers,

PHOTO VIA SHUTTERSTOCK

the community was first settled by African Americans. Low-income neighborhoods have also historically been underserved by government officials. Installation of new water and sewer systems has lagged behind. “Even within cities, if you think about Raleigh, there are parts of Raleigh that are more well off than others,” Dello says. “It tends to be the lower-income areas that see the most flooding.” When it comes to chronic flooding, it might seem like there are only two options: retreat or rebuild. But North Carolina and federal officials are also exploring a third option: resiliency. The state budget passed two weeks ago includes some $400 million for “flood mitigation and resiliency,” meaning ways to minimize the damage to infrastructure and risk to residents. The money will go toward a variety of state and local initiatives, including a “Flood Resiliency Blueprint” to guide policy, improvements to roads, and flood-specific disaster relief. Officials haven’t ruled out any options, according to Dello. Everything is on the

table, including managed retreat, where the government incentivizes people to move out of future flood areas (sometimes by buying houses), and beach nourishment to “shore up the shore.” North Carolinians were mostly unscathed by hurricane season this year. But, this weekend, photos emerged of Pilot Mountain on fire. Just as summers are getting wetter, winters are getting drier, resulting in raging forest fires like the one still devouring some 500 acres of mountain woodland. And the extremely dry, windy weather is working against firefighters, according to the N.C. Forest Service. When it comes to climate change, the planet needs to attack the problem from every angle, including where it starts, with fossil fuels, Dello says. “Climate change is here and now,” she says. “We’re supercharging the atmosphere with more moisture, but also providing more fuel for these hurricanes to form. When you add all those pieces together, we’re looking at a future that could be pretty dismal for communities in North Carolina.” W INDYweek.com

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NEWS

Raleigh ILLUSTRATION BY JON FULLER

Waterdog Days The once common Neuse River waterdog, a salamander found only in North Carolina, was upgraded to federally threatened status this summer. The species has nearly disappeared from waterways surrounding urban areas and development may be to blame. BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

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hen herpetologist Alvin Braswell first went out searching for Neuse River waterdogs as a young man in the 1960s, he’d set traps in Raleigh’s Crabtree Creek and pull out the slimy, brown, and polka-dotted salamanders, watching with intrigue as their bright red gills fluttered about their necks like a feather boa in water and their comically small legs floated alongside their snakelike torsos. The critters, which can grow to nearly a foot long, are found only in North Carolina’s Neuse and Tar Rivers. They were common back then, often seen nestled within the rocks, sticks, and leaves that make up the substream of rivers and tributaries. But in the last 50 years, the area 18

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around Crabtree Creek and Capital Boulevard has filled in with shopping plazas and housing subdivisions all connected by dense impervious roadways. During that time, the population of the metro area has exploded by a factor of 10—the 150,000 living here when Braswell first dropped traps has climbed to nearly 1.5 million. Development has followed the growth, sprawling farther and farther out from the city as the population increases faster than anywhere else in the state. These days, you’d be unlikely to find a waterdog lurking anywhere in Wake County, and you’d have a hard time finding any in the Neuse River proper.

That should be a cause for concern: waterdogs, like most amphibians, are considered indicator species, meaning they are sensitive to changes in the environment and when disruption occurs are often the first species to disappear. In June, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Neuse River waterdog as a threatened species, bestowing added protections along the 257 miles of waterways that comprise its main habitat. “The waterdog is a good indicator organism of the health of the streams that they live in,” Braswell, now 73, told me over the phone recently. “If their populations are in reasonably good shape it gives you a feel that the stream is in pretty good shape.” Braswell, a native of Union County and former deputy director for the NC Museum of Natural Sciences, has a thick southern drawl. After he completed his degree at North Carolina State University, Braswell conducted his first formal study of the waterdog in the late seventies and early eighties with fellow herpetologist Ray Ashton. At the time, they determined waterdog populations were stable enough not to warrant a federal protection designation. Three decades later, NC Wildlife Resources Commission herpetologist Jeff Humphries returned to the rivers and streams that Braswell studied. Using the same methodology over a five-year study, Humphries and his team found the population had declined by roughly 35 percent since the 1970s. “There are places where populations have been hit harder than others,” Humphries says. “Places where upstream there’s a lot more urbanization, that’s where you see the greatest declines.” NCSU graduate student Eric Teitsworth is now the third generation of scientists to pick up the study. He’s trawled more than 131 locations searching for waterdogs. The point of the study is partly to revisit habitats that historically have been home to waterdogs to determine if they are no longer there. On a sunny autumn afternoon, I joined Teitsworth and Humphries on a search for waterdogs along the Little River, a tributary of the Neuse. The spot is about 45 minutes away from Raleigh near Selma, and heading south on Route 70 you can see developers downing trees and flattening land in preparation for construction on the roadside. We meet off a remote road and hike through dense wild oat grass and the purple petals of invasive smartweed, passing under the canopy of a large bald cypress tree, whose brilliant orange leaves are just starting to coat the forest floor.


“Even on a syllabic level the word ‘salamander,’ whose consonants seem to curl around one another, conjures feelings of childlike inquisition.” Teitsworth has laid about 40 traps up and down the sparkling calm river, and as we walk along the bank, he pulls up baited cage after cage, empty, save perhaps a small fish or crustacean. While his study is far from complete, Teitsworth explains he’s starting to see a pattern. When a river is surrounded by impervious surfaces—say, a Walmart parking lot nearby—the rainwater that would normally slowly soak into the ground and eventually find its way to the river instead runs off the pavement directly into the channel. The rapid influx increases the flow of the water, either sweeping away the sticks and leaves below the surface or burying them in silt, creating a homogeneous river bottom of loose sand. Waterdogs don’t like that. They are shy creatures. You won’t find them basking in the sun on the riverbank or even hanging out atop a log. They spend their time lurking in the darkness of the substream floor. Although waterdogs have legs and can crawl along the bottom, they also have tails, like a rudder, to help them glide easily into the best hiding places and away from predators. The salamanders are nocturnal and come out in the dark hours mainly to feast on snails, insects, and crayfish. Once fed, they use their large, flat heads, like a shovel, to scoop up the corner of a leaf to hide under. A substream without those little nooks and crannies leaves waterdogs with nowhere to hide from predators or to lay eggs. In rivers like that, you simply won’t find them, Teitsworth says. “In places like, say, the Neuse River in Raleigh and parts of Wake County that have been heavily impacted, this is an area that should have that cobbled gravel stream bottom but now has been eroding for decades and it’s all filled in,” Teitsworth says. “It’s all sand and silt and loose substream, so that seems to be negatively affecting where we find waterdogs. I have not caught a waterdog anywhere in the main stem of the Neuse River, which is a little concerning.” Teitsworth hasn’t caught any juvenile waterdogs in Wake, Durham, or Orange

Counties. Waterdogs can live for 15 years or more, Teitsworth says, much longer than most salamanders. While larger salamanders tend to live longer, the waterdog’s secret to longevity is unclear. A dearth of young waterdogs could indicate an issue with breeding or an environment becoming less suitable. On smaller tributaries like the Little River, however, Teitsworth has caught several adult and juvenile salamanders. Around trap number 25, I have mostly given up hope of seeing a waterdog. Then Teitsworth pulls up a trap, and his mouth curls into a grin beneath his face mask. Unceremoniously, he turns around and says, “I got one.” At first, it looks like a fat, mud-colored worm. But Teitsworth places it in a clear plastic tray with water, and the red gills splay out ornately as it half crawls and half slithers around the container. Waterdogs’ spots are like fingerprints and can be used to identify them. Teitsworth measures the salamander and takes a picture of it before tagging it with a yellow ink tattoo. He does this so he can re-identify and track the critters he’s already caught— but he’s rarely recaught any. He’s not sure why. “Part of me wonders if it’s because they know, ‘Hey, this was not a fun experience going into that metal trap, I don’t want to do that again,’” Teitsworth says. “That could be traumatic.” But the salamander wriggling before us seems relatively undisturbed. I ask if I can hold it, and Teitsworth says sure. I place my palms under its belly and gently lift it out of the water. It crawls slowly over my hands, leaving a trail of slime. Unlike snakes or other supposedly scary reptiles, salamanders enjoy an elevated status in the world of creepy-crawlies. They are cute. Even on a syllabic level, the word “salamander,” whose consonants seem to curl around one another, conjures feelings of childlike inquisition. Waterdogs, in fact, stay kids forever. Most species of salamander begin their life cycles in the water, laying eggs in their INDYweek.com

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Neuse River waterdog PHOTO MELISSA MCGAW, NCWRC

substream hideaways that hatch into tadpoles before moving on to a mostly terrestrial adulthood. Their colorful gills retract into their bodies, their legs and tales elongate, and their bodies thicken. But waterdogs never make it onto land and remain in a juvenile-like stage their entire lives, Teitsworth says. Thus, they retain the “baby” characteristics of bright red gills and flipper-like tail.

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The waterdogs’ lack of terrestrial mobility may make them more sensitive to changes in the environment. If conditions upstream change, they have fewer places to go. “Look at all the impact on Crabtree Creek from the development,” Braswell says. “There’s been times when mud plume from development in Cary was going all the way down to New Bern. From satellite photos, you could see the red mud and where it was coming from.”

Braswell believes the federal government needs to invest more heavily in protecting the state’s waterways. With funding, some rivers and streams in North Carolina have seen dramatic improvements. “I’m hoping that we can maintain enough environmental controls to keep our water quality in decent shape and not lose significantly more ground on it,” Braswell says. Teitsworth asks if I want to release our captive waterdog into the stream. I take the small plastic tray over to the river and gently let it fill with water. The salamander glides out slowly, as if not overly concerned or frightened, and carefully makes its way across the leaves littering the bottom, becoming less and less visible the farther out it goes. Those who have seen waterdogs hold a special fondness for them, and I am no exception. I ask Braswell why, of all threatened species, the waterdog stands out to him. The fascination is simple, he says. “It’s ours. It occurs nowhere else.” I ask the inevitable question: At the current rate of population decline, how much time do waterdogs have before they disappear? Humphries says they don’t have a clear answer. While few have been found near urban areas, sections of the Tar River and its tributaries seem to maintain more stable populations. “One day, the Neuse River waterdog will have to change its name to the Tar River waterdog,” Humphries jokes. “It’s called the Neuse River waterdog, but we don’t really find them in the Neuse anymore.” W


A RT

EXQUISITE CREATURES

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh | Through Mar. 20, 2022, $6–$10 | naturalsciences.org

“Lest We Forget” by Christopher Marley (closeup) Finches in the family Estrildidae from Australia, the Philippines, and South Pacific Islands PHOTO COURTESY OF KAREN SWAIN/ NC MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCES

Animal Kingdom The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ new Exquisite Creatures exhibition lives up to its name BY RACHEL SIMON arts@indyweek.com

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panel at the entrance to Exquisite Creatures, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ newest special exhibit, defines the term “biophilia” as “an instinctive sense of kinship with the rest of the living, breathing, world.” Literally translated, the word simply means “love of life”—and Christopher Marley, the acclaimed artist, naturalist, and author behind the stunning three-dimensional exhibit, clearly has much to spare. An Oregon-based creator whose work has been shown in dozens of museums and retail shops worldwide, Marley utilizes preserved animal specimens (all of which were reclaimed, meaning that they died of natural or incidental causes and were not killed for the purpose of his art) to create intricate, dazzling patterns. You’ll be able to see, for instance, a clock-shaped display made up of luminescent butterflies or a towering spiral consisting of multisized turtles. While some of the creatures featured in the exhibit’s 350 displays are familiar, if still eye-catching, many more are little known, with some rare specimens obtained from places as far as Tanzania and Cambodia. Through this extensive variety, Exquisite Creatures invites its viewers to see the natural world with a new, deeper understanding—even those who may not otherwise enjoy spending an afternoon surrounded by bugs, spiders, and snakes. “The exhibition as a whole creates a universal entrée to unfamiliar elements of the natural world that has power to seduce even the most hesitant or squeamish visitor,” Marley said in press materials for the exhibit. The fact that Exquisite Creatures, which opened on October 16, is the first special exhibition at the museum in three years makes visiting the exhibit even more of an affecting experience. Additionally, in a first for the museum, all exhibition panels are fully translated into Spanish, to ensure that many non-English-speaking visitors can fully appreciate all the displays have to offer.

And appreciate they will. In Marley’s talented hands, animals of all forms take on entirely new lives, their bodies positioned to create vivid, mesmerizing mosaic displays. In one corner of the exhibit, hundreds of brightly hued beetles create a kaleidoscopic circle that will leave you marveling over their diversity; in another, individual snakes sit in framed black squares, their poses, from afar, making them appear more like elaborate necklaces than fearsome creatures. Which is exactly Marley’s point. “It goes against our instincts to be disdainful of the natural world or to wish it harm, just as it goes against our nature to disdain ourselves and wish ourselves harm,” he wrote in an exhibit panel. “The more we grow in understanding and appreciation of the natural world and the more we invest in it, the greater the peace, satisfaction, and joy we receive from our association in return.” As eye-catching as Marley’s work is, the clear driving force behind Exquisite Creatures isn’t simply to seduce its viewers but also to move them. With their brilliant colors, unexpected forms, and appreciation for life-forms of every shape, size, and species, the artworks practically demand an intimate connection with their audience. And coming at a time when human beings’ capacity to care for both one another and the world around us is being put to the test more than ever before, the exhibit’s focus on connection and empathy feels especially affecting. “Art’s purpose is to heighten our aesthetic sensibilities, to sharpen our ability to experience beauty, to empathize with those life systems that we come into contact with, to derive pleasure or stimulation from our interaction with arranged elements, either in whole or part,” Marley wrote in his artist’s statement. “How does nature differ? We dance with it and within it. The aesthetics of nature are the rhyme we move to.” This feels right: to view Exquisite Creatures is to dance with it, to see oneself not as an individual observer but as part of a greater and ever-changing natural world filled with more exquisite diversity than we could ever imagine. W INDYweek.com

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STAGE

RAFAEL LOZANO-HEMMER: ATMOSPHERIC MEMORY

UNC’s Memorial Hall, Chapel Hill | Thursday, Dec. 2–Friday, Dec. 17, $15 | carolinaperformingarts.org

“Cloud Display” and “Text Stream” in Rafael LozanoHemmer’s Atmospheric Memory

While taking in Atmospheric Memory’s 25 exhibits that fill the lobby, auditorium, stage, and backstage areas of Memorial Hall, don’t miss these:

PHOTO BY MARIANA YÅÑEZ

ATMOSPHONIA Those 3,000 two-inch cubes that are arrayed across the seats and aisles in Memorial Hall’s auditorium? They’re speakers, each playing a different sound channel (including some 300 species of insects and 200 different birds). But what happens when Atmosphonia repeatedly builds from a single channel (look for the active speaker’s lit LED) to all 3,000 simultaneously? At some point, the cacophony “sounds very much like water rushing—because water waves use the most frequencies in all of nature,” Lozano-Hemmer says. Then Atmosphonia gradually dials the chaos back down to a different single channel. “It’s this real tuning exercise. In this massiveness of sound, how can we become better at being able to listen?”

Voices in the Air A sweeping installation at UNC’s Memorial Hall reconceives and reframes the science of sound BY BYRON WOODS arts@indyweek.com

CLOUD DISPLAY Think of something you’d like to see disappear. Speak its name into the exhibit’s intercom. Then watch as the word fades in, in front of a wall-sized grid of 1,600 humidifier atomizers that spell it out in ghostly water vapor, before it vanishes as the micro-fog dissipates, moments later.

LAST BREATH To be clear, the plastic-lined paper bag in this exhibit doesn’t contain the last breath avant-garde accordionist and composer Pauline Oliveros ever took. It’s just the last one still being taken, after the composer’s death in 2016, as a medical-grade respirator draws its contents in and out through rubber tubing. Ten thousand times per day—the normal rate for a body at rest—the respirator partially deflates the bag, before breathing it back in, in an eerie simulacrum of a human lung. “We did it originally as a biometric portrait, as a way to capture this impossible essence, someone’s life force,” Lozano-Hemmer says. “But when she died, it changed the piece completely. It became a memorial.”

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M

emorial Hall looks different now. For the past three weeks, a team of some 60 local and international engineers, technicians, and programmers have worked 13-hour days, Monday to Sunday, laying over 40 miles of Etherlink cable to thousands of interconnected devices. In doing so, they’re transforming the theater into an immersive, experiential pop-up museum of technology that lets patrons reconceive, reframe, and—perhaps most importantly—play with the science of sound. But Atmospheric Memory, the installation by Canadian-Mexican media artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer that fills Memorial’s lobby and auditorium (plus stage and backstage spaces normally off-limits to the public), is more than an audacious collection of 25 interactive exhibits devoted to various ways of visualizing the invisible world of audio and human speech. Carolina Performing Arts co-commissioned the work with Manchester International Festival, where it premiered in 2019. It is a detailed examination of the social and ecological implications in an arcane theory advanced by Charles Babbage, a 19th-century English mathematician and engineer who is also known as the “father of the computer.” In his Ninth Bridgewater Treatise, Babbage noted that whenever humans speak, the act creates specific turbulence, sending breath and sound waves into the air. If a computer could track and calculate the trajectories of all those waves and displaced molecules, Babbage reasoned,

we could conceivably reconstitute them and recreate the voices of everyone who has spoken in the past. If that were possible, the air could become, in Babbage’s words, “one vast library on whose pages are forever written all that man has ever said.” “It’s about the idea that the atmosphere is not neutral and that it’s potentially trying to tell us something,” Lozano-Hemmer says. “That it is a location of memory, and our biosphere is the continuing location of our voices, our songs, and our sorrows, I found attractive. Because in Babbage’s world, nothing was lost.” After he first presents the concept that voices from the past can be plucked from the air by technology as a romantic, utopian idea, Lozano-Hemmer begins to probe its ramifications beyond lost loves and extinct languages. “One day, he thought we’d be able to rewind the atmosphere and find evidence of wrongdoing, like slave owners getting away with murder,” Lozano-Hemmer says. “The atmosphere has been collecting all the evidence so that in the future they could be tried for their crimes.” In an age where handheld media has sometimes provided the only documentation of racial violence, “social justice issues can be helped by these recordings, by this remembering,” Lozano-Hemmer observes. But the combination of technology, voice, and memory has a darker side. Atmospheric Memory also explores this. “I say I work with technology not because it’s new or original, but because it’s inevitable,” Lozano-Hemmer notes.


“Our relationships, our wars, our economy, and our politics are all mediated through these devices. But in the end, do we want to live in a society that remembers all?” In Atmospheric Memory, Lozano-Hemmer notes the degrees to which we already do. An Amazon Alexa is cut in half in his Cabinet of Curiosities exhibit, revealing the eight microphones that are “recording us at all times.” The voice recognition software in his Cloud Display exhibit comes from Google, whose algorithmic, AI, voice-totext transcription services are “trained by all of our voices, always speaking through an Android phone.” His Zoom Pavilion, Recognition, and Stand In exhibits call for awareness and a critical approach to these technologies, as images from surveillance and machine-learning face recognition software are displayed, large writ, on 50-foot screens surrounding the audience. “We live in this Orwellian moment where everything is collected,” Lozano-Hemmer says. “And more and more, especially in autocratic governments, this will become a source of abuse.” An even more catastrophic form of the past remembered in the air is found in other exhibits, including Airborne Projection. In Lozano-Hemmer’s view, Babbage’s greatest atmospheric memory, by far, is contained in the airborne contaminants created by the industrial revolution he helped to automate. “I’m from Mexico City, where over 10,000 people die each year because of the toxicity of the air. We’re breathing 421 parts per million of carbon dioxide. In the history of the planet, no human has ever breathed this concentration,” Lozano-Hemmer says. “Climate change is not a futuristic scenario; we’re already in it. We know we’re living in an extinction event, where every three minutes a different species disappears permanently from the planet.” In Airborne Projection, the words of international environmental journalism— and local news stories like an account of UNC-Chapel Hill getting emission standards relaxed for its coal-burning power plant—are literally blown away by human interactions in the viewing space. While noting that most large-scale immersive exhibits invite viewers “to dream and see things you already know and like,” Lozano-Hemmer thinks of art as more of a disturbance. “The Zapatistas used to say their slogan was ‘We’re not asking you to dream; we’re asking you to wake up.’ Artwork that I like shakes me into an awareness of something I wasn’t seeing. It makes invisible phenomena material, and tangible.” W

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TH 12/2 JEFF ROSENSTOCK W/ SLAUGHTER BEACH, DOG AND OCEANATOR ($20) FR 12/3 ALL THEM WITCHES W/L.A. WITCH ($17/20) SA 12/4 THE SONGS OF BIG STAR: A SPECIAL ORCHESTRATED ACOUSTIC PERFORMANCE SA 12/11 SOUTHERN

CULTURE ON THE SKIDS

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FR 12/3 REBEKAH TODD & THE ODDYSSEY, THE GONE GHOSTS ( $10/$12)

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FR 2/18/22 SARAH SHOOK & THE DISARMERS

1/26/22 REMO DRIVE 2/18/22 VUNDABAR 2/21/22 ILLUMINATI HOTTIES, FENNE LILY 3/8/22: SHAME W/ THEY HATE CHANGE

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SA 2/19/22 LOW CUT CONNIE WE 2/23/22 SAMIA W/ ANNIE DIRUSSO

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SU 5/8/22 BUILT TO SPILL ($25/ $29)

TH 2/10/22 G LOVE & THE JUICE ($29.50)

TU 2/22/22 ANDY SHAUF ($18/$20)

SA 12/18 @CAT’S @CAT’S CRADLE

MO 5/9/22 [CANCELLED HOODOO GURUS]

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SU 2/27/22 IGORR, MELT BANANA, VOWWS ($20) MO 2/28/22 SAMMY RAE & THE FRIENDS TU 3/1/22 DAVID BROMBERG QUINTET W/ ROB ICKES & TREY HENSLEY TH 3/3/22 DEAFHEAVEN ($25)

TH 3/10/22 WE WERE PROMISED JETPACKS SA 3/12/22 LEPROUS W/THE OCEAN TH 3/17/22 LA LUZ W/ MAMALARKY SA 3/19/22 JOJO WE 3/23/22 TANK AND THE BANGAS W/ CORY HENRY SA 3/26/22 PENNY & SPARROW WE 3/30/22 CAVETOWN W/ TESSA VIOLET TH 3/31/22 THE DIP W/ OH HE DEAD MO 4/4/22 SENSES FAIL, WE CAME AS ROMANS, THE COUNTERPARTS, SEEYOUSPACECOWBOY

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BARBARA KREMEN READING | Saturday, Dec. 4, 4 p.m.; free PS118 Gallery & Event Space, Durham | horseandbuggypress.com | Reserve seats by emailing dave@horseandbuggypress.com

A Long Story At the age of 99, Durham writer Barbara Kremen sees her new short story collection, The Figure in the Glass, take shape BY EMILY CATANEO arts@indyweek.com

I

n her memoir Uncanny Valley, tech industry skeptic Anna Wiener bemoans the difficulty of escaping internet addiction and immersing ourselves in literature when many of our contemporary writers are, well, also addicted to the internet. Wiener has a point: crack the spine of a hot, Big Five–published book in 2021 and chances are the sections will be brief in a bid to hold readers’ attention. The characters, meanwhile, will likely be neurotic, scrolling, and fractured. This makes it all the more striking to read a book unmoored from time like The Figure in the Glass by local author Barbara Kremen, out now from Durham’s Horse & Buggy Press. The imaginative, discursive, carefully dense novellas and short stories in this 270-page collection require readers’ full attention. The book itself also defies convenience: it’s an unusual 7 by 10 inches, with heavyweight pages and a cloth hardcover. “I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram and Facebook,” says Horse & Buggy publisher Dave Wofford. “I’m trying to do as much work as possible through the bookstore to reward people when they do want to settle in [with a more challenging book].” At Horse & Buggy, Wofford aims to publish a variety of beautifully produced books—memoirs, art books, and more— that might not fit in at a traditional house. When he founded the press 25 years ago, his vision was to produce books that not only contained good stories but also functioned as objéts, and many of his early titles were hand-stitched and letterpressed. Wofford met Kremen, 99, and her nowdeceased husband 15 years ago when he published a mutual friend’s book, Jeffery Beam’s An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold. The two stayed in touch and Beam recently introduced Kremen at her launch reading at Horse & Buggy’s event space, PS118.

Three of the stories in The Figure in the Glass were published in 2006 as The Damsel Fly: And Other Stories, but this is the first time the pieces have all appeared in one volume. The book represents the culmination of decades of research, writing, fine-tuning, and, well, living: Over the past century, Kremen has worked at the Met in New York and lived abroad in France and Switzerland. After she moved to Durham in 1963, she immersed herself in her passion for the natural sciences through copious research and note-taking about the seasonal changes she observed in nearby Forest Hills Park. All of these experiences inform her work. Settling into Kremen’s worlds involves deep engagement with those decades’ worth of knowledge. In the title story, an illustration of a young man escapes from a book while his counterpart, the actual young man, lives out his life as an amnesiac in a Dutch village. In “Tree Trove,” a botanical fantasy for all ages that originally appeared in St. Andrews Review in the 1980s, child characters stumble into a world of anthropomorphized animals and plants. Her stories take unexpected turns and avenues: “The Damsel Fly,” for example, opens with a daughter telling her mother that she’s keeping her unplanned pregnancy and ends with a man in a days-long reverie as damselflies swirl and mate over a nearby lake. Kremen describes the world of the damselflies as fully as she describes the world of the humans: here, “a giant scavenger beetle chopped up a naiad’s headless torso with its powerful jaws; a back strider pierced its victim with a beak-like mouth and sucked the juices.” Kremen, who still lives in Durham, says that during the stop-and-start process of crafting these stories, many of which took decades to write, she drew inspiration from

Barbara Kremen in her home

PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA

her own desire to slow down and immerse herself in the natural world. “We’re intent on what we’re going out for, or thinking of something else,” Kremen says over the phone, the week after her reading at Horse & Buggy’s downtown Durham space. “We pass through all kinds of landscapes, cityscapes, whatever, barely seeing what’s around us. The idea of noticing, of being awake in one’s senses, got to be very strong with me.” Although Kremen’s longer stories are impressive in their audacity and wide-ranging plots, the shorter pieces in the book often pack even more of a punch. In “Deceit of Snow,” sprightly newlyweds on an Alpine vacation wander off onto an ice field where they encounter preternaturally beautiful flowers blooming in the snow—and doom. Meanwhile, in “One Summer in Maine,” children play games with the locals while their lonely mother fantasizes about a young man in a yellow car, only for the story to end with the surprise vulgarity of anti-Semitic vandalism. “Ponte Vecchio,” meanwhile, sees a disorienting and powerful sequence when an old man loses his way in a foreign city. Kremen’s writing is finely wrought: to skim these stories and miss a sentence or even a clause is to miss an important implication or crucial gesture.

Kremen’s strange precision and singular mind are evident even in her more traditionally told tales; in one, a character has “birdlike bones, the carriage of a martinet.” There is a distinct pleasure in reading work like this, written decades ago, taking place in bygone eras, but gathered and published for the first time—stories that feel at once timeless and like a time capsule of a particular midcentury sensibility. For Wofford, the book taps into an interest in “the long arc of history.” At Horse & Buggy Press, he wants to give a chance to all authors, not just those eligible for 35 under 35 lists. He hopes to “design books for generations from now, not just current readers in the bookstore.” As for Kremen, she’ll do another public reading on Saturday, December 4, and she hopes she has more writing days ahead of her. But as of now, The Figure in the Glass is her magnum opus, the culmination of the long arc of her own life. “It is particularly gratifying to have all the stories collected in the one handsome, hardcover volume produced by Horse & Buggy Press, in that it lends them a sense of weight and permanence, unlike the ephemerality that pervades much of the content of my fictions,” Kremen says. “Here’s my testament. Here’s what I have to say.” W INDYweek.com

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EMPLOYMENT Software Engineer III (Raleigh, NC) Software Engineer III, F/T, at Truist Bank (Raleigh, NC) Deliver highly complex solutions w/ significant system linkages, dependencies, associated risk. Lead & perform dvlpmt efforts such as analysis, dsgn, coding/creating, & testing. Dvlpmt incls but is not limited to customized coding, s/ware integration, analysis, configuring solutions, or the use of tools pertinent to the area, project, or system to configure or generate a solution. Must have Bach’s deg in Comp Sci, Comp Engg, or related tech’l field. Must have 6 yrs of progressive exp in s/ware engg or dvlpmt positions performing the following: applying in-depth knowl in info systems & understanding of key business processes & competitive strategies related to the IT function to identify, apply, & implmt IT best practices; applying broad functional knowl in reqmt gathering, analysis, dsgn, dvlpmt, testing, implmtn, & deployment of applications; planning & managing projects & solving complex problems by applying best practice; providing direction & mentoring less expd teammates; & utilizing exp w/: TFS, DB2, FTP, SOAPUI, VersionOne, ALM (Application Lifecycle Management), UNIX, Visio, Apache Tomcat, RAD/JAD, Shell Scripting, Open API, GIT, Maven, Jenkins, Java, Spring Framework, Azure DevOps Svcs, Jfrog, Junit Framework, Oracle, JBOSS & REST API. Email resume w/ cvr ltr to: Paige Whitesell, Paige.Whitesell@Truist.com (Ref Job No. R0049063). Software Engineer IV (Raleigh, NC) Software Engineer IV, F/T, at Truist (Raleigh, NC) Deliver highly complex solutions w/ significant system linkages, dependencies, associated risk. Lead & perform dvlpmt efforts such as analysis, dsgn, coding/creating, & testing. Must have Bach’s deg in Comp Sci, Comp Engg, or related tech’l field. Must have 8 yrs of progressive exp in s/ ware engg positions performing the following: applying in-depth knowl in info systems & understanding of key business processes & competitive strategies related to the IT function to identify, apply, & implmt IT best practices; applying broad functional knowl in reqmt gathering, analysis, dsgn, dvlpmt, testing, implmtn, & deployment of applications; planning & managing projects & solving complex problems by applying best practice; providing direction & mentor less expd teammates; & utilizing exp w/: Rally, SOAP UI, AWS, Java, Spring, ISAM, Single Sign On, SAML, & Web Services. Email resume w/ cvr ltr to: Paige Whitesell, Paige. Whitesell@Truist.com (Ref. Job No. R0049054).

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