INDY Week 7.21.21

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Raleigh | Durham | Chapel Hill July 21, 2021

A dreamy journey through the Triangle’s ice cream scene by Debbie Matthews, p. 13


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Raleigh W Durham W Chapel Hill VOL. 38 NO. 27

Read a review of new Anthony Bourdain documentary, Roadrunner, online-only at indyweek.com PHOTO COURTESY OF FOCUS FEATURES

CONTENTS NEWS 5 6

Raleigh's new zoning update causes a kerfuffle. BY LEIGH TAUSS Life after incarceration is complicated for those reentering society during a global pandemic. BY ELIZABETH THOMPSON Durham is reimagining the role of policing in non-violent emergency calls.

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BY REBECCA SCHNEID

10 Meet the candidates running for office in Orange County. BY SARA PEQUEÑO

11 Students of color at UNC-Chapel Hill are demanding more than a quality education—they want to feel safe on campus. BY JASMINE GALLUP

ARTS & CULTURE 13 I scream, you scream, the Triangle screams for ice cream. BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS

15 Where can Super Secret Dance party be found next? BY BRIAN HOWE 16 This year's WTFringe Festival continues to push audiences beyond the borders of mainstream theater. BY BYRON WOODS 17 Durham artist David Davenport finds his muse in the illuminated buildings and landscapes of North Carolina. BY LEIGH TAUSS

THE REGULARS 4 15 Minutes

COVER Photo by Brett Villena / Design by Annie Maynard

WE M A DE THIS PUBLIS H ER S Wake County

MaryAnn Kearns Durham/Orange/ Chatham Counties

Arts & Culture Editor Sarah Edwards Senior Writer Leigh Tauss

John Hurld

Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald

EDITOR I AL

Digital Content Manager Sara Pequeño

Editor in Chief Jane Porter

Copy Editor Abigail O'Neill

Managing Editor Geoff West

Theater+Dance Critic Byron Woods

Contributors Madeline Crone, Jameela F. Dallis, Grant Golden, Spencer Griffith, Lucas Hubbard, Layla Khoury-Hanold, Brian Howe, Lewis Kendall, Kyesha Jennings, Glenn McDonald, Anna Mudd, Dan Ruccia, Jake Sheridan

C R E AT I V E

A D V E RTI S I N G

Creative Director

Wake County MaryAnn Kearns

Annie Maynard Graphic Designer

Jon Fuller Staff Photographer

Brett Villena

Durham/Orange/ Chatham Counties John Hurld

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Chavez Adams and his wife

BACK TA L K

Last week, Leigh Tauss wrote some spicy takes, including one on the mythical locale of Raleigh-Durham appearing in the No. 2 spot on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of best places to live in the country. Our readers had a lot of thoughts on her thoughts.

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Raleigh “Is it the affordable housing? The excellent public transportation? The abundance of jobs?,” quipped Facebook commenter GREG BARBERA. “Now if I could only afford to buy a house here when I ALREADY LIVE HERE,” added commenter JEN DARRAGH. “It’s best for upper middle class white people. The rest of us are struggling just to exist here,” writes commenter MORGAN EDWARDS. “Everybody that whines about Raleigh actually isn’t from here, it seems. Anybody else born out on wade avenue is chill af & we want our city back lol,” writes commenter KARLA ANNE LINEBACK. On Twitter, the critiques of Tauss’s piece were a little more pointed. “Who is Indy Week calling a NIMBY?,” tweeted YOLANDA TAYLOR. “Is this a terminology flip taken out of the playbook of conservatives known for flipping terminology and narratives on people experiencing oppression? Inquiring minds need to know. I ask because there are lower wealth and black and brown people fighting development that displaces them from their long time neighborhoods,” Yolanda continues. “This article ignores the impact of rising housing costs occurring statewide in historically underinvested neighborhoods.” In print last week, our intern Ellie Heffernan wrote about the proposed Triangle Bikeway that could see a 17-mile greenway for cyclists and pedestrians built to run parallel to I-40. “This project is fighting a headwind of increased telecommuting. But it’s a great idea,” writes Facebook commenter MIKE IVANITCH. “Making a bike/ped path parallel to 40 and hitting all the high points+ wide-scale e-bike adoption= gamechanger for sprawling areas like the Triangle that still need help,” tweeted reader KRISTEN JEFFERS, MPA. We think so, too!

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15 MINUTES Chavez Adams, 29 Raleigh lawyer BY SARA PEQUEÑO spequeno@indyweek.com

The Raleigh lawyer was in a life-or-death situation last year after contracting COVID-19. At the ER, the doctor realized he was experiencing myocarditis, and used a new type of heart pump to give his heart a rest—saving his life in the process.

Tell me about when you first started experiencing COVID symptoms. My wife and I were hanging out with a friend, and after the weekend was over, we found out that we got COVID from her. We quarantined for 14 days after she told us that she had tested positive. Those 14 days were rough for me, personally. I had a lot of different symptoms, a severe headache, I lost my appetite. My wife, on the other hand, was pretty fine so she was taking care of me.

What made you realize you were still experiencing the effects of COVID? A month later, I was on a hike with my dog. We usually go on a hike every day. That morning was different, because I wasn’t able to complete the hike. I maybe got five minutes in, and I had to call my wife to let her know that I couldn’t complete my walk, and we ended up going back to the apartment. I was feeling really bad, very tired, and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. We went to urgent care, and did a [COVID] test, and my temperature was 105.4. They sent me to the ER, I got a whole lot of different tests, and they came back with nothing. They couldn’t find out what was wrong with me, so they gave me some Tylenol. They told me to take it to get my temperature down, and we went back home. As time progressed, I got worse, my temperature kept going back up to 104, 105. So we went to another urgent care. The doctor basically told us that they couldn’t find anything wrong with me, gave me a bunch of tests. Nothing came up positive so they sent us home with some Motrin and told us to wait it out.

What happened next? As time progressed, it got worse, and we were trying to figure out what to do. I ended up passing out. My wife was alarmed and so we went to another ER and got some answers. We went to the fourth ER and we found out that I had pneumonia in my chest.

How long were you at the WakeMed COVID unit? It was less than a day. I went that morning and one of the doctors in charge of admitting patients to a special unit was present while I was there. He was in my chart and told me that I needed to be transferred. And I was transferred to a new unit, and that’s when they started having conversations about the Impella heart pump, which was used to get my heart a rest and basically saved my life.

What was the recovery process like? That one-month window, I didn’t know I was sick, but after having the heart pump I felt like I had more energy. That was a relief. I had more energy, I was breathing regularly again, and I just felt overall more healthy and better. . . . I’m grateful that we had an amazing team. Amazing cardiologists, nurses, super excited that we had the Impella heart pump. I’m grateful for all the prayers and the thoughts from our friends and family. W


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Raleigh

Development, Unarrested A myth that the council banned single-family zoning is circulating in Raleigh. It didn’t, but a new text change will allow missing middle housing throughout the city. BY LEIGH TAUSS ltauss@indyweek.com

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n July 6, the Raleigh City Council voted to update the city’s zoning code to allow the development of denser housing options, such as duplexes and apartments, where previously only single-family housing was allowed. The majority of council members say the change will encourage this much-needed missing middle housing— multi-unit, house-scale buildings in low-rise residential neighborhoods—and promote affordability in neighborhoods with few housing options. Council member David Cox, the sole dissenting vote against the change, disagreed. That night, in a blog post to community activist group Livable Raleigh, Cox vented his frustrations, characterizing the change as “the elimination of single-family zoning.” He called the ordinance a “trojan horse” that would “guarantee the sprawl of high priced density that will lead to more traffic congestion, gentrification, evictions, and loss of existing affordability.” But the myth that the text change effectively bans single-family zoning is just that—a myth. “The word ‘ban’ implies that something is prohibited. Single-family housing is permitted everywhere and always has been,” says Ken Bowers, Raleigh’s city planner. “Has the city ‘banned’ retail zoning because the districts that permit retail also permit other things?” What the ordinance does, Bowers explained, is simply extend the options available in the majority of the city’s residential zones. Previously, you could build only attached housing types—duplexes, townhouses, or apartments—in two residential zones. Now only one district, R1, permits single-family to the exclusion of other housing types, and Bowers says that zone is very limited and surrounds watersheds with stricter development policies. The update will go into effect on August 3. Bowers says his department plans to track the impact over the next year and report back to the council. “This is definitely a change, the ordinance is changing the way the city is approaching single-family zoning, but it’s an evolution and it remains to be seen exactly what the

Homes in Southeast Raleigh

PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA

market response is to this,” Bowers says. “The intent was incremental change over time.” Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin says the change will allow housing options throughout the city, mirroring many of Raleigh’s older neighborhoods, which were built before zoning laws became more restrictive. There, you can see duplexes and modest apartments alongside single-family homes. Opening the door to denser housing could also be the gateway to homeownership for many who cannot afford traditional single-family homes, Baldwin says. “Before we approved [the ordinance] you could not build a townhouse in 80 percent of that city and that’s usually someone’s entry into homeownership,” Baldwin says. “Not everybody can afford a single-family home, but certainly we can reduce the cost of housing through townhomes, duplexes, whatnot—I want to be able to create those choices.” For council member Nicole Stewart, who voted in favor of the ordinance, the move is just one of many things the council is doing to expand housing options and promote affordability throughout the city—including allowing accessory dwelling units by right and the passage of the affordable housing bond. She characterized opposition to the change as “fear of the unknown.” Bucking change, however, won’t combat the city’s burgeoning affordability crisis. “If we keep things the way we have them then the only people it stays affordable for are those who have them now, so things have to change. If we want sustainable and affordable housing, then we have to do things to get more of that,” Stewart told the INDY. “Keeping it the way it is isn’t going to solve anything.” During public comments on the change, former city council member Stef Mendell, one of the main figure-

heads behind Livable Raleigh, along with fellow ousted council member Russ Stephenson, was the first to speak against the change. “I just want to say one thing,” Mendell says. “Density does not equal affordable.” David Knight, who beat Mendell in the 2019 District E race, says the change, with other initiatives the council has pursued, could create more affordable housing. “What we’re trying to do is create more affordable housing opportunities in more parts of the city,” Knight says. “Denser housing can be more affordable housing. It not always will be, but it can be, and it goes along with the greater policies of trying to reduce sprawl as much as possible.” Livable Raleigh is also involved in an effort to recall Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin over concerns about the council meeting behind closed doors to discuss pushing back the election to 2022 due to pandemic-driven census delays. The legislature ultimately approved the council’s request, but the bill earned a rebuke from Governor Roy Cooper, who didn’t sign it into law. Cox said he has no statement regarding the recall effort. Stewart noted that recall attempts have happened to other Raleigh mayors, including Nancy McFarlane and Charles Meeker. “I don’t think this is anything new and exciting. I think this is just what happens when you have a democracy that’s working,” Stewart says. “Folks are allowed to express their opinions.” Baldwin, who recalled the failed recall attempt against Meeker, which happened when she was first elected to the council a decade ago, says, “I’m taking all of this in stride.” “Last week, we were named the No. 2 best place to live in the country,” Baldwin told the INDY. “Obviously, we’re doing something right.” W INDYweek.com

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North Carolina

Point of Return COVID-19 creates additional challenges for those leaving incarceration in North Carolina. BY ELIZABETH THOMPSON backtalk@indyweek.com

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hen Jeff Walker came out of incarceration, all he had were the clothes on his back. He was directionless, stigmatized. He didn’t have support. He didn’t have anything. That was five years ago. People leaving jails and prisons and reentering society during the COVID-19 pandemic face the same stigma, the same lack of direction—all while attempting to navigate a global pandemic. For those leaving prison, vital in-person connection is hard to come by, even in regular times. Finding a job has proven more difficult due to the pandemic-generated lag times for identification and Social Security cards, not to mention broadband disparities that make WiFi moot in some rural areas. Walker gets those struggles. After reentering society but still experiencing substance use issues, he was able to find solace in transitional housing and the connections he made there five years ago. Now, he works to give other formerly incarcerated people another chance as the program manager for 6

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Wilkes Recovery Revolution in North Wilkesboro and a member of the Peer Justice Initiative, a group of formerly incarcerated people who advocate for others reentering society and within the jail and prison systems.

Returning in a pandemic Personal connections are critical for those returning to society after a period of incarceration. Peer-to-peer support is what Walker and others in the Peer Justice Initiative are all about. But as the COVID-19 virus claimed the lives of thousands in the state, businesses and nonprofits closed their doors and most North Carolinians stayed home. Peer support was hard to find. The pandemic forced many support groups and mental health services to shift online. After reemerging into society after years behind bars, some formerly incarcerated people reentering society don’t know the technol-

“And th the syste By the bined anx them to PHOTO VIA UNSPLASH hol, Coop Incarce first star Owens, a lenburg C Justice In “I know ogy, such as cell phones and computers, that has beenbut some vital to pandemic-era communication. create a On top of that, people released without IDs or Socialhave befo Security numbers were unable to work for weeks afterOwens, w reentering society, Walker said, especially at the heighttal health of the pandemic when the Division of Motor Vehiclesof incarce was shut down. In addi Existing inequities, such as spotty broadband access,and subst were also thrown into high relief during the pandemic, saidon have h Philip Cooper, economic and workforce development direc-diabetes tor at YMI Cultural Center in Asheville and a member ofnicable d the Peer Justice Initiative. HIV, acco “I was recommending to people: don’t go back to yourof Family rural counties right now; go somewhere else,” Cooper said. People leaving jails and prisons were left feeling directionless—and that can be deadly. One study from the Uni-Reducin versity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that formerly incarcerated people were 40 times more likely to die of an In an at overdose in their first two weeks after release than some-and ease one in the general population. society, G Many formerly incarcerated people say their drug or alco-state’s Re hol use ultimately landed them in jail or prison, said Walker. “North “[If] individuals don’t have some kind of support whenwhen tho they’re being released to do something different,” Walkerlearn from said, “then they’re gonna go back to doing what they knowchance to how to do.” Cooper sa In North Carolina, some 98 percent of people currentlyone to ma incarcerated will eventually be released back into society, The pla according to the North Carolina Department of Publiccil Collab Safety. Reentry is still a challenge for many formerly incar-stakehold cerated people battling both physical and mental illnesses.faith-base state age local reen Health problems ships wit the work Reentering society after a long jail or prison sentence is already an anxiety-inducing experience, Cooper said. Those doing so worry about where they will live and find work. Further, they aren’t linked to the substance use treatment or mental health services that so many justice-involved people need. In 2017, DPS found that 71 percent of inmates screened for substance use disorder needed long-term treatment. At that time, 17 percent of the prison population had a mental health diagnosis; many had more than one. “A lot of times these guys don’t even properly get engaged for substance use and mental health treatment,” Cooper said. He said that formerly incarcerated people often don’t trust the counselor or social worker they’re connected with because they view that person as working for the system.


“And they already got this distrust with the system,” he said. By the time they come home, the combined anxiety and unstable plans could lead them to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, Cooper said. Incarceration may be where someone first starts using substances, said Earl Owens, a peer support specialist in Mecklenburg County and a member of the Peer Justice Initiative. “I know it’s hard for people to believe, but sometimes people go to prison and create a drug habit. One that they didn’t have before they were incarcerated,” said Owens, who called substance use and mental health issues “collateral consequences” of incarceration. In addition to mental health problems and substance use disorders, people in prison have higher rates of chronic disease like diabetes and hypertension and communicable diseases such as hepatitis C and HIV, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Reducing recidivism In an attempt to combat recidivism rates and ease prisoners’ transition back into society, Gov. Roy Cooper established the state’s Reentry Action Plan in 2018. “North Carolina is a better and safer place when those who take responsibility for and learn from their mistakes can get another chance to live productive, purposeful lives,” Cooper said at the time. “We owe it to everyone to make sure they’re successful.” The plan established State Reentry Council Collaborative workgroups, which include stakeholders statewide such as businesses, faith-based agencies, and representatives of state agencies. The plan also encouraged local reentry councils and formal partnerships with community organizations doing the work on the ground.

“[If] individuals don’t have some kind of support when they’re being released to do something different, then they’re gonna go back to doing what they know how to do.” The Guilford County Reentry Council is one of those local groups. While the program has been around for years, it opened its physical Reentry Center in June. Edward “Chap” Williams, reentry director at the center, said it gives people the ability to “change their narrative, their story,” as he peered at the Wall of Fame at the center during an open house in June. Williams said that formerly incarcerated people can, with the help of reentry programs, fight the narratives in their heads, such as “You’ll never be anything” or “You’ll be just like your mom or dad.” “Now they have some substantial things, some information,” Williams said. “They have a job, they’re able to pay their rent. Their self-esteem has increased, and for me that’s one of the biggest to see—a man or a woman feel like a man or a woman.” Co-director KJ Powe said she has seen how incarceration can be a “generational thing” through her experience as a detention officer. Children of incarcerated parents are six times more likely to also become incarcerated, according to one study by Temple University. “I got to see firsthand the revolving door of how people will come in and out constantly because they didn’t know,” Powe said. “They didn’t have the skills that nobody ever told them there’s something different.” Many returning citizens also need a medical reentry plan, whether for physical conditions, drug addiction, or mental illness. Although prison offers health care

access, many formerly incarcerated lack their own insurance or don’t qualify for Medicaid at release. Some 80 percent of formerly incarcerated people reenter society without health insurance, according to Health Affairs.

A medical reentry plan Evan Ashkin, the director of the North Carolina Formerly Incarcerated Transition Program (NC FIT) said he initially made the “incorrect assumption” that prisoners would be linked to medical care upon release. “Even if you didn’t care about the person, from a fiscal standpoint, diabetes, hypertension, you’re going to wind up in an emergency room with terrible complications,” said Ashkin, who is also a professor at the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine, “However, that is exactly the case.” In order to prevent formerly incarcerated people from going without necessary medicine upon their release—which could lead to worsening illness—NC FIT’s community health workers, who have a lived experience of incarceration, connect them with health resources at their release. NC FIT is a partnership among UNC Family Medicine, the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, the North Carolina Community Health Center Association, federally qualified health centers, county departments of public health, and community-based reentry programs and councils. The program has sites in Durham, Orange, Wake, Mecklenburg and Guilford

counties, according to its website, but it still “cannot even come close to meeting the need,” Ashkin said. Ashkin estimated that about 80 percent of people who participate in NC FIT are uninsured and uninsurable. Because North Carolina has yet to expand Medicaid, people who earn more than about $6,400 and less than $14,500 a year fall into the Medicaid “coverage gap” and are ineligible for either Medicaid or Affordable Care Act subsidies. NC FIT is able to fundraise to get its clients into primary care, but it lacks the funds to get those with serious medical conditions into specialty care. “Medicaid expansion would be enormously impactful to the quality of their lives, to them getting the appropriate medical care that anybody else is entitled to who has chronic disease and for prevention,” Ashkin said. Because of the pandemic, the prison system issued early release for some of its medically vulnerable population to stay with family or in a transition home and be at less risk of contracting COVID-19. But Ashkin pointed out a related problem: these medically vulnerable people lacked access to care. “I know there’s no connections to health care,” he said. “How are they getting their meds? Follow up? Everything is closed.” NC FIT’s solution was FIT Connect, a program that obtained the early release population’s medical records to connect them, using a network of agencies, to appointments at a federally qualified health center in the state. “It’s been tricky,” Ashkin said. “It’s hard to track down people, and we certainly haven’t been 100 percent successful. We have gotten hundreds of people appointments, so that’s good, but paying for it is very challenging.” W This story was originally published by N.C. Health News

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Durham

Beyond Policing A new department seeks to reimagine how responders in Durham address non-violent 911 calls. BY REBECCA SCHNEID backtalk@indyweek.com

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urham’s police force has a less contentious relationship with the city’s residents than others in the Triangle do, but last summer still saw a strong Black Lives Matter protest presence that precipitated reflection from government officials. The creation of the new Durham Community Safety Department that City Manager Wanda Page announced last May is one example of the tangible outcomes of this reflection. Put simply, the Durham Community Safety Department will work to respond to crises and 911 calls without law enforcement officers, and, instead, with mental health professionals and social workers. The department is in its fledgling stages and still mostly unstaffed. But Ryan Smith, its new director who previously led the city of Durham’s innovation team, says he has high expectations for the department and that it’s symbolic for Durham’s future in community-led criminal justice efforts. “The ways that I have approached problem solving are highly collaborative, people-centered, equity-oriented, data-driven, and trauma-informed,” Smith says. “I want to bring those values to this department and to bring people together.” In 2019, Durham Beyond Policing, a coalition of Durham nonprofits dedicated to divesting from policing and prisons, lobbied for a city-county-Durham Public Schools joint Community Safety and Wellness Task Force. The city voted yes, but the county and the Durham school board did not support the effort as readily. Then COVID-19 hit, and last June saw a resurgence of police protests across the Triangle and the nation. 8

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“It took the county a bit longer to get on board, but after last year’s resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, there was a lot more interest in this work, and so we established the task force and negotiated the terms for it,” Mayor Steve Schewel says. The task force was officially announced last December and is composed of two co-chairs, Marcia Owens and Xavier Cason, and 15 other members from all three governing bodies. Cason previously served on the DPS board and as director of community schools and school transformation for the DPS Foundation and helped write the task force’s bylaws. Owens served as executive director for The Religious Coalition for a Nonviolent Durham and founder of Restorative Justice Durham. The task force is split into four roundtable discussion groups: school resource officers; criminal legal system (courts and incarceration); violence interruption/ de-escalation; and 911 responses/crisis intervention. “This is a place for us to come together and ask ‘What if?’ questions. That’s very, very rare to have the space to do that and be inventive, ” Cason says. Owens and Cason say these first months have been about building community among those within the task force. Without closeness, understanding, and clear guidelines, the members say they will be unable to reach clear recommendations for community-based prevention and intervention programs. “[Owens] and I are really focused on making sure that everybody involved in this task force digs down to the root of

Durham Police Department

PHOTO REBECCA SCHNEID

the harm and gets the stories of those who have been harmed,” Cason says. The task force is also utilizing information from a research project the city conducted with RTI last August. The project did an in-depth analysis of 911 calls between 2017 and 2020 and identified a number of 911 call types that could be responded to without an armed officer, including mental or behavioral health needs, traffic incidents, and quality-of-life issues. “Which calls can we respond to with someone who does not have a gun and a badge? Where can you have a mental health worker come or traffic stops not made by police so as to not lead to unnecessary confrontation?” Schewel asks. The department will consider the task force’s recommendations once submitted. According to Smith, the department will begin with 15 positions, five of which are pulled from five vacant police department positions. The Durham City Council has also frozen 15 vacant positions in the police department that, after later evalu-

ation, may be transferred to the department if they are needed. These staff members, once hired, will split into positions working on the department’s three main priorities this year. First, the department will pilot multiple alternative response models by trained civilian responders to a subset of 911 calls, focused on sending the right response to specific community needs. Second, some staff will work directly with the Community Task Force and utilize their recommendations. Third, some staff will provide oversight to the department’s contracts and investments, including Bull City United’s violence interrupter program, in which the city has invested $930,000. “Knowing that we have a lot of people who are going to be thinking creatively about this work and engaging deeply with our community, that gives me added reason for confidence that we’ll be able to do something good,” Smith says. Smith says the department is looking at programs across the country for guidance,


including Eugene, Oregon’s CAHOOTS program, and Denver’s STAR program, both of which also use community-based models of intervention to address quality-of-life issues within the cities. He says Denver’s program, regarded as a success, is one of the best examples for Durham to look at and emulate. After six months of the STAR program, the team responded to 748 calls, none of which required assistance from police nor ended in arrest. Durham will start small, likely with a kind of mobile crisis response team that includes a team of skilled professionals, as Denver did, Smith said. Since Durham’s initial resources and personnel will only support small pilots, learning from and analyzing these analogous programs around the country is a top priority. “It’s very promising, and it’s an example of what we are really committed to do,” Smith said. There are naysayers out there, though. Some fear that diverting positions away from police (though it is only 1 percent of the police staff) might exacerbate Durham’s gun violence. Smith, Schewel, and other city officials want to set the record straight on some misconceptions. For one, employees of the Community Safety Department will not respond to violent crime, only to very specific, quality-of-life related calls, such as homelessness, addiction, mental health struggles, and the like. Schewel says that police officers he has spoken to are in favor of the task force and the alternative responses and that they say they think the program will make the city safer. “I’ve ridden with police many times, and most of the things they respond to are not related to gun violence or violent crime,” Schewel says. “Every time one of those calls comes in, it takes time away from the job that they want to do, that they are trained to do, and that we want them to do, which is to solve crime and protect the community from violence.” Smith emphasizes that these pilots have not begun yet because the sensitive nature of community safety requires sensitive care. He has high hopes, but realistic goals, he says, and the department will check back in with the city in six months. With time, he thinks the program can expand to include co-responses with police and other more expansive practices. “I feel pressure in the very best way; this is important work that is work that we need to deliver on,” Smith says. “I feel full support from city leadership to take the time that we need to, to plan and to do it all with a real sense of purpose.” W

The US Environmental Protection Agency is seeking

Healthy Adults Ages 18–35 for a Research Study This is a study investigating the fit efficiency of a face mask. You will be asked to wear a mask, complete breathing tests, and complete a survey. COVID-19 vaccination is required for participation. Compensation up to $150. Keyword: MASKFIT

Payment for screening, study and out of town travel 919-966-0604 www.epa.gov/epastudies

The EPA Human Studies Facility is located on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus INDYweek.com

July 21, 2021

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Orange County

Off To The Races Orange County candidates have filed and are gearing up for Election Day. BY SARA PEQUEÑO spequeno@indyweek.com

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olicy nerds are quick to point out that every year is an election year. This may not be true for all municipalities in 2021—Raleigh’s elections are pushed back to next year— but Orange County is keeping its November 2 election date. The 2021 voters will select the Chapel Hill and Carrboro mayors, as well as multiple positions on the Chapel Hill Town Council, Carrboro Town Council, and the Chap- Orange County Court House PHOTO BY JADE WILSON el Hill-Carrboro Board of Education. Hillsborough and uate his interest in the gig and decided to throw his hat Mebane also have positions up for grabs. Only Hillsborough Mayor Jenn Weaver is running unop- into the ring. “Carrboro is a small town, and I want to make sure we’re posed this year, leaving a mix of seasoned local politicians and relative newcomers to duke it out on democracy’s continuing to punch above our weight,” Seils told the INDY of Carrboro’s reputation as a progressive leader in the state. smallest stage. Some may surprise you; others may not. You may also recognize another name in the race for One surprise in Orange County elections was Lydia Lavelle’s decision not to run for re-election as mayor of Chapel Hill mayor. Hongbin Gu, a council member up for Carrboro. Lavelle, who works at the N.C. Central Univer- re-election this year, announced that she would challenge sity School of Law, has been in the town’s top position Hemminger for the position. Gu has received support from Nancy Oates, a former council member who was listed as since 2013. In Chapel Hill, councilmember Allen Buansi also won’t the editor of The Local Reporter until recently. New challengers with histories of activism are also run again after his first term. Buansi, who recently welcomed twins, told the INDY that his decision stemmed looking to shake up the Chapel Hill Town Council. Paris from the time commitment it takes to run a campaign, Miller-Foushee, the secretary of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and board member at EmPOWERment, Inc., wants which would pair poorly with caring for two newborns. On the other hand, the three candidates up for to keep affordable housing in the discussion. “I grew up in affordable housing in Durham,” Millre-election in Carrboro—Barbara Foushee, Jacquelyn Gist, and Randee Haven-O’Donnell—are gunning to stay er-Foushee says. “It’s not peripheral for me to live in public housing and know what that means, and the importance in their seats. “I’m running to keep a seat at the table,” Foushee, the of the investment of our community.” Another newcomer with a storied presence in town only Black person on council, told the INDY. “My husband told me when I ran in 2017, ‘Barbara, you have to be at the is Vimala Rajendran, the owner of Vimala’s Curryblostable: when votes are taken, policies are being discussed, som Café, who wants to look out for the interests of decisions are being made, conversations—your voice and small businesses. “President Biden said in a conversation with me before your face have to be in that room to have impact.’” In Chapel Hill, Pam Hemminger has announced a bid for he was elected that [small business] is the heartbeat of her fourth term as mayor. Karen Stegman, a Chapel Hill America,” Rajendran says. “For 11 years I have been a leader native, also seeks to keep her seat on the town council to in the industry, and nationally recognized for worker justice, continue some of the initiatives around affordable housing and I want that to be the focus of all small businesses, and for small businesses to be the focus of Chapel Hill.” and racial justice she and Buansi spearheaded together. There are four seats open in Chapel Hill, since the When Lavelle announced she wasn’t running again, councilmember Damon Seils says he took some time to eval- vacancy left by former council member Rachel Schaevitz 10

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has stayed open until now. The other newcomers running are Robert Beasley, Camille Berry, Andrew Creech, Jeffrey Hoagland, and Adam Searing. In Carrboro, two challengers are running against incumbents up for re-election. Danny Nowell, a Democratic Socialist who settled in Carrboro to raise his family, told the INDY that he seeks to make housing more affordable for Carrboro residents through public-owned housing, instead of relying solely on private ventures. Aja Kelleher, a mother and self-described activist, is the other challenger. Two candidates for mayor—Mike Benson in Carrboro and Zachary Boyce in Chapel Hill—decided to run to keep the races from being uncontested, pressuring Hemmminger, Gu, and Seils to come to events and speak on tough issues. Boyce, a UNC-Chapel Hill law student, says he decided to run when he realized there were no Black people and no one under 40 running, and that Hemminger could potentially run unopposed—again. “I would like more graduate and undergraduate students to be involved ... in local government, because in a place like this that is ... a university town, we make knowledge here,” Boyce says. “We make new ideas here, and who is going to be more committed to putting the new knowledge on the policy table than the people who are making it?” Aside from local elections, an empty seat is about to pop up on the Orange County Board of Commissioners at the end of July, when Commissioner Mark Dorosin moves to Florida for a law school teaching position. The board will appoint a new commissioner from a pool of candidates; the deadline has already passed to submit an application. W


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Chapel Hill From left: Jarrah Faye and Taliajah Vann PHOTOS BY BRETT VILLENA

Go Time Students at UNC-Chapel Hill say the university needs to make good now on its promises of equity and safety to its community members of color. BY JASMINE GALLUP backtalk@indyweek.com

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he weekend before last, two men walked onto the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s campus, waved Confederate flags around a memorial to the school’s Black founders, and spewed racist slurs at the Black students who had gathered around them. For rising junior Jarrah Faye, the sight was horrifying. “Seeing white supremacists come to our campus and spew such hatred was disturbing and sickening,” Faye, who is president-elect of the school’s NAACP branch, which will be reactivated this fall, told the INDY. “(I) felt extremely nauseous and overall just physically ill watching that.” This isn’t the first time white supremacists have visited campus. In the past five years, UNC-Chapel Hill has been plagued by a string of racist scandals, most notably the controversy over Silent Sam, an eight-foot-tall statue of a Confederate soldier. In 2018 and 2019, protests by students and anti-protests by pro-Confederate

Movement. For years, Black students have been profiled by police, assumed to be up to no good, and generally made to feel unwelcome, Vann says. “I don’t feel valued, I don’t feel loved, I don’t feel like people on this campus want me to be here,” she says. “Oftentimes, it (racism) is a reality our university enables.” For Vann, even something as simple as walking to class can feel like crossing enemy territory. “(It’s a microaggression) for you to use the physical space you’re taking up to force me to move around you,” Vann says, “when I’m already having to move around you every single freaking day that I’m at this campus, because the campus was designed and built for you by my enslaved ancestors.” Faye agrees, saying she has wanted to attend UNC-Chapel Hill since third grade, but entering the school as a freshman was disillusioning. “Naively, I was like, ‘They’re gonna love me, they’re gonna accept me,’ because every pamphlet, they are always putting Black and brown faces on them,” Faye says. “To get here and find out that I’m only one part of eight percent of Black students that attend this school was very disheartening.” Faye, Vann, and many other Black students want the university to finally live up to the promises it has made year after year to people of color. For Faye, that means dismantling the entire UNC governing body and rebuilding it in “true democratic form,” she says. “It’s time for UNC to face the music. It’s been too many, ‘I hear yous’ and ‘working on it’ and ‘we’re gonna get to it,’” Faye says. “No, it’s time.”

Racism in Higher Education activists turned the campus into a battleground. At one point, the Unsung Founders Memorial was vandalized with racist graffiti. Earlier this year, the Campus Y, a building that has long been the center of social justice work at the university, was also vandalized with racist messages. And most recently, the denial of tenure to acclaimed Black journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has reanimated a larger fight by Black students for a “racial reckoning” at UNC-Chapel Hill. Last week, Black students released a list of demands to make the school safer and more equitable for students of color. “We want to be safe,” Faye says. “We want to go to this university and know that somewhere, in some department, we have a safe space.” The university may promote diversity, but the reality is far from what is pictured on recruitment flyers, says Taliajah “Teddy” Vann, president of the Black Student

Vann says she hopes this will be a critical moment of change for the university. At the same time, however, the campus culture is driving dozens of students and staff to question whether they should stay at the school. Some are choosing to go elsewhere, including to historically Black colleges and universities. At many predominantly white institutions, Black academics are undervalued at the same time they’re called upon to be representatives of diversity. Such is the case for UNC-Chapel Hill alumna and staff member Jaci Field, who also serves on the college’s Diversity & Inclusion Awards Committee. “It is emotionally draining to be the only one in the room, to be the only one at the table, to be the only voice in meetings over and over and over,” says Field. “I so rarely see myself represented in a room. It’s taxing.” One of the benefits of attending or working at a historically Black college—such as N.C. Central University in Durham—is the strong sense of having a Black communiINDYweek.com

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“Naively, I was like, ‘They’re gonna love me, they’re gonna accept me,’ because every pamphlet, they are always putting Black and Brown faces on them.” ty, says Ralph Barrett, chair of the Faculty Senate at NCCU. As an African American student at a predominantly white school, the University of Pennsylvania, “you always felt as if you were seen differently, you were treated a little bit differently,” Barrett says. “That’s something that you’re not gonna have at Central or any other HBCU. You’re not gonna get that sense of discrimination. You’re not gonna get the tyranny of low expectations.” Some attribute UNC-Chapel Hill’s lack of progress to its leadership. The most influential decision-makers—the current UNC System Board of Governors and the university Board of Trustees—are appointed by the Republican-led state legislature. Their conservative track records don’t create much hope for students or staff that there will soon be a culture shift at the college. In Hannah-Jones’s case, the decisions made by the board ultimately led her to take a position at Howard University, a historically Black research university in Washington, D.C. Vann says she was elated that Hannah-Jones chose a college that is “proudly established for Black people.” Hannah-Jones’s decision is a reminder to Black students and staff that they don’t have to take the path that white-dominated systems outline for them, Vann says. “Oftentimes the powers that be will say ‘Pick a lane, lane A or lane B,’” she says. “But ultimately, we all have the power to step out of those lanes and say, ‘I’m gonna create a third option.’ (UNC-Chapel Hill) doesn’t get to decide her (Hannah-Jones’) worth and value. She ultimately gets to decide it for herself.” W 12

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The Old Well at UNC-Chapel Hill PHOTOS BY JADE WILSON

Accreditation at Risk? UNC-Chapel Hill could face an investigation from its accrediting agency. BY JASMINE GALLUP backtalk@indyweek.com

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill may be at risk of losing its accreditation after recent accusations of racism and corruption. When the denial of tenure to journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones gained national attention, staff at the university’s accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, started “monitoring the situation,” says Nuria Cuevas, the vice president of the SACSCOC. The information brought to light by news media was enough to trigger an inquiry where staff requested certain information from the university, Cuevas says. “We haven’t received the information yet from them, so it’s hard to know at this point (whether it could affect accreditation),” Cuevas says. “Once we receive it, if we find that there’s factual accreditation-related information, we forward it on to our board for our review.” Accreditation is the process through which universities become eligible for federal funding. It also sets a standard for higher education. In addition to educational requirements, UNC-Chapel Hill is required to operate with integrity and demonstrate a dedication to continuous improvement. It must also have a governing board not excessively influ-

enced by others (including lawmakers, donors, or prominent alumni), employ qualified faculty, preserve academic freedom, and provide resources to support student success. Cuevas declined to comment on the specific accreditation standards the association is evaluating at UNC-Chapel Hill. From the time an inquiry begins, it typically takes six to eight weeks to make a decision about whether to continue investigating. Reports of racial bias and a lack of diversity among faculty and staff have put universities at risk of losing accreditation in the past. Last week, the Tulane University School of Medicine was put on probation after a Black faculty member filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination. Similarly, UNC-Chapel Hill could come under the microscope because of its lack of diversity or allegations of racism from students and staff. SACSCOC doesn’t have a specific accreditation requirement related to diversity, Cuevas says, but it does have a “position statement” that acts as a kind of guiding principle for universities and colleges. “Our primary concern, really, is institutional quality and student success,” Cuevas says. “That’s always foremost, is the wellbeing of students, the educational programs and the educational experience.” W


FO O D & D R I N K Peach soft serve at Broken Spoke Farm PHOTO BY BRETT VILLENA

Best working dairy/ice cream stand Maple View Farm Ice Cream 6900 Rocky Ridge Road, Hillsborough

The drive through the countryside reminds us of the Sunday drives of our childhoods, with quaint homes and plenty of horses. But rather than a destination of mind-numbing boredom and depressing pre-cable Sunday night TV, the reward is a house on a rise that exists solely to serve up ice cream treats in multiple flavors, including a famous nod to UNC: Carolina crunch, a delicious concoction of caramel ice cream, Butterfinger, and Heath Bar Pieces.

Best ice cream worth the brain freeze Broken Spoke Farm | 5601 St Marys Road, Hillsborough

Inside Scoop From soft serve to frozen yogurt, fish-shaped cones to the sprinkles on top, the Triangle’s dreamy ice cream scene always has something to offer BY DEBBIE MATTHEWS food@indyweek.com

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hen I was asked to do a deep dive into the Triangle’s ice-cream scene, it was like Christmas in July. Who wouldn’t want to (figuratively) bathe in oceans of frozen treats when it’s 90 degrees outside? Oh, jokes were made. “Taking one for the team,” I might have said, or, “It’s a tough job.” But inside, believe me, I was screaming for ice cream. Is there, you might ask, a need for yet another ice cream directory? Well, every summer, the Triangle’s inventive ice-cream scene evolves just a little bit, whether by a new shop, scoop, or flavor. To keep pace, accompanied by a good friend and my 20-something child, I embarked on a trek through the Triangle, thoroughly examining nine local independent purveyors of frozen treats. We were thrilled to discover that each location did something—sometimes more than one something—better than anybody. The INDY’s reader-voted Best Of picks for ice cream and everything else dropped last week, but this week, we’re pleased to give you a further scoop on the many ice cream dreams our area has to offer.

This dreamy farm looks like something between something out a Monet painting, and something from an Edgar Allen Poe poem. There’s a farm stand with picturesque, brightly colored vegetables and a cooler full of cheeses from Cedar Grove boutique cheesemaker, Boxcarr Handmade Cheese. An adjacent barn is charmingly decorated with animal skulls. The Broken Spoke folks make soft-serve ice cream from their own recipes—no easy feat, as any ice cream expert will tell you. The day we visited, the two flavors on tap were blackberry and chocolate. The chocolate was a frosty chocolate punch in the face. It was impossible to stop the journey of spoon to gob, which resulted in an ice cream headache—though that didn’t slow the cocoa motion. The blackberry flavor, meanwhile, was bright, fruity, and delicious.

Best place in Chapel Hill to take visitors for frosty treats The Yogurt Pump | 106 W Franklin Street, Chapel Hill

Situated in the heart of Franklin Street, this Chapel Hill institution is tucked into an alley next to yet another institution—semi-historic bar He’s Not Here. Known locally as “Yo Po,” it’s the only froyo joint on this list. It’s a place where first-timers are treated like regulars. Its frozen yogurt is scrumptious and the chocolate is the most deeply flavored, creamiest chocolate frozen yogurt that will likely ever come near your mouth.

Most original ice-cream eatery with a dash of humor Simons Says Dip This | 117 West Parrish Street

Nathan and Audrey Simons are known at local farmers’ markets for their silky, delicious nut butters. Their new venture, opened in downtown Durham in May, takes traditional dip-top cones from our childhoods, and ups the ante. INDYweek.com

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The ice cream is rich, thick egg custard, a preparation well-known in the Midwest but unfamiliar to many North Carolinians. Ice cream is then dipped in one of two dozen Belgian chocolate-based dips with flavors like caramel, pistachio, and key lime, and then rolled in a variety of toppings, with 18 to choose from. The result is a towering, gorgeous jewel-toned candy land treat that makes Willie Wonka look monotone and unimaginative.

Most unusual delivery device— and the best way to eat your (purple) sweet potatoes

Best Bull City ice cream place to impress visitors The Parlour | 117 Market Street, Durham

The Parlour started as a food truck in Durham, in 2011, staking out space in a school bus. In 2013, it moved into a brick-and-mortar spot at CCB Plaza. Located within view of Durham’s Major the bronze bull, the Parlour is known for scrumptious handmade ice cream in gourmet, seasonal flavors. It was one of the first places to serve a now-famous salted butter caramel, and also dish out a coffee ice cream that will make you say, “Starbucks who?”

Sugar Koi | 905 W. Main Street Suite 20-H

Best ice cream flavors you didn’t even know existed

This Brightleaf Square ice creamery serves a combination of purchased and house-made flavors. The Sugar Koi-made treats are inspired by owner Nat Jira’s time growing up in Thailand and include brightly colored varieties like Thai tea, matcha, and ube, which are purple sweet potatoes from the Philippines. But the eponymous koi is not just a cute moniker. The ice cream is served in cups, waffle cones, and bowls, or cheeky, cartoon-dimensioned, fish-shaped cones. The sight of a crispy, golden-brown fish diving into a mound of whipped cream is oddly charming and not one you’ll soon forget. Bonus: Sugar Koi will soon be Brightleaf Square neighbors with an outpost of the cult ice-cream chain, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream.

La Vida Dulce | 836 E Chatham Street #104, Cary

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Tucked into a strip mall in Cary is a museum of sweet and savory Mexican street foods. We began our tour with elote cups—Dixie cups full of corn, chili-lime seasoning, and topped with mounds of cotija cheese. Then, the ice cream. Pine nut: who knew? The Barbie-pink ice cream is studded with toasted piñones which are somehow both creamy and crunchy. It’s slighty nutty with a finish like butter pecan. Then, onto blackberry cheese—an item you might assume is a blackberry cheesecake; at first, we did, too. But we were wrong. The color of this frozen treat is a whiter shade of pale with lavender streaks that look tie-dyed in. The cheese in the name is a mild farmer’s type of cheese, and it comes together on one’s tongue with a flavor like a lightly sweet, frozen cheese plate.

Ice cream that most tastes like it was churned on Grandma’s back porch FRESH. Local Ice Cream | Various locations throughout Raleigh, Cary, and Apex

Made of local milk from free-range cows, ice cream of every flavor is creamy and fresh tasting. The midnight brownie crunch and brownie sundaes use chewy, moist, fresh-baked brownies baked by members of Life Experiences, Inc., a non-profit organization for adults with developmental disabilities. But the big story is their Madagascar vanilla ice cream. It tastes like vanilla did when you were a child, and weren’t yet aware that “vanilla” can often be used as a synonym for boring. It tastes like Grandma churned it—if your grandmother were an ice cream goddess. It transforms “vanilla” into a compliment.

Best ice cream place in Raleigh to take out-of-towners—plus, the topping we wish we’d been eating on everything our entire lives Howling Cow Dairy Education Center and Creamery 100 Dairy Lane, Raleigh

Located on N.C. State’s visually stunning dairy farm, this ice creamery does not apologize for being a celebration of cows and the milk they produce. Their graham cracker ice cream is unique. And delicious. And unique. And crazy delicious. The fluffy sugar sundae is made with a revelatory lemon ice cream and topped with marshmallow cream, which is pretty great. But then they torch it. TORCH IT! And we’ll end here, so that you may contemplate that. W


M U SIC

SUPER SECRET DANCE PARTY

Saturday, July 24, 9 p.m.–2 a.m., $18/$20 | The Fruit, Durham | Durhamfruit.com Raleigh's Community Bookstore

Revelers at a Super Secret Dance Party in January of 2020

Latest on Bookin’

PHOTO BY TROY RICHARDSON

You Rang? Meet the dauntless Durham DJ behind Super Secret Dance Party, an Arcana institution now heading for The Fruit BY BRIAN HOWE

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music@indyweek.com

f you’ve ever seen someone standing in front of Viceroy in downtown Durham studying their maps app with a puzzled expression, they were probably trying to find Arcana, the bar hidden in an inconspicuous basement on the back side of West Main Street. And if it happened to be the first Friday night of the month and they were dressed to move around, they were probably trying to find Super Secret Dance Party. An institution at Arcana from 2016 until the coronavirus pandemic, it turned a tarot-themed cocktail bar into an underground oasis for all the Durham nightlife hounds who prefer sweaty cellars and warehouses to spacious rooms with bottle service. These days, though, it seems that all roads lead to The Fruit. Already the de facto home of The Floor’s house music parties and Maison Fauna’s UK garage grooves, the Dillard Street warehouse adds Super Secret, with its distinct purview—hip-hop and reggaeton, spiced with dashes of Indian or Greek music—to its roster on Saturday, July 24. Though it’s still a basement party, that basement is three times the size of the one it grew up in. “Bigger” seems to be the

theme of Super Secret’s first outing since the pandemic, where masks are welcome and encouraged but not required. Instead of the classic duo of co-founders Rang Rajaram (DJ Rang) and Jordan Chavis (DJ Forge) trading off behind the decks, Chapel Hill’s DJ Nevy will open, and Raleigh’s DJ Sunny Sistuki will headline, with a closing set by Rang. There’s also an art installation and a live podcast. And instead of a monthly party, it’s an all-in oneoff event, though Rang hopes to do it again. Rang remembers when he first stumbled into Arcana in 2016, not long after it opened. “It was in a back alley, and no one had good directions,” he says. “If you knew, you knew.” He happened to know both owners, Lindsey Andrews and Erin Karcher, and they booked him for a DJ night. The day of the party, he was talking to Forge, who was feeling down after a bad night in Chapel Hill—“an annoying younger crowd, management telling him what to play, stuff like that,” Rang says. “So, I said, come play with me; it’s Durham, the dance crowd is always awesome. It was amazing, and Lindsey handed us a big stack of cash at the end of the night.”

Named in honor of its elusive home, Super Secret was born as a monthly party. On the technical level, the duo favored simplicity and immediacy, exploring the possibilities of two DJs with two turntables and a mixer. They had a vision of what they wanted to play but an unpretentious openness to wacky requests, as long as they were left on the Facebook page. “I dubbed it sustainable nightlife,” Rang says, laughing. “It was a place where we could DJ however we wanted. The cover was reasonable, the set-up was easy, the sound system was small, the drinks were great. Even if another place had bigger crowds or an installed light system, the sense of community wasn’t really there. At a typical club, the dance party doesn’t kick off until midnight, but people here had this comfort level that they’d start dancing at ten o’clock.” Though it’s hard to imagine Super Secret not being at Arcana, the split was amicable—it had outgrown the space, and everyone is trying new things after the shutdown. The same goes for the absence of Forge, who’s laying back from DJing to pursue other career goals. But there’s much to be excited about in the new configuration. The evening begins at 9:30 p.m. with the live debut of Justin Laidlaw’s podcast, The Buddy Ruski Show, featuring a panel discussion of all things Durham with the hip-hop artists Lord Fess and Jooselord Magnus and the executive director of Scalawag Magazine, Cierra Hinton. An adjacent chill-out room will feature projections of both an original video by Saleem Reshamwala (responsible for the visuals of another Rang production, DISHOOM) and a live painting by Michelle Durango Lopez, whose prints will also be on view. Tickets are $18 in advance via Eventbrite and $20 (cash only) at the door. Though it’s not the largest of The Fruit’s many varied spaces, Rang chose the basement to make sure it still felt like Super Secret. “It still has that dungeon vibe,” he says. “A smaller crowd in a smaller room, that energy is always better to me. You’re not on a DJ booth or stage overlooking everyone, you’re right there, eye-level, and can read people’s faces and body language.” W

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STAGE

WTFRINGE 21 National Women’s Theatre Festival All productions online; Womenstheatrefestival.com

July 23 Theatre: A Love Story

July 24 No Justice when once the sky was blue

July 25: Best of Fringe Electra Terms of Forbearance

A still from when once the sky was blue PHOTO COURTESY OF THE NATIONAL WOMEN’S THEATRE FESTIVAL

cameras that never turn off. Audience members may contribute to pay off their debts and free them—if they perform in a sufficiently ingratiating manner. Standout performances by Royal Shirée as a bewildered Morgan, Sarah Rose Nottingham’s initially glib Ashe, and Chelsea Goode’s disenchanted Sullivan ground a work that mercilessly grills our culture’s unspoken assumptions about monetary versus human value and the bases of mass entertainment. Electra

Digital theater company Access Classics’ first online production is a convincing proof-of-concept for director Claudia Alick’s alchemical mix of choreography, music, and drama. Randy Wong-Westbrooke’s nuanced visual design nimbly identifies the characters in playwright Adrienne Kennedy’s soulful adaptation of Euripides. Alick’s strategy to have multiple actors play the title character underlines the universality of one person’s struggle and situates it among a supportive community. Striking performances by performers Camille Simone Thomas, Sabrina Liu, Purple Fire Crow, and Grant Miller propel a story whose blood-soaked culmination is conveyed with eerie grace.

Fringe Cut Productions at this year’s WTFringe Festival continue to push audiences beyond the borders of mainstream theater

music and dance to an immersive and truly sublime virtual reality theater experience.

Award-winning playwright Caridad Svich’s rueful love letter to her genre is placed in a virtual promenade format, as audience members click on the screen to progress through the play’s 10 sections. Despite that disruptive strategy, the 10 directors in this WTFringe Lab production make an unexpectedly cohesive experience of Svich’s critical narrative, which resists its jadedness while castigating the economics of privilege that make theater possible. Look for notable performances by Gabrielle A. Woods, Monique C. Aldred, Laura Blankenship, and Claudia Warga-Dean in the mix.

No Justice

when once the sky was blue

In director Dana Hall and actor Kenisha Morgan’s oneact drama, Justice (Morgan), a Black law school student in Illinois on lockdown during the pandemic, has been referred to a therapist when her mother turns ill back in her small hometown. When the therapist, Dr. Myers (Ruth Hansen), turns out to be white and there are no Black therapists on the school’s staff, racial borders must be reckoned with as the two struggle to address Justice’s crisis, as two national crises unfold at the same time. Hall and Morgan leaven pointed cultural criticism with humor in a script whose occasional didacticism doesn’t compromise its warm heart.

The on-screen recommendations at the start do disclose the best way to experience Sri Lankan-Peruvian multimedia artist Harshini J. Karunaratne’s 360-degree virtual reality work: via full screen, in a quiet, darkened room, through a home sound system or headsets. At the start, we find ourselves suspended in a night sky, facing three hooded figures in different portals. Clicking on them takes us on three overtly meditative journeys. While some virtual reality experiences can have a disembodied-feeling dynamic, the hypnotic calmness in Keira J. Simmons’ narratives and ambient soundscapes alongside the work of visual programmer Naushikha Jayawickrama firmly ground viewers in embodied experiences: walking through a garden and along a mountain edge before a gravity-defying stroll across a body of water at sunset. But the gentle narrative of sights and sounds here are constructed for a future therapeutic use: to comfort humans in a time of what the creator calls eco-grief, in an era beyond our own, when skies were still blue. W

BY BYRON WOODS arts@indyweek.com

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f the producers have done their work well, a fringe festival should almost be impossible to categorize. Its greatest promise lies in the titled term itself: a collection of shows situated, often simultaneously, on one or more edges, from the artistic and cultural to the technological. If your tastes tend toward the classics or the tried-and-true—should Dame Agatha Christie be the first name to come to mind when you think of women playwrights—it might be best to beat a quick retreat back to the mainstream. Fringe work lies along, and usually pushes us beyond, previously established borders. It takes us places we haven’t been before. That crucial mission is accomplished in the National Women’s Theatre Festival’s WTFringe 21 Festival. All fourteen productions in this year’s complement are virtual, a combination of live and prerecorded feeds aggregated from locations across the nation and the globe and put online through the festival’s nexus in Raleigh. Five productions—three already scheduled for the festival’s last weekend and two top candidates for the juried Best of Fringe showcase on Sunday, July 25—stretch audiences from earnest considerations of racial schisms to caustic social satire, and from innovative genre fusions of 16

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Theatre: A Love Story

Terms of Forbearance

The viewer who termed actor Matthew Ferrell’s smarmy TV host “the nightmare-fueled love child of [The Hunger Games’] Caesar Flickerman and Perez Hilton” was spot-on. In Emma Givens’ acid-etched comedy, three women who’ve defaulted on their student loans are placed in a reality TV series without frontiers: imprisoned, alone, in rooms with


A RT

CHASING LIGHT

Craven Allen Gallery, Durham | Through September 4

“Light Informs the Shadows” by David Davenport PHOTO COURTESY OF CRAVEN ALLEN GALLERY

Light Heart The Durham-based painter David Davenport finds his muse in the illuminated landscapes and buildings of North Carolina BY CARL LITTLE arts@indyweek.com

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n “Last Barn Standing,” one of the 30 or so paintings in David Davenport’s new show at the Craven Allen Gallery in Durham, midday summer light creates luminous shadows on a behemoth structure that leans, slightly off-center, in an overgrown field. Davenport found the barn high on a hill just off Highway 54 near Saxapahaw in Alamance County. Struck by its ark-like appearance and abandonment—he likens it to a shipwreck—he decided to pay tribute to its survival, even while eulogizing its future demise. In another barn painting, “5 O’clock Shadow,” late afternoon light generates a diagonal shadow across the cypress boards of a humble structure. The simple façade, divided in two by a ladder leading to a small black square at the top, is an abstract geometric design accented with shades of violet, pink, and blue. As the title of his show, Chasing Light, affirms, Davenport is an aficionado of illumination. As he explained in a

recent email, he uses “chasing light” as a metaphor for his attempts “to experience and capture the effects of light on the rural landscape’s barns and fields during different times of the day and throughout the seasons.” Davenport often travels the back roads of eastern North Carolina to view and absorb, in his words, “the changing light on the fields and abandoned buildings in the rural landscape.” He sometimes takes photos and creates rough sketches of these “roadside attractions,” as he called them. Back in the studio, he creates watercolor and acrylic studies that allow him to experiment with various techniques, and work out the composition. Davenport comes to his subject matter as a North Carolinian born and bred. From a childhood in a farming community in the eastern part of the state to earning a BFA at East Carolina University to later settling in Durham, he has spent the better part of his painter’s life transcribing his Tar Heel surroundings. Davenport ventured beyond the border

to work in advertising in New York City for a while, and he still draws on board skills and techniques. He also sought to further his painting practice, which included earning an MFA at the University of Maryland in 1979. There, he studied with sculptor Anne Truitt and served as a teaching assistant to painter and art historian David Driskel. Their mentoring led Davenport to teach, which he finished with a nearly 30-year stint at Alamance Community College in its advertising and graphic design department. Davenport is sharing the gallery with fellow Durhambased artist Bryant Holsenbeck, an environmental artist who uses found materials—plastic, fabric scraps, credit cards, bottle caps, straws—to create sculptures. For her third show at Craven Allen, she presents Animals in the Hood, a remarkable and charming menagerie that includes herons, rabbits, songbirds, chickens, and bats made from all manner of materials affixed to wire armatures. Holsenbeck’s free-form creatures make a nice complement to Davenport’s straightforward, light-drenched scenes. The American realist painter Edward Hopper once famously stated, “What I wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.” Davenport is on a similar mission as witnessed by the show’s painting “Salt Box Summer,” a side view of a classic New England-style white house in full sunlight, its signature roofline—short in front, sloping in back—cutting into a blue sky. In other pieces like “Sweet Spot” and “Summer Shadows,” the exteriors of white houses serve as canvases for shadow play. Davenport is drawn to a range of architecture. Painting “I Dream of Jeannie” offers a nondescript yellow trailer home set on a concrete base in a featureless grassy lot. The title, borrowed from the 1960s sitcom, might have been inspired by the large satellite dish in the front yard, but it could also represent the aspirations of the dweller of this end-of-the-road place. In a more surreal vein, “Twilight Drive In” features a drive-in theater set against a glowing sunset, one which harks back to the dramatic skies of Frederic Church and the Luminists. The blank, wide, white screen is as mysterious as the monolith discovered in a Utah canyon last year. When he’s not portraying buildings, Davenport paints fields, often under cultivation. In “Flooded Fields and Summer Burn Off,” tilled rows lead the eye to distant trees. Once again, light plays a crucial role, casting, respectively, cool and warm tones on the pastoral scenes. In a few cases, Davenport switches the perspective, giving us the view of the landscape as viewed from within. Most notable is “Spring Opening,” which offers a blast of bright sunlight as seen through the doorway of a dark barn. “The light rays illuminating the old wooden door awakens within me a creative spirit,” Davenport writes. And, he might have added, the joy of emerging out of winter confinement and being drawn back into the world. W INDYweek.com

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