WALTER Magazine- April 2020

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APRIL 2020



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Volume VIII, Issue 7

Madeline Gray (PICKLES); joshua Steadman (PIANO)

APRIL 2020

56 OUR TOWN 48



LOCALS: Lifting Spirits Tony Jenkins is a fixture at the YMCA


EXPLORE: Gift of Nature The Williamson Preserve opens


EXPLORE: Kind of a Big Dill The Pickle Festival in Mount Olive


CULTURE: Suave Sounds Diego Avilez builds community




GIVERS: Food Fight Four organizations battling hunger


DRINK: Poppin’ Bottles The new neighborhood spot


NOTED: Thinking Small A downtown design school idea


Letter from WALTER




Your Feedback


Happening Now

119 The Whirl 130 End Note: A Tree Falls

Q&A: Want Not Mel Gilles on living zero-waste

On the cover: Giorgios Bakatsias; photography by Eamon Queeney




108 76

FEAST FOR THE SENSES Giorgios Bakatsias cooks an Easter meal with “love and romance” by Ayn-Monique Klahre photography by Eamon Queeney


IT WAS ALL A DREAM J. Cole’s music festival returns by David Menconi photography by Bob Karp


BLANK CANVAS Art leads the way in this row house by Ayn-Monique Klahre photography by Brie Williams

102 A NEW NARRATIVE Jean Gray Mohs on the evolving story of her art and health by Susanna Klingenberg photography by Taylor McDonald 108 IN THE NEWS Behind the scenes at ABC11 by Ayn-Monique Kalhre photography by Bob Karp



Bob Karp (NEWS); Taylor McDonald (ARTIST)


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WALTER editor Ayn-Monique Klahre with WINi speakers Arsheen Allam, Maya Freelon, Maggie Kane and Amber Rupinta.


month ago, we held our annual WINi conference at Market Hall. It was a sunny Sunday afternoon, unseasonably warm, and I’ll admit: I would have been just as excited to take a nap as I was to put my business heels on and emcee the talks. But then… our panelists started talking. They were vulnerable, profound, inspiring and interesting. They pulled us into their stories. There was dancing, and there were tears. These four women— Maggie Kane, Maya Freelon, Arsheen Allam and Amber Rupinta—had each worked, hard, to earn their success, and I’m so grateful that we could share that passion with our guests. That passion, that spark, is in these pages, too. Jean Gray Mohs is an accomplished artist whose battle with lung disease could have debilitated her, but instead has informed her work (pg. 102). Restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias welcomed us into his home for a meal that showed the origins of his success: a true love and connection to food and to the earth that permeates the way he cooks (pg. 76). The ABC11 team let us tour

their studio to watch them work, and we learned there’s way more to making the news than what you see on television (pg. 108). Diego Avilez uses his passion and talent to work for inclusion in music (pg. 60). Mel Gilles’ commitment to conservation informs her life and career (pg. 68). And Tony Jenkins found a way to inspire others at the Alexander YMCA after a debilitating accident (pg. 50). Whether your own interests lie in music, food, art or activism, we hope this issue sparks passion in you, too. And if it does, please share it with us @waltermagazine.

Ayn-Monique Klahre Editor P.S. At press time, the recommendations around COVID-19 were rapidly evolving. By the time you get this magazine, some of the events we feature may be canceled or postponed. Please check or the provided websites for the latest information.



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APRIL 2020 Published 10 times a year by The News & Observer Publishing Co. A McClatchy Company

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P HOTO G R A P HE R Conder photographed this month’s story about Tony Jenkins. “When a relationship ended, I joined the Y, because everything I read said working out would be good for me. There were days that the only thing that motivated me to get out of bed and to the gym was the uplifting joy that is Tony Jenkins. Hearing his hollers and exclamations brought a smile to my face on my darkest days. He was one of my first friends in Raleigh. It moved me, just like this story will, for so many who know Tony. I’m honored to get to help tell his story.’”

NOOR AZEEM / WR I T ER Noor grew up all over the map, but North Carolina is where she found her true home. She graduated from N.C. State in 2018 with a degree in English. She has a passion for reading, writing, and film photography. “The best part of speaking with Ms. Julie Beck about the North Carolina Pickle Festival was the sheer excitement and delight with which she described her preparations for the event.”

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BOB KARP / P HOTO G R A P HE R “I’ve photographed hundreds of concerts and festivals in my 30+ years of photojournalism, but Dreamville was an impressive first. Along with fun distractions like DJ booths, mini golf and oversize beanbag chairs, the two stages took turns with the acts as the show went off flawlessly all day and night until the headliner and founder J. Cole took to the stage. I was blown away by the energy and the diversity of the crowd and met people who traveled from all over the country, just to be at Dreamville. It made me proud of my new hometown, knowing Raleigh’s own J. Cole could throw a hip hop party that’s sure to become legendary.”

BILLY WARDEN / WR I T ER Billy Warden is a writer, public speaker and band leader (of altglam rock pioneers The Floating Children) as well as a marketing executive. His collaborators on various projects have included everyone from governors to Joan Rivers (more at “We all spend a lot of time encased in hard little bubbles; our heads in our smartphones as we hurry through our routines. Tony’s joie de vivre snapped me out of my routine at the Y; made me look up and pay attention. He was lively, unique, loud. He burst my bubble, and I wanted to know more about him. I soon realized that my fellow Y-goers felt the same. We bonded, in part, over Tony. And learning more about his story made him even more of an inspiration. I’m grateful to Tony. And I’m determined not to get back into my bubble. Life’s too short and the world’s too rich.”

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YOUR FEEDBACK @waltermagazine We love seeing our community enjoying WALTER! Tag us in a photo with your issue of the magazine with #wearewalter and you just might find yourself on our pages!

On February 28, WALTER supported Brooks Bell’s first Colonoscopy Gala. We learned that she’d heard from many people who took action because she shared her story in the December issue. “Whenever I hear that someone got a colonoscopy because of me—AND found precancerous polyps—it makes all my efforts worth it,” says Bell.


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BEARTHDAY PARTY Raleigh City Farm combines its birthday with Earth Day


n April 18, Raleigh City Farm will celebrate its eighth “Bearthday,” their annual birthday party that, befittingly, falls on Earth Day (and yes, it's still pronounced “birthday”). This free event will include live music, food and beverage from sustainable vendors and educational farming demonstrations. Raleigh City Farm, a nonprofit urban farm located in downtown Raleigh, was founded in 2011 with the mission to connect the community to sustainable


agriculture. The one-acre plot at the corner of Franklin and Blount streets has since grown its influence with local restaurants as well as residents. This annual event has changed over the years as the farm has transitioned and grown, but has ultimately served as an open house for the community to tour the farm, learn about sustainable best practices and support the vendors that partner with the farm. “The best part about Bearthday is that the event exemplifies our mission of growing the next generation of farm-

ers by connecting our community to sustainable agriculture,” says volunteer and board member Jamie Ousterout. “At the event, attendees, especially children, can see produce growing, talk to a farmer and gain a better understanding of where food comes from… all in a fun, celebratory atmosphere.” This year’s contributors will include neighborhood staples Standard Beer and Foods (at its newly-opened location right next to the farm), Yellow Dog Bread Company and Wine Authorities. In addition to its food and beverage

APRIL farm’s Bearthday Bazaar, including plants from horticulturist Tony Avent’s Juniper Level Botanical Garden. Three local artists will be featured creating plein air paintings and Durham-based bluegrass band Flatbed will play live music. The tie-in? This coincides with their mission of increasing awareness of sustainable agriculture. “Art allows people to see the world in a new way,” says Raleigh City Farm executive director Lisa Grele Barrie. “It showcases the beauty in nature, plants and the food we eat, and how they’re vital to our health and well-being.” Raleigh City Farm employees and volunteers are excited to show the “fruits of their labor” and watch locals interact on the farm and enjoy the “wonderful” outdoor space. “Bearthday is a great family outing with something for everyone,” says Barrie. “Everyone loved it last year, but we think they’ll love it more this year, if that’s possible.” —Simmons Andrews 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.; 800 N. Blount Street; free;

APRIL 2020 | 25

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Activate Good is a local organization that connects volunteers to service opportunities with over 500+ nonprofit partners through an online platform. While successful, “we realized we were missing a critical piece of solving problems through service: community building,” says founder Amber Smith. “People are more likely to volunteer if they feel welcomed and connected.” Smith has a plan to create a place to do just that: the Good Hub. “We envision a physical space where anyone could walk through the door to learn about local needs and concerns in the community,” says Smith. Plans for the proposed space are in the beginning stages, so Smith has established The Good Hub Pop Up through the month of April. At this temporary location, people can walk in and learn about ways to get involved in the community, from educational information to actual volunteer work. The pop up will have a weekly menu of ongoing projects, such as making kits for the homeless. Individuals and groups are welcome and the hours are convenient for after school, post-work and weekends. There are even opportunities for children to get involved with Little Dogooders projects. An enthusiastic staff welcomes volunteers to the inviting space which provides an area to connect with others and grab a cup of coffee or a snack. “Pop in for five minutes or stay for two hours,” says Smith. It’s all good. See website for pop up hours and schedule of events; 702 Oberlin Road, Suite 400;

Jesse Edmonds



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North Carolina State University Theatre presents Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the Tony Award-winning play by Christopher Durang, at Titmus Theatre April 1-11. If it sounds vaguely Chekhovian—in character names, themes and setting (a cherry orchard)—it is, but don’t show up expecting a serious-minded drama. This absurdist comedy is set in modern-day and mines the strained relationship of three middle-aged siblings, exposing their jealousies, vanities and insecurities. See website for show dates and times; $24; 2241 Dunn Ave.;


Whet your appetite at Catering Works 2020 Culinary Adventures Series: Elemental Cuisine, where science and art come together for an unusual dining experience. This ongoing series continues April 3 with Water, where owner Lorin Laxton invites guests to “dive into the refreshing fare and sail down the river of aquatic delicacies.” Specifically, that means enjoying a multi-course dinner with wine pairings that incorporate water in the cooking methods used to prepare the meal and in the artisitic presentation of each dish. Sculptor Bill Hickman's welded steel structures will be showcased at the dinner. (He was selected as the featured artist because he is a Pisces.) If your curiosity is piqued, but you cannot make the April date, there are two more dinners scheduled in the series for August 21 (Earth) and November 6 (Air). 6:30 p.m.; $65; 2319 Laurelbrook St.;

Tiffany Studios, New York, 2YVVcRYMU Hanging Shade, ca. 1905. Leaded glass, bronze. The Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, Queens, NY.


Courtesy JC Raulston Arboretum

Happening NOW


From public grounds to private yards, these area garden tours offer an abundance of blooms 28 | WALTER

Courtesy JC Raulston Arboretum (RALUSTON); courtesy Oakwood Garden Club (OAKWOOD); Mary Knierim (CHAPEL HILL)


APRIL 25-26



The JC Raulston Arboretum celebrates the bounty of spring with Raulston Blooms!, a garden festival budding with nature activities, shopping, educational talks and plenty of Howling Cow ice cream. Stroll the grounds to see what’s new; take in a program on native plants for pollinators or bulletproof plants for your garden; dig in to some interactive fun with the kids. Highlights include the 20th annual Birdhouses and Beyond Competition. “This year we’ve expanded it to birdhouses and other wildlife habitats—bee houses and toad abodes and those kinds of things,” says Mark Weathington, Director of the arboretum. The Herpetology Club of N.C. State will also be on hand with turtles and other slithering species. And then there is the Plant Sale: shop a wide selection of plants from area vendors or purchase a unique plant from the arboretum. “These are plants you can’t find anywhere else—they are produced from our own collection here,” says Weathington. Take a break from the activity on the Great Lawn to enjoy food truck fare and ice cream. Proceeds from Raulston Blooms! benefit the daily operations of the JC Raulston Arboretum. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; see website for cost;

The Chapel Hill Garden Club presents Vision & View, its 13th biennial garden tour, which showcases six private gardens as well as the North Carolina Botanical Garden (NCBG). “This year is pretty special because we have such a variety of different styles of gardens, from historic to modern,” says tour chair Gill Roberts. Also of note—for the first time—is the inclusion of two homes from The Governor’s Club, a private community in Chapel Hill. Roberts explains that the gardens on the tour inspired this year’s theme: a celebration of the vision of each garden’s designers and the beautiful views created within. “One of the homes in Governor’s Club is built on quite difficult terrain. There is a huge piece of rock—like a mini mountain— and the homeowners have utilized it beautifully as part of the landscape by creating a waterfall along the rock that flows into a pond,” says Roberts. Tickets can be purchased ahead of the tour at the Chapel Hill Garden Club website or at area locations (find them on their website). Proceeds from the tour benefit programs and projects of the NCBG and the Chapel Hill Garden Club. 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; $25 in advance, $35 day of tour;

APRIL 25-26 OAKWOOD GARDEN TOUR & TEA The Oakwood Garden Club holds its 31st annual Oakwood Garden Tour & Tea. This popular garden tour (at press time the sittings for the tea were nearly sold out) combines a guided tour of gardens in the historic Oakwood neighborhood with a formal Victorian tea held at the Tucker House. “Every year we have a variety of different kinds of gardens,” says Naudain Machen, president of the Oakwood Garden Club. “We try to have a mix of large and small gardens so that visitors will be inspired no matter what size home they have.” Lovely gardens aside, what sets apart the Oakwood Garden Tour is teatime: picture vintage mismatched china, festive linens and flower arrangements created by neighborhood residents. Garden Club members gussied up in handmade fascinators serve guests from tiered trays overflowing with finger sandwiches, scones and assorted goodies from local eateries including Yellow Dog Bread Co., Empire Eats Restaurants, Side Street Restaurant and Capital Club 16. The tea is prepared onsite by expert Ryan Hinson of Tin Roof Teas. Tour attendees are encouraged to wear festive hats paired with comfortable (but cute?) shoes for walking the 1.5-mile tour route. See website for times; from $15;

APRIL 2020 | 29

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North Carolina Opera presents The Magic Flute by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart April 3-5 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The opera—in the form of a singspiel, which includes both singing and spoken dialogue—tells the tale of the Queen of the Night who persuades a prince to rescue her daughter from a high priest. The prince and princess end up joining the priest’s community, vanquishing the Queen of the Night. The performance run-time is 2 hours and 30 minutes with one intermission. It is sung in German with dialogue spoken in English and projected English text. See website for show times and dates; from $23; 2 E. South St.;

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4 & 24-26 N.C. SYMPHONY



The North Carolina Symphony pays tribute to beloved movies of childhood this month at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. On April 4, dress up as your favorite bedtime story character for Fairy Tales & Dragons, featuring the music from Sleeping Beauty, Frozen, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Shrek and How to Train Your Dragon. The Triangle Youth Ballet will perform in accompaniment; Wesley Schulz conducts. April 24-26 in a galaxy not so far away, the symphony will wield the force and play the score live at a special screening of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.

Get your cape and tights back from the cleaners and gas up the Batmobile: Oak City Comicon is speeding faster than a bullet towards the Raleigh Convention Center April 4-5. Nerd out on all things comic book and animated: vendors of pop culture merch; artists at work; costume showcases and competitions; the first ever NC Gundam Model Competition; sword fighting demonstrations and meet and greets with special guests including Bob Camp (artist, The Ren & Stimpy Show), Richard Case (artist, Doom Patrol, Sandman), Chris Claremont (writer, X-Men, New Mutants) and Daniel McBride (co-creator, Underworld). Zap. Wham. Kapow.

See website for symphony dates and time; from $27; 2 E. South St.;

See website for show dates and times; from $20; 500 S. Salisbury St.;




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Raleigh Little Theatre presents A Raisin in the Sun April 10-26. This seminal work, written by Lorraine Hansberry and based in part on her own experience growing up in Chicago, debuted on Broadway in 1959 and tells the story of a black family struggling over how to best improve their financial and social standing. The play—the first produced on Broadway that was written by a black woman and directed by a black man (Lloyd Richards)—continues to be “as moving today as it was then,” wrote Claire Brennan in The Guardian in 2016. See website for show dates and times; from $14; 301 Pogue St.;

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WALTER magazine presents: A Taste of Italy with Frances Mayes, The New York Times bestselling author of Under the Tuscan Sun. Join us for a bella evening April 15 at the Melrose Knitting Mill to celebrate the debut of Mayes’ latest works, Always Italy and See You in the Piazza. Guests will enjoy the ultimate insider’s tour of Italy with a family-style dinner inspired by some of Mayes’ favorite dishes. The exclusive menu will be prepared by Samad Hachby and his team of talented chefs at Mulino Italian Kitchen. 6-9 p.m.; $80; 309 N. Dawson St.;

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Getty Images (SPIDER); Rachel Neville Photography (MACBETH)

CHARLOTTE'S WEB William Peace Theatre presents Charlotte’s Web April 16-19. Corral your barnyard buddies and experience live E. B. White’s beloved tale of friendship between a pig and a spider. The production is appropriate for all ages and will include a sensory-friendly performance.


See website for show dates and times; from $5; 15 E. Peace St.;




Fire burn and cauldron bubble: The Carolina Ballet presents the Scottish play April 16-19 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. The ballet premiered Macbeth in 2016—a highly anticipated original work choreographed by founding artistic director Robert Weiss. The dramatic score was composed by J. Mark Scearce (Dracula, Love in the Times of Day), who served as Director of the Music Department at North Carolina State University and is currently a professor in the College of Design. Experience the timeless tale of love and betrayal—and support local artists—in one fell swoop. See website for ballet dates and times; from $36; 2 E. South St.;




NC ARTISTS EXHIBITION Nat Trotman curates a showcase of diverse local talent


hought provoking. That is how Jan Woodard, Chair of the NC Artists Exhibition described this year’s show, which opened at CAM Raleigh in March. The NC Artists Exhibition is put on by the Raleigh Fine Arts Society (RFAS), an organization that promotes and supports the arts in our community through advocacy, volunteer work and the sponsorship of performances, lectures and exhibitions. Established in 1978, The NC Artists Exhibition has grown to be one of the organization's signature events and is the largest all-media juried exhibition in the state.


“I cannot tell you how fantastic this show is,” says Woodard. But she can tell you why: The juror for this year’s exhibition is Nat Trotman, Curator of Media and Performance at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Trotman is a North Carolina native and the son of renowned artist Bob Trotman, whose work in wood has been shown at the Smithsonian Institution, The North Carolina Museum of Art, The Weatherspoon Museum of Art, The Renwick Gallery and The Museum of Art and Design in New York, to name a few. Trotman’s work was definitely cut out for him: 679 artists submitted over 1,500 pieces—the greatest number of submissions ever received— from which he selected 57 artists to be represented in the exhibition. The artists come from

Stephanie J. Woods (theHunters); Deborah Kruger (Conflagration)

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Ben Hamburger

APRIL all over the state and represent a diversity of backgrounds, experience and age—even one as young as 20. “We have so much talent and creativity in North Carolina,” says Woodard. “And Nat just recognized a whole batch of up-and-coming artists.” Woodard goes on to say that as Trotman was selecting pieces, he began to see a common thread among the submissions and in the artist’s statements and biographies. Each artist “is committed to speaking truth to the era in which we live. Many would say that these are difficult times, and it should come as little surprise that we find a sense of urgency among the works gathered here,” writes Trotman. “This is the kind of show people would go to a large city to see,” says Woodard, which she hopes will bring new attention from the art world and beyond to our state and the wealth of talent that resides here. The show runs through June 14 with special exhibit viewing opportunities (see sidebar) to engage with the pieces and discover as Woodard says, “moments of grace and beauty.” —Katherine Poole

M ac MACBETH Raleigh Memorial Auditorium


SPECIAL VIEWING OPPORTUNITIES First Friday April 3, May 1, June 5 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm Artist Talks Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. Sundays at 3:00 p.m. Family Days April 4, May 2, June 6 12:00-3:00 p.m. CAM Art House May 8 7:00-11:00 p.m. For museum hours, visit



APRIL 16-19, 2020




Judy and Steve Zelnak MUSIC PERFORMED BY:


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Theatre in the Park presents Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner April 17 through May 3. The play (adapted for stage by Todd Kreidler) is based on the popular 1967 film starring Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier. In the story, Joanna Drayton and John Prentice are a newly engaged interracial couple. When their families meet for the first time, all parties must reconcile their own deeply felt racial prejudices, and all before dessert. See website for show dates and times; from $19; 107 Pullen Road;

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Rev up the little deuce coupe, it’s time for the Goodguys 6th N.C. Nationals, a legendary classic car and hot rod show April 24-26 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Presented by the Goodguys Rod & Custom Association, this car-lover’s nirvana features over 2,000 custom cars, hot rods, muscle cars and trucks; an indoor car show; swap meet and Cars 4 Sale Corral; a Kids Zone with arts, crafts, games and prizes with plenty of live music, food and beverage. Highlights include the Goodguys AutoCross, a 16-car Rumble in Raleigh and the Goodguys Saturday Night Demolition Derby. Vroom, vroom. See website for all car show information; from $5; 1025 Blue Ridge Road;

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Strip down to your skivvies (not actually) for Note in the Pocket’s 7th annual Socks & Undie 5K Rundie April 25 at Dorothea Dix Park. Note in the Pocket is a nonprofit that provides clothing to impoverished and homeless schoolchildren in Wake County and the Rundie is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year. Register with your co-workers, family or friends (furry ones too) to walk, run or push a stroller. A Kids Fun Run ½K is also available. Once your rundie is dundie, sock hop over to the post-race party for music, food and activities for all. Fundie. 8:30 a.m.; from $30 (see website for link to register); 805 Whiteside Dr.;

En plein air: Raleigh Little Theatre’s Art in the Garden 2020 takes place April 25. The annual arts festival in partnership with NC State Crafts Center and Arts NC State features a jury-selected array of artists in all mediums. Admire the talent of local artisans, add a new piece or two to your own collection and enjoy food truck fare, beverages and live entertainment. Please note, due to construction on the grounds, this year the event will be located in the amphitheatre parking lot. The Raleigh Rose Garden will still be accessible for post-art show perambulating. Proceeds from the festival benefit Raleigh Little Theatre—art for art.



10 a.m. - 5 p.m.; free; 301 Pogue St.;





Paint the town: The Spring Daze Arts and Crafts Festival takes place April 25 at Fred G. Bond Metro Park in Cary. A favorite community event, Spring Daze features over 170 artists, a variety of live music and entertainment and tempting festival fare, all on the 310 acres of Cary’s shaded urban park space. This year’s featured artist is Isabella Johnson, a junior at Cary High School, who created the painting Springtide Wash in honor of the festival. Highlights include: Cary’s official Earth Day Celebration, a play zone for kids and a giant, collaborative paint-by-numbers canvas. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.; free; 801 High House Road, Cary;


Civil War buffs take note: the 155th Anniversary Surrender Commemoration will take place April 25-26 at Bennett Place State Historic Site in Durham. It was in the home of James and Nancy Bennett that General Joseph E. Johnston surrendered to General William T. Sherman, the last surrender of a major Confederate army, effectively ending the war. There will be lectures and performances over the weekend, including a re-enactment of the negotiations between Johnson and Sherman. Tickets are required for the re-enactment and can be purchased via While their home was the site of an important piece of history, the Bennett family themselves did not recover from the war; they moved from the home following James Bennett’s death in 1878. The Bennett farm fell into ruin until 1960, when local preservationists restored the site and gave it to the state to be made into a historic site. See website for event dates and times; from $5; 4409 Bennett Memorial Road, Durahm;

Courtesy Note in the Pocket (SOCKS); Suzanne McDermott (ART); Isabella Johnson (Springtide Wash); courtesy Bennett Place State Historic Site (SURRENDER)


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Happening NOW


The Green Chair Project hosts a fundraiser with a home furnishings twist


n April 23, local interior designers will support The Green Chair Project (TGCP) during its 8th annual Chairity fundraiser. TGCP’s cofounder and Executive Director Jackie Craig says this event, which includes dinner plus a silent and live auction, is the nonprofit’s biggest event of the year. “We rely on Chairity to generate the funds needed to sustain our project throughout the year,” says Craig. The centerpiece for the celebration is an auction of chairs reimagined by the designers. They volunteer their time and expertise to recover chairs that were in desperate need of TLC when selected. The results are unique and beautifully upholstered pieces made with fabric donated from A.Hoke Limited. No two chairs are ever alike—and only a couple are actually green, Craig says. “It’s a great opportunity for interior designers to give back to our community while using their creative


design skills.” While the night of the Chairity fundraiser is sold out, anyone can bid on the chairs. Bidding began March 26, and concludes the night of the event. The Green Chair Project was founded a decade ago and works to provide donated household furnishings to families recovering from homelessness. The proceeds from these chairs, along with the entire evening’s proceeds, will support families with the most basic of furnishings. “We will serve over 1,200 families this year who are living in poverty,” says Craig. “These furnishings can provide the opportunity for families and their children to lead healthy lifestyles and meet their needs for a safe and healthy environment.” —Catherine Currin For more information on the chairs or on The Green Chair Project’s mission, visit


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KRISTY WOODSON HARVEY Best-selling author Kristy Woodson Harvey will launch her latest novel, Feels Like Falling, at a book signing at Pigfish Lane Antiques April 28. The popular North Carolina writer and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill alum has been hailed as an up-and-coming voice in Southern fiction and her books can be found on many beach-read lists. Come meet Harvey, enjoy hors d'oeuvres and beverages and add a new book to your collection. 5 - 8 p.m.; free; 5425 Hillsborough St.;

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FESTIVAL CIRCUIT On a quest for a fest? April has you covered: from dogs to dragons, hip-hop to bluegrass, or barbecue to beer. SPCA OF WAKE COUNTY DOG WALK & WOLFSTOCK April 4, Cary DREAMVILLE FESTIVAL April 4 (see pg. 86 for more on Dreamville)

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In Charlotte, North Carolina, nothing says summertime quite like being outside. Whether it’s taking on the world’s first deep water solo climbing complex at the U.S. National Whitewater Center or making a toast while overlooking the city’s skyline at Nuvolé Rooftop TwentyTwo, there’s something for everyone to experience in the Queen City. Visitors and locals alike can take advantage of a leisurely walk or bike ride on more than 50 miles of developed greenways throughout the city, or discover over 110-acres of dazzling gardens, tropical plants and sparkling fountains at Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden. Baseball season is in full swing at BB&T Ballpark, which has been named one of the most beautiful ballparks in the nation. Root on the Charlotte Knights, drink a lemonade frosé and take part in the ballpark’s thrilling promotions – from post-game fireworks to bringing your dog to the game. Our region’s NASCAR roots run deep in the heart of Charlotte at Circle K Speed Street, a three-day festival that kicks off the Coca-Cola 600 with NASCAR driver appearances, family activities and daily concerts. Continue your need for speed with a visit to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Check out the museum’s newest exhibit, Dale Jr.: Glory Road Champions, a carefully curated collection celebrating the most iconic champions and championship moments of the sport. Dining outside is dreamy in the Queen City. Grab an intimate outdoor table for two at La Belle Helene, a stunning French brasserie; get your fill of seafood with a clear view of the city on the rooftop bar at The Waterman; or sit under a 150-year-old Holly tree at The Goodyear House while indulging in elevated comfort food. LA BELLE HELENE

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If there’s one place to be for a beautiful bloom-filled spring, it’s here. Five buzzy locals share how they know spring is back for good. —Melissa Howsam

The sign that tha hatt spring spri sp r ng g has really and truly arrived for me is when our native redbuds start blooming in i earnest. Every year I make a point i t off driving d i i westt on I-40 I to t experience the glorious gauntlet of redbuds that line the road just outside of Winston-Salem. I wonder how the other drivers manage to keep their eyes on the road?” -Mark Weathington director, JC Raulston Arboretum

We gardeners and farmers can feel the natural change in the weather. Moist air, birds romancing and those longer days all tell us: we got this.” -Helen Yoest Raleigh City Farm Advisory Council member; garden writer; founder of Bee Better Naturally 48 | WALTER

I know it's spring when bluebird mates prepare their nests; when daffodils, Lenten roses and japonica camellias burst into bloom; when the blossoms of star and tulip magnolia and a wide variety of fruit trees dazzle us with masses of color along their branches... and then blanket the Earth with their pastel petals, freed from their perches by spring breezes and rains.” -Vicki Corporon president, Raleigh Garden Club

We know We know w it's itt's spring sp prrin ing when when wh n the the he Earth E Ea artth begins begi be gin nss to to wake wake wa ke back bac ack up p from fro om its slumberr and a d the bees start sta tart ta rt buzzbuz uzzzing! It’s an incredibly i dibl special i l time tiime off year ear for for Bee Bee Downtown Do nto n because it means we once again have the privilege and honor of spending days outside with our bees, enjoying all the gifts Mother Nature has to offer.” -Leigh-Kathryn Bonner founder/CEO, Bee Downtown

I know it is finally spring when the magnificent cardinal perches outside my kitchen window to sing a beautiful song, the tiny crocus peeps out of the ground to say hello, the fussy daphne perfumes the whole yard... and the tax man cometh on April 15.” -Rufus Edmisten co-host, WPTF Weekend Gardener


lifting SPIRITS An exuberant survivor builds a new life at the YMCA by BILLY WARDEN photography by JUSTIN KASE CONDER


ony Jenkins’ charmed life fell apart on a lonely road in Alabama, scattered among the wreckage of a navy blue Mustang. He came to Raleigh to put the pieces back together. Today, says architect Frank Harmon, “there may be no more exuberant person in the entire city.” That gusto is on display at the Alexander YMCA on Hillsborough Street, where Jenkins, 46, works as a clean-up attendant. When he isn’t meticulously wiping down workout equipment, he's


offering piercing whoops of encouragement and raucous push-up contests. It’s not the life that the former star architecture student and international weightlifting champion once imagined. But, following a traumatic brain injury, it’s a fate he has embraced, emerging as a different kind of star. “In life, we all deal with things that don’t turn out well,” says Harmon of his one-time colleague. “We can either be victims or be survivors. Tony has chosen to be a survivor.” The details of Jenkins’ fall and unlikely

comeback are a mystery to many who know him. Y-goers pick up shards of the story from Jenkins himself, delivered in rapid-fire bursts as he pinballs between clean-up duties. “Don’t drink and drive,” he declares. “I could’ve died… Other people could’ve died… But I’m here now… Best YMCA in the world!” And then he’s gone, leaving onlookers swimming in questions. But on a recent Friday afternoon, Jenkins—his work week done—retreated to a conference room and eased into his story. Later, his father, Buck Jenkins, a

Regular ritual includes a morning push up contest with friend Ted Van Dyk.

former drill sergeant, filled in the gaps. In high school, Tony Jenkins started tagging along with his dad to the gym at Fort Benning, Georgia, hoping to pack on muscle for the football team. A weightlifting coach took note of Jenkins’ strength and low center of gravity (he stands five feet even) and recruited him. Jenkins, an Eagle Scout at 13, had always taken to challenges. Soon, the powerlifter was competing regionally, then nationally, then internationally, earning trophies and setting records. Meanwhile, his skill as an artist earned him a scholarship to a community college. A year later, in 1996, he vaulted to Auburn University to study architecture. But when a romance unraveled his junior year, so did Jenkins. “I was doing too much,” he says. “The weightlifting, school, a job, girls…” On an April evening in 1998, following a failed reconciliation and a few drinks, Jenkins jumped into his car and stomped the gas pedal. At a sharp curve, he lost control. “The car flipped, sideways, end over end, many times,” Jenkins’ father recounts, his gruff voice low. “I don’t know how he survived. The wreckage looked like an airplane crash.” A month later, Jenkins emerged from a coma into a harsh new reality.

Miraculously, he had no broken bones. But the tremendous swelling of his bruised brain would permanently alter its function. Gradually, he remembered who he was. His father, by then based at Fort Bragg, brought his son to North Carolina to rehab in 1999. From talking to walking, he re-learned the basics. “The doctors said suicide was a big threat,” the elder Jenkins remembers. “It can be extremely depressing for people when they’re young and have everything laid out in front of them, and then it’s gone.” To be sure, Tony Jenkins had lost much. His cognitive function permanently slowed. Physical movements that once happened in a flash would forever more require focused determination. His short-term memory flickered like a faulty light bulb, and still does. Sketches that once flowed from his hand in minutes now take hours. But for all this, Jenkins’ can-do determination remained intact. Rather than zeroing in on athletic trophies, he was determined to live independently. As soon as he was able, he hopped on city buses, eager to get out on his own and explore. Once, he stayed on a bus until it parked at the depot for the night. Police had to drive him home. A Wake County social worker, acting

on a tip from a professor at Auburn, introduced Jenkins to Harmon, who welcomed him into his eponymous firm in 2000 as an intern. “His work at Auburn was remarkably good; he must’ve been the best in his class,” says the architect. “He was doing drawings for us, adding color to drawings. He was careful and precise. Everyone in the office loved him. But there was a limit to what he could do.” Recognizing those limits, Jenkins opted to return to an environment he knew well: the gym. He joined the Y staff in the early 2000s. “This is the best place I’ve been in my life,” he says, then pauses, bites his lower lip and shifts gears. “I used to think I’d be married, I’d be designing homes. But I’m happy. I got a second chance.” He also eventually got his driver’s license and moved into a handsome Cary condo he helped build with Habitat for Humanity. Monday through Friday, notebook in hand to help him remember names and tasks, he keeps the Y equipment in ship shape and the members on their toes. Architect and urban planning pundit Ted Van Dyk caps each workout by facing off with Jenkins in a duel of push ups. Jenkins is always the winner… but then, in a different way, so is Van Dyk. “Here’s a guy who’s had this terrible injury, almost died, who comes in every day like this is the most important place in the world,” Van Dyk smiles. “If he can be so positive about it, what’s holding me back?” APRIL 2020 | 51

GIFT of NATURE A new preserve in the Triangle with woodlands, trails and more by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE


n April 25, the Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve will open. This 405-acre property was once a portion of a large cotton plantation, and will soon be the Triangle Land Conservancy’s (TLC) largest nature preserve in Wake County. “Williamson Preserve provides all four benefits of conservation that TLC strives to address in all our work,” says Executive Director Sandy Sweitzer. “It safeguards water that flows into the Neuse River, offers trails that give people a chance to connect with nature, provides natural habitats through forests, and 52 | WALTER

supports local farms and food security.” About 12 miles from downtown Raleigh, it will encompass pasture land, fields, streams, ponds, woodlands and historic buildings. “When it opens, we’ll have five miles of trails, with another eight miles that will open in the next few years,” says Christine Wilson, Director of Advancement for TLC. Some of these miles will be on the Neuse Riverwalk property, through a partnership with the Town of Clayton, and the majority of the system will be for shared use by walkers and mountain bikers. In addition to access by car, the Williamson Preserve can be reached by the

Neuse River Greenway and Mountainsto-Sea Trail, connecting it to more that 2,500 acres of conservation lands and 30 miles of greenway. It’s also contiguous to the Johnston County River Walk. “The Marks Creek Rural Land Initiative has been a conservation priority for more than 25 years,” says Wilson. The preserve will also include a portion dedicated to regenerative agriculture. “Farmland is disappearing fast in the Triangle, so we wanted to honor the community’s farming tradition, and also use and demonstrate sustainable farming methods,” says Sweitzer. “One day people will be able to purchase local

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produce after a bike ride or walk.” The preserve is named for previous landowners Bailey and Sarah Williamson, whose family owned this land for more than two centuries. “There was no other place where Dad was at peace with the world than at the farm, riding on a tractor cutting pasture, fixing fences or checking on his cattle,” says one of their daughters, Sally Greaser. “Our parents loved the land, and they passed that sentiment down to the next generation,” says their other daughter, Betty Brandt Williamson. “This is about protecting the land forever.” The women are honoring a wish of their late parents: In the early 2000s, Bailey and Sarah Williamson initiated talks with Triangle Land Conservancy to donate a portion of the land for conservation; unfortunately, both passed before the project was completed. In 2013, their daughters sold the land to TLC at a steep discount; it was purchased using funding from the Wake County Board of Commissioners, the Clean Water Management Trust Fund, individuals who donated to TLC’s Our Water, Our Land campaign, Johnston County and the Environmental Enhancement Grant Program. The land has a complex history, including the role of slavery in its early

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years and changes in farm labor after emancipation. To honor that history, TLC is working with University of North Carolina’s Community Histories Workshop to research and catalog materials related to the area and develop interpretive displays and events. Much of this research will be on display at the Grand Opening, a day-long event with tours, walks, bike rides, food trucks and beer. “It will be a time of celebration for our family and a fitting tribute to my parents,” says Greaser. The preserve will be open dawn to dusk most days, with a second phase of trails being built on the adjacent River Walk property managed by the Town of Clayton. “As Wake County experiences explosive growth, it’s important to preserve open space for wildlife, plants and trees to thrive,” says Williamson. “We hope that Williamson Preserve becomes an important place for the community, providing recreation and educational opportunities, a diverse habitat for hundreds of species of plants and wildlife, and a hub of regenerative agriculture the helps feed the community and will serve as a model for other farmers,” says Sweitzer. “The Grand Opening is a big milestone, but there’s still so much more to come!”



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The Old Well, photo courtesy of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

From modern cocktails to campus traditions, there’s no one way to experience Chapel Hill, Hillsborough, and Carrboro. Find what you love, or discover something new. Whatever you do here, just do you.


KIND of a BIG DILL The North Carolina Pickle Festival celebrates the savory cucumber with food, games and more by NOOR AZEEM photography by MADELINE GRAY


he town of Mount Olive takes few things more seriously than pickles—they celebrate New Year’s Eve, for example, with a Pickle Drop at the University of Mount Olive (for this, a four-foot long pickle is lowered into a vat). The biggest pickle party of all, though, is The North Carolina Pickle Festival, held every April. It began 34 years ago to honor the role


agriculture played in the community, particularly the storied history of the Mt. Olive Pickle Company. This year, the main festival takes place April 25. Guests can park for free at Kornegay Arena and take a free shuttle to the festival, which takes up the entire downtown area of Mount Olive. While a few prefestival activities are scheduled for April 24, it’s Saturday that’s the bigger dill. A first-time guest might want to

start their visit with the Pickle Trail, which highlights “all things pickle,” according to co-chairperson Julie Beck. This is where one can find each year’s particular variety of pickle food. 2020’s newest item will be a pickle doughnut—a challenge put forth by Beck and her co-chair Lynn Williams, accepted by Mickey’s Pastry in Goldsboro. Last year’s new creation was Pickletown Lager, a pickle beer, by

Opposite page: Staff hand out samples. This page: Pickle prize winners and... a pickle!

R&R Brewery in Mount Olive. (Don’t worry, the lager will be back in 2020 so, as Beck says, “you can get pickled on pickles.”) Other pickle-centric food includes deep-fried pickles, pickle cotton candy, pickle popcorn, pickle ice cream, pickle snow cones and pickle pizza. And Mt. Olive Pickle Company will be giving out free actual pickles of all flavors all day long. Beck has been co-chairing this event for 24 years, so she has it down to a science. When the festival began, she says, they had about 8,000 attendees—twice the size of Mount Olive’s day-to-day population. This year, it’s up to 40,000. She works with Williams and a committee of about 25 people that starts planning for the next year about two weeks after the festival ends. Step one is to choose a theme and send the idea to the graphic design company. Often, this comes from Beck’s own life experience—she’s been to 89 countries. In the past, they’ve done a safari theme, an outback theme and even a rodeo theme. Stay tuned for an extra-special festival this year: it’s the 150th anniversary of the founding

of the town of Mount Olive. Other activities highlighted on the pickle trail include the 75-mile Tour de Pickle, a pickle-eating contest (last year’s winner ate 11 dill pickles in five minutes!), a scavenger hunt for a jar of Mt. Olive pickles hidden in town and the Pickle Packing Production Challenge, in which contestants stuff cucumbers into jars as fast as possible. That one’s to get a feel for what the pickling process is over at Mt. Olive Pickle Company, where they do everything by hand. Beck’s personal favorite activity is the pickle train, with its barrels painted like pickles. “Honestly, I think my favorite thing is seeing the reaction of the people riding the pickle train. They just love it,” says Beck. “It’s so great to see a grandparent and a child sitting in a little pickle barrel together, or two siblings. They have

the best time.” You can even guess what time the train will pass through the festival for a chance at a pickle prize pack. In terms of less pickle-themed entertainment, there are three music sections: bands, praise and gospel music, and dance groups. Roaming magicians, clowns and jugglers make their rounds through the festival, as well as a one-man band many might recognize from the state fair. In addition to a petting zoo, there are pony rides, camel rides and, from Fresh Start Rescue, snakes, lizards and geckos. “People love to put one of those giant snakes around their neck and get a picture taken,” says Beck. For the first year they’ll be having a butterfly garden, where guests can take photos with the butterflies and foliage. The event also features an artisan village with painters and sculptors. This year, an artist will

The food includes deep-fried pickles, pickle cotton candy, pickle popcorn, pickle ice cream, pickle snow cones and pickle pizza.

APRIL 2020 | 57


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spend about three hours working on a painting of the festival. From helicopter rides to mascot races (featuring the delightful Ollie Q. Cumber, Mt. Olive Pickle Company’s own mascot) to fruit carvers, the pleasures of the festival are as numerous as they are unique, which explains why Beck gets calls from folks as far as Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Arkansas asking how best to get there. Beck explained her vision of a fun, free, family event that spoke to the interests of everyone, and it’s been snowballing from there. She urges people to come out, saying, “They will have a dillightful time and they will relish all the experiences they have here.”

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SUAVE SOUNDS Tumbao frontman Diego Avilez uses his music to build community by KATIE PATE photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN

Diego Avilez at Hopper Piano + Organ Co..


aleigh’s music scene has changed over the past decade: from bluegrass to indie to hip hop and more, our local venues are slowly incorporating more variety and inclusivity. And one of the biggest supporters of the evolving musical climate is Diego Avilez, a multi-instrumentalist, singer and community organizer who’s also the frontman for Latin fusion group Tumbao. Avilez works as a disability law case manager by day; but by night, he teaches music from his home studio, is a member of two bands, maintains a career as a solo artist and organizes events in the Triangle. He frequents Triangle mainstays like The Pour House, Lincoln Theater and Shakori Hills as a soloist


and with various projects and bands. Last year, Avilez hosted a benefit for Hands On Peru, an organization that supports medically underserved communities. Held at Transfer Co. Food Hall, attendees raised over $10,000 in just five hours. But as he was pulling it together the year before, he struggled to find a Latin music group available to perform at the event. The solution? Avilez and six other musicians came together to fill the gap. It was such a hit that the group formally organized, calling themselves the Latin All Star Band. Soon after, the ensemble rebranded as Tumbao, after a traditional Afro-Cuban rhythm. It is now one of Raleigh’s fastest up-and-coming musical acts.

NORTH CAROLINA TO THE WORLD A R O U N D T H E G LO B E IN FIVE EXHIBITIONS THIS SPRING one ticket pairs paintings by North Carolina artists with the beauty of Senegalese jewelry, site-specific installations by New York–based Leonardo Drew, and videos and photography by Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. Dates and ticket packages at

Fabrice Monteiro, Signare #1 (detail), 2011, inkjet print on baryta paper, 47¼ × 31½ in., Courtesy Magnin-A, © 2011 Fabrice Monteiro Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting is organized by guest curator Ashlynn Browning in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Art. Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women is organized by Kevin D. Dumouchelle of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. It is curated by Amanda Maples of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Leonardo Drew: Making Chaos Legible is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Hartfield Foundation and Libby and Lee Buck. All exhibitions are made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for these exhibitions is made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/ The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.


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Avilez sings and plays piano, accompanied by musicians on the congas, trumpet, drums, bass, saxophone and guitar. Tumbao’s sound delves deeply into Latin fusion, “We pay homage to various styles of Latin music of the Americas and the Caribbean and also takes influences from our own backgrounds,” says Avilez. The band’s style varies from song to song, floating between salsa, bossa nova, funk and Afro-Cuban beats. They released a single in January, expect their first EP this spring and have an impressive slate of upcoming shows. The group is quickly entering the canon of Raleigh’s most beloved bands. Avilez spent his early childhood in Lima, Peru where his passion for music and penchant for civil service began. In 2000, his family immigrated as refugees to New York City. In adolescence, Avilez learned about Latin music at church, in Manhattan’s night life and even through his Jamaican barber, who taught him about reggae. “I was just pumping, pumping, pumping, getting all of this music and these styles into me,” he says. “I decided to live a life surrounded by music.” While Avilez was in high school, his family relocated to North Carolina, where he found his place in the community. But it was not always easy for Avilez to bring exposure and respect to Latin music. At times, he and fellow musicians faced (and still do face) difficulty in educating local audiences and those booking shows about the value of their work. “As open as the city is, and as welcoming as the scene is, there’s still so much work to be done,” he says. “And the people who will tell you that are mostly people of color.” Avilez aims to educate people through music and to bring Latin culture into Raleigh’s music scene, which has largely been lacking until recently. Avilez says he has learned the music he plays is “tied directly with inclusivity” and hopes to bring together people of all ages and backgrounds at the events where he performs and hosts. “Latin music is music that’s for everybody,” he says. “It’s music that builds community.”

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FOOD FIGHT Four Wake County organizations are battling hunger from the ground up by RACHEL TAYLOR


ot knowing where the next meal will come from is an all too common issue for residents across the Triangle. Food insecurity—a lack of a consistent, reliable source of affordable and nutritious food—affects about 16 percent of Raleigh’s population and one in five children across the state. The Blue Cross Blue Shield Thrive Fes-


Food insecurity affects about 16 percent of Raleigh’s population and one in five children across the state.

tival (May 7-8) brings together local chefs for a culinary experience that educates North Carolinians on this issue and combats it, too. Each year, proceeds from the Thrive festival are donated to various organizations in the Triangle that fight food insecurity, and this year the beneficiaries are TABLE, Farmer Foodshare and Urban Ministries of Wake County and Durham. Here’s why they were chosen.

Courtesy Farmer Foodshare (KIDS, SPOON); courtesy TABLE (SKEWERS)


Opposite page: Students sample N.C. sweet potatoes in their school cafeteria through Farmer Foodshare. This page: Making snacks with TABLE; school lunches made from local produce through Farmer Foodshare.

URBAN MINISTRIES OF WAKE COUNTY: OFFERING CHOICE AND GUIDANCE Running the county’s largest client choice food pantry means it’s vital to have a reliable supply of fresh food. Half of the pantry stock at Urban Ministries of Wake County is comprised of fresh produce, frozen meat and other fresh food their clients might not be able to get from other programs, says Carrie Pitts-Densmore, their Media Communications Specialist. “Our clients can shop for their own food. They are not handed boxes of food,” she says. “They are allowed to come in and shop just like a regular grocery store.” Last year, the nonprofit was able to serve 29,000 of the estimated 131,000 people who are food insecure in Wake County. The donation from Thrive will greatly impact how many more people they can help in the future, Pitts-Densmore says. Putting healthy, fresh foods into a client’s hands extends beyond the pantry. At the nonprofit’s clinic, doctors are helping the uninsured by offering “food prescriptions” that can improve the health of people with chronic illnesses, like diabetes and heart disease.

The “prescriptions” can be filled at the food pantry and from the organization’s garden, which produced 8,000 pounds of produce last year. TABLE: GROWING HEALTHY HABITS Children tend to be the most vulnerable when it comes to food insecurity. Around 6,000 kids qualify for the free and reduced lunch program in Orange County alone. But what happens when the kids go home? TABLE’s mission is to ensure that children have access to healthy food for every meal. The nonprofit has a two-part solution to the issue. Its weekend meal backpack program delivers over 700 bags, each containing five to six meals and snacks, to 30 different sites weekly. Its nutrition education program, Snack Chef, brings food education to after-school programs in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Children are introduced to healthy snacks, like avocado toast, and can bring the recipe and ingredients home to share with family and friends. “Our goal with both of our programs is to expose children to healthy food,” says Suzanne Tormollen, Director of Community Relations at TABLE. “It’s to

encourage them to try new food—especially local, fresh foods—and in doing so help them learn to make better choices and develop healthier eating habits that will last them the rest of their life.” With the Thrive donation, Tormollen estimates TABLE will be able to provide an additional 10,000 meals and 2,000 backpacks to the community. “That’s a huge, huge impact going directly back into our community,” she says. URBAN MINISTRIES OF DURHAM: STRETCHING FOOD BUDGETS The community café at the Urban Ministries of Durham is open to anyone who is hungry, Director of Development Joe Daly says. That means a hot, free meal three times a day, seven days a week. In addition to hot meals, it hands out bagged meals Monday through Friday to ensure folks can be productive with their day and don’t need to search for another meal. Additionally, the nonprofit’s shelter—the largest public shelter for single adults in Durham—houses up to 750 people in a typical year. “Our shelter residents will dine in the café, but we also have folks from the community who APRIL 2020 | 65






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are just trying to stretch their budget. The community café makes a big difference for them,” Daly says. Choosing between rent and their next meal is what brings people into the café and food pantry. This year they’ll give out 147,000 pounds of food through the pantry. “We really do see the community café and food pantry as a way to keep people from needing to come into the shelter,” he says. “It can really be a difference maker.” FARMER FOODSHARE: CONNECTING THE DOTS Over the past decade, Farmer Foodshare worked to support small-scale and disadvantaged farmers by connecting them with markets to sell their produce, building a state-wide network of farmers and businesses. Now, the organization is using that network to bring local produce to community organizations. That includes nonprofits—like TABLE—school districts, universities, businesses and restaurants. “Local growers were coming to share what they’ve grown here in North Carolina and yet, just down the road, often there were food pantries that had never served local food,” the organization’s Director of Development and Communication Kate Rugani says. “It seemed like such a mismatch… wouldn’t it be even better if there were opportunities to bring the two together?” The goal is to link local farmers and their surrounding community for the betterment of all. “We’ve learned time and time again through our work with community organizations how important it is for people to have a voice in what they’re eating and where their food comes from,” Rugani says. “The food exists, and it exists in spades here in North Carolina—what we can really do is help to connect those dots. It’s exciting work.”

WALTER EVENTS es ork Tim Y w e N The r of g Autho n i l l e s t s Be

e h t r e d n U un S n a c us T


A Taste of Italy with Frances Mayes Join WALTER for a bella evening to celebrate the debut of Frances Mayes’ latest works, Always Italy and See you in the Piazza. Guests will enjoy the ultimate insider’s tour of Italy with a family-style dinner inspired by some of Mayes’ favorite dishes. The exclusive menu will be prepared by Samad Hachby and his team of talented chefs at Mulino Italian Kitchen.





WANT NOT Environmental specialist Mel Gilles on her eco-conscious lifestyle by ANDREA RICE photography by JILLIAN CLARK


he term “zero-waste” can sound extreme—but Mel Gilles, the Recycling Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Division of Environmental Assistance and Customer Service (DEACS) at the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, argues that it doesn’t have to be such a feat. We spoke about her career in recycling and how she reduces her impact. WHEN DID YOU FIRST GET INTERESTED IN THE ENVIRONMENT? I grew up all over and landed in Greensboro. When I was about nine years old, I was in a shopping mall and had a panic attack seeing all the women going through the racks. I didn’t understand where all that clothing went if it wasn’t bought,


and I was already concerned about the amount of stuff we were making in the world. I had to leave. I started thrift store shopping then, before zero-waste was even a thing. HOW DID YOU TURN THAT EPIPHANY INTO A CAREER? I helped start a recycling program at my high school, Grimsley High, in 1986—curbside recycling began in ‘87—mostly because I needed an act of teenage rebellion and combat boots just weren’t cutting it. My friends and I brought a blue recycling bin to school and started collecting white office paper. From there, I worked at nonprofits, running organizations that had a flow of goods, like food programs and shelters, and a big thrift store in Moab, Utah. These places were always receiving donations, some of which had nowhere to go. I spent about 15

years trying to get stuff to people who needed it, while also figuring out how to get rid of stuff people didn’t need without throwing it away. By 2012, only 20 percent of clothing could be resold because of fast fashion; cheaply-made clothing would only last one season. We were receiving so much stuff that I didn’t know what to do with it, so I called Eco-Cycle, one of the oldest recycling nonprofits in the country. Next thing I knew, I was moving to Boulder, Colorado to work with them, and was in charge of corporate outreach to help large companies like Whole Foods and Google divert their waste streams. WHAT DO YOU DO FOR THE DEACS? My job is to educate folks about recycling. We offer technical assistance to local government programs, so everything from grants to advising them on how to get their programs more established and improved. We offer enforcement technique strategies, like giving residents real-time feedback with a little tag that says what they put in the bin that was incorrect. WHAT WAS THE RECYCLE RIGHT NC CAMPAIGN THAT YOU HELPED LAUNCH LAST YEAR? We put together a compendium of social media posts, press releases, fact sheets and tool kits for local governments to get the message out about how to recycle the right way to help get contamination down. A statewide recycling campaign that was that extensive had not been done before. The campaign has since been picked up by other states in the Southeast. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A ZERO-WASTE PIONEER? I wouldn’t say so—I think of myself as pragmatic. To me it just made sense: Why would I need to keep getting a bigger job just to pay for more consumption? If we are producing that much waste, then something’s wrong, because there are a lot of people who don’t even have enough of the basics. HOW DO YOU CUT BACK ON YOUR OWN WASTE? Most of the stuff I do is easy: Repair what you can and keep an item’s shelf life going. Don’t keep trading in your phone. I’ve shopped at consignment and thrift stores for decades and have zero guilt about the money I spend—and it makes my fashion sense a lot more interesting! I just do the best I can. While I try not to buy anything in plastic, I do sometimes end up with a to-go cup or a single-use water bottle. WHAT DOES REDUCTION MEAN TO YOU? I don’t want someone standing at a bin trying to figure out where the packaging goes after they’ve consumed the product—I want them thinking about the packaging before they buy the product. Make the best choice you can given your family’s needs and your budget, and try to make the better choice one out of every two times. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and space.

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Poppin’ BOTTLES A different kind of watering hole fosters a bar scene that’s all about community by CATHERINE CURRIN photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN


ure, you could go to a wine bar, a cocktail bar, a dive bar or a straight-up “bar,” but Raleigh boasts an abundance of another kind of drinking establishment: the bottle shop. This hybrid of market and watering hole, a place to shop for craft beer and drink it at the same time, has become a favorite neighborhood gathering spot. Much like a brewery, a bottle shop is typically kid-friendly and dog-friendly, frequently bring-your-ownfood-friendly and an opportunity for


beer aficionados to taste newly released and limited-edition local brews. Johnny Belflower was an early pioneer of the trend when he opened his shop, Tasty Beverage, eight years ago in the Warehouse District’s Raleigh Depot. “It’s an interesting phenomenon,” Belflower says, “every shop has their regulars and they all have such a different vibe.” Tasty Beverage has a rotating draft list, with funky flavors like a Cherry Pineapple Sour or a Vanilla Hazelnut Stout, and Belflower says he can flex his curios-

ity and creativity with beer selection. Belflower credits a lot of the growth of bottle shops in the Triangle over the past decade to the 2005 Pop the Cap NC initiative to increase the ABV limit on beer in North Carolina. Despite a growing number of bottle shop options in this area, Belflower says there isn’t really a sense of competition‚ it’s more of a celebration of the craft beer scene across Raleigh and all of North Carolina. Matt Allen, owner of Pelagic Beer & Wine in Oakwood, feels

7 Local Bottle Shops TASTY BEVERAGE One of the OG Raleigh bottle shops, Tasty Beverage has a cult following and is home to special editions and limited releases from across the state. 321 W Davie Street;

Opposite page: Racks at Tasty Beverage. This page, clockwise from top left: On tap at Pelagic; bartender Nathan Egan at Tasty; Amanda and Matt Allen.

the same way. “We took it as a different route to the industry. We like supporting all the other craft breweries around Raleigh,” he says. “I have a science background and I’ve always been passionate about the environment. This bottle shop thing was an artistic outlet for me,” says Allen, who owns the shop with his wife Amanda (while keeping up his science-y day job). Dozens of bottle shops are scattered across our city, and Belflower says it’s worth exploring all of them, as each fills its own niche. “I’ve always been fascinated at how different one beer store or bar can be from another. Like, you can’t get a delicious sandwich at Tasty, but you can at State of Beer,” says Belflower. To wit: Mordecai Beverage Co. offers salsa dancing, North Street Beer Station has open mic nights and chess meetups, Green Monkey offers drag shows and bingo, Crafty Beer & Wine offers sports watch parties and Sunday hymn singalongs… each caters to its clientele with its mix of products and events. Bottle shops offer something for everyone, whether you’re a beer connoisseur or just looking to try something new. Says Belflower: “Considering we're so similar from a conceptual standpoint, everybody really has their own unique thing going on.”

PELAGIC Tucked on Pace Street in Oakwood, count on Pelagic for an eco-friendly approach to brews—compostable cups, local stream cleanups and lots of beer brewed near the coast. 300 Pace Street; STATE OF BEER A branch of the Trophy empire, SOB serves cravable sandwiches in their Hillsborough Street space, plus a natural wine selection soon to expand into Runologie’s former space. 401 Hillsborough Street; THE GREEN MONKEY A Hillsborough Street establishment, The Green Monkey is part bottle shop, part gift shop and part social gathering space. Head over for trivia, a drag show or even a quick gift. 1217 Hillsborough Street; CRAFTY BEER WINE & SPIRITS A Five Points joint, Crafty also has an extensive wine selection and an outdoor patio. 2005 Fairview Road; NORTH STREET BEER STATION Located steps off Glenwood South, North Street Beer Station hosts open mic nights, specialty flights and wine and spirits for the gluten-free crowd. 521 West North Street; MORDECAI BEVERAGE CO. In the new-and-improved Gateway Plaza, Mordecai joins the scene with events like a comedy night and a record swap each week. 2425 Crabtree Boulevard;

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NOTED Larry Wheeler shares a vision of a downtown Raleigh arts school with community impact

Courtesy JP Reuer

Thinking Small


P Reuer, a local art and design educator and LEED-accredited architect, has a Raleigh vision that is both radical and visionary, yet of this moment. He is in the throes of creating Small School, a free, two-year graduate program based in cultural entrepreneurship which will grant a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in socially-engaged art. Here’s the idea: Each year, Small


School will accept 15 students from diverse backgrounds, with a full enrollment of 30 at any given time. In return for free tuition, the students will work two days per week in local creative industries, offering their expertise and that of their faculty to produce community-based projects and events. These will be in partnership with civic organizations, governments, other nonprofits and, to be sure, the arts. The goal is to

improve neighborhoods, parks, public spaces and the city’s cultural infrastructure—not to mention civic spirit. In addition to hands-on action, there will be community forums on complex issues with international art and design leaders, lectures and performances. Creative ferment will abound. This should be the propitious moment for this endeavor as Raleigh strives to become a metropolitan leader on the world stage. What an opportunity Small School presents to cultivate and educate new leaders of the creative class in our midst, using the real city as its laboratory. Small School contends that big problems—and developing urban problems—need not be solely owned by governments and developers. Creative citizens can be empowered to make change through their expertise, hard work and new relationships; a powerful force for progress. Byproducts such as energetic community spirit, pride, long-term partnerships and commitment to a better quality of life for all only add value to the proposition. are underway for the site and ongoing Raleigh stands to benefit from Small discussions with investors and philSchool in a myriad of anthropic foundations interactive ways: More are focused on raising More than than 180 proposed peressential operating funds, 180 proposed formances and lectures which are virtually twoopen to the public will performances and thirds lower than compaenergize spaces adjagraduate programs. lectures open to rable cent to Moore Square in This innovative venture the public will downtown Raleigh, the seems to speak to the intended location for the energize spaces ambition and dynamism school. Other noteworthy of contemporary Raleigh. adjacent to Moore The notions of commuprogram plans include a national symposium on Square in down- nity action partnerships, New Genre Public Art for all, a diverse town Raleigh, the access and dozens of creative student body drawn from focus sessions for local intended location around the world and a businesses and artists. continuing conversation for the school. And then consider the about creative ideas are potential impact of the 15 all central to progressive MFA theses and design-build projects community development. The big paybenefiting specific local neighborhoods. off, of course, is the creation of actual So how soon? Reuer hopes to be projects drawn from this new thinking. ready to go by the fall of 2021, after Should this come to fruition—and receiving a license from the University I hope it will, and soon—Raleigh is of North Carolina system and appropribound to become better and more dyate accrediting agencies. Negotiations namic because of it. APRIL 2020 | 73

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Restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias shares an Easter supper that’s all about warmth, romance and abundance

t as e f nses se by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photography by EAMON QUEENEY


for the

Giorgios Bakatsias in the dining area of his home in Bahama, North Carolina.


ining with Giorgios Bakatsias is about more than just eating—it’s a feast for the senses. It starts with the lamb. “We cook it with love and romance,” says Bakatsias. “The aroma awakens your spirit and ignites your senses.” Add the visual of copious vegetables— tomatoes that range from golden yellow to a rich crimson, deeply-hued dandelion and radish greens freckled with pale hits of scallion, neon-green romesco and the palest yellow asparagus—displayed in a mix of handmade pottery and stainless-steel kitchen basics. The sound of Greek music in the background, just loud enough to be energizing, quiet enough so no one raises a voice, trickles over the sear of vegetables in a skillet and bubble of sauce on the stove.


The feel of a still-sizzling kefi between your fingers as you swipe it through tzatziki and crunch through the outside crust into the juicy meat within. And finally, the taste: Layered herbs and sauces, simple ingredients combined and rendered to their finest, each complementing the other in a meal that’s both rich and light. Bakatsias has been building these experiences for over four decades. His stable of restaurants includes Bin 54 and KIPOS in Chapel Hill, Parizade and Vin Rouge in Durham, the recently-opened Rosewater in Raleigh, and others in the Triangle and beyond. Bakatsias grew up in Karitsa, a small village in Greece. “In the village, everything came from the land,” he says. “There were no grocery stores, everything had to be gathered and harvested and loved and appreciated through the seasons.” And yet, Bakatsias says, they

THE PREP Opposite page: Bakatsias at work. This page, clockwise from top left: Chopping scallions; Spanakopita; greens get more olive oil; the lamb.

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Slow-Cooked Leg of Lamb Serves 6-8 people 1 bone-in 3.5-4 pound leg of lamb 2 cups dry red wine Head of garlic Salt and pepper generously 2 sprigs chopped rosemary 2 sprigs of thyme ½ cup of olive oil Massage leg of lamb with olive oil, salt and pepper. Incorporate spices and herbs into marinade of red wine and smashed garlic. Bathe and marinate the lamb in the mixture overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In roasting pan, add ½ cup of water and marinated leg of lamb with all remaining marinade mixture and cover completely. Place covered roast in oven, cooking for 4 hours. Note: If the leg of lamb is bigger, add 30 minutes to the cooking time.

Horiatiki Serves 4 people 2 large tomatoes, quartered 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced 1 red onion, thinly sliced

were “blessed with the greatest food and ingredients, and my mother was the most spectacular cook,” who did all the farming, as well. “She was a powerful woman.” His father—“a true pioneer, an amazing human being”—lived in the United States, working, slowly earning enough to bring his family over, one by one. “I’m blessed with amazing parents and ancestors,” he says. Bakatsias moved from Greece to Burlington when he was 12, where he had passion for soccer, math, running, film… and work. “It was a great joy to work and collect money,” he says. He earned enough to send himself on his first trip to Paris when he was 16. He opened his first restaurant in Durham

when he was just 21. “I was attracted to the international influence that came from the universities in this area,” Bakatsias says. “Back then the food scene was basically non-existent, there was barbecue and there was Angus Barn.” His first restaurant, BC (for Bakatsias Cuisine) was a classical highend restaurant in the European style—Steak Diane, Chateaubriand, duck carved tableside. “It was a time where you could deliver and expect a higher level of dining,” he says. “And imagine me, this village boy, to have this desire to create this opulence.” After 10 years, Bakatsias decided to branch out, trying a variety of different restaurants over the decades, with

“I try to find what the community longs for, to bring them something they don’t know they need but are delighted to have.”

1 cup Kalamata olives 4 ounces feta cheese Pinch of mountain oregano Chopped fresh parsley ¼ cup olive oil ½ lemon, juiced Salt and pepper Cut tomatoes into wedges. Season cucumbers with salt and pepper to taste. Combine all vegetables and olives in mixing bowl, coating evenly in olive oil and lemon juice. Add two thick slices of feta and sprinkle with oregano and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil. Enjoy.

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Spanakopita Serves 8 ½ cup olive oil 1 pound ready-made phyllo, size 4 thickness 2 ½ pounds spinach, stalks removed, chopped 1 cup finely chopped scallions ½ cup finely chopped fresh dill ½ cup finely chopped fresh Italian parsley 1 pound feta 3-4 eggs lightly beaten 4 tablespoons clarified butter Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and brush a 14-inch baking pan with oil. Sprinkle the spinach with a little salt and rub with your fingers. Rinse, drain and squeeze excess water. Combine the spinach, scallions, dill, parsley, cheese and eggs in a bowl and season with pepper. Lay a quarter of the phyllo sheets in the prepared pan, one on top of the other, brushing each with butter. Spread 1/3 of the spinach filling evenly on top and cover with the another ¼ of the phyllo sheets. Repeat for 3 layers. Put remaining ¼ of phyllo sheets on top. Roll up the overhanging phyllo neatly around the pan. Score into 12 serving pieces, and brush the top with oil. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown. Serve warm or room temperature.

Briam Serves 4-6 people 2 small Yukon gold potatoes, thinly sliced 3 small zucchini, thinly sliced 2 red onions, thinly sliced 3-4 tomatoes, thinly sliced 3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped 1 cup olive oil Salt and pepper 1 tablespoon fine oregano 1 tablespoon dill (optional) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a mixing bowl, toss all thinly sliced vegetables in olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. In a casserole dish, layer the seasoned vegetables, in order from bottom to top: tomatoes, potatoes, onions, zucchini. Spread all remaining olive oil mixture in mixing bowl evenly on top of layered casserole. Bake for 40 minutes, covered for the first 20 minutes, then uncovered for the remaining time, until golden brown.


continued success. “Quality food but more fun, without all the formality,” he says. “I try to find what the community longs for, to bring them something they don’t know they need but are delighted to have.” Each of his restaurants has the Giorgios Bakatsias touch, but some, like KIPOS (where his sister Olga Bakatsias serves as head chef ) and his newest restaurant, Rosewater, are closer to how he dines day-to-day. “To be able to share what you believe in is a beautiful thing.” At home, “I could each spinach and rustic bread all day long,” says Bakatsias. “I’ll cook a plate of vegetables from the garden, cabbage or arugula, and my body feels this connection to the vibrations of the vegetables.” He hosts 75 chickens and seven rarely-seen cats on his wooded, lakeside estate in Bahama. Here, places to dine abound: an ultra-long kitchen island, where guests can taste the creations as he makes them; a table set for 10; an

expansive bar below the pool house; a secret wine cellar; a breakfast nook stacked with books. Bakatsias eats seasonally, lots of stews and soups, “dishes that bring you a certain comfort,” he says. “For me, food at home is another level of nourishing, and the older I get, the more I understand that the experience is about nourishing the body and soul.” But when it’s time for a party, abundance abounds. “We put big lambs on the spit, we open the garden, we bathe in the aromas of rosemary and thyme and oregano,” he says. For this meal, he roasted a leg of lamb in the oven, then accompanied it with a mix of traditional Greek sides—Horiatiki, Spanikopita, Moussaka, Pastisio, Briam, spiced Kalamata olives—and others he just whipped up: roasted Romesco, white asparagus with pistachio and sautéed greens topped with golden beets. “It’s a great joy, when we have the pleasure of having someone

SIDES AS STARS Opposite page: The meal, come together. This page, clockwise from top: Spanikopita with phyllo made by his sister; slicing beets onto sautéed greens; Dolmathakia (rice-stuffed grape leaves); Pastitsio.

APRIL 2020 | 00 APRIL 2020 | 83

“For me, food at home is another level of nourishing, and the older I get, the more I understand that the experience is about nourishing the body and soul.”


RESPECTING TRADITION Opposite page: Bakatsias in his breakfast nook. This page: Tsougrisma— a game of tapping dyed eggs—is a Greek Easter tradition. Whoever’s egg doesn’t break earns good fortune.

Pastitsio Serves 4 2/3

cup olive oil

1 onion, grated 1 pound ground beef 1 soup spoon of tomato paste Pinch of cinnamon Salt and pepper 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley 1 egg white lightly beaten 1 cup grated kefalotyri 11 ounces tubular pasta 4 tablespoons melted butter 2 cups grated gruyère 3 egg yolks beaten 3 cups béchamel (recipe online) Pinch of grated nutmeg Heat ½ cup of the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes until softened. Increase the heat to medium, add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring and breaking up the meat with the spatula for 10-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Stir in the tomato paste, cinnamon and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Fold in the egg white and a ½ cup of the kefalotyri and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil, stir in salt and remaining oil, add the pasta and cook for 8-10 mins or until al dente. Drain. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly oil a 10 x 14-inch cazuela or casserole dish. Stir the gruyère cheese into the drained and cooled pasta. Mix together pasta mixture with seasoned ground beef. Pour mixed pasta and beef into lightly oiled oven-proof cazuela or casserole dish. Fold in the egg yolks and remaining kefalotyri into the béchamel sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the béchamel sauce over the pasta/beef mixture. Bake for 1 hour or until top is golden brown. Let dish stand for 15 minutes prior to serving.

Find more recipes at

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J. Cole’s hip hop festival returns for a second year, bringing g g a new energy gy to Dorothea Dix Park

it was all a 86 | WALTER


APRIL 2020 | 87



reamville, hometown rapper J. Cole’s day-long music festival, went off pretty much without a hitch in its first edition last year. The first major concert at Raleigh’s 306-acre Dorothea Dix Park, it drew a capacity crowd of nearly 40,000—the most people for a single-day ticketed event last year—for a bill headlined by Cole himself. The first Dreamville was such a success that it instantly became a signature event for the city as well as the park, making a second-year follow-up inevitable. “Dreamville really tees up the city of Raleigh as more than just the capitol city,” says Ilina Ewen, director of communications and community engagement for Dix Park Conservancy. “It’s an event that adds creative depth to the city’s

brand, and also a cool counterpart to other events like the bluegrass festival.” Beyond that, with guests visiting from all 50 states and seven countries—and nearly four million dollars of direct tourism economic impact for Wake County—pulling off an event of that scale made both Dix Park, and Raleigh on the whole, destinations for future large-scale events in the music sphere and beyond. “Dreamville proved that not only can Raleigh handle the logistics for this sort of thing, but we have an appetite for it, too,” says Scott Peacock, director of public relations and international tourism for VisitRaleigh. “Everyone was so welcoming and the community embraced it.” Along with Cole, 2019’s 18-act lineup featured every Dreamville Records recording artist as well as Nelly, SZA, Rapsody and others. As of press time, 2020’s lineup hadn’t been announced, but the one thing you can count on this year is for most, if not all, Dreamville


This page: A few of the experiential moments at Dreamville 2019, including a monumental logo, spinning lessons and a balloon sculpture. Opposite page: J. Cole performs at Dreamville 2019.

acts to return, including the 35-year-old Cole. Unless he’s in the hospital, he’ll be onstage. One major change, however: This year, Cole will appear as a Grammy-winning, not just Grammy-nominated, artist. After coming up empty in 11 prior nominations, Cole finally won his first Grammy back in January for best rap song for his part on 21 Savage’s A Lot. While the event is certainly centered around the music, Dreamville is more than that: It’s about celebrating community. Along with main-stage acts, there will again be artwork and murals of the sort that graced last year’s Dreamville field, co-curated by Artsplosure. “We jumped at the opportunity to be a part of Dreamville,” says Artsplosure executive director Michael Lowder. “We saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to present talented local artists who deserve wider acclaim to large and appreciative audiences, which is part of our founding mission.” While organizers have kept information

about this year’s other “experiential and activation details” close to the vest, Artsplosure will again be involved. “We in the arts community believe Dreamville can have a profound cultural impact.” Dreamville II returns to the big field at the end of Dix Park that backs up to State Farmers Market, with two stages at either end. Last year, the stage nearest the Farmers Market was dubbed “Rise,” and a larger stage up the hill was named “Shine.” Texas-based ScoreMore Shows, a division of Live Nation, is back as Dreamville’s promoter this year. It’s a for-profit event, but a portion of the 2020 proceeds will go to charitable partners Dreamville Foundation and Dorothea Dix Park Conservancy. “We are excited to have the support of the city of Raleigh and Dix Park in helping our festival establish a larger capacity at the second annual Dreamville,” says Sascha Stone Guttfreund, president of ScoreMore Shows. APRIL 2020 | 89

This page: Big Sean performs. Opposite page: Guests in front of a mural of late rapper Nipsey Hussle by Paul Garson and Nik Soupé; Rapsody performs; an enthusiastic audience.

Given that Dreamville 2019 was Dix’s first major concert, there were surprisingly few logistical issues managing the crowds in the park. Guttfreund explains that this year’s model will have “a new and improved rideshare operation,” including regional shuttles available from as far away as Charlotte, as well as an improved food experience this year, since last year festival-goers faced long lines. “We’ve brought in a new concessionaire that is committed to not only expediting the process for all attendees but also increasing the amount of vendors alongside the amount of frontage space for serving the fans,” he says. Peacock credits

the ScoreMore team for their thoroughness and level of detail in leading the city through its production. “They basically built an entire city grid, from scratch, on a blank field,” he says. “They even took care of the neighbors—making sure they could still get to their homes, offering them tickets and more.” The care that Cole and the ScoreMore team took to work with the City and root Dreamville in the community is what makes the festival important for more than just music fans. As hip-hop artist Mez, who performed in 2019’s Dreamville, said in an interview with WALTER last year: “It’s in Raleigh, it’s home.”

“Dreamville proved that not only can Raleigh handle the logistics for this sort of thing, but we have an appetite for it, too,” —Scott Peacock, VisitRaleigh


Good to Know Before You Go


ll three tiers of VIP tickets sold out well in advance; but at press time, general admission tickets were still available, starting at $129. Despite excellent weather on festival day, Dreamville 2019 had mud pits in front of the stages due to heavy rains earlier in the week. Dress and plan accordingly, and check the weather forecast. Note that you won’t be allowed to leave and return, but there are storage lockers on-site. Festival gates open at noon, and last year it took a while to clear security—so if there’s someone you want to see on the undercard, plan to arrive early. Also note that concert-goers are subject to search at all times, not just on the way in. One of last year’s few trouble spots was the length of lines to purchase food—and that was a problem, given that you couldn’t bring in food of your own. (Some people I talked to stood in line for close to two hours to get food, causing them to miss a large chunk of the show.) ScoreMore has addressed that and Guttfreund promises a better food experience. Dreamville will offer park-andride shuttles between Dix and downtown Raleigh, as well as some parking near the venue. Find transportation details as well as a long list of do’s, don’ts and can’ts (yes to bags and kids under threeand-a-half feet tall; no to pets or weapons) at

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Nature is just outside your back door in Black Mountain, NC. Everywhere you turn there’s a breathtaking view. Start planning your Black Mountain getaway today.

Play Cornhole in lush seaside gardens. Dig for gems on a pirate treasure hunt. Enjoy a family dinner on the harbor. Elevate your beach experience.

c los e r t h a n yo u t h i n k



“Up here, it’s all about the view,” says the homeowner of the 1,300-square-foot rooftop that faces downtown to the southwest. Design Lines worked with Bland Landscaping to frame the space with tiered plantings.



Art leads the way in a brand-new downtown brownstone by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photographs by BRIE WILLIAMS


ight at the expanding edge of downtown is a new development of row homes, rising from what used to be a parking lot. And this home, in particular, is a gracious example of urban living: it has a mostly open floor plan inside and out, with built-in nooks and smart seating arrangements throughout to invite cozy moments. Greg Paul Builders began the interior construction of the home, and when it came time to design the space, the homeowners tapped Judy Pickett and her Design Lines team for the living and dining areas, kitchen and rooftop. Their directive: the homeowners were moving from a historic home, and were ready to “start fresh” in this space. “We wanted to be more urban and live with less flourish,” says the homeowner. The only things they really wanted to carry over from the previous home were a handful of family pieces and their extensive collection of art. “They wanted a new and different look, but their beautiful APRIL 2020 | 95

art collection was the departure point,” says Pickett. “It was a gift to have that curated collection.” Along with Christie Stewart, Pickett started in the living room, anchoring it around a large Jason Craighead canvas. “Its neutrality and energy really spoke to me, and the size was perfect,” says Pickett. In the adjacent den, a kinetic painting by Chinese artist Aniwar Mamat pops against the darker furnishings; there, the Design Lines team played off its tones in brass-trimmed furniture and a colorful book collection. In the all-white kitchen, an abstract by James C. Leonard offers a counterpoint to the gleaming surfaces. Beyond working with the art, the biggest challenge of this home was to create distinct spaces within the open floor plan, while keeping it feeling com96 | WALTER

fortable and uncluttered. Design Lines did this through a mix of furniture arrangements, built-ins and rugs that define each of the smaller spaces. On the rooftop, for example, they created four distinct “rooms” from the open area: a living area under a pergola with adjustable shades; a dining area with a long table; a reading nook with a comfy chaise and a spot for intimate meals at a smaller table. Inside, Design Lines used lighting elements that echo each other from one space to the next, and movable furniture that bridges each room. The result is both grand and intimate, where neutral furnishings invite guests to become as much a part of the home as the artwork. “The people are part of the design,” says the homeowner. “Everyone is a participant here, no one is an observer.”

Opposite page: In the living area, the Jason Craighead painting is framed by a pair of Century étagères. “It was such a large, uninterrupted area that we needed them for scale and interest,” says Pickett. Perpendicular sofas from Century define the space—the homeowner loves to perch right where they meet. The wing chair from T. Alexander and armless chairs from A. Rudin complete the room. This page: The adjacent library hosts a seal-grey Lillian August sofa, along with a television and bar, but doesn’t feel too masculine thanks to the spring-y tones in the artwork. The Visual Comfort pendant lamp has a convex base that bounces light throughout the room.

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Opposite page: The antique German chairs in the dining area are a family heirloom; Pickett stained the wood a deeper tone and reupholstered them in textured neutrals, then paired them with a clean-lined pedestal table and a linear chandelier to modernize them. It was Pickett’s idea to add paneling to the stairwell wall, which goes from the basement up to the rooftop. “It provides architectural interest and warmth, and helps bridge the finishes on the different floors,” she says. This page: The gilded mirror and marble-topped dresser also came from the previous home. “Walking into the home, you want to be greeted by something familiar and old,” says Pickett, who offset these more traditional furnishings with a modern lamp and settee on the opposite wall (not shown).

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This page: The bar occupies a narrow nook in the library, but the mirrored back and clear shelves keep it light and make it seem larger than it is. “The glass doors can be opened to invite people to serve themselves, or closed when it’s not in use,” says Pickett. Opposite page: The homeowner didn’t want any upper cabinets in the kitchen. The trio of pendants above the island take up that visual space and offer a sculptural element that echoes the chandelier in the adjacent dining room; the custom hood picks up those same curves. The black border along the window shade and dark trim within the windows, along with the high-contrast artwork, keep the space from being too monochromatic.

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a new narrative Jean Gray Mohs may be an artist by training, but she’s a storyteller at heart. by SUSANNA KLINGENBERG photography by TAYLOR MCDONALD

SEPTEMBER 2018| 103 | 93 APRIL 2020


master raconteur, local artist Jean Gray Mohs can weave a narrative, inspire emotion and connect with her audience, all through paint, charcoal and pen. But Mohs’ own story—the primary fodder for her body of work—was very nearly cut short by interstitial lung disease, an increasingly debilitating illness that slowly robbed her of the breath that fueled her body, her family and her art. To study Mohs’ body of work is to dive into a thoughtful exploration of life, hers 104 | WALTER

and yours. Her work is at once intensely personal and universal, exploring topics like childbearing, health, joy, grief and family. That mine-is-yours approach is inherent to Mohs’ warm personality, but it’s also by design. “I want my work to establish dialogue with people,” she explains. “I want to facilitate a meaningful experience, for people to have something to take away.” Over the years, Mohs’ mediums have ranged from forest moss to charcoal to acrylics. She approaches art through the lens of a storyteller: the idea comes first and the presentation follows suit. Since her art explores her life, a subject that’s inherently dynamic, her style is always unfolding. Mohs is pragmatic about the diversity of her work: she says each

new chapter naturally demands a new approach simply because, “I haven’t lived just one story.” Museum consultant Emily Kotecki explains it this way: “As [Mohs’] life evolves, her aesthetic evolves. Her materials, style and even the size of her canvas change. Some artists explore an approach or technique for a long time. Jean Gray responds to her life through her art; maybe the best way to describe her aesthetic is ‘authentic.’” That bent toward authenticity was part of Mohs’ story from the very beginning. Her mother jokes that Mohs was making art in the womb; at age five, she declared: “Mom, I am art!” Her formal education began with art lessons in the basement of a childhood neighbor. “Being a cre-

ator, a problem solver, a thinker, a facilitator—that’s always been my identity,” Mohs says. “I think even my five-year-old self knew that.” Despite that intuition, she didn’t claim the title “artist” until much later. She describes her relationship with art in those early days as unrequited: “I felt like art had chosen me, but I hadn’t necessarily chosen art.” After college, though, Mohs “chose art, and chose it all the way.” She moved to Georgia to join an artist group, Stillmoreroots. Together, they applied for a grant, were awarded funding, and opened Gallery RFD. She put in hours at the studio and in the classroom, receiving her masters degree in education and teaching elementary art. Mohs admits that she has a “teacher soul,” but her educator colleagues say her success in the classroom is all about authenticity—just like her artwork. Melissa Oliver, who taught with Mohs at Creech Road Elementary, explains, “It was simply the relationships she built with her students and the genuine encouragement students felt in her classroom.” As her dual career as teacher and artist was taking off, Mohs’ body was growing increasingly weak due to her lung disease. She had been officially diagnosed at age 19, and with each passing year, breath was

“Jean Gray responds to her life through her art; maybe the best way to describe her aesthetic is ‘authentic.’”—Emily Kotecki harder to come by. Despite her physical limitations, Mohs’ remained indomitable in spirit. She met her husband, got married, and had twins through a surrogate, who Mohs describes as “an unbelievably selfless friend who offered up her body

to grow our family.” Of course, anticipating her children’s birth and savoring new life gave her plenty of material, inspiring a series called Fruits of Our Labor. By the time her twins were four, Mohs was dependent on oxygen. A season of APRIL 2020 | 105

106 | WALTER

celebrating new life turned to a season of reckoning with the end of her own. Over the course of a year and a half— short on breath and increasingly short on time—Mohs created the abstract acrylic series 12-20: An Adult at Rest. Its origin: A sedentary adult will take anywhere from 12-20 breaths per minute, and the paintings—some oversized, some tiny—each captured a snapshot of what she imagined to be involved in one of those breaths. The series contains layering, overlapping, interacting pieces that feel dragged through areas of resistance, mirroring Mohs’ increasingly anxiety-filled breath. At first glance, the pieces in 12-20: Adult at Rest don’t look like a meditation on mortality; they look like a study in color. But a closer look reveals a sort of trusting surrender within the art: Mohs forefronted her process as a way of processing her own life and death. Mohs confirms, “I wanted all the marks to be seen. I wanted the mess to be there.” In the larger pieces, she allowed paint to drip, let unintentional marks remain. The smaller pieces were stark, with minimal marks and no erasing. “It was a reminder that we are not in control,” says Mohs. “It was a way for me to find beauty in the unknown.” When Mohs debuted 12-20: An Adult at Rest at the Sertoma Arts Center last May, she was near the end of her life. Then, suddenly, the story flipped: a week after her show, Mohs was admitted to the Duke transplant program and began physical therapy to prepare her body for a double lung transplant. After less than a month of physical therapy, she got the call: a pair of lungs from an anonymous donor awaited her at Duke. She was overjoyed, of course. But she also knew firsthand the grief her donor’s family was experiencing. At 17, she had lost her younger brother, who was also an organ donor. Mohs said a prayer for her donor and their family, headed to Duke and, just an hour after the call, was being prepped for transplant surgery. It went smoothly, though with the expected hardships of such a major procedure. And just like that, Mohs—who had so recently reckoned with the end of her

A recreation of a photo Mohs posted on her six-month lung anniversary, using two pieces of citrine quartz from her kids’ rock collection and a branch from her backyard.

story—woke up to the prospect of telling a new one. But after such a life-altering event, where does a storyteller even begin? At first, says Mohs, “there was insane elation. I was like a brand-new baby; everything I did felt like it was the first time.” Everything, she realized, also included her art. “After surgery, I tried to make work in the style I was working in before. And it felt so unnatural and forced. So I’ve taken a step back. Now is the forming period. I’m allowing the sediment to settle, so I can see what needs to come next.” Her patience is paying off. Lately she’s felt a “gathering,” pieces coming together toward the next phase of her work. Fans know it’s worth the wait. Local de-

signer Rebecca Necessary says she’s excited to see how this perennially-fresh artist translates a new chapter onto the canvas. Necessary has collected Mohs’ work for years and relishes how easily the paintings have become a part of her family’s story: “Mohs has this ability to leave just enough open for all of us to find our own meaning and connection, while still feeling connected to her.” That is Mohs’ gift: to tell her own story, extraordinary as it is, in such a way that we can see ourselves reflected in it. As Mohs steps into this new chapter—bodily, emotionally, artistically—she’ll be accompanied by all those who have connected with her work before, and a growing base who can’t wait to see what story she’ll tell next. APRIL 2020 | 107

MORNING CREW Longtime morning co-anchors John Clark and Barbara Gibbs. “Not only are we co-workers, we’re friends,” says Clark. “Working together for so long, we’ve developed a rhythm and can anticipate each other’s moves on the anchor desk.”

108 | WALTER

A tour of the downtown studio where ABC11 News goes on air

in the


photography by BOB KARP

APRIL 2020 | 109


f you’ve strolled down Fayetteville Street, you’ve gotten a peek into ABC11’s Raleigh studio (they also have facilities in Durham and Fayetteville). This is where they film the morning, noon, 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. news, and where many of their reporters and production folks are based. ABC11 expanded into the neighboring office two years ago to double their square footage, making space for more robust sets and an augmented reality area. From the street, you often see your favorite talking heads at their monitors at the windows, anchors sitting at the desk narrating the morning news and meteorologists predicting the weather in front of a green screen. That glimpse proves what you may suspect already: “There is so much work that goes into a 90-second or two-minute report—not to

110 | WALTER

mention the entire hour-long newscast!” says anchor Amber Rupinta. “There are so many moving parts behind the scenes to pull off a newscast, and sometimes when news is breaking, we are ad-libbing and reporting as it is unfolding, and directors and producers are making calls on the fly." The folks you see on-screen are scrappy: they do their own reporting, write their own stories, dress themselves and do their own hair and makeup. “Literally everything you see them interact with, they have created in a computer,” says news director Michelle Germano. “If you see a weather map, it’s someone on our team that has manipulated it, added the temperatures and the direction of the wind.” This can-do attitude is what makes ABC11 one of the leaders in the country in terms of technology, says Germano, “We’re always looking for the best technology to bring to our viewers.”

The station also gets cred for its longevity: Many staffers have been there for 15 or 30 years, including the John Clark and Barbara Gibbs duo, the longest-running morning team in the market (he’s been there 28 years; they’ve been working together since she got there 19 years ago). “So many people on our staff love the station and the area that they stay here for a long time,” says Germano. It has to do with their connection to the community, says Rupinta. “We live and work here, and the news that happens affects us and our families too,” she says. “When we report on issues or publicize events, we get to see the reach and results of our work.” “We really get to connect with viewers,” agrees Gibbs. “I can’t tell you how many times people in the community tell me we are in their homes every morning and they feel like we are family! Can you get a better compliment?”

DESK JOBS Opposite page: Reporters, from left to right, Ana Rivera, Andrea Blanford and Elaina Athans in the desk area. This page: John Clark heads to the set. “I still consider myself a work in progress when it comes to makeup. I’m usually throwing it on just minutes before airtime—and sometimes even during air-time!” he says.

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“Working in front of the green screen is like tying your shoes. When I first started doing it, it took a lot of work and a lot of practice. Now, I don’t even think about it. ” — Don Schwenneker 112 | WALTER

MIND THE WEATHER Opposite page: Meteorologist Don Schwenneker. “I’m always surprised at how many people ask me, ‘Where do you get your forecast from?’” he says. “The answer is, from me!” Schwenneker wakes at 1:45 a.m. to look at data and weather models, gets in at 3:15 a.m., makes graphics, does hair and makeup, records ten radio hits for three different stations and writes their weather blog before the broadcast begins at 4:30 a.m. This page: Reporter Julie Wilson at her desk overlooking Fayetteville Street.

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114 | WALTER

BEHIND THE SCENES Clockwise from left: Rivera, Blanford and Athans in the desk area, overlooking the studio; the teleprompter tells them what to say, when to ad-lib and when to stop; at the desks; a monitor shows one of the sets; Michael Perchick at his desk; shoe collection; Clark applies his makeup.

APRIL 2020 | 115

ON AIR! “Our morning team is a special group. We really are friends. While we genuinely respect each other, we also love to tease and cut up, especially during commercial break,” says Gibbs. “It makes waking up at two in the morning worth it!” Clark agrees: “There’s a lot of insight and inside humor we can share just because we’ve been through so much of our work life together.”


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THE WHIRL Eamon Queeney

WALTER’s roundup of galas, gatherings, fundraisers and just-for-fun events around the Triangle.

Brooks Bell and Jesse Lipson sit on thrones at the first ever Colonoscopy Gala

120 WALTER presents WINi 122 The Colonoscopy Gala 124 Crime Scene Mystery Bookfest 126 Raleigh Little Theatre’s Going Away Reception for Charles Phaneuf 128 Go Red For Women Fashion Show

The Whirl is online! Visit APRIL 2020 | 119




Place at the Table founder Maggie Kane and ABC11 anchor Amber Rupinta. With their range of fields and diversity of experiences, they drew guests into their stories with wisdom for all. Thank you to the organizations that made WINi possible: presenting sponsor and partner Bank of America; workshop sponsors Riley Lewis General Contractors and Wegmans; Leigh Shamblin

from N.C. State University; table sponsors York Properties, HQ Raleigh + Leadership Exchange, Duke Fuqua School of Business, The Women’s Giving Network of Wake County and Virginia Parker; Market Hall; Greenfront Interiors + Rugs; and event partners Attended Events, Bloom Works, Alphagraphics and Westgate Wine. —Ayn-Monique Klahre Bob Karp

ALTER gathered a dynamic group of women on February 23 to talk about work at WINi 2020. It was an inspiring afternoon, a chance for young women to hear about the tenacity and self-discovery that go into building a career. This year’s panelists were GOLeafe CEO Arsheen Allam, visual artist Maya Freelon, A

WALTER editor Ayn-Monique Klahre with panelists Arsheen Allam, Maya Freelon, Maggie Kane and Amber Rupinta.

120 | WALTER

From the top: guests participate in the workshop; Kari Stolz of Bank of America introduces two of their Student Leaders; WINi programs; a few snack selections; Leigh Shamblin from N.C. State University’s Poole College of Management leads a workshop















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THE COLONOSCOPY GALA Brooks Bell hosted Raleigh’s first ever Colonoscopy Gala on February 28 at CAM Raleigh to raise awareness for colonoscopies and to raise funds for colon cancer prevention.

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THE WHIRL CRIME SCENE MYSTERY BOOKFEST Mystery book readers and authors from around the country gathered for McIntyre’s Books first Crime Scene Mystery Bookfest held at the Barn at Fearrington Village in Pittsoboro February 8.

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Legacy of Reynolds PRESENTED BY

Join WALTER as we honor this historic landmark and hear from some of the people that witnessed the incredible music, art, sports & noteworthy figures that passed through its walls. PANELISTS: Jamie Valvano, Jeff Gravley, Dr. Thomas Stafford, Tim Peeler and Roy C. Dicks.

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THE WHIRL RALEIGH LITTLE THEATRE’S GOING AWAY RECEPTION FOR CHARLES PHANEUF After eight years of service, Raleigh Little Theatre’s Executive Director, Charles Phaneuf, left the organization for a new opportunity. Members of the RLT community gathered on January 27 at the Raleigh Little Theatre’s Gaddy-Goodwin Teaching Theatre to thank him for his work and wish him well in his next endeavor.

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You’re Invited POSTPONED Taste of Italy with Frances Mayes Join WALTER as we celebrate the debut of Frances Mayes’ latest works, Always Italy and See You in the Piazza. Guests will get the ultimate insider’s tour of Italy and enjoy a family-style dinner prepared by the talented chefs at Mulino Italian Kitchen.

POSTPONED Legacy of Reynolds Tour this historic Raleigh landmark and hear from Jeff Gravley, Jaime Valvano, Dr. Thomas Stafford, Tim Peeler and Roy C Dicks as they discuss the music, art, sports and noteworthy figures that have passed through Reynolds Coliseum.

Wednesday, August 5 An Evening with Maya Freelon Join us for a memorable evening celebrating diversity, community and art. North Carolina native and nationally recognized artist Maya Freelon will discuss her art + inspiration and offer guests an interactive experience to create with her.

Friday, September 18 WINnovation WALTER’s annual celebration of women, innovation and entrepreneurship returns for its sixth year to hear from local leaders regarding their career journeys and lessons. Participate in workshops, network with guests, and enjoy a delicious dinner. For more information, please visit

THE WHIRL GO RED FOR WOMEN FASHION SHOW Raleigh seniors hit the catwalk for a good cause on February 7 in honor of National Wear Red Day. The annual Go Red for Women Fashion Show benefits the American Heart Association (AHA) and is hosted by The Cardinal at North Hills. The community welcomed Laura Marek, the director of development for the American Heart Association, as the afternoon’s keynote speaker. Guests in attendance were also encouraged to wear red. Over 25 silent auction items also benefited the American Heart Association.




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ow do you mark your years? Many of us add candles to birthday cakes, one candle for each year, each from the same pack as if every year were equal in our lives. Trees grow a ring a year, fat bands for wetter, more fertile seasons, thinner bands for leaner years. A willow oak grew on Brooks Avenue for a hundred years or more before a weather burst, a fast and freak February gust, smashed it to the ground. Afterwards, the oak sat curbside in chunks, waiting for the grabber truck to haul it away. But before it did, Evan Kane and his family, who had walked by the living tree for decades, passed the dead one. They counted the circles of a momentous life. Then, they marked the moments: One for the acorn in 1918’s ring, another for a town come together. Some for the hurricanes—from weather and from society. Some for the remarkable people who walked past the tree before them, like Clarence Lightner, Raleigh’s first black mayor, elected in 1973, and Isabella Cannon, Raleigh’s first woman mayor, elected in 1977. She had lived in a small, stone house only a block from the oak. What if our birthday cakes could show the meaning of each candle? The years we were married, the years our children were born, or those in which we lost the ones we love? With paper and pen, the Kanes revealed the magnitude of years haloed in an oak tree’s trunk and exposed the beauty of a life well-lived. —Eleanor Spicer Rice

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