Articles

  • Fireflies

    How to help fireflies — and save a bit of summer magic

    A bobwhite quail calling from the edge of a stubbled hayfield. Honeybees buzzing in every patch of clover.  Fireflies hovering just beyond reach as dusk gives way to night. These are the images that come to mind when I think back to summers outdoors in the Uwharries when I was young. Little did I know that over the course of my lifetime, each of those species would experience precipitous population declines. Or that I’d be so devoted to saving them.  
  • Rendering of pedestrian bridge across I-277 in Charlotte

    Is Charlotte car culture finally changing?

    As a post-World War II, Sunbelt city that grew up in the age of the automobile, a car has long been pretty much a prerequisite for a comfortable and convenient life in Charlotte. Despite the completion of the Blue Line light rail, added miles of greenways and bike lanes, and new options like fleets of shared electric scooters, Charlotte is still a city where more than eight out of 10 people drive to work alone. For most of us, a trip to the grocery store, picking up kids from swim practice and going to a doctor’s appointment require a car.
  • Ridgeline Trail in Crowder's Mountain State Park

    The pandemic is an opportunity for investing in our community

    As the world sinks towards an unprecedented depression, now is the time to invest.   The demand for the most valuable commodity in the world — human ingenuity — has not been this low since the Great Depression in 1933. The nation’s unemployment rate spiked to 16.1% in April 2020 (before dipping to 13.3% in May), and world populations are confined to their homes, threatening the global economy. While this presents enormous problems, it also opens opportunities. 
  • College graduates wearing hats

    Myths about closing the racial wealth gap

    Most efforts to increase economic stability operate under the assumption that helping individuals increase one key asset will eliminate wealth disparities. Educational attainment, long seen as the surest path to equality, is a great example. Education broadens career choices, enhances specialized skills, and raises earnings. But the value of an education —  and specifically its impact on household wealth — varies considerably across racial and ethnic groups.  The data are clear: obtaining a college degree is not enough to close the racial wealth gap.
  • Wealth grows from wealth

    Savings, investment and racial wealth gap over generations

    Wealth serves as a buffer through economic downturns, job loss, and other unexpected emergencies such the COVID-19 pandemic. In Charlotte, households of color are more than twice as likely to lack sufficient savings or assets that can be used to pay for basic needs for three months without income when compared to White households. The result: almost half of all Latinx and 44% of Black households wouldn’t be able to cover basic needs after three months. 
  • Bicycle parked near shops in downtown Charlotte

    Post-coronavirus, everything will change in cities — or not

    We who write about cities are quick to make predictions. Some will prove prescient. Some won’t. But nobody really knows. Cities aren’t all alike. New York’s texture, way of life and pandemic experience are not Charlotte’s, or Houston’s, or Seattle’s. And this: We humans have a long history of behaving both predictably and unpredictably.
  • Brookhill Village in South End

    Residents wait to see if they can stay in fast-changing South End

    Debbie Williams grew up in Charlotte’s Brookhill Village, a neighborhood of one-story duplex and triplex apartments built for black families in the 1950s. She has watched while its owners let the buildings deteriorate as luxury apartments began rising nearby.  Two decades ago, she moved away. But her mother and sister remained in the low-rent housing community, home to several generations of many families. Williams’ ties to the neighborhood these days, however, extend beyond family. She is working to keep the low-income residents there from being displaced by gentrification in fast-growing South End, on the outskirts of uptown Charlotte.
  • Three lessons our city should learn from COVID-19

    The novel coronavirus is extracting a terrible toll from our society, replete with mind-boggling statistics: A death toll of more than 100,000, 40 million people unemployed, a 95% plunge in airline passengers and so many more. The losses are immense. Grief is immeasurable. It’s still unclear how far-reaching and deep the economic pain we’re facing will run.  Amidst that, however, the pandemic offers lessons, and opportunities for change. Here are three lessons surfaced by COVID-19 that we should not let fade even after the virus is under control.
  • Belmont neighborhood Charlotte

    The racial wealth gap: Business ownership & entrepreneurship

    In Mecklenburg County, business ownership rates are proportionate to the racial and ethnic makeup of the county. But disparities persist: Although ownership is demographically proportionate, the majority of the economic value of business ownership is held in a small number of White-owned businesses. 
  • Southern leopard frog

    Identifying the frog calls of spring

    June is upon us, and the rush of activity in the ponds, streams, and vernal pools of our state is already well underway. For many native frogs, it’s breeding season. Right now is a great time to experience the variety of nighttime songs that signal the return of summer in our waterways. The best part is, you don’t need to collect ticks or put on a pair of waders to do so. Frog songs can be enjoyed from a distance, just about anywhere there’s trees, grass or water. So grab your favorite beverage, head to the porch, and enjoy this guide to identifying a few of the most commonly-heard frog calls in Central North Carolina in the month of June.