• White-bracted sedge mingles with lobelia, liatris and jewelweed in the author’s Charlotte garden.

    A native plant that adds habitat - and flair - across North Carolina

    Found primarily along the Southeast coast, white-bracted sedge also grows with abandon in wet, sunny meadows you can create in your Charlotte backyard. The flowers attract a crazy array of pollinators - bumblebees and honeybees, bizarre bugs and colorful moths, tiny bees and flies. And the bracts remain attractive deep into fall, even after a hard freeze has turned them to parchment.
  • Antonio Butts, executive director of Walnut Way in Milwaukee.

    Data, urban agriculture and opportunity zones: Lessons from Milwaukee

    Sometimes it can feel like the world is drowning in data: Big data, data mining, data science, data analytics and other buzzwords have become so familiar as to be cliches.  But the meeting last week of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership, held in Milwaukee, was also full of reminders about the power of data to tell stories and inform decision-making. 
  • Putting the urban in suburban

    Across Charlotte, developers are planning to add dense, mixed-use developments to parking lots at malls, shopping centers and office parks. See some of their plans, along with what's there now. 
  • "Ballantyne Reimagined" seeks to redevelop an office park into a mixed-use hub of activity.

    From Ballantyne to SouthPark to University City, the suburbs want to be more like the city

    It’s happening across Charlotte: Apartments, office buildings and restaurants are popping up in parking lots, as dense, mixed-use developments, connected by bicycle paths and walking trails, invade suburbia. What’s driving the shift at some of the city’s most iconic suburban centers?
  • Falls Reservoir, a small lake in between Badin Lake and Lake Tillery.

    Beyond Crowders and Morrow Mountain: 8 great spots to get your nature fix near Charlotte

    Most people who visit the Uwharrie region, east of Charlotte, for recreation probably know about spots like the Uwharrie Trail and Morrow Mountain State Park. Or maybe you’re used to driving west, to Crowders Mountain State Park. However, there are a lot of lesser-known gems in the region that many tourists miss out on, and some that even locals have never been to see.
  • An eviction notice posted on an apartment in 2017. Thousands of evictions are filed each year in Mecklenburg County.

    Project documenting evictions’ toll in Mecklenburg wins national award

    Tens of thousands of people a year are evicted in Mecklenburg County, but the full impact is often hard to see. Court data on evictions is often incomplete, accessible only in paper files, or difficult to compile and access. Demographic data on who is evicted, and for what reasons, is not comprehensively collected. A 2017 project by the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute and Mecklenburg County sought to change that. 
  • Charlotte Water project coordinator Will Rice lifts the hatch on a tank full of raw sewage water at the McAlpine Wastewater Treatment Plant.

    Charlotte Water wants to harvest fertilizer from your flushes

    The world uses millions of tons of phosphorus per year in fertilizer, and almost all of that is mined. But Charlotte Water plans to start extracting the mineral from a new source: What you put down the drain. 
  • Students in a classroom. Stock photo via Unsplash.

    Do youth end up in the justice system because they disengage from school?

    A UNC Charlotte professor used the integrated data system at the Institute for Social Capital, a part of the Urban Institute, to examine whether students of color are more likely to enter the juvenile justice system because they’re more disengaged from school. Her conclusion: “The way our kids are being processed in the system is affected by the color of their skin.”
  • Kannapolis is hoping that a new baseball stadium will help spark a downtown revival, more than 15 years after the closure of Cannon Mills' textile plant changed the city forever. Rendering courtesy city of Kannapolis.

    Hoping to rebuild their downtowns, more NC cities are turning to baseball

    Smaller cities and towns across North Carolina are hoping an old, familiar sound will spark new life in their downtowns: The crack of a bat. Four new downtown ballparks with capacity for about 5,000 fans are popping up in the state, and officials are counting on them to draw new residents, breweries, restaurants and vitality. 
  • Restored grasslands in the Uwharries provide food and habitat for insects and the birds that feed on them. Photo: Ruth Ann Grissom

    Turning backyards into bird sanctuaries across the Piedmont

    Wildlife habitat comes in all shapes and sizes, as does opportunity for improving it.  The rural nature of the Uwharries and other areas around Charlotte allows us to restore grasslands and forests on a landscape scale, but the same management techniques have also proven successful on smaller parcels in urban parks and nature preserves. One of the most promising interventions in the rapidly developing Piedmont is to enhance backyard habitat.