Dan Coleman's blog

Organic living: the Gist challenge

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 15, 2005

One of the most compelling comments of election season so far came from Carrboro Alderman Jacquelyn Gist at the Sierra Club candidates forum. "Grass makes you stupid" Gist said in reference to Carrboro's many acres of lawn. "Grass is one of the biggest problems facing our community."

Knowing Gist, I did not take her words to be a New Urbanist rebuke of suburban living. They seemed more an indictment of the manner in which modern society relates to nature, and how an alien landscape -- in this case, the lawn -- interferes with our ability to understand the ecosystem that is our home.

I'd been thinking along similar lines this summer, each time I stepped out my front door and walked over to the nearby forest by Bolin Creek. Along the sidewalks and street it was awfully hot, the pavement throwing the sun's heat back at me. But as soon as I stepped under the canopy of trees, it felt 10 degrees cooler. Clearly, the way we live, the way we build, the way we develop -- none is well attuned to our natural environs.

NRG Posts Candidate Interviews

In an amazing feat of citizenship, the Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG), an all volunteer organization, has posted a summary of responses to eight interview questions with Chapel Hill candidates on its web site. Audio of the interviews is also available.

Chapel Hill has four Town Council seats and the Mayor's seat up for election in 2005. NRG asked all ten Chapel Hill Town Council candidates to participate in an interview on topics of interest to local citizens. Nine of the candidates accepted, and one candidate withdrew from the race on October 6. The responses from the remaining eight candidates are presented here. NRG as an organization is not endorsing candidates for this election. We are posting the candidates' responses here in the hope that this information will help citizens make an informed decision this November. No comment or statement on these pages should be seen as an endorsement of a particular candidate.

A New UNC Campus - In Kannapolis!

Chapel Hill Herald, Saturday October 08, 2005

Last month's announcement of a new research campus in Kannapolis places UNC's Carolina North project in a new light. It also vindicates ideas promoted by Chapel Hillians over the past decade.

As described in Carolina Newswire on September 12, billionaire David H. Murdock, owner of Dole Food Company, and UNC System President Molly Broad unveiled plans for the North Carolina Research Campus, a massive scientific and economic revitalization project that encompasses the former Cannon Mills plant and entire downtown area of Kannapolis. They were joined by Mike Easley, Elizabeth Dole, Richard Burr, Robin Hayes, Marc Basnight, James Black, and a host of other officials.

Broad observed, "We cannot overstate the significance of the University's embarking - in partnership with Dole and David Murdock - on a project of this magnitude, scale, and potential. This initiative advances our three-part mission of teaching, research, and public service - and in the process gives new meaning to the terms 'collaborative' and 'multi-disciplinary.'

Blockin' out the scenery

It looks like most of the campaign signs are up. Allan Louden, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest University and a specialist in political advertising, told the Herald earlier this week ("Sign Language: Carefully chosen words on a campaign placard could spell victory, or not, on Election Day" October 04, 2005):

The right sign, designed the right way, with just the right information, could mean the difference between a vote won or a vote lost, especially among folks who head to the polls unsure of whom to vote for.

In a close race, a couple of those votes could define the margin between victory and defeat.

Louden also says signs with a one-color background convey a candidate who is "solid, substantive and serious." Locally, that would include Mark Kleinschmidt, Alex Zaffron and Laurin Easthom.

White signs often fade into the background when placed among several signs, according to Louden. Bad news for Ed Harrison, Randee Haven-O'Donnell and Jason Baker. I would imagine that something distinctive about the sign would overcome the disadvantage of white thereby favoring Mark Chilton and Catherine DeVine.

Equality NC PAC Endorses Kleinschmidt for Chapel Hill Council

Kleinschmidt "outstanding leader for equal rights," ENC's Palmquist says.

Equality NC PAC announced today its endorsement of Mark Kleinschmidt for re-election to the Chapel Hill Town Council. The statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group cited his leadership on equal rights issues in making its choice.

The group is primarily active in state-level races, but makes endorsements in local races of statewide significance.

"Mark Kleinschmidt has proven himself as a leader who truly represents Chapel Hill's values of freedom, justice and equality," said Ian Palmquist, the group's Executive Director for Programs. "Mark is significant not only because he is one of four openly gay elected official in our state, but because of his outspoken and effective advocacy for equal rights."

Read the entire release.



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