Some stories worth sharing this week:
- Expected cuts to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools’ 2011-12 budget would come down hardest on Bright Beginnings, the pre-K program that’s served kids in the system since 1998. School officials believe the program prepares students effectively for kindergarten and beyond but say CMS doesn’t have the money for it.
- A militant Jewish group is trying to block a planned conference by a white supremacist organization in Charlotte early next month, and a coalition of liberal and anarchist groups intends to protest if the white supremacists do meet. Should the Jewish group try to prevent the conference, or do the others have a better idea by just protesting?
- Despite the local NAACP head’s recent threat to boycott tournaments and other large-scale events in the “racist bastion” of Charlotte, the commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association says the league will stick with Charlotte as the host city for the CIAA’s annual basketball tournament.
- Here’s a good story (by our own Crossroads correspondent Rhi Bowman) about the much-hyped ReVenture Park project. It could be a brilliant re-use of abandoned land that would protect the environment and save taxpayers' money, or a boondoggle that worsens already poor air quality and funnels our tax dollars into a developer’s pocket--or some combination of the two. No one knows for certain, which makes the people who live near the proposed site a bit nervous.
- Finally, something that’s been burning up the blogs and social media around town for the past few days: The Charlotte Observer’s acquisition of thousands of e-mail addresses Mecklenburg County local governments had compiled from people who signed up for things like alerts and newsletters. Local governments are trying to get the state legislature to restrict public access to the e-mail addresses to shield them from spam, and the Observer says it wanted to examine the addresses before the law changed--and also to get in touch with some of the people who owned the addresses to see if they wanted to take part in the paper’s outreach program to readers. Outrage ensued. The Observer backed off. What do you think? There’s no question the e-mail addresses are part of the public record, but did the paper overstep its bounds and misuse public records law?
First question. Here we go.
Crossroads Charlotte presents four stories based on real data about Charlotte’s future. Which of these is NOT one of the four stories? a. The Beat Goes On; b. Fortress Charlotte; c. Eye To Eye; d. Reboot.
Six young Charlotteans had wedged themselves into a booth at the Mellow Mushroom on Selwyn Avenue, expecting a Monday evening of pizza, beer and fun trivia, with questions like, "What band had a hit in 1961 with 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight'"? (The Tokens.)
They neither expected nor enjoyed this. Four stories? How the heck would we know? And what’s Crossroads Charlotte?
“I thought it was like a car dealership,” said 28-year-old Andy Crum, one of the displeased. “Like Crossroads Charlotte Toyota or something.”
When refugees come to the U.S., United Nations often assigns them a birthday of Jan. 1 if they do not know their own. Every year, Refugee Support Services, Inc., a non-profit that serves the local refugee population, works with other area organizations to throws a group 01/01 birthday party for these refugees. This year's event was on Saturday, Jan. 22. The party brought together more than a hundred refugees and their American friends.
"This is a fun place for them to relax and have a good time, without worrying about anything at all," said Rachel Humphries, director of Refugee Support Services, Inc.
The party featured a catered hot meal, party and carnival-style games, a mini-talent show, and a small photo studio area offering free family portraits. Humphries said the event, which has nearly doubled in size the past five years, is about having a good time in a safe place, and any attention it brings to the plight of refugees in the area is a bonus.
"We hope that those that come can see how important the Fruitful Friendships are," Humphries said. The Fruitful Friendship program, which is organized by Refugee Support Services, establishes connections between refugees in the Charlotte area with an American "friend." The friend acts as a mentor and a guide to the American culture--someone the refugee can practice his or her English with and learn social rules from.
"Imagine having to ask someone what Google is. Or picking out a pair of pants at the store and not knowing they're women's pants. How would someone know these things that doesn't speak our language and is not familiar with our culture?" Humphries said. "They need someone to teach them these things. Someone that doesn't laugh at them when they get something wrong."
On Jan. 21, more than 35 people came out to Art in the A.M. at Common Market in SouthEnd. The third in a series of monthly Friday morning art sessions, the event makes waking up early on a Friday morning something special.
In the house once again was the talented host Quentin “Q” Talley, who greeted the crowd with a free-style song backed by the session's featured band, Ocho Davis Trio. With a warm smile Talley joked with the crowd about being up and out so early in the name of art.
“Art is a catalyst for social change,” said Talley. “We like to bring art into the mix.”
Participants introduced themselves to one another while they mixed and mingled and nibbled on a spread of fresh fruit, pastries, egg soufflé and hot coffee.
Poet Mekkah brought her brand of positive and thought-provoking energy as she performed a few poems, including one called “Girl Fight” about empowerment for woman.