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North Carolina

A Mobile Food Pantry Meets Refugees Where They Are

It started at a kitchen table more than 15 years ago. In 2008, Greensboro mother of two Kristy Milholin noticed signs of food insecurity among her daughters’ classmates at Morehead Elementary School. She and her husband, Don Milholin, took it upon themselves to pack up bags of free food for several local families every Friday. “She went into mom mode. She couldn’t see kids go hungry,” says Beth Crise, who is the president and executive director of Out of the Garden project, the nonprofit that the Milholins founded after receiving increased requests from families in need.

North Carolina City Takes First Steps Toward Cherokee Cultural Corridor

For decades, the town of Franklin, North Carolina, owned Noquisiyi (later interpreted as Nikwasi) Mound. The mound is the only thing that remains of a Cherokee settlement that dates back to the 16th century. The town’s meeting hall once sat atop the mound. Now, the Nikwasi Initiative is working to protect and honor local sites that play an essential role in the heritage of a regional Indian tribe — including the Nikwasi Mound. The organization, which was founded in 2019, is the byproduct of a conflict that arose between Franklin city officials and members of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, according to executive director Elaine Eisenbraun.

Grassroots Business Incubator Has A Plan To Support Black Entrepreneurs

When DeWayne Barton returned to Asheville, North Carolina’s Burton Street neighborhood in 2001, he found a community reeling from years of devastating blows. Like many historically Black neighborhoods across the country, the Burton Street community was the victim of highway expansions in the 1950s and 1960s that quite literally tore the neighborhood apart. That plus the effects of the crack cocaine epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s had turned Burton Street into a neighborhood in need of saving. “That urban renewal period, 1950 to 1970, is what really dropped the hammer and really crushed the neighborhood,” says Barton, who was born in Asheville but grew up in Washington, D.C.

‘Hard-Won Movement Victory’: MVP Extension In North Carolina Halved

Frontline critics of the Mountain Valley Pipeline celebrated after Equitrans Midstream revealed Friday in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that the distance of the proposed Southgate extension project has been cut in half. The partially completed MVP project—long delayed by legal battles until congressional Republicans and President Joe Biden included language to fast-track it in a debt limit deal earlier this year—is set to cross 303 miles of Virginia and West Virginia. The MVP Southgate extension into North Carolina was supposed to be 75 miles, but the filing details plans for a redesigned 31-mile gas project that "would include substantially fewer water crossings and would not require a new compressor station."

Buncombe County Rezoning For Raytheon, Genocide

The Buncombe County commissioners are set to give Raytheon a massive rezoning, over 760 acres owned by Biltmore Farms will be converted from commercial and residential zoning into offices, warehouses and other infrastructure for the giant plant the weapons company is building. The area is huge, over seven times the size of downtown Asheville. It’s the largest rezoning in Buncombe County’s history. Importantly it takes away land designated for things like housing, which this area is of course famous for having no shortage of whatsoever, and instead gives a massive company’s massive factory even more.

UN Experts Allege Human Rights Violations By PFAS Chemical Giant

United Nations human rights experts have expressed concerns over "alleged human rights violations and abuses" against people living along the lower Cape Fear River in North Carolina due emissions of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, from a Fayetteville chemical plant. Five U.N. experts signed letters to Chemours—the plant's current operator—as well as DuPont, Corteva, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and Dutch environmental regulators. The action marks the U.N. Human Rights Council's first investigation into an environmental problem in the U.S., The Guardian reported Tuesday.

North Carolina Anti-DEI Law Casts Pall Over Asheville Reparations Plan

Roughly 200 people gathered at the University of North Carolina at Asheville recently to discuss the city's commitment to local reparations. It was the first summit of its kind and an important step in Asheville's plan to compensate Black residents for decades of structural racism. As the city ramps up its reparations effort, the state of North Carolina is moving in a reverse direction, with state legislation seeking to limit discussions about racism, especially in government and academia. A new law passed in June forbids any employee of the North Carolina state government – which includes the University of North Carolina system – from discussing racism-related concepts, particularly in hiring practices.

North Carolina Sanitation Workers Strike For $5K Bonuses

“We’re here to make a stand. At least 40 trucks should be on the road right now, and as far as we know, no trucks have gone out this morning,” said Durham, North Carolina, sanitation worker Christopher Benjamin, flanked by 100 sanitation and other city workers at a September 6 press conference. This was the first morning of a six-day strike by the North Carolina Public Service Workers Union (United Electrical Workers, UE, Local 150). During the six-day “stand down,” as they called it, sanitation workers would show up to the yard each morning and refuse to take out the garbage and recycling trucks, instead holding meetings and rallies in the parking lot throughout the day.

Workers In The South Aren’t Letting Anti-Labor Laws Stop Them

Even though strikes are illegal for public sector workers in North Carolina, the difficult and sometimes dangerous work — coupled with low wages and the rising cost of living — led Perry and his co-workers to refuse to get in their trucks to pick up trash on September 6. The action reflects growing labor agitation in the South — a region where union organizing and striking are exceptionally challenging, but workers are nevertheless coming together to improve their working conditions. The day before the action, on the evening of September 5, sanitation and other city workers packed the Durham City Council meeting to present a petition demanding an immediate $5,000 bonus, payment for all work done outside job titles, and hiring all temporary workers as permanent.

If The Police Can Decide Who Qualifies As A Journalist, There Is No Free Press

On a cold Christmas night in 2021 in the picturesque mountain city of Asheville, North Carolina, The Asheville Blade journalist Veronica Coit sat in a police station waiting to be booked. A police officer motioned toward Coit and said, “She says she’s press.” The magistrate responded: “Is she real press?” “In that very moment, he could’ve decided that we were press, which we were. The magistrate has the legal right to say ‘no’ [to booking someone].” But the magistrate didn’t exercise that right. Both Coit and their colleague Matilda Bliss were processed for trespassing while covering the eviction of unhoused people at Aston Park in Asheville.

State Bills Would Eliminate Long-Term Job Security In Higher Education

Last Tuesday, Republican legislators in the North Carolina state house of representatives proposed H.B. 715, the so-called “Higher Ed Modernization and Affordability Act.” Its actual purpose is to destabilize academic jobs and exert political surveillance over North Carolina’s sixteen public universities and 58 public community colleges. Last Thursday, the Texas state senate passed a similar bill, S.B. 18. The North Carolina bill has several provisions, but the prospective elimination of tenure is getting the most attention. Under this provision, the tenure system would be eliminated for all new hires from July 2024 onward, and all future faculty would be employed at-will or on fixed-term contracts between one and four years long.

2023 Southern Worker School: Organizing A Workers Assembly

The Southern Workers Assembly is excited to share that we will be convening a Southern Worker School in Charlotte, North Carolina on April 21 through April 23. The theme of the spring gathering is “Organizing a Workers Assembly from A to Z.” The school will focus primarily on putting forward a methodology for developing workers assemblies, drawn from our experience on the ground, and the role they play in building a social movement oriented infrastructure to organize and express worker power in the South. This will constitute the majority of Saturday’s program, combining both political discussion and more concrete skills-based training.

The Life-Threatening Consequences Of Rural ‘Maternity-Care Deserts’

North Carolina - As her husband drove through Western North Carolina’s winding mountain roads in December 2018, Katlyn Moss repeated instructions to him in case something went wrong. It was nighttime and snowing, and Moss was nine months pregnant. At the time, she was also an OB-GYN nurse. As her husband drove through the snowy terrain of North Carolina’s mountain region, Moss rehashed their plan for what to do if she went into labor during the 107-mile drive from her home in rural Clay County to Mission Hospital in Asheville. “I had a conversation with my husband, like, ‘If we deliver on the side of the road, this is what you’re responsible for, and this is what we’re going to do, and this is who you should call,’” Moss said. Recounting her experience last November on a mild morning in Hayesville, Moss said she knows several women from rural parts of the state who have similar delivery stories.

A New Doctors’ Union In The South Is A Model For Health Care Organizing

North Carolina - Each day on his commute to the clinic, Dr Crister Brady traverses the rolling farmland of Eastern North Carolina, gliding past the neon-green tobacco fields where many of his patients live and work. Brady’s clinic, the Prospect Hill Community Health Center, is one of ten federally qualified health centers operated by Piedmont Health Services Inc. The nonprofit provides comprehensive primary care services to patients who are uninsured or who receive coverage from Medicaid and Medicare. Brady’s desire to care for underserved communities dates back to his experience providing “street medicine” to the unhoused. Today he aims to use his credibility as a physician to chip away at the artificial divisions designed to separate caregivers from their patients and each other.

This Appalachian Town Uses Co-ops To Build New Communities

The birthplace of bluegrass and home to the oldest mountain range east of the Mississippi River, Southern Appalachia is not only fertile soil for the sharing economy, but a co-op-driven movement known as the solidarity economy. Aimed at generating locally rooted wealth and ensuring its equitable distribution, the solidarity economy is fiercely democratic. For Sara Chester, co-executive director and founder of The Industrial Commons (TIC), a 501(c)3 organization that fosters employee ownership, in a solidarity economy “workers are appreciated not just for their labor but their ideas, insights, and innovations. Workers are not just a piece of the business, they are the reason the business exists.” Sometimes referred to as the co-op model, this approach is about creating prosperous and resilient communities by emphasizing worker agency and ownership, environmental sustainability, and the value of place.
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