27510: Getting Local in Carrboro

image of the Carrboro bus

Chapel Hill Transit’s Carrboro Bus

Not that long ago, a movement, or a fetish, for everything local started sweeping across the country.  I am certain that someone, perhaps someone reading this post, has investigated where this trend began and how it has grown.  The trend is probably most popular with food, but localism – the prioritization of all things local1 – takes many forms.

There are a few towns in North Carolina that have embraced localism with gusto, my hometown of Carrboro among them.  For years, I have purchased my groceries at Weaver Street Market, a local cooperative market that stocks and promotes local North Carolina farmers and products.  On weekends, I frequently visit the Carrboro Farmer’s Market, where all vendors must “produce their goods within 50 miles of Market.”2

But we also have our share of national or regional chains. Wendy’s has been here for years, Harris Teeter and Food Lion are here, and Hampton Inn opened up a few years ago.

Even at these chain establishments, there are nods to our unique community, as it should be.  The people who bag groceries at Harris Teeter, cook burgers at Wendy’s, and make the beds at the Hampton Inn are all neighbors, either living in Carrboro or close by.

I fill my prescriptions at a national pharmacy chain.   In the many years I’ve lived in Carrboro, many of the same employees have remained at the store.  One evening I asked the women who worked there how long they had been there, and between them they had over twenty years experience working at my pharmacy.  The fact that I think of it as “my pharmacy” is indicative of how successfully integrated into our community this store has become.

In the end, shopping, dining, and living local in Carrboro, or anywhere, means one thing: remembering that the people you interact with are your neighbors. If you, or the stores, forget that, then we have all lost something in the process.

Responding to the WordPress Daily Prompt:  Local

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The Color of Walt


Up in the Air

The quintessential post-World War II vacation is a trip to California, to Disneyland.   This year we had the good fortune to take a trip to Anaheim, to take our daughter to Disney for the first time.

The venerable theme park, sixty-one years old this year, remains a popular attraction for kids of all ages.  It was remarkable to see people of all walks of life visiting the epicenter of American consumerist culture.  In a audible echo of Disney’s It’s a Small World song, I heard languages from every continent  in the lines for rides and in the shops throughout the Magic Kingdom.  A small world indeed.

Disney, the man and the company, has long stood for traditional American values. Disneyland itself is located in one of the most conservative counties in America, not far from the birthplace of Richard Nixon, the ideological forebear of everything the right has become. Historically, Walt Disney and his productions have been criticized as being anti-Semitic and racist.   In Disney’s films, female characters have been slow to evolve from traditional patriarchal depictions.   Disney was a virulent anti-Communist, serving as a friendly witness in the McCarthy hearings. 1

Suffice to say that the Disney’s history does not exemplify what we think of as a progressive, liberal world view.  But for all the criticism of Disney’s past, it is hard to say that Disney was any more anti-Semitic or racist than the rest of the nation at the time.   And it is fair to say that Disney, especially after merging with Pixar, has changed.  In many dramatic ways, from providing benefits for LGBT employees and their partners, to having more dynamic, strong female characters and characters of color in their movies, Disney today is very different than it used to be.  The company is regularly the target of boycotts by right-wing groups who object to any subtle nods in the direction of progressive modernity.

Disney as a company has always been a marriage of art and commerce.  They have built an international brand based on the handiwork of thousands of artists.  The message of that brand, though, is always what will sell.  To that end, I would argue that as the economic life of the country has turned more bi-coastal and more progressive, Disney has engaged with that cultural conversation and responded.  Today, half of US GDP comes from just a few, mostly coastal, mostly progressive areas, like Seattle, San Francisco, New York, and Boston. 2

These areas are growing, and Disney, following the market, is no more radical than this burgeoning audience.  They’ve changed as America has, with an eye to the future.  It should come as no surprise that their business model follows the direction of the nation.  If Disney represents conservatism, it isn’t the blue conservatism of whatever the GOP has become, it is the green conservatism of the dollar bill, and increasingly those dollars are in the hands of red-state Americans.

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Good Precepts

“…for I give you good precepts:    do not forsake my teaching.”  – Proverbs 4

I’m not a bible reader, or remotely religious.  I ran across the above biblical quote when looking for inspiration for this post.  Forget about it being sacred, I just find it funny that even thousands of years ago, dads were trying to get their kids to f**king pay attention to the wisdom of their elders.  It is the premise of every family oriented sitcom, the dad dispensing hard-won advice to kids who “know better”, from Father Knows Best to The Sopranos.

I suppose every parent wishes their kids would listen more, and absorb the parental pearls of wisdom that we believe lead to some definition of success.  It rarely happens.  I know because, well, I can barely think of one useful thing my dad ever said to me.

My daughter is a remarkable kid. She is on the autism spectrum.  There have been many times I’ve hoped to have a meaningful conversation with her, only to be stymied by her inability to focus, pay attention, and comprehend what I have to say.  Some parents say advice goes in one ear and out the other.  With my daughter, words go in and fall into a jumble of letters, perhaps inspiring a non-sequitur in response as the letters disintegrate into fairy dust.

But she does read, so a few months ago I began writing down a series of “good precepts,” wise and perhaps useful advice.  I have some vague hope that she will someday run across this and tell me it was useful.  Or maybe you, dear reader-who-is-not-my-daughter, will find these things useful.

  1. People will reliably disappoint you, in so many ways.  But hey can also surprise you in unexpectedly great ways.
  2. There is more than one way to skin a cat, but none will please the cat.
  3. Winning is great. It isn’t everything, but it is still pretty great. Be proud, and never ashamed, of your successes.
  4. The people who matter will stick with you, but never take their love and support for granted.  You don’t have the right to use other people because they love you.
  5. I try to live an honest life, but haven’t always been honest. Honesty is harder than you think.  Honesty can hurt, in ways only love can heal.

I have more of these, but if you are like my daughter – or are my daughter – you probably have had enough for now.

How about you?  Do you have things you want your child to know that they just won’t listen to?  Share in the comments.


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