Cheers to 2015!

WTF y’all?! 2015 is already over? Have I really been napping for that long? I swear I set an alarm!

Some serious shit has gone down this year, so lets review:

  • Can we talk about the fact that an institution of higher learning decided that I was worthy of receiving a degree to prove that my education is valid? Granted I bribed them with some serious coin, but they didn’t necessarily have to give me that diploma. Either way, it’s mine now and they CANNOT have it back.
  • I moved back home to New York. Okay, well I technically never moved away, but it was like I went on a super long four year vacation to North Carolina. But I am home now in the land of bagels, rude drivers, and good pizza. I do not plan on leaving any time soon (if someone could just mail me some sweet Tea that’d be great though).
  • Oh wait, you’re going to love this: Some group of adults actually thought I was competent enough to be considered a valuable addition to their team. They sat around and said, “He seems to know what he is doing. Let’s give him money on a regular basis so he can continue to do that for us.”

Just because some major things went down in 2015, doesn’t mean that I should just coast through 2016. And I figure if I write my resolutions down here, I might have to hold myself more accountable to them.

  • Move out of my family home into an apartment of my own. By “own” I mean an apartment that I will realistically share with 4 other people because the rent is just too damn high.
  • Ramp up this garbage bin of a Thought Catalog I call ‘My Blog’.
  • Try my hand at vlogging. ~Cue the 3-minute vlog intro~
  • Eat less things that are covered in batter and more things that come from the Earth.
  • I’ve heard about this new trend called Working Out, so I might as well join the herd and start that up.
  • On the realest note: make more time for keeping old friends and making new ones.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try to force a playlist or some music on you, so here’s my 2015 hits list! These lift up your mood, get you to dance, and can help you get through the year ahead.

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HPU Communications Week

The High Point University Nido R. Qubein School of Communications hosted their annual Communications Week. A week jam packed with events, banquets, presentations, and even some class-required lectures. With 11 scheduled events, the department was bustling with quests and opportunities to hear new schools of thought.

International event planner, Nathalie Cadet-James

On Monday, Miami event planner Nathalie Cadet-James, helped to kick off the week’s festivities with a presentation on her career. Former student of HPU professor Shannon Campbell, she set her sights on wedding planning and corporate events, after a successful law career. Her company, Luxe-Fete, handles international events with clients ranging from Donna Karan International to Christian Dior fragrances.

She credits her revolutionary ideas and determination for her success. Her mantra is to, “Organize, plan, and be prepared.” She always says to have a larger goal in mind; for her this is giving back to her native country of Haiti. While being both humorous and impactful, she imparted on the audience her best advice.

She proclaimed the value of marketing, without that there is no business. Also, she talked herself as a brand, because we control who we are and what we want to project. She even talked about fine details like making sure you get the exact Pantone colors from your clients, so your marketing materials are not off from what they expect.

“As I am looking for a job she reminds me to stay focused on your overarching goals and to stay true to yourself,” said HPU senior Whitney Yount. While on her career hunt, Yount heeded the careful advice of the event planner. She will always remember where she came from, while thinking about the big picture.

First Amendment Forum, panel discussion

On Wednesday, right in the middle of COM Week, students gathered in the Plato S. Wilson School of Commerce ballroom to hear a panel on the ever-changing meaning of the First Amendment in today’s society. On the panel: Dean of HPU’s School of Communications Dr. Wilfred Tremblay, HPU media law professor Dr. Dean Smith, HPU philosophy professor Dr. Matthew Brophy, and UNC Chapel Hill journalism professor Joseph Cabosky. The panel was moderated by Media Fellow, and Lambda Pi Eta president, John Marsicano.

While covering a range of hot topics from marijuana advertisements to “sexting” or Yik Yak, the panel of educated thinkers debated the First Amendment vitalities surrounding the issues.

However, some of the fun did not pan down to the audience. “I felt like the moderator could have been a better host,” HPU student Sara Michael said, “he didn’t really moderate much of anything at all. And when he did speak, it was like the audience wasn’t even there.”

The 48 Hour Film Festival

To end the weeks events, the High Point Broadcasting Society hosted a 48-hour film festival. Six teams signed up during the week and met on Friday evening for the kick-off. The teams were given a set of criteria that they had to accomplish in order to be entered to win:

  • A lamp as a prop

  • A bed sheet sound effect

  • A line of dialogue

  • A randomly selected genre of film

“What makes it hard is the genre,” said HPBS president and festival host Michael Shield, “you have to get creative about how to create a thematic film in such a short time frame.” The short time frame was evident in some film submissions, come the screening on Sunday. The amateurish quality of the films gave them an endearing quality.

I was happy to see more events that relate to students. A week of talks and panels have little interests to the collegiate body. Instead other events like game marathons and the new We Are Comm presentations fabled well with students looking to get involved. The banquet and awards ceremony was good to show off student works, many of which they should be proud of.

High Point nonprofits build a better tomorrow

By: Kyle Berube

High Point, N.C. – To the residents of High Point, North Carolina, the issue of poverty is one of both prevalence and high debate. Stemming way back before the housing bubble burst of the mid-2000s, residents of the small city have felt severe economic pain, as many of the city’s furniture businesses fled to foreign production.

Several nonprofits in the greater High Point area have developed out of a necessity to aid many of the city’s problems. Places like the Greater High Point Food Alliance, the YMCA of High Point, and Open Door Ministries have all developed to answer the needs of the city’s plethora of issues.

The YMCA of High Point

With early beginnings in 1923, High Point’s branches of the YMCA have grown to include four locations, serving over 15,000 community members. One of their strongest forms of service provided to High Point, is their child services department. From aftercare to babysitting and education, they focus the most on taking care of future generations.

Carlvena Foster, executive director of the Carl Chavis branch of the YMCA, says her main goal has always been the children. “For me it is about the kids,” she said. “If I can inspire and support them, then I know I’m where I need to be.”

Their aftercare programs pull in many aids, a lot of which are High Point University students. “They come over and are on board with our mission,” Foster said. “They just care about taking care of the children.” She says it is beautiful to see how the community loves to come together to make sure that children are taken care of.

Watch – The YMCA photo story of working with children.

Open Door Ministries

The mission statement of Open Door Ministries is to, “Serve, empower, and assist, the community of High Point to end hunger and homelessness through advocacy, education, housing, and coordination services.” At least that is according to Leslie Graham, the director of development and donor services at Open Door Ministries.

Established in 1995, out of a merger between High Point Urban Ministry and Open Door Shelter, it works to provide relief to the community of High Point in a number of ways. They provide emergency assistance to families in need, food services to the homeless, transitional services to those seeking employment and housing, a shelter to men in need, and permanent supportive housing assistance to those in need.

Graham has been working with Open Door Ministries since the economy crashed in the mid-2000s. Prior to that, she was a Realtor in High Point. She saw the downturn as an opportunity to use all of her connections to give back to those who were less fortunate. “Some people have been through the worst, dealt a bad hand,” Graham said. “It is up to people like us to help and make sure that they can see the light on the other side of the dark time.”

While they receive funding from the city council, as many nonprofits in High Point do, much of their work comes from volunteers. So much so that on occasion they have too much help.

Graham said that so many HPU students are interested in giving back, they don’t have enough work for everyone to do. She is often in awe of how much students, who have been given such fortunate lives, are willing and able to make others’ lives better. “High tides rise all ships,” she said, “and that’s what I love about all of our volunteers.”

Survey – Nonprofits in High Point

CLICK HERE FOR SURVEY

The Greater High Point Food Alliance

Just a baby as far as nonprofits go, it does not even have official status yet, The Greater High Point Food Alliance is being built to tackle the cities latest buzz issue: food insecurity. High Point consistently floats between the top two spots as far as cities with the greatest percentage of food insecurity, as well as the largest number of food deserts in one area.

High Point University professor, Reverend Doctor Joe Blosser, assistant professor of religion and philosophy, is one of the many concerned High Point residents leading this battle against hunger. “We look at how much we have, and we just have to give it back to those who can’t get it for themselves,” he said. Through summits and meetings he wants to bring together those who are in need, and those who can help, in order to reach a solution against hunger in High Point. It’s out of the synthesis of ideas that the real change will occur.

“This can’t just be a top down solution, or vice-versa, we have to be able to meet in the middle and find an answer that makes everyone’s lives better,” Blosser said. With a board that includes everyone from journalists, doctors, professors, and businessmen, the GHPFA seeks to take answers from everywhere to fix the issue.

Look – an info-graphic on food hunger in High Point.

Food Hunger in High Point, NC

Building a better tomorrow

The main message of each of the aforementioned organizations is just to get involved. In whatever capacity you can manage, from donating food to offering up time or money, Dr. Blosser, Mrs. Graham, and Mrs. Foster all stress doing whatever you can to make High Points citizens better off then they were before.

For More Information

The Greater High Point Food Alliance website.

The website for the YMCA of Greater High Point.

Learn more on the website of Open Door Ministries.

Marina Abramović on humor, vulnerability and failure

“I think failure is a very important part of success. If you don’t fail, it means you’re not risking anything, or you’re repeating yourself. And that means you’ll lose the curiosity and the life force inside of you.” – Marina Abramović on creating art and taking risks in your life.

ideas.ted.com

Marina Abramović is talking about the role of humor in her life and work. Now, that’s not necessarily a topic you might expect to chat about with the grande dame of the performance art world. Her work is powerful, austere, often overwhelming … but funny?

“People know my work and they’re afraid to meet me,” Abramović acknowledges with a laugh. “Then they get to know me and my work and they think I’m hilarious. Put it all together and somehow it works.” She recalls one piece at the Guggenheim in New York in 2005 for which she ate a kilo of honey, drank a liter of red wine, and whipped herself raw (among other things). Not exactly the stuff that comic legends are made of. But, says Abramović: “I was licking the honey and I saw someone opposite writing something frantically in his notebook. And I thought ‘What is he writing, we…

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Downtown Greensboro Inc. seeks a new future

Since 1997 the Downtown Greensboro Inc. has been actively working to revitalize the livelihood of this Eastern Triad city. In its almost 20-year history the DGI has played a storied role in the economic development of Greensboro, NC.

As that important milestone approaches, the community must ask what will become of the next 20 years? Recent years have brought many personnel and internal nightmares, how does that affect the DGI mission?

Who are they?

On the DGI website, they state their mission is to, “Lead the development of Downtown Greensboro as a prosperous and vibrant urban center, memorable and meaningful for those who choose to live, work, play and invest here.” Their main goal is to increase investments in the town and foster activity within the cities center. With a staff of only five people, and a board of 24 community members, this non-profit works to develop companies within the community, work on community marketing campaigns, address environmental impact, and provide educational services to residents.

Steven Harrison is the program manager, and one of those only five employees, for the DGI. He has his hands in many of the different projects currently running. From organizing both individuals and companies interested in investing in the Downtown Greensboro landscape, to consulting member corporations on practices that will benefit the entire city.

“One of the most interesting things about this job,” Harrison said in an interview, “Is seeing how many companies are actually invested in Greensboro.” Major companies in the area like Natty Greene’s Pub and Brewing Co., the Carolina Theatre, and Center Pointe, all have put time and money into bettering the community. “They know that when they support everything around them, it does nothing but boost themselves in the long run,” he said.


WATCH – a walk through Downtown Greensboro.


Where are they going?

Greensboro City Council District 3 councilman, Zack Matheny has his eyes set on DGI. Being that his district resides directly over downtown, he has had an extended interest in the organization and its work to improve the community. His passion has always been downtown.

“It was actually some friends who turned me to the idea,” he said. That idea: have Matheny serve as president and CEO of DGI. The most recent president and CEO, Jason Cannon, resigned in February, after just 18 months in the position.

The organization has been plagued with frequent staffing issues and disagreements among the Board of Directors. “I feel like I am at the moment where I have to either step up to the plate,” Matheny said, “or get the hell out.” After questioning the organizations happenings, he figured it appropriate to want to try and right it himself.

Matheny imagines a smooth transition if the DGI wants to hire him. Many of his plans for the organization are already things he is working on while holding office at the city council.


CLICK HERE – an interactive map of available properties to be developed for Greensboro’s benefit.

Preview of the interactive map highlighting all of Greensboro's downtown property that could possibly be developed.

Preview of the interactive map highlighting all of Greensboro’s downtown property that could possibly be developed.


What’s next?

Interim DGI president and CEO, Cyndy Hayworth, denied my frequent phone calls and emails for comment about Matheny’s potential role or the organizations future.

A current bill proposed in the N.C. Senate would lead to major redistricting throughout the entire state. If this bill is passed into law, Downtown Greensboro would be distributed into other districts effectively eliminating Matheny’s position. While unfortunate, if this bill passes it would free up Matheny to lead the advocacy group without a conflict of interests. While he personally sees no issues in a potential conflict, in running the DGI and remaining on the council, much of the community has expressed concern in his ability to separate both entities and prevent a grey-area from developing.

When talking with many community members, they felt that some of the previous ideas of the DGI were stale and downtrodden. Barista at The Green Bean on S. Elm St., Karen, agreed with the overall sentiment. “I haven’t seen them accomplish anything major in recent years, since they started having issues,” she said.

Like many others, Karen is hopeful that things can turn around and continue to be prosperous. Like she said, “High tides rise all ships, after all.”


FOR MORE INFORMATION – Helpful links.

Explore the current amenities in Greensboro.

Looking to invest in Greensboro?

Looking for a job in Greensboro?

Learn more about council member, Zack Matheny.

Keep up-to-date on state-wide redistricting.


2015 Academy Awards fashion: faves and graves

The 2015 Academy Awards were on February 22, 2015 in rainy Los Angeles. The bad weather did not stop anyone from pulling out their best looks. Take a look through this gallery of the outfits from the night featuring my faves and graves!

Struggles in the past and present, for a better future

By: Kyle Berube

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Under the shadows of the Lincoln Financial Group building, on South Elm Street, sits the International Civil Rights Center & Museum. In the shell of an old F.W. Woolworth Co. storefront, a desolate lobby presents itself, reminding one of an imposing and powerful New York City business office rather than the entryway to a museum.

On Feb. 1, 1960, four African-American students at North Carolina A&T (now known as Greensboro Four) staged a sit-in at the then F.W. Woolworth Co. lunch counter, sparking a major trend in the civil rights movement. Fast forward to Feb. 1, 2010, when the International Civil Rights Center & Museum held its grand opening in honor of the 50th anniversary of these sit-ins. Now, just five years later, it remains quiet, saddled with a nearly $2 million loan debt to the city government.

A Museum struggles to remain afloat

Since its initial formation under Melvin “Skip” Alston and Earl Jones back in 1993, under the auspices of Sit-In Movement Inc., the ICRCM has received funding from the city of Greensboro. The museum is dedicated to the American struggle for both civil and human rights. Its main focus is the remnants of the F.W. Woolworth Co. lunch counter where the Greensboro Four staged a sit-in that changed the face of the civil rights movement.

According to annual reports, attendance at the museum has fallen drastically since its opening. In 2010 the museum reported almost 63,000 visitors, while in 2014 it reported only 41,000 attendees. The museum has never brought in more than $385,000 per year in revenue from ticket sales.

Margaret Moffett, at the Greensboro News and Record, connected the dots about the museum’s debts. She discovered that between 2013 and 2014, the city loaned about $1.25 million to the museum in order to help with its budgeting and financial issues. The museum is set to receive a final loan of $250,000 this summer, creating a grand total of $1.5 million loaned in just three years. The goal date for repayment of these loans is June 30, 2016, but there is an agreement between the ICRCM and the City of Greensboro stating that one dollar of the loan will be forgiven for every dollar raised in private donations.  In the coming months alone, the ICRCM owes approximately $131,000 to Wells Fargo, $50,000 to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, and $783,000 to Carolina Bank. That totals almost $1 million owed before June 30 of this year. Financial statements from November 2014 state that the museum needs $500,000 to pay staff and operate for 5 months.

So what does this mean? It means that the museum owes a lot of money to a lot of people, and it do not have sufficient funds to return the money to its lenders. Things are looking grim. In several city council meetings, the community has called for an entire clearing and restructuring of the museum’s board of directors. Some have even called for Greensboro mayor, Nancy Vaughan, to resign as mayor because of her involvement on the museum’s board. One of only a few major museums focusing on civil rights across the country, its survival is imperative to the expansion of museums in other places, like Memphis and Washington D.C.

A preview gallery of the museum.

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Investing in the future

Brandon Brockington is a tour specialist and curatorial associate at the museum, and he has been working with the ICRCM pretty much since the beginning. He started as a spoken word poet and performer working at different events held there since the grand opening and became a tour guide after becoming enraptured by the powerful history of the museum.

“When I took a tour, that just opened my mind completely because I didn’t know any of this history,” Brockington said. Out of a group of 30 trainees, he was the only tour guide to actually finish the training. The tour guides have in-depth knowledge of a very advanced and interactive museum. In his time here, he has staged several events at the museum, including a Harlem Renaissance-esque poetry slam and various phonathons to raise funds. His performance troupe at the museum has also put on plays and live exhibits about civil rights.

Brockington is not too concerned about the financial struggles of the museum. He is a firm believer that when the world is coming after the museum, it must be on the cusp of greatness. “When you are under attack like that,” he said, “it’s usually because you are doing something right.” Whenever he has experienced life’s many tribulations it was always because “something magical was about to happen,” he said. He credits the museum’s mindset to not give up as the reason that it can push through any issue.

He is developing many different plans to get the community, with a particular focus on the schools, involved and showing up at the museum. The museum currently has initiatives with local schools, where employees set up tours for elementary, middle and high school students to talk with them about civil rights in different capacities. He views the impact he can have on the youth as the most important thing he is doing through his work at the museum. They will be the ones who will lead the dialogue of equality for generations to come. Museum staff members are also launching an outreach program where members of the staff go to different schools who may not be able to get to the museum otherwise. Additionally, they are using a live virtual tour where students all across the nation can get to see the museums different exhibits.

His favorite thing about giving tours? Brockington said, “You meet people from all over the world, all the time, every day. There is nothing better than that.” He went on to say how touched he is to see people from all different walks of life, who have many commonalities while being so different.


CLICK HERE: The freedom riders journey.

Capture

The journey of the Freedom Riders from Washington D.C. through the deep south. (Kyle Berube for MapBox)


A trip into the past

My tour guide’s name was Tay, a shortened name that she chose for privacy reasons. It was exceedingly obvious that I was on her last tour of the day, and that she was ready to start her weekend, but you can’t hold that against her – it happens to everyone. “American history was, and still is, a complex tapestry,” she told us. “If you peel back the layers, you will see the trials and tribulations of a conflicted history.”

She lead my group on a seemingly never-ending tour. She took us through all of the exhibits about the movement. The museum is a sight to be seen: full of interactive exhibits, state-of-the-art interactive displays, mirrors that turn into TVs, disappearing walls and interactive quizzes. It begins to become apparent where some of the expenses have manifested themselves. Tay assured me that these types of exhibits are necessary today to get people away from their phones and to focus on the museum. No one wants to read a bunch of placards anymore (a thought that I agree with to the highest extent).

At the end of our tour she urged me to get into action. “We must all do our parts to change our own opinions,” she said. “With the knowledge that we have and the experiences that we have been through, we must make sure these things do not occur anywhere else in the world.” Her words rang true to me as I thought about events like riots in Ferguson and in much of the Middle East. There is still a lot of work to be done, but we can make it happen.


CLICK HERE: The civil rights movement timeline.

An interactive timeline of the civil rights movement. (Kyle Berube for TimeToast)

An interactive timeline of several of the major events of the civil rights movement. (Kyle Berube for TimeToast)


Plan a visit.

Do you want to know more about the museum? Visit their website. Better yet, visit the museum on South Elm Street in Greensboro. Prices are affordable, between $8 and $12 per ticket, and it is open during standard business hours from Monday to Saturday. Help keep this crucial and important museum afloat.

2015 Golden Globes – Graves and Faves

The 2015 Golden Globes, Jan. 11, 2015 on NBC, brought the party like it always does. Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted their third and final year at the awards joking on everything from Sony to Bill Cosby. Presented below, without comment, are 10 Red Carpet looks. Five of them belong put in a grave, while five of them were my fave. Enjoy!

The top 5 looks that should be put in a GRAVE:

The top 5 looks that were my FAVE:

The Kings Winter Masquerade at the McKittrick Hotel (NYE 2014)

A quick gallery of some photos from New Years Eve at the McKittrick Hotel. The party was put on by the people who produce Sleep No More! The theme was the Kings Winter Masquerade. The dinner and party told the story of King James and Queen Anne! Such an amazing party!

What Happens When France Creates too Much Greatness in One Year?

The 2011 Parisian film, “The Intouchables,” which touched the hearts of foreign film critics worldwide tells the story of a quadriplegic aristocrat who hires a young thug as a caretaker. The relationship that resulted, although oddball, is one that is capturing notable attention, including that of my own.

Written and directed by both Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the most important cultural event in France (according to retail chain Fnac), was produced by the Weinstein Company. The masterpiece stars Francois Cluzet as Philippe, the French aristocrat deemed quadriplegic as a result of a paragliding accident, and Omar Sy in his Cesar Award winning turn as the Senegalese criminal, Driss, looking to get his benefits by going on a job interview.

The 2011 Parisian film, “The Artist,” stole the hearts of the entire world telling the black-and-white romantic story of the end of the silent film era. An aged film star and the young ingenue fall in love as they struggle to adapt to the changing 1930’s cinematic landscape.

Written, directed, and edited by Michel Hazanavicius while also being produced by the Weinstein Company. It starred Jean Dujardin as silent film star George Valentin in his 2012 Academy Award winning turn for Best Actor. The film also went on to win four other Academy Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, and six Cesar Awards. “The Artist” won over 100 awards globally, while “The Intouchables” only won 31 awards.

By any means both films are great enough to legendary in their own right. So how did two major French foreign films capture the attention of the millions, but one be sewed into the global cultural lexicon and one not be known of until it’s assigned in a class?

“The Intouchables” set an all-time record for a foreign film not made or previously released in the US, at the high value of $340 million, but “The Artist” became the international gem of that film season. There is one key difference amongst the films: plot.

“The Intouchables,” although veiled behind a true story, is a plot that is seen time and time again: the oddball and straight edge becoming unlikely friends. Look to American mega-successful films such as “The Odd Couple,” “Annie,” “Rush Hour,” “Toy Story,” and “Bad Boys.” Because this is a film narrative that is seemingly old hat to American audiences, its splendor and awe is marred by the rest of it’s class. While “The Artist” deals with common themes like a changing world and adapting to it, it does so in a new and fantastical sense (the silent and black-and-white effects).

There is nothing that separates “The Intouchables” from anything else. The true story does no help as it is not a well-known enough story globally. The discussion over racial identities plays a side role to the film, not pulling the attention it deserves. The same is said of it’s depiction of disability awareness and care. If this were any other year it could have gone against other true stories like “The Iron Lady” or “Argo.” But because the Weinstein Company pushed hard on two similar French films at the same time, one had to fall flat.

I use the term “fall flat” loosely, because it was one of the highest grossing films of its kind, but “The Intouchables” was just not the Academy Award-winning film for us to remember decades to come.