In a little more than a year, Andrew Dunn will graduate from UNC-Chapel Hill with two degrees, in journalism and Spanish, only to face a dire economy and an industry rife with layoffs. A few years ago his internships at The St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, The (Durham, N.C.) Herald Sun and The Charlotte Observer, coupled with his time on the editorial staff for UNC's The Daily Tar Heel, would have practically guaranteed him a list of job offers upon graduation, but he's not counting on it.
Instead, he's trying to crowdsource the media troops. Crowdsourcing, a term coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 issue of Wired magazine, is a simple concept meant to counter tough challenges. It's simple: state a problem to a large group — typically online — and allow them to both propose solutions and sort through suggestions in search of the best possible ideas.
Unable to sleep a couple of weeks ago and pondering a what-we-would-do-if-we-owned-a-newspaper conversation with buddies on Twitter, Dunn spent 10 minutes creating the HTML backbone of a Web site designed to spur a collective brainstorm in the media community. The result: Let'sBuyaNewspaper.com.
The site was a whim, really, something he thought he'd work on for fun in his spare time but, to his surprise, it's catching on. Today pledges total almost $28,000. "I didn't expect anyone to contribute," says Dunn who also says, “Some people are taking it seriously and some aren't."
In January, Creative Loafing spent the day with Devondia Roseborough, a Charlotte woman living with AIDS, yet using her voice to help others.
On World AIDS Day, you can bet Roseborough is busy spreading her message of hope and prevention. Monday afternoon, she was in Greenville, N.C. about to speak on behalf of an AIDS/HIV advocacy group, at East Carolina University.
She’s expanded her reach from just speaking about AIDS and HIV in the Charlotte area. “I’m doing state conferences, which has broadened my horizons,” she said. And Roseborough has stepped outside the box when it comes to the places where she’ll speak as well.
Instead of just sharing her message with churches and schools, she’s also speaking to people at nightclubs. Because, let’s face it, many people go to the club and find sexual partners that they don’t know much about. That can be dangerous in Mecklenburg County.
“You’re at the club and you’re about to get these drinks. Do you know who you’re leaving with and what their status is or what your status is,” she said.
Since last speaking with Roseborough, she has published her memoirs, Put It On Paper.
“I’ve gotten great reviews on it. I use the book as a tool to encourage people that are newly infected as well as those who are family members of those who are infected. So that they can see what somebody, with a real story that didn’t mind sharing, has gone through,” she said.
She’s about to start training to be a case manager and she plans to switch the focus of her Rasberrirose Foundation to helping teens with HIV and AIDS. “It’s going to be Rasberrirose Inc. so I can do more. What I’m doing now is looking into case management for teens so they will have somewhere to go,” she said.
Roseborough has been living with AIDS since December 9, 2003. When she was diagnosed, she had a T-Cell count of 19. Today, she said her T-Cell count is 500 and she only has to take three medications a day.
A normal T-Cell count for someone infected with HIV is above 500. For a non-infected person, the normal T-Cell count is between 700 and 1000. When the T-Cell count drops below 200, a person is classified as having AIDS, according to an article written by registered nurse Mark Cichocki, which was published on About.com.
“I want people to see that it’s not that bad, but it can be if you allow it to be,” she said.
Roseborough said the high rate of HIV and AIDS in Mecklenburg County shows the need for more education and more collaboration between agencies in the area.
“People want to stand alone and do it on their own and they don’t want to stand together and show that unity. Also, people aren’t taking responsibility for themselves. They are caught up in the moment.”
She said that it is important for people — not just men — to have condoms available.
“Some women don’t carry condoms and if the man doesn’t have it, they think, 'It’s all right as long as you don’t ejaculate inside me,'” said Roseborough. “They don’t know the repercussions behind that. It’s not just about getting pregnant or a simple STD that you can get rid of. You have HIV and AIDS that have no cure.”
So, what is it that keeps Roseborough on this mission?
She said it’s a promise that she made to God.
“I know what He did for me when I was in that hospital with that fever and those infections. I made a commitment to Him because he did something for me. If I would’ve given up, I wouldn’t be here to do what I’m doing.”
Atlanta based author J.L. King made a national name for himself when he was on the Oprah Winfrey Show telling about the “down low” or the D.L.
It’s a phenomenon mostly associated with black men, but King says men of all colors and nationalities are on the D.L. -- men who sleep with other men secretly while publicly dating women. King’s first book, On The Down Low, made him a controversial star. His second book, Coming Up From The Down Low, showed growth and a different side of King. But his third book is a first -- completely made up. It’s his first novel and it’s fiction.
King will be in Charlotte signing copies of Love On A Two-Way Street this Saturday at 2 p.m. at Borders Books at Northlake Mall.
These days, King is honest about his sexuality. He says that he’s bisexual and has a girlfriend who understands who he is and what he does and he has a male friend who also knows what he’s getting by being with King. When he comes to Charlotte, he’s not just selling books, he will also bring his DVD Saving Our Daughters, which King says teaches young women how to love themselves and that it’s OK not to have a man in your life.
Saturday night the Uptown spot HOM — located at 116 W. 5th St. — will be celebrating its one-year anniversary. Creative Loafing chatted with Andre Araiz, an operating partner who’s been around since the very beginning, about the birth of HOM, future plans and the party this weekend.
Creative Loafing: How long did it take HOM to get to where it’s at now?
We moved into the space last August. I would say the project was in the works at least six months before that. After moving in, it took about three to four months to get the place together. We were very lucky to have a place such as this to work with. There are so many different environments, three different floors. If anything, the challenge now is to properly maintain the service — it’s approximately 15,000 sq feet. We just really gave the place a new skin. There wasn’t that much construction that we had deal with. We took out the slide, we took out the spiral staircase that was coming down the middle of the dance floor, shrunk the ladies room a little bit. Everything else was mostly interior design.
What was the vision behind creating HOM?
Most of my background has been in film and music. It’s about entertaining. I also have a background and partnership with a marketing company in building custom sound systems for several years, so it’s really about offering a multi-sensory experience, with sounds, visuals, scents, lighting, food as well. That’s really the main motivation behind it. Being able to offer that and relate to just about anybody different days of the week.
It’s been a year. I assume there were probably some bumps along the way?
Oh, tons of bumps. It’s definitely been a lot of ups and downs. For the most part though it’s been really good. This has been the first full year. We’ve gotten a better understanding of the seasons, and what that means for not only this kind of business but Charlotte as a whole. Between how the summer and winter affects you, just how people’s habits and mood are affected by the temperature and being outdoors.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but for Mike Sexton it’s every month.
Sexton works with the Mecklenburg County Women’s Commission where he focuses on getting community involvement in eradicating and understanding domestic violence. Creative Loafing recently spoke to him about his role in making Charlotte a safer place for victims of domestic violence.
Creative Loafing: How did you get involved in this field?
Sexton: By coming to work with the Women’s Commission of Mecklenburg County. The Women’s Commission’s primary focus is helping victims and children that are observers of domestic violence. And also, they run a batterer’s program that is court ordered to help abusers. I came to work for them in 2002 in a communications role and really got active in the advocacy end of it where it has become a passion.
What changes have you seen in how domestic violence is treated in Charlotte over the last six years?
I think the biggest difference is more men are becoming aware of [domestic violence] and willing to step up and talk about it and become advocates. The domestic violence movement really started out as a women’s grassroots movement. Now there are coalitions in every state in the country. There are corporations that are involved in it like the Avon Foundation and the National Prevention Fund. There is now in legislation the Violence Against Women Act, which [Sen.] Joe Biden was instrumental in getting.
Locally, what would you like to see more of, as far as prevention and treatment of domestic violence?
I would like to see people be more willing to step up and ask for help. Most victims know it’s coming and recognize it when it’s come. If they can just get out of the fray and get to a place to safety. That’s one piece of it. The other piece is getting community groups, church groups, homeowners associations, apartment complexes, property management companies, HR departments to step up and ask for help to get an understanding of what domestic violence is about because it’s happening all over the place. One in four women are impacted by domestic violence in an intimate-partner relationship in their life. It’s scary for people because they don’t want to get involved. The church really struggles with it because we want to get the victims to a place of safety and we want the abusers to understand that the choices they are making in the relationship are wrong. And it’s an unfair burden that’s put on churches that pastors need to fix all the congregation’s problems. That’s a burden that’s placed on a lot of pastors and ministry leaders, and I would like them to understand that we’re here to come up along side them and help them. We want to help them and show them what works and what’s dangerous and why couple’s counseling is dangerous. Normal logic for pastors might be to do exactly that, to get the couple together and do couple’s counseling. But where that is incorrect is if you bring the two parties in a room together to talk about an issue, what the victim says, whether it’s male or female, or what they don’t say could be turned against them when they get home.
Sexton says if you’re a victim of domestic violence, you should have 911 at the top of your speed dial list. Also, he recommends having the battered women’s shelter number, 704-332-2513, on hand as well.
He encourages anyone who wants to make a difference or volunteer to contact the Women’s Commission at 704-336-3210. And if you want to host a domestic violence event, contact Sexton at 704-432-1568.
Presenting the first in a series of weekly interviews with Charlotte-based movers, shakers, tastemakers, activists and other notables. This week, we talk to local music promoter Michael Kitchen.
Last weekend, he brought former Tony!Toni! Tone! frontman Raphael Saadiq to town. And this week, Kitchen is behind singer Eric Benet’s NoDa performance. But with dollars short and people worrying about their jobs, how can a promoter make some cash?
Creative Loafing: How do your shows fare in tough economic times?
Michael Kitchen: I have to think about the artist that I’m [bringing to town]. Who I think will attract more people. I also have to look at my overall budget: what I’m charging people to get in, how much I’m paying the artist. It’s been crazy in the South. Gas is crazy, and with Wachovia, no one knows what’s going to happen to their jobs. I have to really get into the mind of the consumer. Would I pay this much to see this person?
What changes have you seen in the Charlotte entertainment landscape in the last five years?
I still think there is a market for live music here. It’s still slowly building. There’s not a lot of diversity in entertainment here. Things seem to be stagnant with no creativity. The only thing I see is that you have somebody redoing things that have already been done. It doesn’t have any creativity or something that says I really need to go to that. Then you have the issue of trying to get these people that have moved here and are used to going out every night and going to live music and different events; a lot of them are still hard to reach.
What does Charlotte need to do to make its nightlife exciting?
Support. That can be branched off into buying advanced tickets, just supporting the live music scene and entertainment period. People here are finicky. If they don’t know that artist, they feel like they shouldn’t go. The problem here is that people don’t look at it as good music [if they’re not familiar with the artist]. But you can go to any other city, people just go and listen to it.
And while Kitchen is known as a soul music promoter, expect to see him branch out into alternative music soon. He says there are a lot of rock bands on the horizon that he’d like to bring to the Queen City. He’s also planning to throw theme parties in the future are well to add some flavor to the vanilla nightlife in Charlotte.
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