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Danielle Spurlock speaks at a neighborhood town hall meeting in east Durham. From "Gaining a Community's Trust" in the April 19, 2017 issue of Endeavors magazine.
Danielle Spurlock speaks at a neighborhood town hall meeting in east Durham. From “Gaining a Community’s Trust” in the April 19, 2017 issue of Endeavors magazine.

Founded more than three decades ago by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the award-winning Endeavors magazine has covered creative and scientific pursuits – pursuits that support the University’s mission to serve the state and the world.

During those 35 years, many Center for Urban and Regional Studies Faculty Fellows and researchers have been profiled by Endeavors writers. In celebration of this anniversary, we take a look back at a selection of those stories. (CURS Faculty Fellows and researchers are named in bold type).

David Brower and David Godschalk

January 22, 1985 – Approaches to Waste Management: A Hodge-Podge (pdf)

“Nearly every state is struggling to find effective means for dealing with waste disposal,” said Richard Andrews. “This project was undertaken to find out which of the approaches, if any, seem to be working, which are not, and why.” Collaborating researchers were Terrence Pierson and Jonathan Howes, director of CURS.

December 1, 1985 – Hurricane Hazard Reduction (pdf)

David Godschalk and David Brower (photo right) were funded by the National Science Foundation to investigate the use and effectiveness of developmental management techniques to reduce the impact of hurricanes and tropical storms.

December 18, 1993 – A Social Force to Be Reckoned With: Social Scientists Affect Life Beyond the University (pdf)

William Rohe and Michael Stegman researched the impact of homeownership on the self-image of low income families. Their research results were influential in shaping the public housing sales program, HOPE-1.

September 1, 1996 – Sustainable Development (pdf)

In this piece, Endeavors surveyed campus projects addressing sustainable development. Helzi Noponen left for India 15 years ago as a master’s student at the University of California at Berkeley. Now, as an assistant professor in UNC-CH’s Department of City and Regional Planning, she is helping her graduate students make their own journey to the subcontinent to engage women’s groups in sustainable development. * “In the United States we place great emphasis on regulating economic activities,” Philip Berke says, “but in New Zealand they are interested in limiting government intervention. They are promoting a free market economy, but paying careful attention to assuring that development outcomes are sustainable.” * “I think people are starting to wake up and say, ‘My quality of life is going down,’” says David Brower, research professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning. “That includes things like environmental degradation, congestion, poorly designed cities, and a lack of human dignity.”

January 1, 1999 – Who’s Spilling What

A good guess. Scientists studying how to clean up the Neuse River say that’s what they have after logging soil samples, dissolved oxygen readings, and satellite maps. They already know that slow-flowing waters and a heavy dose of nutrients provide some of the best waters around for growing algae. Algal blooms were linked to the headline-grabbing fish kills of 1995. Blooms fostered the predatory “cell from hell,” Pfiesteria piscicida. In response, the General Assembly agreed on a number in 1997: reduce nitrogen runoff by 30 percent. A round table of scientists in Raleigh came up with that figure, says David Moreau, professor and chair of the city and regional planning department. But the real policy victory will come when people living in the river basin, from Orange County to Cedar Island on the coast, change their ways. “The Environmental Management Commission says we want that thirty percent reduction in five years,” says Moreau, the group’s chair. “It’ll take more than the commission saying that for it to actually happen. To start with, do you think anyone in the farm community has lost any sleep over that number?”

The Lessons of Fran

May 1, 1999 – The Lessons Of Fran (photo right)

Had we seen the worst? For those who remembered Hazel and Hugo, the answer was no. It will happen again. And it will be worse. Or maybe not. Since 1997, a research team from Carolina’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS) has studied ways to reduce the destruction from coastal storms.

January 1, 2001 – The Ash of Ancient Hearths

Sometimes, science tells us things we would rather not know. Most of us can turn away. The scientist cannot. Brian Billman would prefer to be talking about his work in Peru, where he studies the origins of political systems among pre-Columbian people. But as soon as the September 7 issue of Nature appeared, he and his colleagues were news. National news. They didn’t want it that way. They hadn’t set out to alarm anyone, or offend anyone. They had only been doing their jobs. The job, in this instance, was excavating an ancient settlement in the Mesa Verde area of southwestern Colorado.

September 1, 2001 – Politics and Passions

Donald Nonini, Dorothy Holland and Catherine Lutz, professors of anthropology, were co-principal investigators of the North Carolina Public Spheres project, which explored local democracy, citizen participation and political activism in five North Carolina counties.

January 1, 2004 – Made for Action

Here Endeavors considered the impact of the built environment on physical activity. Asad Khattak, associate professor of city and regional planning, recently led a study, funded by the North Carolina Department of Transportation, comparing physical activity and transportation behavior in Southern Village with those in a traditional subdivision having larger lots and no schools or businesses. * Daniel Rodríguez, assistant professor of city and regional planning and a contributor to Khattak’s study, says that Americans tend to think of exercise as a separate activity apart from our daily routine. * In a study published by the journal Archives of Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, Kelly Evenson reported that 9.4 percent of middle-school students walk to school at least one day a week and 4.1 percent ride their bicycles that often. But for students in high school, those numbers decline to 4.9 percent and 2.8 percent. * “Equity is a serious issue for planners,” Emil Malizia says. “People in the lower-income category are the very group most vulnerable to the health risks.”

May 1, 2004 – A Culture Emerging

Endeavors magazine wrote about how Latinos are shaping the future of North Carolina. What does Altha Cravey want people to understand about Latino immigrant communities? That individual lives are microcosms of globalization. * “Immigrants cannot be treated as isolated workers,” says Krista Perreira. “They are social beings who are members of families and communities.” * From interviews with local and state officials, Meenu Tewari found that this change in the workforce began in the early nineties, partly because of efforts by local officials to attract other types of businesses to the High Point region. * “I don’t think we’ve had a full cost-accounting of the contributions that Hispanic immigrants make to our society and our economy.” James Johnson says.

May 1, 2005 – An Industry Trying to Land on its Feet

This story explored how North Carolina textiles can survive the import flood. No one expects the textiles and apparel industries to replace tens of thousands of jobs. Meenu Tewari has studied workforce changes in traditional industries in North Carolina. She finds some hope in organizations such as Bionetwork, an effort of the N.C. Community College System. * Mike Luger, professor of public policy, business, and planning, and director of the Center for Competitive Economies in the Kenan-Flagler Business School, says companies are using several strategies to counter the flood of cheap imports.

January 1, 2006 – The Next One Could Be Worse

Endeavors asked several Carolina scientists if lessons learned from Hurricanes Floyd and Katrina would help make North Carolina more prepared for its next big storm. Making sure all residents get the message about disasters and their aftermath is at the heart of a partnership between FEMA, Carolina’s Center for Urban and Regional Studies and nonprofit organization MDC, Inc. * “The Outer Banks are just sitting there,” David Moreau says. “There’s nothing there to protect them from a Category Five storm. Until you move those properties out of that floodplain, you’re going to get flood damage.” * Philip Berke, professor of city and regional planning and faculty fellow at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies, says that preparing for hurricanes means increasing the local commitment to disaster planning. * After Floyd, the State of North Carolina did well at providing incentives for people to move out of the most flooded areas, says Jim Fraser, associate research professor in the Department of Geography and a senior research associate at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies. * “How much flow actually takes place at a five-hundred-year event is a large uncertainty,” says Larry Band, professor of geography. “The oldest river-flow information from North Carolina goes back only to 1895, and only on a couple of rivers.”

May 1, 2006 – A Big Idea That Bombed

Scott Kirsch was highlighted in a story about Project Plowshare scientists who thought they could use nuclear bombs to create a new canal in Panama or Colombia.They believed in the threshold theory that said humans could withstand certain levels of radiation before causing genetic damage or diseases. “The science was debatable,” Kirsch says. “They were ignoring many of their opponents’ arguments. This was not a cautious group.”

Near his research site in Peru, Brian Billman and his students pitched in for a mountain village. Photo courtesy Brian Billman. ©2009 Endeavors magazine.
Near his research site in Peru, Brian Billman and his students pitched in for a mountain village. Photo courtesy Brian Billman. ©2009 Endeavors magazine.

May 1, 2006 – Feeling the Heat

Carolina researchers agree that the federal government should lead the way on global warming and peak oil, but they also agree that these issues have deep roots that all of us should understand. “We subsidized our way into sprawl,” says Philip Berke, professor of city and regional planning and chair of environmental studies. From an economic standpoint, it made sense. Environmentally, the problems keep popping up.

January 1, 2007 – DamNation: Busting walls and freeing streams

Most U.S. dams will exceed their intended design lives by 2020. They must be inspected before then for structural stability, says Martin Doyle, associate professor of geography. North Carolina is home to some five thousand dams, twenty-two percent of which are considered “high hazard” — meaning failure could result in loss of human life or significant damage to property.

September 1, 2007 – Land for Those Who Work It

As Wendy Wolford says, land is possession, power and profit. In Brazil, due to colonization, old money and politics, a tiny group of men owns most of the land.

May 14, 2008 – Living in a State of Thirst

North Carolina has long been considered rich in water. But in just the last ten years, the state has suffered two droughts that have forced cities across North Carolina to implement ever-increasing water restrictions. * “You have a lot of people who see drought as a short-term issue,” says Richard Whisnant, an expert in water resources law. * Population growth not only means more people — and more lawns — competing for the same water supply. It also deteriorates water quality, especially when growth is sprawling. “This state has been sprawling at an unbelievable rate, but there’s no leadership on planning,” says Philip Berke, professor of city and regional planning. * “The last thing you need in your day-to-day life is a diamond,” Martin Doyle says. “In the end you absolutely have to have water.”

January 20, 2009 – Let the Water Flow

In June 2008 archaeologist Brian Billman led about two dozen UNC and Duke students to a small village in the Moche Valley of northern Peru. Their goal: to build a new water system for the community by the end of the summer. (photo above right)

January 1, 2010 – Maps, Mosquitoes, and Malaria

Years ago researchers noticed that in different trials the same vaccine could give completely different results. In one trial a typhoid vaccine protected 80 percent of people; in another it only protected 20 percent. “Some vaccines just work, like the smallpox vaccine,” Michael Emch says. “A no-brainer, right? Use it. And then some don’t work at all and you know you shouldn’t use them. But then there’s everything else.”

Cliff Stang, the past director of the Ayden Christian Care Center, stands in an old jailhouse that has served as the center’s food pantry for many years. Stang still volunteers at the pantry every week. Photo by Donn Young. ©2010 Endeavors magazine.
Cliff Stang, the past director of the Ayden Christian Care Center, stands in an old jailhouse that has served as the center’s food pantry for many years. Stang still volunteers at the pantry every week. Photo by Donn Young. ©2010 Endeavors magazine.

January 25, 2010 – The Hands that Feed: A portrait of hunger in North Carolina

In 2009, UNC professor Maureen Berner, East Carolina political scientist Sharon Paynter and photojournalist Donn Young documented the work of nonprofits and volunteers who help feed the working poor (photo right). Their work shows a side of the story few have seen.

September 15, 2010 – Detect, Detain, Deport

“True immigration reform will be tricky,” Mai Thi Nguyen says, and not just because it’s a hot-button issue for politicians. “Reform has to be thoughtful and comprehensive. The government will have to secure the borders while giving people who are already here a path toward citizenship. Otherwise we’re just using people for their labor without giving them any rights.”

January 4, 2012 – The Price of Pork

It isn’t as unusual as you might think for a school to be near a big livestock operation, says land-use researcher David Salvesen. He and his collaborators have identified 79 North Carolina schools within one mile of big hog farms, and another 179 within two miles.

February 24, 2012 – Occupying Facebook

Sociologists Neal Caren and Sarah Gaby show how Facebook helped the Occupy Wall Street protests become a national movement, and what the future might hold now that most occupations have decamped.

April 11, 2012 – Keeping House

Since 1999, Roberto Quercia and others at the Center for Community Capital have been tracking how people with low incomes do when they get 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages from lenders who evaluate their applications carefully and don’t qualify them for more than they can handle. Quercia co-authored Regaining the Dream: How to Renew the Promise of Homeownership for America’s Working Families with senior research associate Allison Freeman and center executive director Janneke Ratcliffe.

An apartment building in Shenzhen, a Chinese city that grew from 30,000 people to many millions in just thirty years. In the background, skyscrapers extends for miles. Photo by Yan Song
An apartment building in Shenzhen, a Chinese city that grew from 30,000 people to many millions in just thirty years. In the background, skyscrapers extends for miles. Photo by Yan Song

April 8, 2013 – Guiding China’s Gilded Age

As Chinese cities grow upward and outward, UNC’s Yan Song helps rethink her home country’s urban upheaval. She formed a consortium between UNC and Beijing University to bring Carolina scholars to China, apply for grants, and work on urban planning projects together. (photo right)

September 18, 2015 – Come Hell or High Water

With Rocky Mount properties divided by the flood, local government was able to quickly assess damages and select the most flood prone areas. This circumvented a common hurdle of buyouts — slow turnaround in appraisal and offers to homeowners. “There is an urgency to get people out of harm’s way,” David Salvesen says. “You have to buy out their homes before they can say, ‘We are just going to move back in!’” Salvesen researches the effect of buyouts on aggregate risk, or the ability for purchasing properties in floodplains to prevent future flooding of the community. He has visited sites across the nation — five in North Carolina, four in Minnesota, and three in New Jersey.

November 19, 2015 – Get Off My Lawn

When Todd BenDor was a kid, a bunch of rowdy teenagers poured salt all over his best friend’s lawn. Not surprisingly, the grass died. “The salt destroyed the fungal community that lives in the soil,” BenDor, now a professor of city and regional planning, says. “In ‘War of the Worlds,’ H.G. Wells talked about how it’s ‘the microbes’ that saved humanity. Well, he was right. In this case, it’s the fungal communities that allow the plants to grow.” Today, BenDor, whose research was recently cited by President Obama, works as part of a team studying saltwater intrusion — the movement of saltwater from the ocean to the freshwater coastal plain — around North Carolina’s Albemarle-Pamlico Peninsula.

September 20, 2016 – If You Build It, They Will Come

Each morning, about 800,000 North Carolina students spend an average of 23 minutes on a school bus. Each student costs about $575 to transport — that’s $4.6 million a year. Oftentimes, school districts and municipalities decide where to build a school without thinking about the transportation costs, according to UNC Department of City and Regional Planning Chair Noreen McDonald.

April 19, 2017 – Gaining a Community’s Trust

“I used to go to church in northeast Durham, so I had been driving that corridor across Alston for a fairly long time,” Danielle Spurlock says. “I started to see more and more houses being purchased and renovated. Now you can just count the number of porter johns up and down the street—there is so much housing under construction.” Those construction projects result in higher property values. When the homes are renovated, new trees are planted, which has been deemed “green gentrification,” according to Spurlock. “Once you see green projects going in, it’s associated with gentrification as well,” she says.

May 10, 2017 – A RAPID Response to Hurricane Matthew

“Hurricane Matthew delivered 350 millimeters in rain over 24 hours — that’s about the same amount of rainfall that Chapel Hill receives in three months,” Diego Riveros-Iregui, a UNC geographer, says. As the storm continued to wreak havoc on the state, Riveros-Iregui called his longtime colleague Ryan Emanuel, an environmental scientist at NC State, to learn how his family in Lumberton was faring. Their phone conversation quickly transformed into an idea for a research project as the two discussed the potential effects of Lumberton’s multiple bodies of surface water, stream water, and groundwater connecting due to the flooding. “These coastal environments are relatively flat, so water ponds quicker there than in areas with more slope,” Riveros-Iregui explains.

Higher Ed Hierarchy: Exitos commencement ceremony. Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill.
Higher Ed Hierarchy: Exitos commencement ceremony. Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill.

November 10, 2017 – Higher Ed Hierarchy (photo right)

The UNC Center for Community Capital, in partnership with UnidosUS (formerly the National Council for La Raza), interviewed Latinos across the United States about their experiences pursuing higher education including how they paid for school and student loan debt.

March 13, 2018 – The Kids Are Not Alright

When Elizabeth Olson asks adults who cared for family members during their childhood what they wish people would have done differently when they were children, the answer is always the same: “I wish someone just would have asked me about it. I wish someone would have acknowledged what I did.” That someone could have been a school guidance counselor, or a teacher, or a pediatrician. But American families don’t often divulge their youth caregivers because of misinterpretation, Olson points out. “The most common question I receive is this: What is the difference between youth caregiving and neglect? And then I have to explain that not all youth caregivers are neglected. In fact, for many, the act of caregiving is an important part of the family dynamic, especially across cultures.”

June 7, 2018 – Decoding Dorothea Dix Hospital

Can the creation of a new park be influenced by a centuries-old mental hospital? The City of Raleigh has tasked UNC Community Histories Workshop researchers with merging the past and the future at Dorothea Dix Park. For the past year, UNC Community Histories Workshop researchers have frequented the North Carolina State Archives to delve into records from Dorothea Dix Hospital – North Carolina’s first and largest mental hospital, which closed in 2012. In 2015, the City of Raleigh purchased the 308-acre property to transform it into an enormous public park. When completed, Dorothea Dix Park will be the largest in the city of Raleigh.

November 27, 2018 – Ready, Set, Brake

While autonomous vehicles begin to appear on roadways, gaps in knowledge are blocking the way to their full integration. Researchers at UNC are asking the tough questions to ensure that the driverless car picking you up will be safe for passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike. “We’re starting to recognize that technologies are complicated and thinking about the pluses and minuses is important,” says Noreen McDonald, chair of the Department of City and Regional Planning. “It’s going to be a long time before our cities are a bunch of people driving around in autonomous vehicles.”


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