Letter from our Executive Director

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Dear friends:

We have a new home. Side-by-side with St. Joseph C.M.E., we are still proudly at the gateway to Northside and still in immediate to proximity to “Heavenly Groceries/Comida Celestial.”

What’s new? At first flush: space. We now have “community action” room, a “civic media” room, and a “quiet room” (which our growing library is already threatening to overtake). And lo and behold, the laundry room makes a perfect office retreat for me.    


Above: Bonner Leaders and Staff meeting on our new front porch!!!

And then: the kitchen (with Brentton as our resident chef) is appropriately at the center of our Center. In so many of our oral histories, neighbors talk about first kitchens, the importance of food and foodways, food as a form of resistance (smuggled as it was into the jails that held rights protestors) and food as sustenance offered to every child boarding a school bus. We have been well and gratefully schooled in the kind of hospitality defined by breaking bread together.

One of our principle aims is to follow the examples of creative leadership we see, hear, and experience everywhere in Northside and its partner neighborhoods. Our kitchen takes us a long way towards fulfilling that aim!

And last but not least: our living room and dining/conference area. St. Joseph has kindly let us borrow the old pew that was the first and only piece of furniture we had in our previous space for a long time. It holds the history of St. Joseph and of our 6 years of very rapid growth—as well as the long blue cushion Mrs. Joyce Long made and that, indeed, always reminds us of “home.” This area also holds our Facing Our Neighbors and Civil Rights in Chapel Hill exhibits (for the amazing artwork by Northside Elementary third graders produced as part of our first workshops on civil rights and freedom struggles, you’ll have to go back to the community action room!). This is our gathering space. You might find our staff and many generous volunteers in and out in what we have come to call the “controlled chaos” of the Center. But this is also YOUR space. Someone will always be at the welcome desk to greet you. Please come by and help us to make this our home by making it yours!

Bring your interests, needs, good fellowship, questions. Among so many other things, we are working on a resource hub, anticipating a holiday housewarming, kickstarting a new collaboration with the Sacrificial Poets and UNC’s beatmaking lab, trying to build bookshelves, and planning out a full curriculum in local, oral, and civil rights history in partnership with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school system (among other things). As usual, so much is just beginning.image

Above: First graders learning freedom songs at St. Joseph’s Church.

Come rejoice in the rough-and-tumble of always starting out anew. We welcome your perspectives, histories, and wisdom. They are our foundation and our beacon.

With warm regards,


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