TagsTransfersLoan MarketAbout the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say DONE DEAL: Peterborough sign Brighton defender Ben Whiteby Paul Vegas10 months agoSend to a friendShare the lovePeterborough United have signed defenders Ben White and Daniel Lafferty on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion and Sheffield United respectively.Both players have joined the League One side until the end of the campaign.White, 21, spent last term on loan with Newport County and has featured for the Seagulls’ Under-21 side in 2018-19.Seagulls boss Chris Hughton said, “This move is one which allows Ben to play regular first-team football at a good level for his development. At this stage of his career it’s important that he continues to gain as much match experience as possible.“He’s someone who we’ve had around the first-team squad for the first half of the campaign, but with competition for places increased with the return of Dan Burn from Wigan, this gives him the chance to go out and play regular football at a level higher than he experienced last season.”
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – SEPTEMBER 3: View of a Michigan Wolverines football helmet before their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)Apparently wide receiver Devin Funchess is not the only recent Michigan football player who can throw down. After seeing Funchess’ impressive dunk on Instagram on Sunday, quarterback Devin Gardner decided to make one of his own.Gardner’s dunks are definitely impressive, especially for someone who focuses on another sport, but we’ll have to award this impromptu Wolverine dunk contest to Funchess. That vertical leaping ability is sure to impress NFL scouts in the coming weeks during the combine and other draft preparation events.
by Todd Cohenphotograph by Nick PironioWhen Daniel Wagner was 14, two teenage girls from his neighborhood in Port Huron, Mich., were killed in a car crash. The tragedy, and the lessons he learned from it, have shaped his life for more than four decades.About 20 miles from their destination, the girl behind the wheel “dropped a right front tire off the pavement, jerked the car back on the road, overcorrected, and got T-boned by a semi,” he says. “Both girls were killed instantly. I remember going to the funeral home for the visitation. Both caskets were closed because they couldn’t repair those girls, and there was just a picture of each of them on top of the caskets.”After the accident, Wagner’s father took him for a ride, “literally driving his car off the road and showing me how to bring it back on properly so that I never experienced something like that crash,” he says.Wagner estimates he has driven more than 1 million miles over the past 40 years and says he has “never put a dent or scratch on a single vehicle.” But he believes most people don’t know how to drive, and he is trying to do something about it.In 2010, Wagner founded Teen Driving Solutions School, a nonprofit that puts teens and their parents through a two-day course at the Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., near Danville, north of Durham. Wagner, who is its president, has invested $150,000 of his own money in the school, which has trained more than 200 teens from the Carolinas and Virginia. Only one of them has been in an accident since taking the course.“You can drive if you understand your vehicle and its capabilities and limitations, and you’re focused on your driving and your own limitations,” says Wagner, a Willow Spring resident and Michigan native who will be 57 this month. “We want to forever remove driving as the No. 1 cause of death for teens,” Wagner says. “They’ve been set up to fail, and they’re continually failing. I want these kids to have the ability to come home alive.What’s wrong with the way teens learn to drive?Driver education does not teach them how to drive. It teaches them how to pass the license exam. It’s the parents’ responsibility to actually teach them how to drive, and most parents don’t know how to drive themselves. And we have these graduated driver licenses, which have kicked the can down the road. While these graduated licenses have reduced fatalities for 16- and 17-year-olds, statistics show that fatalities for 18- to 24-year-olds are on the rise. They’re disconnected from the vehicle they’re driving. Our entire driving philosophy in this country is that experience is the key to safe driving.Why did you start Teen Driving Solutions School?A few years ago, several nephews and nieces started to drive. Within just a few months of their having driver licenses, every one of those kids was involved in a crash.What did you do?I started researching. I found they’re not being taught anything compared to what I was taught. I started to write a book about how to drive, and about how today’s youth are set up to fail when it comes to driving.What is the best way to drive?There are two primary things that make a safe driver. One is the use of sound judgment for making good decisions. The second thing is understanding the vehicle you’re driving. You have a 3,500-pound machine that is subject to the laws of physics.How does your school teach driving?The school literally puts these two concepts together – mental skills with vehicle control skills – in pretty much real-world scenarios. Parents and kids are required to take the course together, and we put them in the cars at different times and in classes at different times. In the classroom, parents are learning communication skills – how to be more of a coach than a parent when they’re in the right-hand seat. On the track, parents are learning three things – how to correct the bad habits they’ve developed over the last 20 or 30 years; learning how to lead by example; and learning exactly what we’re teaching their child and why we teach it that way.How bad is the problem of teenage drivers?Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and cause more than 400,000 injuries to teens a year. In Wake County, from 2008 to 2011, we lost 35 teenagers.What mistakes do parents typically make in turning over the car keys to their teens?Probably the biggest one is they don’t set the rules, the guidelines, for these kids – where you can go, who can go with you, when are you to be home. The second biggest mistake is they’re allowing teens to drive when they’re not fully qualified for that responsibility. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm about five years ago did a survey on parents’ involvement with teen drivers. What they found was that parents who are fully and actively engaged in their teens’ driving ended up with teenagers who were 50 percent less likely to be in any type of crash, 50 percent less likely to drive without a seatbelt, and 71 percent less likely to drink and drive. Those to me are phenomenal statistics. They basically cut the risk in half just by being an involved parent.What are some common driving mistakes that lead to teen crashes?The biggest one is distractions that lead them to drive off the road. Looking at a cellphone, not paying attention. Texting is a huge problem. You’ve taken your mind off your driving, and you’ve taken your eyes off your driving. Those are two critical errors.When they drive off the road, they panic and try to jerk the car back on. That’s one of the leading causes of fatal crashes. They don’t understand how this car is going to react. By panicking and bringing the car back on too quickly, they lose control, and then they overcorrect, which turns the car the other way.Where were you educated?I never went to college. I’m a self-taught, self-trained mechanic. I attended trade school during high school. Then I opened up a repair shop in a Shell gas station. I did that about two years. My actual career, which started in 1980, is selling upholstery fabrics to the bus industry. I work for a textile mill, Holdsworth Fabrics, in Mirfield, England. My territory is the eastern half of North America – Mexico, the United States and Canada.You work full-time for your business and for the driving school?It takes up most of my waking hours. I’m also interim president for Calvin’s Paws, a cat rescue charity in Raleigh.What kind of car do you drive? Cadillac CTSV. It’s a four-door sports car. 556 horsepower. Stick. I prefer stick. It’s more fun to drive. You have to pay more attention to what you’re doing because you’re in charge of the gear changes. It keeps you more engaged in your driving. I wish everyone would drive a stick.What do you do for fun?Driving on track. I’m an instructor for high-performance driving events. Clubs where members can go out on the racetrack. You learn how to drive performance cars, street cars like mine.What are you reading?I spend hours a week researching driving issues on the web.What is your favorite driving movie?Gone in 60 Seconds.What inspires you?Seeing people achieve what they’re capable of achieving in life.What is your philosophy of life?Do your best at everything you do.
by Kevin Barrett, cocktail director at Foundationphotograph by Nick PironioA few months back, when spring and summer were meeting, I took a trip to Central America to visit my friend Lazlo and climb some volcanoes.He would prefer I not mention which country. He has high demands for anonymity. We’ve known each other a while. Lazlo’s gotten me into and out of more trouble then I’ll ever admit, and he had been pestering me to come see him in Guatemala — whoops! Oh, well, he’s already relocated.Lazlo and I met up in Guatemala City, because that’s where my plane landed. It’s a mostly charmless city with few redeeming qualities. But at the time – with the promise of travel and adventure in front of me – it held a certain allure.After salutations, we checked into a hotel and went about the town eating and drinking and catching up. Lazlo’s not much for the phone, and I’m not much for heartfelt emails, so we had a lot to catch up on. We ended up at the hotel balcony drinking Gallo beer and Ron Zacapa rum into the wee hours.Our original plan to scale several volcanoes got sidetracked immediately because the rainy season started early. Lazlo’s alternative plan seemed reasonable to me at the time: After we spent the night in the capital city, we would do something epic. We decided we weren’t just going to get drunk together in yet another country. Or maybe he let me think we decided that.First thing the next morning, we caught a chicken bus to Antigua. Yes, a chicken bus, just like on TV, but with an elaborate paint job, and without the animals. The driver whipped around skinny mountain roads while another guy hung out the door yelling, “Antigua, Antigua, Antigua…”After a few days in Antigua, we took a 12-person shuttle van – basically an express chicken bus – to San Pedro and got a room at a hostel. One of the many endearing things about Guatemala, besides the people, the food, the culture, the climate, and the volcanoes – is the hammocks. They’re everywhere, and it just feels right.We bounced around San Pedro for a few wet nights, drank Ron Botran rum, and smoked Guatemalan cigarettes. I told Lazlo that this might not be the best way to prepare for our epic feat.“It’s part of your training,” he told me.From there, we chicken bussed it to Quetzaltenango, or Xela, 7,500 feet above sea level and Lazlo’s home base. This is where we were going to do something epic.That turned out to be hiking to Lake Chicabal in the crater of Chicabal volcano. It’s a sacred place to Mam Mayans, surrounded by ceremonial altars. It’s also 9,000 feet above sea level.Lazlo has a good set of lungs, a long gait, and doesn’t sweat much. I have a hard time keeping up with him on a flat surface at sea level. The steady, gradual climb destroyed my will. Every once in a while, Lazlo would look back and say, “You doing all right?”Around every corner I suspected we would reach the top. I was disappointed many, many times. None so much as when I dragged my feet past a woman of 80 who wasn’t breaking a sweat.When we reached the top, I let him know his training regimen wasn’t working for me.“Doesn’t it, though?” he said.I asked him how he climbed so steadily.“It’s the way down that gets you,” he said. “Bad on your knees.”I couldn’t believe him. The way down was going to be cake. Maybe I’d be ahead of him on the way down. That was my gift, going downhill. I was going to excel at that.I didn’t. Lazlo was ahead of me the whole way down.The next day, we made the awful decision to climb Santa Maria, 12,250 feet above sea level. Three and a half hours into the climb, when my hands and feet started tingling, I finally asked how much further. I was pretty sure my body was sending all my blood away from my limbs and to my organs to try to keep me alive a bit longer, thus the tingling. I was drowning in the clouds.The last stretch was done on my hands and knees. The incline was so steep even Lazlo had to get his hands dirty. The moment it was over, and we had reached the top, and I was sure there was no more climbing, I wondered why I’d done this to myself. Maybe I did it so I could write a story about it. When I finally saw where we were, above the cloud line, I knew. How many people got to see this?The climb down went a bit faster, but left the soles of my feet bruised and my left big toe swollen and bleeding. I wanted to tell Lazlo that he was right – the climb down really does get you – but he was too far ahead to hear. Lazlo’s ClimbThis drink commemorates Guatemala and all of Central America, not to mention Lazlo’s epic climb of the Santa Maria volcano. This is a drink you can easily make at home during an Indian summer in Raleigh. I recommend using crushed ice.2 ounces Ron Zacapa rum1 ounce pineapple or mango juice½ ounce fresh lime juice½ ounce OJ5 to 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters or½ ounce grenadineMix all ingredients, except bitters, in a shaking tin and dry shake (no ice). Pour mixture over crushed ice into a tall Collins or swizzle/pilsner glass. Top with Peychaud’s bitters or ½ ounce float of grenadine for a sweeter October.
In addition to antique glass, Louise uses different metallic parts: coasters from a chair, irons from a fireplace, old chandelier bases. She buys her pieces from all over – eBay, auctions, antique malls. Sometimes clients give her a piece that they would like refurbished. Raleigh interior decorator Susan Tollefsen had a client with an old family chandelier that was pretty but tired. With Louise’s finesse, it became a new, more interesting chandelier, but lost none of its history.Gaskill has never marketed herself and relies solely on word-of-mouth advertising. She sells only to designers and to a few retail shops in Raleigh, including La Maison in North Hills. Her client roster covers the entire country – from Chicago to Florida, Charleston to Raleigh – and she plans to showcase her 70 new lighting designs to decorators at the High Point Market October 17-22.“Louise designs unique fixtures that can combine lots of different time periods together between the traditional, transitional, and modern,” says Tula Summerford of Raleigh’s Design by Tula. “Her pieces work for any style house.”Where to Find Louise Gaskill’s Work:Louise Gaskill By appointment only:2023 Progress Court, RaleighLouisegaskill.comSusan Tollefsen Interiors2025 Progress Court, RaleighSusantinteriors.comLa Maison4209 Lassiter Mill Rd., Suite 132 RaleighLamaisonraleigh.comDesign by TulaDesignbytula.com by Katherine Connorphotographs by Catherine NguyenAsk Raleigh’s Louise Gaskill the secret to her artistry in lighting design, and you won’t get far. “Oh, I don’t know how I do it, I just sort of taught myself and I learn as I go,” she says humbly, with a smile. It’s hard to believe that such a masterful creator – her handmade, one-of-a-kind fixtures are sought after by interior designers and clients all over the country – could deny her skill, but that’s another of Gaskill’s gifts: making it all seem simple.To call her a lighting designer is to tell half the story. She’s also an alchemist, creating of-the-moment lamps, sconces, and chandeliers out of antique glass, seashells, found fragments, and metal fixtures. When she talks about her designs, her silver-blue eyes radiate.Louise Gaskill in her studio, filled with her collection of vintage glass, metal components, and found fragments.“I cannot say enough good things about Louise,” says prominent Chicago interior designer Julia Buckingham. “We have the same design aesthetic, which I describe as vintage antique with a modern vibe. She’s highly creative with her vision and yet she makes it seem so simple, so effortless.”Originally from New Bern, Gaskill graduated from Meredith with a history degree and launched a career in software sales in Raleigh. She fell into lamp design after creating a few pieces for herself, then kept it up as a hobby.She says her love of history has always fueled her work. “Perhaps that’s something that ties all of this together: the history and the stories of the glass and the different pieces of lamps. I love the story behind old pieces,” she says. There were no artists in her family, no crafts passed down through the generations. Instead she taught herself to design new fixtures by deconstructing lamps she wanted to work with, then reconstructing them and learning as she went.At one point, Gaskill considered creating larger pieces of furniture, but sage advice from her husband,Robert Sheldon, convinced her to stick with lighting: “Don’t ever buy anything that you can’t pick up yourself,” he said. Though her pieces remained manageable, her workshop quickly overtook the garage and storage shed where her husband once tinkered with cars. After 14 years, she still picks up every piece herself. And in the process, Gaskill has become a revered artist within a niche industry – a niche industry with big competitors.“That really is probably the hardest part of this whole enterprise, that I’m all by myself in this field, and I’m competing against large corporate companies with big budgets and mass forms of production. My pieces are works of art and can take up to one to two weeks to complete, but this is an heirloom and something that will stay in your family for generations to come.”A piece of Murano glass is the starting point and inspiration for a new chandelier.The fun partIt all starts with the hunt, and that’s “the fun part.” Gaskill says there’s nothing better than finding a great piece of antique glass – some come from other lamps, fixtures, or vases. Glass dictates the piece: Every lamp, chandelier, or sconce has some piece of glass in it. It’s her inspiration and her signature touch.Her workshop is filled with it: cobalt blue cylinders, bulbous German bases, Italian teardrops. And there’s more: a pile of gold kitchen sifters found at an antique fair will eventually make their way into the base of a lamp. A wall is filled with various pendants and knickknacks that will make a piece uniquely hers.Gaskill starts with the frame, or the base of a piece, adds a lamp pipe down the center, and then starts stacking things together, seeing what works and taking it apart again until it “fits.” This is where her joy comes: in the unexpected merging of components.
After 21 years as Dean of the College of Design at N.C. State University, Marvin Malecha retires this month and will become president and chief academic officer at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design in San Diego, Calif. It seemed fitting in this interview with Walter to have the design visionary sketch his responses.What do you look like?A flash of white hairAgainst a black imageDefined by the geometry of eyewearFueled by an open spirit?But what does it matter?Do you have an alter ego?Yes and no. It is a circus.FriendsMentorsRole modelsComposed into an idealized aspiration.My alter ego has wings.Which building in Raleigh do you most admire?A building is a marker of life. It is architecture by its relationship to life. The vanishing tobacco barns are genuine. The Fadum House has a simple reality. The memory of the Catalano House haunts us. Dorton Arena reminds us of our better spirit, and the Hunt Library transforms our understanding.What’s your favorite thing to eat?In my personal quiet spaceA rich Italian red – Brunello and a bold cheeseWith my joyA soft black licorice with my granddaughterSo it depends …What are you afraid of?FEARTo restrict my curiosityTo cup my wingsThe authority of those who would seize my independenceCYNICISMTo drain me of my energyDriving color from my mindWhat’s on your feet?A message, a dialogue of Van Gogh,Heidegger, and Charlie Chaplin …Cole Hahn high tops todayMephisto for comfort yesterdayAsics from my son for exerciseMy identity!What is your favorite season?The season I am alive in! I am moved by the quiet of a snowfall and the crackle of the first steps in it. Who cannot be astounded by the brilliance of the color of a youthful spring? The lustiness of summer speaks for itself. But the beautiful subtlety of fall … the mature spectrum of color … the instigation … the demand for reflection – makes it my favorite.What’s on your mind?The past near and farToday … NOW!The transition to the future.Satisfaction for what has beenImpatience to be betterPossibilitiesColor!
A scene from The Happiest Millionaire. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.by Cameron HowardThe red Netflix envelope arrived in my mailbox on Duke’s East Campus, and I opened it back in my dorm room, which still bore the signs of recent, frenzied moving-in. The DVD was The Happiest Millionaire, a 1967 Disney musical starring Fred MacMurray as Anthony Drexel Biddle, the Philadelphia scion of a banking fortune. He’s an eccentric but very “happy millionaire” who runs a Bible and boxing school out of the stable, keeps alligators in the conservatory, and adores his eldest daughter Cordelia, played by Lesley Ann Warren.It’s a fun film marked by that peculiarly joyful but slightly sideways quality of Disney’s family films from that era, and it’s interesting to watch legends like MacMurray and Greer Garson, who plays Biddle’s wife, still dominating the screen decades after their careers began.As I sat there in my clunky wooden chair and matching desk in my tiny room, the experience took a surreal turn when Cordelia’s suitor, a young man by the name of Angier Buchanan Duke, and his mother, Sarah, entered the picture. Yes, those Dukes! Angier Duke was Benjamin Duke’s son and Washington Duke’s grandson, and he really did marry Cordelia Drexel Biddle. (In an odd turn of events, one of Cordelia’s brothers married Angier’s sister Mary, who was Mary Duke Biddle Trent Semans’ mother, hence the various arrangements of Biddle/Duke names scattered around campus.)A scene from The Happiest Millionaire. Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.I thus had the strange experience of watching a (highly) fictionalized film based on the Duke family on Duke University’s campus in a dorm room three minutes away from the Biddle Music Building. To make it even weirder, I had visited the Sarah P. Duke Gardens just that afternoon. I hadn’t intended to start my college career with a classic movie about the Duke family, but it could not have been a more perfect choice.After all, I’d been a Duke fan years before I became a student. I was one of those toddlers decked out in Duke gear babbling cheers and flinging pom-poms at what I felt was “my” stadium long before I understood why. My love for old Hollywood goes back just as far; I grew up watching Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Bringing Up Baby instead of Full House and Saved by the Bell, and have adored classic movies for as long as I can remember.And I’m still utterly enthralled. It’s the glamour, the cleverness, the glorious style, and the subtlety (often due to a production code that kept things “clean”). It’s the virtuosic dancing, the rapid-fire dialogue, the amazing almost-but-not-quite British accents, the gorgeous costumes intended to astound, and that red lipstick that somehow never smudges. And it’s the stars, those idols of a nostalgic glamour preserved on glossy strips of celluloid. I love it all: the dreamlike musicals, timeless dramas, unsettling noirs, topsy-turvy screwballs, and tear-jerking melodramas – and how each one, whether it’s included in the canon or not, holds its own secrets and its own seedy and marvelous history.Sometimes films from the Golden Age can seem like slower, tamer, even painfully old-fashioned versions of today’s movies. But classic film is an art form with its own conventions, techniques, and aesthetics. The films are deceptively dense; each frame is packed with layer upon layer of choices, innovations, deliberate decisions, and miraculous mistakes that contribute to the fantastic shadows flashing by at 24 frames per second.But if the art of the films doesn’t grab you, the history might. Just like any artifact of a past age, these films are veritable time capsules inadvertently exposed to light. Old movies reproduce a certain moment in time, often without meaning to, though of course the “reality” they present is usually more beautiful, simpler, and far less chaotic than the real world has ever been.Courtesy Walt Disney Studios.It’s a cliché to bemoan “they don’t make ’em the way they used to!” but it’s entirely true. Hollywood functioned very differently then: The studios owned most of the theaters, almost everything was filmed on enormous backlots, and everyone, from the biggest stars to the carpenters and electricians, were under contract to a particular studio. The “dream factories” churned out movies from the teens to the fifties, and only began to crumble after the Supreme Court declared the massive studios in violation of anti-trust laws in 1948. It was this unbridled power that made classic Hollywood so extraordinary.Take Esther Williams. She was a national champion swimmer who was a favorite for the Olympics, but her life took an improbable turn when the 1940 Games were cancelled. MGM scouts were looking for an answer to Fox’s ice-skating sensation Sonja Henie, and decided a shapely swimmer would be just the thing. Williams was offered a contract (most actors had seven-year contracts with the studios) and MGM poured money into creating the “swimming musical,” building a massive pool complex inside a 32,000-square-foot soundstage, and turning a pretty nineteen-year-old into a glamorous movie star who captivated millions of moviegoers. For almost ten years, Williams topped the box office with her bright, sparkling movies featuring massive water extravaganzas that inspired the modern sport of synchronized swimming. The story of MGM’s mermaid verges on the absurd, but it could only have happened in the studio era during Hollywood’s Golden Age.Fortunately, these movies are undergoing something of a renaissance today. The DVD market, Turner Classic Movies, and companies like Netflix and ClassicFlix have made classic films available again. And theaters like Raleigh’s The Colony and The Cinema, Inc. and Durham’s Carolina Theatre turn screenings into events and recapture the magic of seeing these movies in their rightful place.As for me, I will always remember watching The Happiest Millionaire in my dorm room at Duke. I think of it every time I encounter the names Angier Duke or Biddle, and I smile at that weird, magical moment when Duke and classic Hollywood collided.
Jillian Clarkby Mimi MontgomeryAs the city of Raleigh grows ever-faster, so does its number of visitors. One thing that hasn’t kept pace is the number of hotel rooms. A recent report commissioned by the Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and the Downtown Raleigh Alliance says that the city needs more rooms to keep pace with demand.The new Aloft Raleigh, which opened this past October, is one of five new hotels expected to open by 2018. Geared towards the hyper-connected global traveler, the Starwoods Hotels-owned Aloft is a testament to Raleigh’s growing clout as a business hub. On Hillsborough Street across from the N.C. State bell tower, a healthy walk from downtown, the stylish 135-room hotel features tech-forward innovation and art, and holds events targeted to the young entrepreneurial crowd.The spirit of Raleigh is alive in two Thomas Sayre works – one an outdoor sculpture (shown above), the other an indoor installation incorporating clay from the North Carolina piedmont. The hotel’s collection also features pieces from nearby Roundabout Art Collective. The local food scene is represented by homegrown favorites like Gonza Tacos y Tequila and Jubala coffee shop; Videri chocolate is also a perk for guests. The WXYZ bar, which features an open-balcony view of Hillsborough Street and the downtown skyline, showcases Raleigh tunes with the hotel’s Live at Aloft Hotels music series. Guests who want to check the city out can borrow bikes.Aloft is betting big on the growth of the Triangle. A branch opened in Chapel Hill a few years ago, another in downtown Durham last fall, and a third is set to open near Brier Creek in the spring.2100 Hillsborough St.; starwoodhotels.com/alofthotels
by Mimi Montgomeryillustrations by Addie McElweeIn the interest of journalistic transparency, I’ll start this article off with a disclaimer: My knowledge of the flora and fauna that populate our local environment is slim. It can be narrowed down to a few identifiers – grass, leaves, a few varieties of common trees, and the occasional pine cone. It’s not enough to say I don’t have a green thumb. I am more akin to a creature without any sort of digital appendages at all, perhaps a sea cucumber, or a snail. I once bought a succulent, forgot where I put it, then found it three months later on the back of a shelf gasping in a pool of dehydrated, hungover misery like a college kid back from Cancun. If the horticultural world had a form of child protective services, it would have been sent knocking on my front door. So when I went to Raleigh City Farm to take a “foraging tour” with the Piedmont Picnic Project in March, I was, needless to say, completely out of my element. Headed by co-founders Elizabeth Weichel and Amanda Matson, the Project focuses on urban sustainability and increasing awareness about food history, teaching practices like gardening, foraging, preserving, and fermenting. Its aim is to provide Raleighites with simple ways to eat locally and sustainably. Raleigh City Farm, which also aims to increase accessibility and local awareness, was a fitting spot to embark on our trek. You don’t have to live on a rural farm to know where your food comes from, both groups point out, or to learn the history behind it. They believe anybody can and should be an active participant in finding and growing local, healthy foods. Clearly, I was a prime candidate for this “anybody” demographic. Other than the time I ate all the leaves off one of my mother’s house plants (at the tender age of six), my foraging experience has been contained to the produce aisle of Trader Joe’s. I’m definitely more of a Lucille Ball than a Bear Grylls, but I laced up my walking shoes, packed my pockets with enough nasal spray for an antihistamine overdose, and was ready to go. I was joined on the trek by Adrian Fisher, an urban agriculturist from Raleigh’s sister city of Hull, UK and hosted by the Raleigh Sister Cities group; Douglas Johnston, a Sister Cities representative; a crew of Meredith College Kenyan exchange students; Rebekah Beck, general manager of Raleigh City Farm; and a sprinkling of other intrepid foragers. We stood around until someone called out, “Let’s go Cro-Magnon!,” and off we went, heeding the bugle cry into the downtown wilds. Our merry gang of hunter-gatherers first stopped at a patch of grass between the curb and sidewalk outside the parking lot of Yellow Dog Bread Co. and Edge of Urge. What to me looked like a furry patch of weeds under a power line was in fact a gathering of henbit, Matson told us. A member of the mint family, henbit has a square stem with an almost-Elizabethan collar of purple flowers. It’s a common snack for chickens, hence the name. You’ve probably seen smatterings of these across your front yard, but I bet you don’t consume them raw, cooked, or boiled into a tea. Who knew an unassuming patch of sidewalk weeds could yield something with such potential? Clearly, those outside our tribe had no idea, either: Drivers beeped their horns at us as if we had the phrase “Honk if you love foraging!” taped to our backs, although they were probably just baffled to see us congregated animatedly around the base of an electrical pole like wild boars in hiking clothes snuffling for truffles. We plucked some of these newly discovered greens and continued on our way. Our next stop was the front yard of a beautiful historic home on Mordecai Street. Those were no measly weeds in the front yard, we quickly learned, but actually clumps of chickweed. It’s good to sauté or toss raw in salads, and it gets its name because – you guessed it – chickens like it, too. Naturally, we grabbed a few handfuls. Now you’re probably wondering if this was all on the up-and-up. Matson was quick to let us know that it’s always wise to ask before foraging a plant from someone’s private property. Apparently, foraging without permission can be considered theft, and some public spaces won’t even allow it. I could only imagine the conversations that would ensue if I had to tell my lawyer that I wasn’t being ticketed for speeding or an expired license this time – I was an agricultural outlaw, nabbed for smuggling leafy goods from a neighbor’s yard. Luckily for us, we managed to avoid any run-ins with the fuzz. We continued down the street to the historic Mordecai House, where we wandered through the vegetable garden in the back of the home and stopped to admire a clump of hoary bittercress growing along the picket fence. Apart from sounding like the name of a medieval disease or a potion ingredient from Harry Potter, hoary bittercress is a member of the mustard family and can be consumed cooked or raw for an added peppery taste to dishes. Its tiny white flowers are edible, as well. We added several handfuls to our growing cornucopia. Down the hill from the Mordecai House we mosied into Mordecai Spring Park, a grassy clearing full of foraging potential. I was beginning to look at lawns and strips of grass with a different set of eyes – as not just overgrowth idly passed-by, but as all-you-can-eat buffets in a wild-grown food court, ripe for the plucking. With our newfound perspective, the park became a veritable Whole Foods salad bar. We scooped up wild onions; chestnut pods; purple deadnettle (which can be used in salads and boiled as a tea); ground ivy (used as a spice and sometimes as a substitute for hops in breweries); and cleavers, those fuzzy leaves that stick to your clothes – and, it turns out, have seeds that can be ground into a substitute for coffee. Our baskets full of leafy plunder, we headed back to base camp at Raleigh City Farm. We’d worked up an appetite on our urban safari, and we were ready to dig in. Weichel and Matson had prepared snacks made with ingredients they’d found on their own local foraging expeditions, many of which consisted of the same types of plants we had just encountered. So we loaded our plates with a wild salad; honey wheat bread with jellies made from kudzu, muscadines, honeysuckle, and black locust; green pesto with field garlic, black walnuts, hoary bittercress, and purple deadnettle; and shortbread cookies with ground ivy. The spread was topped off with kombucha made of persimmons and rosehip, and a tea of ground ivy, henbit, dandelion flower, and wild shiso seeds. It was wildly delicious. Now that I can proudly add “foraging veteran” to the short list of accolades next to my name, I have a greater appreciation for the sustainability movement that’s happening here in Raleigh, especially in the downtown area. It truly is a simple matter of increasing awareness and knowledge about the topic – once you know what to look for and where to look for it, you find yourself seeing opportunities for fresh, local food wherever you go. Plus, if we are ever submerged into a post-apocalyptic dystopia, we foragers won’t be stuck eating canned beans and Twinkies like the rest of you. Actually, if it comes to that, you can hang with me – I know where we can find a mean patch of hoary bittercress.Piedmont Picnic Project: piedmontpicnic.comRaleigh City Farm: 800 N. Blount St.; raleighcityfarm.com