Today TheBullsOfDurham. com is featuring the very first guest blog by local historian, long time Durham journalist and Bull City resident of 50 years, Jim Wise.
And Now, a Few Words on our “Founder.”
The man for whom Durham is named lies to rest at the top of a low knoll, off Duke University Road in the city’s Maplewood Cemetery.
Dr. Bartlett Durham has the knoll pretty much to himself, his gravestone standing tall, 61/2 feet or so, in reverent solitude with just an evergreen tree for company, set off by a broad lawn leading the eye up to the Founder’s memorial.
That’s what the gravestone says: “FOUNDER, THE CITY OF DURHAM.” though Dr. Durham didn’t exactly found anything. What he did was to, circa 1849, grant the North Carolina Railroad the right to run track and locate a depot on a 100-acre tract of land he owned just off a road running between Hillsborough and Raleigh.
The Bull City has a way of capturing the heart and mind of the compassionate. In interviewing over 100 individuals, with plenty more to go, a common theme has run through their stories – people in Durham genuinely care.
From politicians who work love into their campaign platform to the estimated 2000 Durham specific non-profit organization, there’s a lot of compassion in this city on every level.
It’s not uncommon to hear about hearts that were instantly captured by the Durham community or business owners actively seeking out the most ethical way to do business. Restaurant owners are no except to this. Quality ingredients, treating staff well, knowing customers by their first name and taking the farm-to-table concept very seriously is the norm in the “Foodiest City in the South.”
Janet Lee, owner of ZenFish Poke Bar on 9th Street, exemplifies this. Her love for Durham shines through everything she does, including supporting “The Bulls of Durham” living history book project.
She’s all in. Janet is a member of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, as well finding delicious and creative ways to support the community. Currently ZenFish is raising and matching funds to support Duke Children’s Hospital.
With menu items titled, Gratitude, Kindness, Courageous and Compassion – all made with locally farmed produce and fish caught of the North Carolina coast – it’s easy to see the Durham is in the details at ZenFish.
Read on to discover how Durham captured Janet’s heart and why ZenFish is an absolute Bull City Gem! You’ll discover that love is the truly what brought her to Durham.
Walk down Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina today and most likely what will stand out to you is construction. There’s a 27 story structure in the midst of becoming a building, which is currently the epicenter of local controversy. It’s impossiBULL to miss - fenced off and taking up half a city block. Cranes, workers and building supplies constantly in motion. Dizzying spectacle to say the least.
Across the way another chain link fence came down in the late summer of 2017, after nearly 2 years to reveal the re-envisioned Jack Tarr hotel now as the new boutique hotel Unscripted. While you’re in the area you best stop and see Major, the large bull statue standing in CCB plaza. He too can’t be missed, standing strong, seemingly unphased by it all.
It’s easy to get caught up in all this. The city surely has. Good, bad or simply different, all 27 stories will be completed. Someday soon the chain link fence will come down to reveal a completed One City Center. The constant clamor of construction will quiet and Durham’s skyline will be forever redefined. The world will keep turning. It is what it is.
Look beyond all that. You’re standing where truly incrediBULL American history was made. Where collaboration, perseverance and ingenuity outweighed societal vitriol and systemic racism. The only place where a 27 story building will always be in the shadow of a 6 story building 100 years its senior. Welcome to Durham's historic Black Wall Street.
“Anything is possible. We have community here. People in Durham are creative, empathetic, open, loving and willing to grow. When you have that combination of characteristics in the place you well, anything is possible.” Pierce Freelon answering what stands out the most about Durham to him.
I BULLieve he meant to say anything is possiBULL.
Since beginning “The Bulls of Durham” living history book project, over 100 Durhamights have been interviewed. A lively, diverse, cross-section of the Bull City ranging from artists to teachers to activists to our elder living legends. Each have answered the same core 6 questions, including the aforementioned, “What stands out the most to you about Durham?” As well as, “What changes would you like to see for the city of Durham?” A means of seeing the great and the opportunities for improvement through the bulls’ eyes.
One of the most common answers to the latter question has been the Durham Public School system. The widespread frustration and blatant bewilderment as to how in a city where we can do anything, we continue to have a school system in crisis that’s failing our future. More often than not this answer comes along with the irritation with the tests our youth are subjected to and measured against – citing it’s more than likely the tests are the issue, not the children nor their teachers.
How do you measure potential?
How can you assess a child’s points of improvement versus the school system’s?
How can we improve if we’re measuring the wrong things?
What if what is truly important cannot be quantified and measured?
What if there is no ruler to measure against?
The holidays are in full swing and the end of 2017 is quickly approaching. There's a lot going on and hopefully some of that includes merriment and time with those you love.
For "The Bulls of Durham" living history book project, the close of 2017 means roughly 4 months to complete an estimated 60 interviews and 10 months to complete all transcription, research and writing to turn "The Bulls of Durham" over for revisions and then publication. So while the temperatures have dropped, the heat is on to complete everything in a timely manner.
To meet those deadlines, funding is needed and soon. Let's get all Durham on this and do this in a way everyone wins. By the time "The Bulls of Durham" living history book is a printed reality on April 10th, 2019, Durham's 150th anniversary, this project will be the Bull City's ultimate collaboration. Every Bull Love Mug, Bourbon Tumbler and Bull City Business Package sold is a collaboration effort to get 'er done.
Below are 12 incrediBULL ways to support the project, get more Bull in your life, boost your business and win Christmas.... I mean give the gift of love this holiday season.
Sheila Amir is a health & nutrition writer who fell in love with Durham, North Carolina and starting writing a book about it.