Today, April 10th, 2018, Durham celebrates it’s 149th anniversary of incorporation, TheBullsOfDurham.com celebrates a year of existence and the countdown to launching “The Bulls of Durham” living history book is on.
Since launching the website a year ago to date a lot of progress has been made on the project. Trial, errors, triumphs, adventures and more. We’re 554 days into the project with 365 days more to go. 919 days from beginning to end to be exact and eerie.
Over 2000 Bull Love Mugs have sold in 1 year. The mugs are availaBULL in English, Spanish and Pride variations now and have made their way into 31 states, 9 countries and 4 continents. The term ‘mug shot’ is getting a much-needed positive spin in the Bull.
Over 100 individuals have been interviewed for the book with local archivist and author Andre Vann getting the honor of being the 100th interviewee. Hip-hop artist turned VP and now actor Joshua Gunn was the 84th interviewee on the book’s 1-year anniversary.
Last month interviewee, retired reporter and local historian Jim Wise wrote the first TheBullsOfDurham.com guest blog. The final interviews are being placed on the books and funding for transcription is on its way.
The book is well on its way to completion – an estimated 252 pages saying, “This is who we are. This is what we value. This is where we’ve come from. This is what makes Durham, Durham.”
The lingering question is, “What’s next?”
For the creator of “The Bulls of Durham,” the answer is a long nap extending from the launch party well into the next week. The efforts put forth to be a neutral observer for nearly 1,000 days is taxing to say the least and riddled with moments of faltering. It’s not easy being Switzerland.
What’s next for Durham, North Carolina?
Keen observer or not, it’s evident the times they are a’changing.
The story of the Bull City has been and is one of constant change, namely the ability to change the smallest bit of hope into an entrepreneurial endeavor.
A donated plot of land becoming a train station that become a city. Ruined farmers turning a few remaining tobacco seeds into an empire. African Americans creating a legacy of wealth, education and defiance of impossibility.
A pastime to entertain freshly paid tobacco farmers gave way to baseball cards, the bullpen and the one thing everyone can agree on – if there’s any common ground to be found, it’s at a Durham Bulls baseball game.
Vacant warehouses and mills brimming with pigeon leavings becoming the most expensive real estate in North Carolina. A town put on the map for tobacco becoming a medical Mecca, treating lung cancer amongst other ailments.
It goes on from this to tech hub, from that to the latest incrediBULL restaurant, from this to that with the spark of an idea and grit in between. But not all the changes have been and are inherently good, nor availaBULL to everyone. We’re building, but who are we building for?
There’s a profound, palpaBULL tension brewing faster than the number of local microbreweries. Tension is nothing new to Durham, North Carolina, nor is a poverty rate hovering near the 20% mark despite marked growth in the population, a bounty of non-profits, vociferous compassion and demands for change.
The city that has held the narrative of being the place where anything is possiBULL if you’ve got the nerve to pursue it is being challenged from within and from the outside in.
Estimates range from 60 to 70% of the people who work in Durham residing outside of Durham and the Triangle-wide, twice daily traffic jams reflect this. Homeless individuals are living in the shadow of luxury apartment homes. Stunning new apartments, condos and developments going up at breakneck speed while eviction rates are jaw dropping. Public schools facing unimaginaBULL challenges on every level.
When this project began the 27-story building that has forever changed the skyline was a 2-story excavation hole. That same building is slated to be complete just as the book launches. A highly visiBULL sign of the times, epicenter of current controversary, a blatant demand to answer the question, “Is this a symptom of a disease or a shining sign of progress?”
All 100 plus interviewees have answered the same 6 core questions. The ONE question that makes them sit up, lean back in their chair and pause before answering is, “In a city whose narrative has always been one of constant change, a city that is seeing change at an unprecedented rate, what changes would you like to see in the city of Durham?”
Over 100 unique individuals echoing the same sentiments – better schools, improved infrastructure, cohesive communication, affordable housing for all, conscious growth and racial equity. They’ve voiced concerns of progress at the price of what made Durham, Durham.
Durham, North Carolina has a history of the unfathomaBULL and the impossiBULL becoming reality. It has a diverse population known for compassion, insight and intellect. It’s got food, art, music and technology. It’s got deep wounds, real issues and a 270,000 people strong powder keg of tension building during the some of the tensest time in America’s history.
A year from today Durham will celebrate it’s 150th date of incorporation. Will it still be a city where dreams can grow into reality?
Will it still be a city where a loving couple with a coffee bike can consciously build 3 thriving coffee shops and a roastery all of national acclaim? Will it still be a place where an idea and a 10’x10’ room in an old bank basement can turn into an entrepreneurial success story on Good Morning America? Will ‘Do it Like Durham’ still carry weight and hope in the streets of New York, L.A. or right here in the Bull?
Has the tightly woven fabric of Durham been pulled to thin? Will these rising tides lift all boats or wash away Durham’s identity?
Will Durham, North Carolina still be a place where a lost soul can step foot for the first time and finally be home? Will it be a place where a wild-eye dream is met with the question of, “How can I help?” Will it still be the only place you can fund a project on love? Will the next person who writes the history book answering these questions be lucky enough to live in Durham, North Carolina?
Happy 149th Bull City!
The Bulls of Durham 1st Edition Pre-Order
Signed, first print copy of "The Bulls of Durham" living history book. Projected book launch is April 10th, 2019, Durham's 150th Anniversary. Your book will be paired with a BULL bookmark made out of North Carolina wood.
Sheila Amir is a health & nutrition writer who fell in love with Durham, North Carolina and starting writing a book about it.