Monday, November 29, 2010

Lots of Good News to Drink In

Just a quick bit today as everyone tries to dig out of the in-box-voicemail-IM-turkey-coma burden that this day always represents...and that quick bit is really two bits of really good news.

First is that, and those who live here know this empirically, Durham's water is tasty! It ranks third statewide in the North Carolina American Water Works Association and Water Environment Association's annual competition. It won top honors in 1999 and 2006.

Second, it looks like Durham will soon be ranked as the state's fourth largest city, ousting Winston-Salem from their current position and trailing behind Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte respectively. Census numbers cite the population at 237,214 putting Durham at 84th place on the national list.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Overdue Update

There are many stories unfolding in Durham every day from which readers can draw inspiration, perspective, courage and knowledge.  This post is from a blog written by a family dealing with cancer - and it's powerful...and it's perfect in light of tomorrow's festivities.

Happy Thanksgiving, really.

An Overdue Update
This Machine Kills Cancer
Shayne Miel

It’s been three weeks since I got home from the hospital, which means I am a lazy blogger. The first week and a half, everything I did felt like climbing a mountain. I found myself having to rest in between each action. Between putting on my underwear and putting on my pants, I’d have to sit in a chair and chant “you can do this” over and over to myself. I was still throwing up a lot and I slept 16 hours a day. But I wasn’t in the hospital. That’s important.

I slowly started dragging my ass out of the house - to the coffeeshop, to my in-laws house, to the top of a parking deck where my friend Heather was shooting a music video for her band Mt. Moriah (look for me and Rebekah when it comes out - I ride by on a skateboard and Rebekah dances around in a fantastic tutu). I realized that, no matter how bad it felt, I had to start getting off the couch and living life again. If I waited to feel better, I wouldn’t know when to begin. So I didn’t wait. I went out and saw the world. Besides, I felt like crap all year and lived through it, what was a few more weeks?

Continue reading this blog post...

Timing is Everything

It takes lots of small interconnecting parts to make up the place where great things happen. Little interactions like this one. Read on.

timing is everything
Sarah Ovenall

Last week Georg and I went to A/V Geeks. We had to meet there because he was working late, so I went to the Q Shack for dinner. They were a little crowded and I asked a young woman if I could share her table. She was studying, and though I didn't pry, I could see enough of her book to see that she was studying Chinese.

I wanted to say something to her but after 20 years, I remember so little Chinese that I didn't know what I would say. I can barely say my own name at this point, much less have a conversation. Besides, she seemed pretty deeply involved in her studies and I didn't want to interrupt. So I ate my dinner and websurfed on my phone, and she studied, and it was a nice quiet sharing of space.

Continue reading this blog post...

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Local Perspective on Burgers

One of the purposes of the Durham News Service is to help tell Durham’s Story. In fact, this site is ground-breaking in the destination marketing business for real-time news service delivery. Part of great story telling is taking from the organic truth of the place you are promoting. Fortunately, in Durham there are hundreds of outstanding bloggers telling their truths about this place. Their stories will appear here, too, and with increasing frequency.

The piece that follows is a great exploration of burgers from one person’s point of view. Food is one of Durham’s most distinctive features, strongly held opinions about that subject and honesty are others. This posting embodies all three.

My Choice For Best New Durham Burger!
Bull City Mutterings
Reyn Bowman

I love hamburgers, always have, so people have been asking me to rate two new Durham locations (as a benchmark, I included a highly regarded Raleigh outlet with a Durham location.)

Over the course of several weeks, I’ve tried the doubles at King’s Sandwich Shop in the Downtown Foster-Geer District, Only Burger (both the famed food truck and the newly opened stand in Hope Valley) and to be fair to nearby Raleigh, its famed Char-Grill and to be ultra fair, both at its Durham location and at the original location.
Continue reading this blog post...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Results from the Resident Favorite Dining Survey

Attention.  Attention Please.  Please direct your attention this way.  The results of the 2010 Resident Favorite Dining Survey are tabulated and the winners are....  But before the winners are announced, there are a few tidbits worth sharing; c'mon, there's got to be a little suspense, no? 

The survey is a popular vote contest for people who live and work in Durham.  There were no limits on what places could win.  Voting was conducted online through a survey on the Informz platform and was open for 12 days from November 1 through 12.  The survey was promoted largely over social media.

Participation was up 61% over last year.  That size jump clearly indicates a strong desire by those who live here to be supportive of their local businesses and to direct visitors to them.  That's a great thing.

Folks spent an average of 5:19 per response.  That is up 18% from last year and it indicates that respondents truly care about making sure they choose the places that they believe most exemplify excellence in a category. 

Some categories were too close to call a single winner; only one or two votes separated some of the top contenders.  In those instances, multiple winners were awarded.  "The objective of this survey is to provide a window on the local culinary zeigeist that others can use to guide their decisions, and this year we had a heck of a response," said Sam Poley, DCVB's Director of Marketing and Communications.  "We were especially excited to see voting be so close, and to have multiple establishments genuinely be easily discernable as true 'favorites' by popular votes," he added.

So, without further adoo, the 2010 Resident Favorites Dining Survey winners are:

Favorite Place in Durham for BBQ:
The Original Q-Shack

Favorite Place in Durham for Brunch:
Watts Grocery and Elmo's Diner

Favorite Place in Durham for a Burger:
Only Burger

Favorite Coffee House in Durham:
Bean Traders, Inc., Beyu Caffe, and Joe Van Gogh

Favorite Place for a Guilty Pleasure:
Francesca's Dessert Caffe, Mad Hatter Bakeshop and Cafe, Guglhupf Café, and Scratch Seasonal Artisan Baking

Favorite Place in Durham with a Kids' Menu:
Elmo's Diner

Favorite Restaurant with Live Entertainment:
Broad Street Café

Favorite Mobile Food Vendor in Durham:
Only Burger

Favorite Place in Durham for Late Night Food:
Cosmic Cantina

Favorite Place in Durham for Vegetarians:
Toast, Sitar India Palace, Dos Perros, and Saladelia Cafe

Favorite Restaurant in Durham for a Date:
Revolution and Watts Grocery

Favorite Restaurant Value in Durham:
Chubby's Tacos and The Federal

Favorite Restaurant Wine List in Durham:
Six Plates Wine Bar

Friday, November 12, 2010

DurhamCares Give Gift of (Google) Voice

Local non-profit DurhamCares is teaming up with Google Voice to help homeless people in Durham begin to navigate the path to independence. Together, they are providing 500 Google Voice cards to six local charities because one of the hurdles on the journey to standing on their own two feet is, simply, the ability to communicate beyond direct, in-person contact. The Google Voice cards are a gateway to finding success in many aspects and DurhamCares is thrilled to work with Google Voice in helping the homeless.

“The Google Voice cards will provide homeless individuals with a personal phone number, which will help them search for jobs, maintain family connections and take care of other personal matters, such as securing living arrangements,” said Henry Kaestner, cofounder of DurhamCares. “Our mission at DurhamCares is to find creative, groundbreaking ways to inspire and support the Durham community, and we’re excited to work with Google Voice, a leader in innovation, to do just that.”

The six local charities receiving the Google Voice cards are: Genesis Home, TROSA, Housing for New Hope, Durham Rescue Mission, Dress for Success, and Sales and Service Training Center. The event will take place on Tuesday, November 16 at 4pm in the John O’Daniel Exchange in the Multipurpose Room (801 Gilbert St., Durham). The public is welcome to attend.

Like the community itself, DurhamCares is a creative, innovative and compassionate organization, and it exists to help citizens of Durham help one another.

Durham Art Walk Holiday Market Kicks Off November 20

Shopping in Durham is phenomenal with funky and eclectic shopping districts, a family-owned regional mall whose unique shops and full-size nostalgic carousel have made it a Durham landmark and one of the nation’s most exciting super regional malls. To work up enough stamina to make it through Black Friday check out the annual Durham Art Walk Holiday Market this weekend. The timing and scope of the DAW Holiday Market makes it a great opportunity to get started on those holiday purchases a little early.

Durham’s art scenefeaturing events such as: Bimbe Cultural Arts Festival, Duke Homestead Herb, Garden, and Craft Festival, Durham Art Guild’s Annual Juried Art Show and CenterFest, to name a fewoffers opportunities throughout the year to find the perfect gift for a loved one, or a new item for a personal collection.

This year’s DAW Holiday Market features a new name and other exciting changes from years past. Taking place on Saturday, November 20 from 10am-5pm and Sunday, November 21 from 1pm-5pm, the market is sure to have something for everyone!

Here is a look at a few of the new and fun things happening at the market.
  • Bull City Connector connects most of the main sites and makes parking easy
  • Scrap Exchange is providing upcycled gift wrapping at DAC and the Armory
  • Cartoonist and caricaturist VC Rogers will be doing free sketches at the Armory
  • Burt’s Bees is sponsoring the creation of Giving Trees, fabulous holiday trees made of repurposed materials on display at the DAC
  • There will be roving performance art by Jim Kellough
  • There is live music both days at DAC and the Armory
  • There are new mobile food vendors including Kettle Corn and a food truck called Blue Sky dining that does Cuban sandwiches, beef brisket & Maryland crabcakes
  • Cinelli’s Italian restaurant will be serving pastas and salads out of the Armory kitchen
  • The DAC will have artists on all 3 floors of the building for the first time ever
  • PLUS a new local artist vendor called NylaElise will be producing a limited number of supercool hand-screened DAW Holiday Market tees 
Those attending this exciting event in the heart of Downtown Durham will see for themselves why this is the place where great things happen.

“Energy Efficient Lighting: Beyond Compact Florescent Bulbs” Free Webinar

Durham currently has 23 businesses certified or working toward Green Plus certification. These include The King's Daughters Inn, which was honored as the Green Plus Sustainable Enterprise of the Year, along with  the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau, which was the first destination marketing organization in the nation to be certified.

On Wednesday, December 8, from 10:30am-11:30am the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University will host the fifth free webinar in their Renewable Energy in Tourism series. This webinar, “Energy Efficient Lighting: Beyond Compact Florescent Bulbs,” will address energy efficient lighting specifically for small to mid-sized tourism attractions and accommodations.

The webinar will provide applicable and relevant information to help owners and operators become more lighting savvy, save money on their utility bills, and better brand themselves to the growing number of green conscious travelers.

Participants interested in this event can register online.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DCVB Earns Four MarCom Awards in 2010 Competition

What do Lockheed Martin, MetLife, SAS Institute, and DCVB all have in common? They are all platinum winners (highest category) in the 2010 MarCom Awards, an International competition for marketing and communication professionals.

This year, Durham’s official marketing agency earned four awards for creativity: one Platinum, one Gold, and two Honorable Mention out of 5,000 submissions from the US and several foreign countries by businesses and organizations of every size and type. MarCom is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing & Communications Professionals (AMCP). DCVB has earned recognitions in this competition for four years.

DCVB’s Official Durham Visitor Overview & Map received Platinum recognition, while DCVB’s partnership with the City of Durham on promotional materials for the Bull City Connector received Gold. Honorable Mentions were given for the Downtown Durham Guide and Walking Tour publication, produced in partnership with DDI, as well as Shelly Green’s introduction letter to the community as the new CEO of DCVB.

To date, DCVB has earned more than 150 awards and recognitions for best practices, innovations, and creative promotions from a variety of independent sources.

There were only three other destination marketing organizations in the U.S. receiving Platinum Awards, including Anaheim CA, Shreveport LA, and Henderson NV.

Holiday Dining in Durham

Each year, DCVB does a poll of Durham restaurants to find out which ones are open on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas and New Year's Day.  Please note that many require reservations and/or have special hours on these dates.  Phone numbers are included on the attached list. Support these local restaurants.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Preserving Durham's Unique Sense of Place

Once again an iconic building in Durham will remain intact thanks to some good old fashioned common sense.  Take a look at this post by Gary Kueber on Endangered Durham for more:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Resident Favorites Survey Begins Today

Each year the folks at the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau like to gather a little ground-level research from residents to find out what they do and don't dig on the local dining scene.  Turns out that visitors are increasingly interested in the local chatter, too, as it relates to empirically-informed personal preferences upon which they can act when they visit. 

DCVB's annual Resident Favorites Survey is in
the field with voting going through 11/12/10.
Social media has emerged as a platform that drives the interest in this sort of information, and the need is growing.  Since Durhamites get so excited about things in the place where great things happen, this survey is a great way to formalize that data.  So, those with an opinion (research shows that opinions are strongly-held in Durham) should follow this link to complete the survey. 

That's right, TAKE THE SURVEY here.

"This short survey is dining focused - it will take most people less than 90 seconds to complete," according to Sam Poley, DCVB's Director of Marketing and Communications who hopes that residents will voice their opinions by the thousands.  "This survey is always fun for us.  We really get a kick out of seeing the responses and hope nominated restaurants will really promote this process and encourage votes through their social media as well," he added.

Winning establishments are presented with a framed award and are announced publicly by DCVB.  The questions change annually, so it is possible that a place may have consecutive wins in a category that are years apart.  Last year's winners are posted here.

City of Durham Honored with Sustainability Award

The City of Durham was named one of two inaugural winners of the Susan M. Burgess Sustainability Award by The N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM). The Burgess Sustainability award is presented annually to recognize efforts to lessen the environmental impact of municipal operations and to promote and encourage sustainability throughout the community. Durham won for municipalities with a population of 10,000 and above. The City of Archdale won in the category of those municipalities under 10,000.

Durham was honored for its numerous sustainability efforts, including its greenhouse gas emissions reduction plan; its public-private partnership to produce electricity from landfill methane gas; its recycling, water conservation and education programs; and city-funded affordable housing built to energy efficiency standards.

“Durham is truly a leader in sustainability efforts among our cities,” said Boone Mayor Loretta Clawson, NCLM 2009-10 Second Vice President, in presenting the award.

“I was very honored to accept this award on behalf of Durham,” Mayor William V. “Bill” Bell said. “Over the past few years, the City has made a deliberate effort to promote sustainability in everything we do, not just for current Durham residents, but also for our future. We are proud that our efforts are being recognized by this prestigious and forward-thinking award.”

The Susan M. Burgess Sustainability Awards are named in honor of the late Burgess, a Charlotte council member and former NCLM president who created the NCLM Green Challenge several years ago as a way to honor those municipalities that have taken the initiative to conserve energy and natural resources at the local government level. Burgess died in 2010 after a battle with cancer.

Burgess Sustainability Award winners must first achieve NCLM Green Challenge Advanced Level status before they can apply for the Burgess Award. More than 90 cities and towns participate in the NCLM Green Challenge.