85. Stolen wine
Remember that super expensive wine stolen from renowned California restaurant the French Laundry that was somehow recovered in Greensboro at the start of the year despite no arrests in the case? Well almost 12 months later, the public still has no clue how the wine ended up in the Triad, and there’s nothing new to report. Will this go down as a permanently unsolved mystery in the city’s history?
86. Syrian refugees
Nobody seemed upset that Syrian refugees were arriving in the Triad in the early part of this year — on the contrary, people openly welcomed them. But after an illogical pandemonium about the vetting process for refugees after terrorist attacks in Paris, despite no real link to refugees except that they are fleeing the same form of terror, a backlash built. Church World Services in Greensboro received a threat and local Congressman Mark Walker backed a pause on admitting Syrian refugees. Hundreds of people in Greensboro pushed back late this fall at a community Thanksgiving event aimed at celebrating immigrants and refugees. Winston-Salem journalist and Wake Forest professor Phoebe Zerwick documented the welcoming attitude in a piece for the Nation, and Zerwick previously profiled a local Syrian refugee family for National Geographic.
Artistically, 2015 appears to be the year of the mural. From the long wall at Artivity on the Green and Laura Lashley’s work at Bailey Park in Winston-Salem to pieces by the Art of Chase, Kendall Doub and Elsewherians in Greensboro, this has been a big year for murals in the Triad. And that’s not including action on Washington Street in High Point, the controversial Duck Head paint-over at Eric Robert’s mill, and progress by the East Winston Art-Up.
88. Greensboro’s brand
The Gate City can’t quite put its finger on the best way to market itself. A summer ad campaign by the city, Action Greensboro and the convention and visitors bureau produced intangible results at best and a failed website to boot. But efforts at earned media coverage by RLF Communications, funded by Action Greensboro, landed the city on the “Today” show in December. It also includes a marketing effort that highlights millennials.
89. Fast-food workers
Low-wage foodservice workers continued organizing in the Triad this year, namely in Greensboro, where they held a protest action inside a Wendy’s after a fast-food workers’ union leader was allegedly fired for her activity. Workers also went on strike again, as they have a few times in recent years, fighting for a $15 minimum wage and union recognition alongside groups like NC Raise Up.
90. Council structure
In September, the Greensboro City Council adopted a committee structure that mimics that of Winston-Salem, with four council sub-committees designed to improve the efficiency of city council’s decision-making process. Thus far it appears to be working as planned.
91. Election referendum
In the hubbub about a potentially massive shift in the election and structure of Greensboro City Council, many people forgot that the council opted to put a referendum item on the November ballot. Voters approved a measure doubling the length of city council terms from two years to four (also bringing it in line with Winston-Salem) beginning in 2017.
From its launch in 2013, Amplifier magazine planted a flag for the Greensboro music scene while also highlighting worthy local businesses and displaying an elegant sense of style. The ambitious ’zine made a semi-successful expansion as a statewide publication. But the monetary losses and endless hours of work became a little too much for publisher Jen Hasty. The ’zine hosted a rousing concert finale at New York Pizza in December for the last print issue, although Amplifier will continue as a digital-only entity.
93. Raving Knaves
Middle-aged modern rockers the Raving Knaves played their last gig this year after a solid run of Triad gigs. “I’ve decided that the only way you can honestly judge any such off-the-grid band is by the satisfaction of its members,” frontman Dave McLean wrote for TCB in October. “And Adrian Foltz, Danny Bayer and I played wild, tight, original music for seven years together, contributing equally through a creative friendship and respect. Rehearsals were just as fun as public gigs and when even one person was moved to dance wildly, it felt like an offering to the universe.”
94. High Point University basketball
After a solid season, the HPU Panthers men’s squad entered the Big South tournament with a conference record of 13-5 and a No. 2 seed, though they got knocked out in their first game against Gardner-Webb. But the women, a 3-seed with a 14-6 conference record, rode the tournament all the way to the finals, where they lost to Liberty University 74-64.
95. Say Yes to Education
Half of the money to fund the endowment — $70 million — had already been raised by the time Say Yes Guilford launched in September. The organization challenges qualifying communities to pay last-dollar expenses for every public high school graduate in the district who wants to go to college. The money should start flowing for the Class of 2016.
96. Notre Dame wins the ACC
It wasn’t supposed to end like this, not at the last ACC Men’s Basketball Tournament in Greensboro for the foreseeable future. But the Fighting Irish swept in and topped UNC, embittering even a few Duke fans on the process. The tournament is leaving the state where it was born next year, when it will be held at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC before moving to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn through 2018. It comes back to Greensboro in 2020.
Greensboro’s downtown arts collective turned its eye outward this year, with a series of projects that redefined the South Elm neighborhood around it. A mile-long hopscotch grid, a secret garden, wall murals and a public outdoor lunch spot were elements of the South Elm Projects, which proposed new urbanism with artistic flair.
98. Greensboro Police Department
A new police chief. A national spotlight. A reformed review process. A temporary order. A secretive emergency unit and a pricey crowd-control device. This year has been full of developments for the Greensboro Police Department, earning it leagues more ink than any other city department, in this publication and others.
99. Carolina Panthers
How about those Panthers? Some credit quarterback Cam Newton with introducing the American public to “the dab” this year, but Newton’s bigger contribution is his unprecedented season with the Carolina Panthers. After Sunday’s loss against the Atlanta Falcons, the Panthers still finished 2015 with the best record in the NFL.
100. International Civil Rights Center & Museum
The civil rights museum primarily preserving the history of the Greensboro sit-ins and the national civil-rights struggle is fighting it out behind closed doors with the Greensboro News & Record over the daily newspaper’s coverage of the institution. The contentions led to a lawsuit briefly being filed and then voluntarily dismissed, though it may return, the museum’s lawyer said. The museum also received the final $250,000 installment of a loan from the city. The subject became a campaign issue in this year’s city council election, though everyone on council sailed to re-election.