1. Roy Cooper
Since taking office in January, Gov. Roy Cooper has spent much of his time countermanding edicts from the federal government. So far he’s voiced opposition to fracking and drilling off our coast, the travel ban, the repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the current tax plan. In his own state he’s taken stands against education vouchers, a merger of the State Board of Elections with the Board of Ethics, judicial restructuring, changes in gubernatorial power and the state budget, which he vetoed in June and was soon thereafter overridden.
2. Tournament-less town
After HB 2, a law that prevented city governments from protecting transgender citizens, passed in 2016, the NCAA and other groups reacted by pulling tournaments, concerts, tourist groups and other events from North Carolina. As a result of the boycott, the Greensboro Coliseum, which regularly hosts the men’s and women’s ACC basketball tournaments, held neither this year. And the round of the Final Four tournament scheduled for Greensboro this year was held in Greenville, SC.
3. Salem College strike
In the first tumultuous year of the Trump presidency, student protest in the Triad emerged with the most ferocity, not at large-scale state schools like UNCG or NC A&T or the prestigious Wake Forest University, but at tiny Salem College. Armed with laptops, students took over Main Hall and live-streamed their discontent beginning at 11:15 a.m. on April 11. Students cited a wide range of sources for their grievances, from racism and transphobia to sub-par food service, inadequate course offerings and poor living conditions in the dorms.
4. Greensboro redistricting scheme squashed
In April, US District Court Judge Catherine Eagles drove a stake into a plan by state Sen. Trudy Wade to impose a new election system on the city of Greensboro, finding that it violated the one-person-one-vote provision of the US Constitution by packing Democratic-leaning districts to maximize Republican advantage. Voters would later issue a rebuke of their own in November by replacing Tony Wilkins, the sole Republican on council. Also notable: Jim Kee, one of a handful of prominent African-American politicians supporting the Wade plan, changed his registration from Democrat to Republican in the middle of the election. He lost, too.
It started long before 2017, and we’ll be feeling the effects for years to come, but our state’s illegal districts — in the state House and Senate and also some districts of the US Congress — were finally overturned after a series of court battles that culminated in a Supreme Court decision in June. New maps were adopted in August, but the story’s not quite over.
6. Nathan Persily
The Stanford University law professor directed to draw new, nonpartisan maps for North Carolina House and Senate districts double-bunked some longtime incumbents. And Republican lawmakers filed a critique of his work, saying, among other things, that he relied too much on racial data to make them. The three-judge panel in charge of this mess reconvenes in January to address these concerns.
7. Legal notices
Sen. Trudy Wade’s SB 343 removed a requirement that North Carolina counties publish their legal notices in paid-circulation (that is, not free) weekly and daily newspapers. After pushback from the newspaper industry, which has enjoyed this subsidy for more than 100 years, the bill was whittled down to exclude 99 of the state’s 100 counties before it passed. The outlier: Guilford, Wade’s home county, where her animosity towards the press is well documented.
8. Jose Charles
A 15-year-old with mental health challenges became a symbol of the struggle for police accountability in Greensboro in March after he and his mother went public with their complaint over a forcible arrest at Center City Park the previous year. Lindy Perry-Garnette was removed from the police community review board after speaking out against the police department’s handling of the incident. Charles’ supporters expressed their displeasure with the city by taking over the dais at a city council meeting and later blocking traffic on Friendly Avenue. The city manager and a majority of city council wound up backing the police department, but Jose was vindicated when prosecutors dropped charges related to his encounter with police.
9. Greensboro Police Community Review Board restructuring
Widespread dissatisfaction with the Greensboro Community Police Review Board culminating in the city’s handling of Jose Charles’ complaint against the police department led to a recommendation from Human Relations Commissioner David Sevier to fold the committee into a new Criminal Justice Advisory Commission that will regularly publish trends data on complaints against the police. The city council has yet to approve the changes.
10. Democracy Greensboro/BLM electoral moves
A new progressive electoral force emerged on the scene in Greensboro in 2017 when former Bernie Sanders supporters turned their attention to local politics by forming Democracy Greensboro. They quickly made common cause with Black Lives Matter and other groups pushing for police accountability. Meanwhile, BLM turned its focus towards electoral politics, fielding three candidates for city council. None of the three, who adopted platforms aligned with Democracy Greensboro’s agenda, prevailed in the November election. Earlier in the year, in April, BLM leader April Parker came close to winning appointment to fill Ray Trapp’s unexpired term on Guilford County Commission, but narrowly lost a Democratic Party vote to veteran politico Skip Alston.
11. Jamal Fox resignation; return of Goldie Wells
Jamal Fox, the two-term councilman who represents District 2 on Greensboro City Council abruptly announced his resignation in June; he accepted a job with the parks and recreation department in Portland, Ore. Goldie Wells, a former council member and longtime community leader, accepted appointment to fill Fox’s unexpired term, initially viewing herself as a placeholder. Wells later decided to file for election after taking umbrage to the other candidates’ criticism of Fox’s legacy. She won handily.
12. Michelle Kennedy
Michelle Kennedy was the undisputed rising political star of 2017 in Greensboro. As executive director of the Interactive Resource Center, she established herself as a poverty fighter, and earned bona fides in police accountability efforts as a member of the human relations commission. She emerged from a crowded field of human relations commissioners as the strongest progressive contender, unseating moderate Democrat Mike Barber while becoming the first openly gay member of city council.
13. Hello Tammi Thurm/Goodbye Tony Wilkins
Few political observers would have predicted that Tammi Thurm, a Democrat and law firm administrator with ties Greensboro’s philanthropic community would unseat Republican Tony Wilkins in the city’s most conservative district. That’s exactly what happened during this year’s progressive wave election.
14. Greensboro parking decks
The new Greensboro City Council wasted no time creating an uproar by approving up to $60 million in public spending for two new downtown parking decks that are essential components for dual hotel, retail and office developments. The Dec. 19 decision outraged progressive activists and a neighboring property owner who is pledging to take the city to court to block one of the projects. And fiscal conservatives stripped of their political voice have found themselves making common cause with anti-corporate leftists. Strange bedfellows.
15. Kids’ Path
Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro announced in November that it would drop pediatric home-care services to 19 terminally ill children, part of a suite of services delivered through its Kids Path program. The families expressed doubt their children will receive the same quality of care under the new provider, Advanced Home Care.
16. High Point stadium
It all happened so quickly: In April, High Point City Council approved funds for a land purchase at English Road and North Elm Street for the purpose of building a multi-purpose stadium. High Point University President Nido Qubein got involved, and the plan evolved into a sort of district, with a hotel, a children’s museum and some retail and restaurants. We argued about it all summer and then it became an election issue that swept its supporters into a new city council. Ground broke for the project on Dec. 1.
17. High Point City Council election
The city council election in High Point essentially functioned as a popular ratification of a decision by city leaders in the spring to make a bold public investment in a stadium envisioned as a downtown catalyst project. Voters eliminated Jim Davis, the mayoral candidate most skeptical of the initiative, during the primary, and then dropped Cindy Davis, previously the most popular at-large member, during the general election while choosing stadium boosters for every single seat. Jay Wagner, a longtime revitalization proponent won election as mayor, although former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis ran a close second.
The number of homicides in Greensboro and High Point surged in 2017, about a year behind a national trend. When police discovered 35-year-old Kenya Ricardo James dead in hotel room on East Seneca Road on Dec. 22 brought Greensboro’s homicide count to 42, compared to 29 the previous year — and the highest number per capita in 10 years. With the shooting death of 27-year-old Qumain T. Pratt on Christmas Eve, High Point’s homicide count jumped to 18 in 2017, compared to seven in 2016. In Winston-Salem, Travaris Gourdine, 22, who was found dead from a gunshot wound at his home on Tise Avenue on Dec. 16, was the 25th homicide victim in 2017, putting the city just one homicide above its count for 2016.
Poverty has remained a stubborn fact of life in Triad cities eight years into the recovery from the Great Recession. Candidates for Greensboro City Council committed to combating it, although there was little consensus about what approaches are most effective. Officials in Greensboro questioned a reported jump from 16.2 percent to 22.8 percent from 2015 to 2016, but few disputed that the rate has been stuck somewhere around 20 percent since the onset of the recession. And despite an effort to combat poverty announced by Mayor Allen Joines in late 2013, Winston-Salem’s poverty rate is stalled out in the same neighborhood.
20. Women’s March
More than 4 million people participated in the Women’s March in the day after President Trump’s inauguration — the largest single-day demonstration recorded in US history — about 4,000 of whom converged in Greensboro for the Triad’s Women’s March. More of a call-to-action than protest, the worldwide demonstration sought to develop a platform that could inform specific actions of resistance at both the national and local scale.
21. Trump executive orders reaction
Almost immediately after his inauguration Trump signaled to his white, Christian base that he was serious about his extreme anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim agenda, issuing a slew of executive orders covering everything from interior immigration enforcement to suspending entry from majority Muslim countries and reducing the number of refugees allowed into the country. And civic leaders and academics in the Triad’s progressive cities responded with predictable defiance. Mayor Nancy Vaughan noted during a Jan. 27 rally that Greensboro City Council had voted to call itself a “stranger to neighbor” city, adding, “We intend on staying that way.” During an over-capacity panel discussion at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, law professor Margaret Taylor astutely took Trump’s measure. “If you think about how this exclusion order was carried out, there was a massive amount of chaos and confusion, and it creates fear,” she said. “And I really go back and forth as to whether that is just utter incompetence or it is strategic because the whole point is to create fear.”
22. Winston-Salem’s “Welcoming City” fumble
With federal pressure coming down on “Sanctuary Cities,” those that protect their residents from federal immigration law, Winston-Salem tried to split the difference in March by declaring itself a “Welcoming City,” a designation which has no real definition. But the resolution was pulled in April after the Forsyth delegation to the General Assembly threatened to punish the city — likely by withholding state funds — if they went forward. “Despite Winston-Salem’s long history of compassion and integration, we have come to a place where welcoming our neighbors is radical,” Wake Forest University graduate student Jennifer St Sume observed at the April council meeting.
23. Nestor Marchi
Following President Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order on interior immigration enforcement, the US Immigration Customs Enforcement put in motion a more aggressive deportation policy, sweeping up unauthorized immigrants who otherwise avoided trouble with the law. One of them was Nestor Marchi, a Brazilian airplane mechanic suffering from congestive heart failure who was ordered to leave the country after 20 years and after raising a son who is a Greensboro firefighter.
24. Greensboro sanctuary women
Building out of its legacy as a station on the Underground Railroad and progressive network of churches, Greensboro became the first North Carolina city where an undocumented person took sanctuary in the Trump era. Juana Tobar Ortega, a Guatemalan seamstress from Randolph County, went first, taking sanctuary at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church on May 31. Meanwhile, a Winston-Salem woman named Minerva Garcia was also maneuvering to avoid deportation, and on June 29 she followed Ortega by taking sanctuary at Congregational United Church of Christ in Greensboro. Ortega remains effectively detained at St. Barnabas, while Garcia emerged from sanctuary on Oct. 2 after learning that a federal immigration judge had vacated her deportation order. Since then, another immigration judge ordered her to wear an electronic angle bracelet, and her status remains tenuous. Like Marchi, Ortega and Garcia had avoided trouble with the law up to the time when they were ordered to leave the country.
When President Trump announced in September that he would end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA program, he set in motion a Dec. 31 deadline for Congress to create a solution for 800,000 Dreamers; at this point, the odds of action are vanishing to none. Fourteen DACA recipients from the Triad converged on Sen. Thom Tillis’ DC office in November to protest Congress’ failure to implement immigration reform.
26. Donald Trump in town
The president, unpopular in Guilford and Forsyth counties where he lost by 20 and 10 points, respectively, inspired protests in Greensboro in October, when he visited the Irving Park home of Louis DeJoy and Aldona Wos, a former state secretary of Health and Human Services and heavyweight GOP fundraiser.
27. RIP Electro and Jim Clark
Jim Clark and Harry Wilton “Electro” Perkins, two seminal figures in the vanishing Tate Street counterculture scene, died in 2017. The two were friends, but with contrasting yet complementary personalities. Clark, a minister-turned-activist-turned-underground journalist-turned-professor, was the first to go, departing on Oct. 30. Electro, an itinerant musician, barfly and hanger-on who mentored generations of free-spirited musicians (and crashed on their couches), died on Nov. 19.
28. Quarry Park
The magnificent Quarry Park opened in southeast Winston-Salem in August. The observation deck protruding over the glittering body of water filling the old Vulcan Materials Quarry provides a satisfying sightline of the Wells Fargo Building and a reminder that a connecting greenway makes the regional park an easily bike-able journey from downtown.
29. Katie Yow
Katie Yow became the face of anarchist resistance to Trump in North Carolina when she announced in July that she would not cooperate with a grand jury likely investigating the October 2016 firebombing of the Orange County GOP headquarters. As promised, Yow declined to testify for a July 31 grand jury investigation in Greensboro on July 31. An assistant US attorney told her that the government would ask the court to hold her contempt, but to date she remains free.
30. Forsyth County jail deaths
The deaths of two Forsyth County jail inmates, Stephen Antwon Patterson and Deshawn Lamont Coley, from health-related causes in May touched off a short burst of protests in Winston-Salem and scrutiny of medical provider Correct Care Solutions. In December, the families of two inmates who either died in custody or shortly after staying in the jail, settled lawsuits. The family of Dino Vann Nixon, who died as a result of benzodiazepine withdrawal in 2014, is receiving a $180,000 settlement from Forsyth County. And the estate of Jennifer McCormack Schuler, who died in 2015, dismissed claims against Correct Care Solutions and two employees for an undisclosed sum.
31. N&R sexual harassment
The News & Record fired Kelly Young, a well-liked digital designer in March, after two employees reported that he exposed his genitals to them. A third employee took out charges against him in April, leading to a conviction for misdemeanor indecent exposure in December. Publisher & Editor Daniel Finnegan later disclosed that a complaint against Young dating back to 2014 was not properly documented by an HR representative.
32. Zana Holden-Gatling
In May, a Winston-Salem State University senior, Zana Holden-Gatling, told TCB that William Boone, the chair of the English department, bullied students and used a homophobic slur in the classroom, while also subjecting her to power games and evasion that prevented her from graduating. Audrey Forrest-Carter, a professor and former chair of the English department supported Holden-Gatling’s claim in a statement to TCB: “On one or more occasions, students complained to me about Dr. Boone’s unprofessional behavior (ranting, bullying and berating them) in the classroom.” Holden-Gatling complained to Chancellor Elwood Robinson and Vice Chancellor Camille Kluttz-Leach, as well as staff at the University of North Carolina System. As of Dec. 19, Boone remains employed by the university with the position of chair of the English department. On Dec. 18, Kluttz-Leach was named a member of the board of directors for the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County.
33. Republican lawmakers dodging constituents
Anxious to avoid a repeat of 2010, when Democratic congress faced angry tea-party protesters, Republican lawmakers intent on overturning the Affordable Care Act largely refused to hold town-halls to meet with constituents. The roster of absentees included Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis. Rep. Mark Walker, who represents 6th District, held a “listening tour” early in the year, but avoided liberal-leaning Greensboro, which also happens to be the largest population center in his district. Rep. Ted Budd, the freshman congressman in the 13th District, proved to be more accessible, and wound up fielding hours of angry questions from constituents at the Marriott Downtown Hotel in Greensboro in April.
34. Democratic congressional candidates
A number of progressive candidates threw their hats in the ring in historically conservative congressional districts this year. Democrats DD Adams, a Winston-Salem councilwoman, and Jenny Marshall are challenging Republican Virginia Foxx in the 5th Congressional District, a seat Foxx has held since 2005. Democrats Adam Coker and Kathy Manning are challenging Republican Ted Budd in the state’s 13th District, the most competitive in the state. Democrat Bruce Davis, who narrowly lost High Point’s mayoral race this year, is also expected to file for the 13th District.
35. Needle exchange v. NIMBY
A 2016 state law allowing advocates to provide clean needles to addicts without legal sanction set the stage for the establishment of the Twin City Harm Reduction Collective at Green Street Church in Winston-Salem. Lobbying from neighbors soon led Councilman John Larson to propose new regulations to limit needle exchanges in residential neighborhoods like West Salem, where Green Street Church is located. But the local regulation scheme proved more difficult than anticipated, and city council ended tabling the item indefinitely. In contrast, the Urban Survivors Union, a similar outfit in Greensboro, has operated without encountering resistance from its neighbors in Glenwood.
36. Gateway Center & Studio 503
Developer Andy Zimmerman’s acquisition of the Old Greensborough Gateway Center, a historic manufacturing building at the south end of downtown Greensboro, in late 2016 signaled the beginning of a squeeze for real estate available for working artists in downtown. Soon after Zimmerman began renovations in early 2017, artists started gradually moving out. Zimmerman said at the time that he had a property in mind that would be more affordable for artists, and in June he made good with the purchase of an industrial building on East Washington Street that has been parceled into artist studios.
37. Andy Zimmerman/Lewis Street
Andy Zimmerman found a perfect tenant in Boxcar, the barcade that opened on Lewis Street in January. Zimmerman named Kaitlin Smith as executive director of HQ Greensboro. And Across the parking lot, Fat Tuesday daiquiri bar opened in July and the Worx closed in September. Down along Elm, Horrigan’s House of Taps opened in February and a cat café, the Crooked Tail, opened in November.
While preoccupation with national vexations consumed the year, 2017 also saw at least one urban innovation in the Triad — the introduction of bike-shares in Winston-Salem and Greensboro. Winston-Salem went first, naturally, with the rollout of the Zagster bike-share program in May. And in Greensboro LimeBike, which similarly operates on an hourly fee model through a cell-phone app, started in July with a pilot program at UNCG in July. When it expanded citywide in August, residents took to it with gusto. LimeBikes one-upped Zagster through a dock-less system that allows users to drop them off wherever they want, and almost immediately they started appearing all over the city, from Sunset Hills to Dudley Heights.
39. Hate crimes in the Triad
The election of Donald Trump coincided with a burst of bias incidents across the country, with the Council on American-Islamic Relations reporting a dramatic rise in anti-Muslim incidents from 2015 to 2016. After Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, the Anti-Defamation League reported a spike in anti-Semitic incidents early in the year and then again after the Aug. 12 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. In the northern Piedmont region of North Carolina, 2017 bias incidents tended to target blacks, with Rosalind Hoover of High Point reporting that her white neighbors called her a racial slur and threatened to beat her up. In July, a Randolph County couple reported their neighbor piled junk along their property line, hung a noose in a tree and left handwritten signs with racial slurs. And in October, a Facebook video of a paper noose in the Davie County High School bathroom circulated, inspiring at least two copycat incidents and another video featuring an audio threat to kill black people. And in November, a security guard was fired after admitting to hanging a noose in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering in Greensboro.
40. Kernersville extremism
A Forsyth County man named Tom Jones convened an informational meeting at Captain Tom’s Seafood in Kernersville on Feb. 18. The subject was the supposed threat posed by mainstream American Muslims attempting to subvert the Constitution and impose sharia law. One attendee, Frank Del Valle, was soon talking about killing Muslims, and he encountered little pushback from the tea partiers, local GOP activists and patriot militia members in the banquet room. Revelations of the discussion struck terror across the Muslim community in North Carolina, prompted denunciations from Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan and others, and drew coverage from outlets from the Guardian to HuffPost and the Charlotte Observer. After the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, another Kernersville extremist came to public attention. Harold Crews, a lawyer who maintains an office in downtown Kernersville, participated in the Charlottesville rally with the white nationalist group League of the South and took out a charge of unlawful wounding against DeAndre Harris, a black man who was brutally beaten in the entrance of a downtown parking garage.
41. Confederate monuments
Memorials to the Confederacy generated headlines throughout the country, including Durham, where activists tore down a statue of a Confederate soldier outside the former courthouse, and Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists stood guard around a statue of Robert E. Lee. In September in downtown Greensboro, vandals spray-painted two Confederate memorials near the train tracks. Mayor Allen Joines asked the Daughters of the Confederacy to remove Winston-Salem’s Confederate memorial, in front of the old courthouse that is now private property, in August.
42. KKK meeting amidst 11/3/79 commemoration
With 2017 marking a resurgence of the white supremacist movement across the nation, it became increasingly significant that one of the most violent Ku Klux Klan outfits in the country is headquartered 40 miles northeast of Greensboro. The Loyal White Knights staged a hapless motorcade to celebrate Trump’s election in December 2016, and then organized a rally in Charlottesville, Va. to exploit tensions over the Confederate monuments a month before the United the Right rally. And fully aware of the significance of the anniversary, the Loyal White Knights held a national gathering outside of Yanceyville on Nov. 3 — 38 years to the day that a coalition of Klansmen and neo-Nazis opened fire in Greensboro’s Morningside Heights neighborhood and killed five anti-racist labor organizers.
43. Greensboro Massacre apology
Three days following anti-racist protester Heather Heyer’s murder during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Greensboro City Council unexpectedly voted 7-1 to apologize for the city’s role in the 1979 Greensboro Massacre during which Klansmen and Nazis drove an armed caravan into an anti-Klan rally and shot five protestors to death. Activists presented the council with 14 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which last released its researched findings in 2006. Council members offered to read the commission’s report but it remains unclear what steps city government might take toward addressing the report’s findings.
44. Alzheimer’s research
The Center for Outreach in Alzheimer’s Age and Community Health, an NC A&T University research and community outreach facility led by Dr. Goldie Byrd and located near Revolution Mill, has been doing groundbreaking research for years on how the disease affects African Americans. But the center received some belated recognition in the Washington Post in 2017 when novelist and journalist Marita Golden described it as “a kind of ground zero for innovative, cross-disciplinary and community-based responses to the disease.”
45. Krispy Kreme transition
Krispy Kreme announced in early December that it was eliminating 90 jobs in Winston-Salem while undertaking a “journey” to “transform into a global company that delivers joy around the world to every guest in every community shop.” Most employees see through the ruse: While the company is nominally maintaining a headquarters in Winston-Salem, it’s clearly shifting significant executive functions to Charlotte and London.
46. Anita Sharpe
Anita Sharpe, a Republican who retired from the Guilford County School Board in 2008 for unspecified personal reasons, returned in 2016. She wasted no time getting back into the mix, firing off an email to a school employee disappointed about being passed over for a promotion on Sept. 7: “Unfortunately, we have the four votes to fire the superintendent but cannot seem to get the 5th vote.” She also expressed a willful intention to violate state law, writing, “I encourage you to delete this email on your end and I intend to delete it on mine (Against the law for me but these are extenuating times).” Sharpe wound up apologizing to Superintendent Sharon Contreras, but not to the public, whom she at least nominally serves.
47. High Point urban agriculture
From the Ground Up, an initiative of the Hayden-Harman Foundation, established a handful of farms, including a greenhouse operation, on vacant lots in impoverished east-central High Point, while selling produce in pop-up markets in the area as a demonstration project to help residents develop income-producing enterprises. One of its most novel crops was a stand of hops a couple blocks away from the Guilford County Jail that went into a beer made by Brown Truck Brewing.
48. Greensboro ’Zine Fest
Local artist Tristin Miller organized the second annual Greensboro ’Zine Fest, held in July at Revolution Mill. The day-long festival drew zine-makers, comic book artists and small press companies from across the region and offered How-to-’Zine and book binding classes throughout the day.
The 19th annual RiverRun International Film Festival took over downtown Winston-Salem in April with more than 150 films. The French/Belgian feature After Love took the Best Narrative Feature prize this year, while Purple Dreams took the Audience Choice award.
50. Living Art America
In October, Greensboro hosted Living Art America, the North American Bodypainting Championship and the most prestigious body-painting competition in the Western Hemisphere. Greensboro is home to Living Art America’s founders, internationally renowned body painters Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco. Fray and Greco are the first and only artists to win all five world awards in an unbroken string of victories across every competition category.
51. Crckt’s Boomerang Bookshop
Local librarian-turned-entrepreneur Diarra “Crckt” Leggett infused new life into an old bookmobile when he opened his mobile bookstore Boomerang Bookshop: Nomad Chapter, named for a character in his favorite movie, The Road Warrior. Find Crckt and his bookshop at farmer’s or craft markets and events like First Fridays downtown.
52. Bree Newsome
Activist and filmmaker Bree Newsome, renowned for removing the Confederate flag from outside the South Carolina State House grounds, visited the People’s Perk in Greensboro’s College Hill neighborhood for the unveiling of the Greensboro Mural Project’s “Wonderful Women and Fabulous Femmes,” a mural venerating women and femmes of color.
53. Super FamiCon
For the second year, Super FamiCon celebrated video-game culture in November, drawing hundreds to downtown Greensboro for a weekend of special guest speakers, video game tournaments, cosplay and vendors.
54. Georgia O’Keeffe
The work of the noted artist came to Reynolda House in August and ran through November. The exhibit, Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, also contained artifacts like her clothes and writings.
55. Ramen availability
Long an underserved component of the Triad’s food scene, ramen arrived forcefully from the jump in 2017, beginning with a popup at Spring House. Held in conjunction with Caldero Bone Broth from the local Winstead Farms, the Winston-Salem restaurant organized a series of weekly dinners featuring the hearty Japanese soups. But ramen also spread to other menus as well, including the newly opened Asian Kitchen inside of Greensboro’s Super G Mart and even the Iron Hen before the end of the year. Lucky us.
56. Rolled ice cream trend arrives
Thanks to an outfit called Ice Scraperz, rolled ice cream landed in the Triad this year, marking one of the only times that the area has been party to a culinary trend at the beginning (rather than lagging behind — like ramen). Rolled ice cream is exactly what it sounds like, and more aesthetic than anything, but it still made us feel like we were a part of something.
57. Food trucks ruled
Mobile cuisine isn’t anything new in this region, but the trend rolled forward with the addition of our new favorite Bahtmobile in Winston-Salem. TCB also hailed Tasty Halal in High Point this year, which — like Bahtmobile — is serving better food than most local brick-and-mortar operations.
58. A new favorite restaurant
In a rare move, Bandito Burrito food truck established a more permanent foothold by opening Bandito Bodega, a small joint just west of downtown Greensboro that easily ranked as the best new restaurant of 2017. Chef Nick Benshoff likes experimenting with flavors, especially the interplay of Asian and Latin American dishes, but he does it so deftly that all of Bandito’s dishes feel like instant classics.
59. A new favorite bar
Vintage Sofa Bar added vibrancy to Burke Street this year, and the addition of Bar Piña off North Trade Street made downtown Winston-Salem more exciting. The latest from John William Tate (of Tate’s Craft Cocktails and the former Honey Pot restaurant) feels straight out of the East Village, with its Instagram-ready cocktails and décor, creative tiki drinks and rooftop patio. Plus, Bar Piña pulled out a Christmas menu, closing the year out the right way.
60. Morehead Foundry
Restaurateur Lee Comer’s massive project in the nook of Spring Garden Street and the Downtown Greenway — a section of downtown Greensboro being branded as Morehead — took a stumble in June when its restaurants and bars did not meet projected goals. Comer moved into the building and leaned in, forging new partnerships and devoting her energies to creating a neighborhood in Morehead.
61. The dearly departed (restaurants)
Nothing gold can stay. This year marked the last breath for classics like Villa del Mar as well as newer comers such as Tessa and Traveled Farmer, two farm-to-table restaurants at opposite ends of Battleground Avenue. Others fell by the wayside too, reminding us that despite some obvious growth, the Triad dining scene isn’t necessarily trending upwards.
62. Winston-Salem restaurant shuffle
Elsewhere on Trade Street, Miss Ora’s fried chicken joint spun off of Sweet Potatoes in June. O’Brien’s Deli opened in the spot by May. Further out by Hanes Mall Boulevard, Food Freaks & Beer Geeks shut its doors in October, but they kept the food truck.
63. Greensboro restaurant shuffle
The creative force behind the Crafted brand and the owner of Westerwood Tavern joined forces to open Bites & Pints on Spring Garden Street in Greensboro in August. White and Wood brought craft cocktails and charcuterie to the former Fincastle’s location on South Elm Street. Downtown’s first kava bar, Krave, opened in February. And Chakras and Table 16 owner Timothy Smith took over the spot behind the ballpark — the former Boston’s House of Jazz, Left Field Tavern and Local House Bar — painted a funky mural on the side and named it Smith & Edge. Greensboro lost a Macaroni Grill, which closed in July.
64. Raw cookie dough pops up
Rolled ice cream is alright, but raw cookie dough is really where it’s at when it comes to innovative and compelling desserts. The raw cookie dough at Tart Sweets in Winston-Salem may be best when paired with ice cream, but it’s hard to go wrong with this delicious treat. Tart Sweets started offering it at the start of each weekend in 2017, and people freaked out immediately.
65. New brews
Three new breweries opened their doors this year, with a tilt towards Winston-Salem. Wise Man Brewing came first, right at the top of 2017. Fiddlin’ Fish would come next, and within sight of its predecessor. More recently, Little Brother transformed the corner of downtown Greensboro formerly occupied by the Idiot Box, while the number of breweries in High Point held firm at two.
66. Brewing moves out
In beer news, 2017 also marked an exodus from downtown Greensboro, of sorts. Though it maintains the downtown brewpub, Natty Greene’s opened its new flagship market and kitchen campus at Revolution Mill in northeast Greensboro, sort of in the style of what Stone Brewing might’ve built had it selected the Gate City for its East Coast expansion. That’s been in the works for a while and finally came to fruition, but another shift TCB announced surprised everyone more — that Gibb’s Hundred Brewing would relocate from West Lewis Street to State Street, not far from the new Natty’s or the second location of the Green Bean. Lest you think all the action is downtown, beer is here to say otherwise.
67. GSO Fest resurrected
After vanishing for almost three years, April saw the resurrection of the beloved GSO Fest, a weekend-long celebration of local bands and music, spanning several bars and clubs in Greensboro. Having changed hands over the 10 years since its inception, GSO Fest has found a stronghold once again.
68. Chance the Rapper
Chance the Rapper brought his unique brand of hip hop to his enthralling show at the Greensboro Coliseum in June. While only nominally remaining in the tradition of hip-hop and rap, Chance has built a name for himself as a truly vibrant and awing performer.
69. Tall Tales exhibit at Delurk
November featured a unique and chilling collaboration between Winston artists Dane Walters and Chad Beroth entitled Tall Tales. The show featured 13 split portraits, with each artist painting half of the images, with a primary focus of an ’80s theme running throughout it. Breaking up the normal scene of gallery exhibits, Tall Tales showed a new push in furthering creative expression.
70. Lucinda Williams
While the year brought dozens of musicians to the Triad, Lucinda Williams’ performance and interview with TCB brought her musical legacy to the Millennium Center. The Grammy-nominated Williams’ music has garnered her thousands of fans over the decades. Despite the show being moved last minute due to August rain, the concert was sold out.
71. Jailhouse symphony
The Piedmont Wind Symphony changed the script for classical music, moving out of the standard theaters where they usually hold concerts and performed a night of music for Forsyth County inmates in August. Though the event was closed to the public and to press, the concert proved a moving experience for both the inmates and the performers according to symphony conductor Mathew Troy.
72. Bjorn and Francois/best shows
Scores of shows happened and dozens of touring acts came through the Triad, but the ones that topped the heap happened to be local acts. Blues duo Bjorn and François gave an extraordinary performance at Monstercade in May, while Dark Prophet Tongueless Monk awed a Winston crowd at Test Pattern in June, announcing the addition of Must Be the Holy Ghost singer and guitarist Jared Draughon, and in May the annual Rap Round Robin at Delurk expanded the stage for local rappers and hip-hop artists.
73. Helen Simoneau/MBTHG
Acclaimed troupe Helen Simoneau Danse gave an extraordinary performance at HanesBrands Theatre in March, challenging expectations by bringing in local musician Jared Draughon of Must Be the Holy Ghost to collaborate in the performance.
74. 21 Pilots
It was a good year of concerts at Greensboro Coliseum, and one that stands out among the rest was the March performance of Grammy-winning, masked duo 21 Pilots. Despite the Coliseum banning anyone from getting in line before the show, fans were camped out for two days in gleeful anticipation of the concert.
75. Vanessa Ferguson
Long before Greensboro’s Vanessa Ferguson caught the eye of Alicia Keys on “The Voice” in 2017, she had performed all over the world — she even sang at Jordan Green’s wedding. After getting knocked out in the semifinals, Ferguson returned to Greensboro for a Levitt AMP Concert at Barber Park, married longtime fiancé Ken Fuller, AKA Mr. Rozzi, and embarked on a multi-city tour. “It’s more difficult in America,” she told Green in May. “You reach a certain level of success and notoriety. Before doing this show, I’ve been able to reach that overseas, but there was no notoriety in my own country other than on the East Coast. It was definitely a problem. Someone needs to make some changes, for sure. Hopefully, this show will be a part of that and will cause people to look at their local artists that are great if they ever get an opportunity to be on a grand stage. There’s no lack of talent, that’s for sure.”
76. Black 2 Hip Hop
The Blind Tiger held the second annual Black 2 Hip-hop concert in February, hosting dozens of local and regional hip-hop artists. A sold-out show, the concert satisfied the Triad’s thirst for good rap and hip hop, whetting appetites for a return in coming years.
77. PhuzzPhest… not
After three years of independent rock strewn throughout downtown Winston-Salem, PhuzzPhest promoter Philip Pledger called it quits. Instead of the weekend-long, downtown festival, he’s been spreading the acts around the Triad in smaller, one-off shows. “The Phuzz Records events are the exact sorts of things that the festival would do,” Pledger said to TCB in January, “just spread out over time.”
78. Folk Fest finale
The National Folk Fest ended its three-year run in downtown Greensboro with sets by Dark Water Rising, Dom Flemons, the Sun Ra Arkestra, the Tremé Brass Band and dozens more in September. ArtsGreensboro announced it will continue the tradition with a NC Folk Festival set to begin in 2018.
79. Coltrane fest develops
High Point’s John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival bolstered its credentials this year with substantial bookings that included Robert Randolph, Spyro Gyra, Special EFX and Branford Marsalis.
80. Austin Hicks RIP
Austin Hicks, a drummer from Pilot Mountain, was 19-years-old when he met Matt Walsh, a High Point blues guitarist nearly twice his age. They instantly connected as musicians and friends, creating a joyful synergy in the stripped-down blues duo the Low Counts, which recorded prolifically and toured the byways of Appalachia for the past couple years. In March, Hicks passed away under circumstances that remain undisclosed. “He was the sweetest, kindest good person,” Walsh said. “He touched so many people. Today the number of people who are coming out of the woodwork and grieving over him just shows you how much impact he had. He had a listening ear for anyone. To me he was like a brother. He was like a son; I’m older than him. He was my equal; I never saw him as anything but being equal. I think that’s why we got along so well.”
81. Downtown construction
Downtown districts in both Greensboro and Winston-Salem suffered from outbreaks of orange cones, confounding traffic — and business — for the better part of 2017. In Winston-Salem, the worst may have been near the corner of Fifth and Cherry streets while the Benton Convention Center was undergoing a massive renovation that wrapped in July. Businesses in downtown Greensboro’s LoFi neighborhood suffered from extensive renovation along Eugene and Smith streets to accommodate Roy Carroll’s massive project.
82. Henrik Stenson
The 41-year-old Swedish golfer won Greensboro’s Wyndham Open Championship in August, finishing with the week at 22 under par, enough to beat American Ollie Schneiderjans by a single stroke.
83. Roberto Bautista Agut
The Spaniard won the singles category at the Winston-Salem Open in August, his second title of the ATP season and sixth overall. In the doubles category, Jean-Julien Rojer of the Netherlands and Horia Tecau of Romania took the doubles title.
84. Wrangler pop-up store
After more than 100 years in Greensboro, Wrangler jeans opened a downtown pop-up store on South Elm Street. Its immediate popularity set other downtown merchants to speculate on its sales figures.
85. Billboard backlash
In February, an anonymous buyer posted a billboard on Business 40 proclaiming: “Real men provide, real women appreciate it.” It quickly generated controversy on social media and a protest at Merschel Plaza in downtown Winston-Salem. It was replaced a couple weeks later with one that read: “Much Ado About Nothing A social experiment that brought forth those so immersed in their own insecurity that in the mirror they could only see an angry victim of their incorrect interpretation of a silly billboard — Bless their hearts.”
86. Tanger Center breaks ground
In May, Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, Downtown Greensboro Inc. President Zack Matheny, Coliseum Director Matt Brown, Gov. Roy Cooper and a couple other players held a groundbreaking at the site of the Tanger Performing Arts Center. This was before a budget had been approved by council, before any work permits had been obtained, before a construction contract had been set and before an actual groundbreaking date had been set. Very little has happened on the site since.
87. Solar eclipse
In August, a rare solar eclipse was about 95 percent visible in the Triad skies. In Greensboro, clouds rolled over the city just in time to obscure the peak.
88. Cone Mills
After more than 100 years in northeast Greensboro, in October Cone Mills announced the closing of its White Oak Plant, where its signature selvedge denim was made, by the end of the year. The company will move its operations to existing plants in China and Mexico.
89. A&T football
The Aggies posted the first-ever undefeated 12-0 season in the history of the MEAC, and went on to win the Celebration Bowl against Grambling State in December.
90. UNCG men’s basketball
The Spartans put up a 20-win season on its way to the SoCon championship game, which they lost to East Tennessee State in March. Yet they still scored an invite to the lesser NIT Tournament in Syracuse, postponed due to a late-winter blizzard. Greensboro residents Grady Riddle and “Pretty” Ricky Keene drove through this blizzard to see the game — the only UNCG fans who showed.
91. Glitters closes
After 30 years in downtown Greensboro, most of them at the corner of South Elm and Washington streets, Glitters’ owner Gary Barskey announced in November that he will be closing the head shop and curio store at the end of the year.
It was a good year for barcades too. Besides Greensboro’s Boxcar, Reboot opened on Winston-Salem’s Liberty Street and Monstercade, adjacent to Slappy’s Chicken, brought a live music into the mix.
93. Marty Kotis’ murals
The Greensboro developer had a hand in throwing up more than a dozen murals around town, including a large installation at his property on Gate City Boulevard. In Midtown, Australian artist Matt Adnate painted a building-sized portrait of a man in Lumbee dress on the side of the Midtown Financial Advisors building. In October, Kotis commissioned an 80-by-28-foot mural, inspired by Blade Runner, to grace the side of RED Cinemas.
94. National Black Theatre Festival
The National Black Theatre Festival, which occurs every other year in downtown Winston-Salem, brought dozens of performances to various venues and celebrity sightings on the street. The NBTF kicked off with a performance by the comedian Sinbad, who told TCB: “I don’t call it ‘political material’ anymore. Politics has gotten woven into real life. You cannot run away from politics now. You got a president who tweets every day. We can’t look away. I don’t think we should look away. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat or a liberal — we’re at that point where the country is so divided. You meet someone and they ask who you voted for, and that directs where the conversation goes. You’re almost gonna have a hatred for someone or a dislike of someone based on who they voted for. Alternative facts. Now nothing is real; all news is fake; everybody’s lying. So what are we gonna do? If all the news is a lie, if all the media is a lie, why are you watching? It’s the circus, man. We’re all like the circus.”
95. Business 40 closing
The long-awaited closure of Business 40 began in November, kicking off a two-year NC DOT timeline for road improvements. Traffic hasn’t been quite as bad as people (including us) predicted, and the timeline has been shortened by a few months. But you still want to avoid it during rush hour.
96. Guilford College men’s/women’s basketball
The Guilford College men’s team won the ODAC tournament and advanced past the first round in the lesser NCAA tournament. The women won the ODAC, too, but lost in the first round of the national tournament.
97. Winston-Salem ‘High Line’
A stretch of unused train tracks near Krankies has been transformed into an urban walkway that connects with the Salem Creek Greenway and will eventually link in to a future pedestrian path to Baptist Hospital. It looks great lit up at night.
98. New booze in the Triad
In March, Broad Branch Distilling in downtown Winston-Salem released Smashing Violet, a blueberry-infused version of its Nightlab white whiskey. In Greensboro, Fainting Goat Spirits released its first brown liquor, Fisher’s, a single-malt whiskey, in December.
99. The Garage closing
Proprietor Tucker Tharpe announced he would be closing longtime downtown Winston-Salem rock room the Garage after a New Year’s Eve show. The Garage opened in 1999, part of the first wave of revitalization on Trade Street.
100. Bookmarks + Foothills
The longtime downtown brewpub joined forces with Winston-Salem’s annual literary festival to create a bookstore/lounge/coffeeshop behind the brewpub on Fourth Street. Foothills owner Jamie Bartholomaus bought a coffee roaster years ago, he said, and had been looking for something to do with it before this opportunity arose.
Join the First Amendment Society, a membership that goes directly to funding TCB‘s newsroom.
We believe that reporting can save the world.
The TCB First Amendment Society recognizes the vital role of a free, unfettered press with a bundling of local experiences designed to build community, and unique engagements with our newsroom that will help you understand, and shape, local journalism’s critical role in uplifting the people in our cities.
All revenue goes directly into the newsroom as reporters’ salaries and freelance commissions.