Best of the Triangle 2018: Local Color | News Feature | Indy Week

Best of the Triangle 2018: Local Color

Best charitable group

1820 James Street, Durham
Finalists: Saving Grace NC, Hope Animal Rescue, GiGi's Playhouse (Raleigh)

Best local activist group
Hope Animal Rescue
Finalists: Durham for All, SONG, Defend Durham

Best local Facebook page
Fuquay-Varina Memes
Finalists: Duke Lemur Center, Hope Animal Rescue, New Raleigh

Best local Instagram account
RDU Baton
Finalists: Hope Animal Rescue, RDU Brews, Triangleveganfood

Best local politician in need of a reality check
Thom Tillis

Finalists: Richard Burr, Phil Berger, Virginia Foxx

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Best Local Politician in Need of a Reality Check
Larry Pittman
Indy: OK, so Larry Pittman is not technically a local politician. But he's a legislator, which means he's in Raleigh sometimes, and that's close enough. Pittman, a Republican from Carrabus County, Presbyterian pastor, and no fan of Abraham Lincoln, has always been a boatload of crazy. Last year, he (in)famously compared the founder of his own party, whom he called a "tyrant" who was "personally responsible for the deaths of over 800,000 Americans," to Hitler. He's previously proposed repealing a section of the state constitution that forbids North Carolina from seceding from the United States, called for the public hanging of abortion providers, and continued to try to ban gay marriage even after the Supreme Court ruled on the matter. This year has been no different. After a nineteen-year-old armed with an AR-15 killed seventeen people in a high school in Florida in February, Pittman, a gun-rights fanatic, responded to a fake meme on Facebook by commenting that "so many of these shooters turn out to be communist democrats, that I suspect they are doing these things to push for gun control so they can more easily take over the country."
—Jeffrey C. Billman

Best local radio station
Finalists: MIX 101.5, WCOM

Best local TV newsperson
Barbara Gibbs

Finalists: Renee Chou, Debra Morgan, Bill Leslie

Best local TV weatherperson
Greg Fishel

Finalists: Don Schwenneker, Elizabeth Gardner, Chris Hohmann, Bill Reh

Best local Twitter feed
Hope Animal Rescue

Finalists: @joeovies, @MajorTheBull, @mom_had

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Best Local Twitter Feed
Indy: The Twitter feed @yesyoureracist made a splash last summer in the social media world after the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. The account, which turned out to be run by the Triangle's own Logan James of Progress NC, posted photos of the rally's screaming participants and then asked users to identify them. The cause soon went viral, successfully outing white nationalists from Nevada to Berkeley, and earning the account a following of nearly four hundred thousand people. The doxxing didn't happen without a few hiccups, though: After James posted a photo of a tiki-torch-toting rally goer, online sleuths misidentified him as a professor at the University of Arkansas, briefly making the professor's life a living hell. Still, the account was cathartic for people who watched the events of Charlottesville with horror and indignation—and wanted to see some form of justice meted out, even in online mob form. —Erica Hellerstein

Best local-interest blog
Triangle Explorer
Finalists: Bites of Bull City, Best of the Bull, Chatham Life & Style

Best local-interest website
Best of the Bull
Finalists: itbinsider, Chapelboro, Chatham Life & Style

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Best Local-Interest Website
North Carolina Health News
Indy: The state's major-metro dailies and the handful of TV stations that still bother doing actual journalism are the Goliaths of North Carolina's news ecosystem, to be sure. Despite shrinking news holes and nearly eviscerated newsrooms, they still have more reporters and resources than anyone else, and they break lots of important stories. But beneath the big dogs is a thriving layer of independent, nonprofit news outlets that are also doing important work. Among them: NC Policy Watch, which ended state Representative Duane Hall's career by reporting on sexual harassment allegations against him earlier this year; Carolina Public Press, a nonprofit that has been doing excellent journalism in Western North Carolina and recently announced a statewide expansion; and North Carolina Health News, which since 2011 has been doing vital—if perhaps unglamorous—reporting on health care in the Tar Heel State.
Founded by editor Rose Hoban—a nurse who enrolled in the University of California, Berkeley's journalism school, then earned a master's in public health policy, and eventually became the state health care reporter for North Carolina Public Radio—N.C. Health News has assembled some of the area's best reporters to tackle one of the most complicated subject matters out there. Hoban and crew have reported tirelessly on Medicaid, mental health care, issues facing seniors, and so much more. They deserve your eyeballs ( and, if you have the means, your financial support, too. —Jeffrey C. Billman

Best place to bike
American Tobacco Trail
Finalists: William B. Umstead State Park, Neuse River Trail, Chapel Hill

Best place to hike
Eno River State Park
Finalists: Umstead State Park, Duke Forest, Capital Area Greenway, Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area

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Best Place to Hike
Brumley Forest Nature Preserve
Indy: If you're an outdoorsy sort, there are few spots in the United States with more hiking opportunities than the Triangle. Any number of gloriously verdant trails could warrant mention here: the hidden-gem portion of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that begins just across Old Oxford Road from Penny's Bend Nature Preserve in Durham, or Penny's Bend itself, or Durant Park Nature Preserve in Raleigh, just to name a few. But here we want to highlight the Brumley Forest Nature Preserve in Orange County, because doing so allows us to highlight the inimitable work that the Triangle Land Conservancy is doing throughout the region.
Brumley is a gorgeous 613-acre preserve just south of Hillsborough, with some fifteen trails between its north and south sections. At the south entrance, off New Hope Church Road, take the Wood Duck Way trail to the Walnut Grove Loop to the 3.5-mile Springhouse Loop to—if you've eaten your Wheaties—the 2.1-mile Buckeye Loop. It's a hell of a workout, but it's too pretty to notice. One word of warning: Get there early, especially on weekends, as you'll have to share some of these trails with mountain bikers.
And now a quick shout-out to the TLC, which since 1983 has been leading efforts to identify and preserve sites for open space throughout the Triangle. Brumley is one of ten preserves in its care in Wake, Durham, Orange, Chatham, Lee, and Johnston Counties, seven of which currently offer public access. You can become a member and support the cause for just $35 a year. Just saying. —Jeffrey C. Billman

Best place to people-watch
N.C. State Fair

1025 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
Finalists: Weaver Street Market Lawn, American Tobacco Campus, Cup A Joe

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Best Place to People-Watch
The Fullsteam/Motorco block of Rigsbee
Indy: Rigsbee Avenue between Geer Street and Corporation Street is probably the best place to bar hop around downtown Durham. You can play a game of bocce ball at Surf Club, enjoy a local pint at Fullsteam, and end your night with a Frito Pie at The Accordion. This concentration of friendly neighborhood offerings also makes for a great place to people-watch, especially during the summer when you can sit outside. You might spot some famous (or famous-ish) musicians in town for a show at Motorco or witness strangers spark a connection during Fullsteam's Love at First Pint dating game. As a bonus, you will almost definitely see some very good doggos. —Sarah Willets

Best place to pick up an INDY
Whole Foods
Finalists: The Carolina Theatre, King's Sandwich Shop, The Blue Note Grill

Best place to run
American Tobacco Trail
Finalists: North Carolina Museum of Art, Al Buehler Trail, Neuse River Trail, Lake Johnson Mews

Best place to take visitors from out of town
Sarah P. Duke Gardens

420 Anderson Street, Durham
Finalists: North Carolina Museum of Art, Museum of Life & Science, Duke Lemur Center

Best politician in Durham County
Steve Schewel

Finalists: Former Mayor Bill Bell, Jillian Johnson, Floyd McKissick, Mike Woodard

Best politician in Orange County
Graig Meyer

Finalists: Tom Stevens, Barbara Foushee, Lydia Lavelle

Best politician in Wake County
David Price

Finalists: Josh Stein, Nancy McFarlane, Ken Romley

Best reason to leave the Triangle
N.C. Legislature

Finalists: Inflated housing costs, HB2, traffic

Best reason to love the Triangle
The people

Finalists: The food, universities and colleges, the performing arts

Best use of public money
Public Schools/education

Finalists: Libraries, public transportation

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Best Use of Public Money
Participatory Budgeting in Durham
Indy: We think the best way to use public money is to do whatever the hell you want with it. Through participatory budgeting, governments set aside a portion of their budgets and let the public decide how it should be spent. The Durham City Council recently voted to let residents spend $2.4 million in just this manner. Not only does this allow residents to generate their own ideas for city projects or speed up others planned down the road, but it also lets people who normally cannot vote engage in government. In Durham, residents and students age thirteen and older will get to weigh in regardless of their citizenship status. Around this time next year, Durhamites will be casting their votes, and we hope other communities in the Triangle follow suit. —Sarah Willets

Best-kept secret in the area
Duke Lemur Center

3705 Erwin Road, Durham
Finalists: Cedar Creek Gallery, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, The Right Space, Trey Roberts

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Best-Kept Secret in the Area
The Atomic Fern
Indy: Let's say you're in Durham, downtown, nighttime. It's Third Friday. You just want to catch up with a friend over a chill drink. But there's a dance party at Arcana. The Pinhook and Beyù and Motorco are all swamped with shows. Ponysaurus is packed out with cool dads and feral kids. Someone's doing a weird pop-up performance at Counting House. Bull McCabe's is bumping sports. You're going to instantly run into fifty people you know at Criterion. No one wants to give up their hard-won parking spots to drive to The Federal or The Green Room. Is there anywhere you can just get a damn whiskey and a beer in this town? Oh, wait, yeah—there's always The Atomic Fern, a low-key and cozy spot on Parrish distinguished by its utter lack of events or other drinking distractions, save for its copious selection of board games. —Brian Howe

Biggest waste of public money
Protecting Confederate statues

Finalists: Legislative salaries, trial of activists accused of tearing down Confederate monument in Durham, closing the streets for marathons
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