Happy birthday to the NECD Community VOICE

by Jock Lauterer
UNC co-adviser
the Durham VOICE

We have a slogan we use at the VOICE.

“Little i, big WE.”

Let me explain: If someone had told me three years ago that i would be involved with a project like the Durham VOICE, i think i would have laughed.

i’m not laughing now.  When i look back at the September 2009 launch of the online VOICE, and the subsequent debut in February 2010 of the print edition, i can only be overcome with gratitude.

And where do i start thanking the people who have made the VOICE possible?

Posing for a “team photo” outside the Golden Belt building newsroom after their Jan. 21 NECD bus tour, some of the VOICE staffers include, (front to back, left to right) Anita Rao, UNC; Hannah Taylor, UNC, Tommia Hayes, NCCU; Emma Witman, UNC, Diane Varnie, NCCU and Professor and Co-Adviser Lisa Paulin, NCCU; second row, Earl Phillips, City of Durham; John Hamlin, UNC; Aaron Saunders, NCCU; Purity Kimaiyo, NCCU; and Professor and Co-Adviser Bruce dePyssler, NCCU; third row, Zakiya Scott, UNC; Ashley Griffin, NCCU; and Alpha "Jay" Bundu Kumara, NCCU; back row, Maggie Bridgforth, UNC and Rodderick Howell, NCCU. (Staff photo by Jock Lauterer UNC co-adviser)

The beginning is a good place: to Hye-Sung Han, the UNC graduate student who came up with the idea in the first place…to UNC Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning Mai Nguyen, who presented that idea to me, encouraged me and then helped nurture the initiative to fruition.

• To my partners and VOICE co-advisers from NC Central,  professors Bruce dePyssler and Lisa Paulin, who have thrown themselves and their students wholeheartedly into this start-up…

• To Earl Phillips and Melva Henry from the City of Durham Office of Neighborhood Improvement, who gave the VOICE its connection to Northeast Central Durham, its civic, church, school and governmental leaders, and who continue to be our spiritual guides.

• To the good people at the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, who early-on, recognized the worthiness of the VOICE and funded our start-up. And to grantswriter extraordinaire Jennifer Gallina of the UNC J-school who made that grant application so authentic and compelling.

• To The Daily Tar Heel and to General Manager Kevin Schwartz, who volunteered to cover the costs of the first year’s printing; and to Al Thorn of Triangle Web Printing for consistently excellent press-work.

• To Nancy Kitterman and the folks at Scientific Properties of Durham, for providing us with a rent-free newsroom in the fabulous Golden Belt complex on East Main Street, and to Time Warner Cable for supplying us with wireless access.

• To the leaders at the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club, SeeSaw Studio, SEEDS Durham Inner City Garden, Cornwallis Road Housing Community, Eastway Baha’i Youth Empowerment group and Union Independent School, who hosted our teen photography workshops and encouraged their youth to become involved with the VOICE.

•To Zenzele Barnes, Praycious Wilson-Gay and Rosalia Preiss, our initial teen editors who have given the VOICE its authentic voice.

• To high school journalism teachers and school newspaper advisers William Schrader of the Roundtable of Northern High, and Heather Lemke of the Scoop of Southern High, for their involvement, encouragement and partnership.

• To local media partners Nia Wilson of Youth Noise Network/Spirithouse, and Christopher Martin of Brand Newz, for believing in the mission of the VOICE from the very beginning.

• To enlightened academic leaders at UNC, Dean Jean Folkerts of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and Lynn Blanchard, director of the Carolina Center for Public Service, who gave me encouragement, time, support and space to develop and expand the vision of the VOICE.

• And because every writer needs a copyeditor, thanks to Assistant Professor Andy Bechtel and his UNC-CH Advanced Editing class for their collaboration and lifesaving copyediting skills.

• Finally, to the many good readers from NECD who have offered their comments, praise, story ideas and validation, we say we are here to serve you.

And as we go into a new year, we have new blessings for which we offer our profound thanks:

• To Jim Goodmon and the leaders at Capitol Broadcasting Company for their generous support over the coming years.  Their donation of $15,000 over the next three years propels us into the future.

• To James Speed and the people at North Carolina Life Insurance Company for their support and gift in support of the VOICE.

• To John Idler and WTVD TV11 ABC for their support of the VOICE.

So now you see why i’m using a small i. The VOICE is actually a chorus of voices. Won’t you join us and lift up your VOICE?

3 thoughts on “Happy birthday to the NECD Community VOICE

  1. ismail a aziz says:


    (v)ote goes 2 the Northeast Durham Community
    (V)OICE…during this
    (v)ictorious…year of celebrating a
    (v)aliant…3 year
    (v)igorous… journey of being a
    (v)anguard…of a most
    (v)ocalizes…Our Community!
    Our Times!
    Our Voices!…all
    (v)owing…2 blend with such articulate…lyrical
    (v)erses…that teaches a
    (v)alue…2 the human spirit!…

    …so we beg!…plead!…n beseech u 2 remain a
    devoted…committed role model whose single-minded
    (V)OICE…4 Durham’s future makes u a
    (v)irtuous team of
    v)alid…word warriors whose captivating…courageous…
    cheerful…positive…n progressive…
    (V)OICES…make us proud 2 celebrate u as a sterling
    champion whose
    (v)ictory celebration unites us all!…congratulations!

    ©Feb/2011 THE (L)ETTERGEMS POEM!
    created n authored by ismail

  2. ismail a aziz says:

    …i am on board as a Durhamite who delights in the success of the VOICE n commit myself 2 do all i can 2 aid in raising even higher the banner of uniting community n uniting voices during this time of our lives so that all of Durham can become a beacon of progressive n cheerful spirits during a time when many are losing faith in the American dream…i salute U n my prayer 4 a future filled with optimism…

  3. I am a friend of Mr. Earl Phillips of the assistant director for community engagement of the City of Durham Neighborhood Improvement Services. I lose his contact for a very long time. I wonder whether he still work for NECD of the City of Durham office. If possible can you pass him my email (as show above) or let me know his contact phone no. or email. Thank you.

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