ReCity finds a new VOICE

ReCity Executive Director Rob Shields shows off the Durham VOICE newsroom at the ReCity co-working space at 112 Broadway Street, Durham. (Staff photo by David Fee)


Among the cubicles, coffee makers, murals and plush couches, The Durham VOICE has found a new office at ReCity.

“We are very excited about our move,” said Jock Lauterer, founding publisher of The VOICE, a community newspaper launched eight years ago to serve Northeast Central Durham.  “It just makes good sense for The VOICE to be located in a vibrant, inclusive co-working environment.”

ReCity is a 12,000 square-foot hub where for-profit, non-profit and faith-based organizations coexist to decrease poverty in Durham and increase community development. Housing multiple operations in one central location helps to decrease cost while increasing impact.

“Resources are a maze, but we want it to be a ladder people can climb,” said Rob Shields, executive director at ReCity. “When I heard The VOICE was looking for a new place, I started recruiting hard, saying ‘We’ve got to have The VOICE here.’”

And that is exactly what happened when The VOICE hung its photographs from past issues on the walls of the new office space.

“The VOICE owes a debt of gratitude to Scientific Properties, Inc., for giving us eight years of rent-free newsroom space at the Golden Belt campus,” Lauterer said. “But with the passing of that property to out-of-town ownership, it just feels right to form a strategic partnership with ReCity. They impress us as a team of community-building local visionaries. And The VOICE needs to be a part of that social change and civic engagement.”

The best way to understand how ReCity works is to look at the success stories of the people it impacts.

Connell Green was a construction worker who had a head injury on the job. He had to go through rehabilitation to learn how to walk, talk and understand his own identity.

But in the spring, Green found himself at ReCity where he could get help from multiple resources just by walking between the offices.

“StepUp Durham helped Connell create his resume, and the Helius Foundation taught him entrepreneurship skills,” Shields said. “Now Connell has a cookie baking business, and he sells those cookies right here at ReCity.”

Now that The VOICE joins ReCity, it hopes to get in on some of the action that the community hub has to offer.

“ReCity if full of organizations and people entrenched in the community in all sorts of ways — advocacy, policy, entrepreneurship, etc. — and being in such close confines with these folks allows our VOICE journalists to have ready access to not only story ideas but also reliable sources to garner more in-depth info from,” said Carlton Koonce, Workforce Director of Partners for Youth Opportunity.

And ReCity does just that with more than a dozen organizations working together in one space to improve Durham’s impoverished neighborhoods.

While The VOICE is hoping to benefit greatly from being close to so many organizations that help Durham, Shields is excited for what the paper will bring to the team:

“We need help sharing stories,” he said, “and The VOICE has a well-established audience. They’ve been around for eight years, and we’re only a year old.”

Working together, The VOICE and ReCity hopes to make a big impact in Durham.

“When we started The VOICE almost 10 years ago, Durham was just beginning to shed its identity as the “black sheep” of the state,” Koonce explains. “The narrative has changed for the better but it’s taking entities like The VOICE and ReCity to remind everyone that for many the story of poverty and hopelessness in Durham has not changed at all.”

However Shields thinks things will continue to change for the better with the new partnership:

“The thing that excites me most is that we share the same values: dignity, development and equity.”


During the Sept. 9 Durham Bus Tour, the newly assembled staff of The Durham VOICE gathers for a group portrait. The staff, which includes student journalists from UNC-CH, NCCU, Partners for Youth Opportunity and Durham high schools, includes, (front row, left to right) Tiayana Ford, NCCU; Autavius Smith, NCCU; Alex Zietlow, UNC; Taylor Mabrey, UNC; Nile Foxx, UNC; Gabby Bulgarelli, UNC; and Prof. Eric Ferkenhoff, UNC; (second row, left to right) Xu Lu, UNC visiting international scholar; Julian Keeler, NCCU; Chrissy Murphy, UNC; Keynari Brown, NCCU; David Fee, UNC; Beth Clifford, UNC; Taquaisha Patrick, NCCU; Sarah Cline, UNC; Diana Cervantes, PYO; (back row, left to right) Prof. Jock Lauterer, UNC; Jiang Yizhou, UNC; Vanessa Luo, UNC; Carl Smith, NCCU; Allison Tate, UNC; Elle Kehres, UNC; Diaja Graves, NCCU; Camari Jones, NCCU; Collin Ellis, NCCU; Davis McKinney, UNC; Prof. Lisa Paulin, NCCU; Allen Longstreet, UNC; and Carlton Koonce, Partners for Youth Opportunity. (Staff photo by Bruce “DP” dePyssler)