Guest post from “Builders of Hope” contributor Nancy Welsh: “Get Americans back into housing and save the economy–it works!”

Nancy Welsh, founder and CEO of Builders of Hope (the fantastic nonprofit that rebuilds homes and lives by providing safe, affordable housing to working families), joins us today to talk about a topic that’s near and dear to her heart. To read more from Nancy, check out the Builders of Hope website or the foreword to Builders of Hope: A Social Entrepreneur’s Solution for Rebuilding America, by Wanda Urbanska. Proceeds from book sales will go toward funding the organization’s HopeWorks work-mentor program.

So without further ado, I’ll turn things over to Nancy!



I read an article in TIME Magazine a couple of months ago, and I was shocked by its title — “How to Save the Housing Market: Destroy Houses.” (View the video here.) America is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis. We have millions of people in need of affordable housing, and we have millions of vacant units of housing. So why are policymakers suggesting that we tear down 3 million homes?

While it’s true that there’s an over-supply of vacant housing in today’s market, destroying this supply is not the way to jumpstart our economy. Despite this overstock of homes, there’s an anemic supply of affordable housing units. High vacancy rates do not equal increased housing options. These units often either overpriced or abandoned, unfit housing that’s in an unacceptable state of disrepair.

More than 46 million Americans live in poverty, our homeless population continues to grow, and young adults are waiting to move out of their parents homes. At the same time, 19.4 million American households spend more than half of their yearly incomes on housing. This means that these households have to make sacrifices when it comes to necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care to cover their housing costs.

I simply cannot wrap my head around the idea of tearing down in order to rebuild. Instead of destroying this huge surplus of vacant housing, we should use it to get Americans back into housing. Instead of demolishing homes in blighted neighborhoods, we should rehabilitate would-be tear-down houses with health- and eco-conscious materials.  The wrecking ball is not the solution. We could provide safe, affordable housing to working families.

Just imagine all of the jobs we could create and the people we could shelter with 3 million homes. Based on an average U.S. household size of 2.58 people, 3 million homes could house 7.74 MM people.  To put that in perspective, 3 million homes could house the entire population of Los Angeles twice.

Builders of Hope rescues, moves and rehabilitates houses slated for demolition, creating new neighborhoods in blighted urban areas. The Extreme Green Rehabilitation process saves demolition debris from reaching the landfill, prevents the creation of tons of greenhouse gas emissions, builds safe communities and offers green home ownership to those making at or below 80% of the average median income.

By recycling homes and revitalizing blighted neighborhoods, we can help families afford to live where they work, build economic independence and create generational wealth.


Nancy Welsh is the dynamic entrepreneur who, in 2006, founded Builders of Hope. The organization has received such national recognition as Edison Awards’ Silver Medal for Innovation, the Pioneering Housing Strategies Award from the National Housing Conference, and an Innovation in Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals. A graduate of the University of Tennessee and a mother of four, Welsh makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina.


Thanksgiving cocktails with Stephanie Tyson, author of “Well, Shut My Mouth!”

With a name like Sweet Potato Fantasy, who could turn down this cocktail? It comes straight from Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, by Stephanie L. Tyson.

But don’t let the name fool you! There are no sweet potatoes in this drink–only the spirit of the soul food restaurant and a whole lotta goodness that’s perfect for an early appertif this Thursday. Cheers!

Sweet Potato Fantasy
Serves 1.

1 ounce Grey Goose vodka
¾ ounce black raspberry liqueur
1 ounce orange juice
2½ ounces champagne

Use a mixing cup to combine vodka, black raspberry liqueur, and orange juice. Shake well. Pour into a chilled 9-ounce martini glass and top with champagne.

We’ll catch back up with you next week! Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving with Stephanie Tyson, author of “Well, Shut My Mouth!”

We already shared our chicken-frying experience with you (more on that here), so we figured we’d give you the recipes for sides that should go with it (or your Thanksgiving turkey): sweet potato cornbread and greens. Stephanie Tyson, author of Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook, shared these recipes in a cooking demo with WCNC in Charlotte last week–check out that video here.

Spicy Greens
Serves 10 to 12.

This dish can be as spicy as you like. If you are faint of heart (burn), eliminate the red pepper altogether. Either way, don’t forget the cornbread!

8 quarts chicken stock or water
1 or 2 pieces smoked turkey necks or legs
1 tablespoon dried thyme
4 or 5 cloves garlic, peeled
¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon salt
1 onion, chopped
3 bunches collard greens, cleaned
1 bunch mustard greens, cleaned
2 bunches turnip greens, cleaned
¼ pound butter
¼ cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

Boil the chicken stock or water in a large pot. Add the smoked turkey, thyme, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, and onions. Reduce the temperature and simmer for about ½ hour to sufficiently season liquid. Add the greens and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook about 1 hour until the greens are tender. Remove the smoked turkey. Remove the bones and return the meat to the greens. Stir in the butter, vinegar, and sugar.

Sweet Potato Cornbread
Makes 12 muffins or one 9-inch pan.

Nothing is better than cornbread and greens—except Sweet Potato Cornbread and greens! This cornbread is also the base of great stuffing (or dressing).

¾ cup all-purpose flour
1¼ cups yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1¼ cups milk
½ cup mashed sweet potatoes

In a large bowl, loosely sift the dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine the lightly beaten eggs, oil, and milk. Add the sweet potatoes and mix well. Add the sweet potato mixture to the dry ingredients and combine, being careful not to overmix. Pour into a greased 9-inch baking pan or spoon into a 12-cup muffin tin. Bake at 450 degrees for 20 minutes until the cornbread is golden.

(And you know what’s even better than sweet potato cornbread? Sweet potato cornbread stuffing! You’ll have to check out Well, Shut My Mouth! for that recipe though.)

Check back tomorrow for the prefect cocktail to kick off the holiday season.

Blackbeard’s cannon

Photo courtesy Karen Browning and the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources from ABC News

Just a few weeks ago, archaeologists lifted a 300-year-old cannon from the pirate Blackbeard’s ship off the coast of North Carolina. According to ABC News:

The eight-foot-long cannon was covered in sand and ocean debris called “concretion,” which will take archaeologists and students at East Carolina University as many as eight years to crack through before getting to the metal cannon, according to Jennifer Woodward, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, which oversees the project.

“It was perfect. It’s a beautiful day, the crews were out earlier this morning, several boats out there witnessed it,” Woodward said. “It looks like it’s covered in concretions, with cement all around it, and there will be lots of things attached to it.”

Blackbeard, whose real name was Edward Teach, who was the captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, a captured French slave ship. In 1717, he successfully blockaded the harbor in Charleston, S.C., where he demanded money and goods from the townspeople for weeks.

He used Ocracoke on the Outer Banks of North Carolina as his base of operations. It was there that he met his end in 1718.

Want to know more of Blackbeard’s gory but valiant death at Ocrocoke Inlet? You’ll find it all in Blackbeard the Pirate, the 1974 classic by Robert E. Lee.

Lee studied virtually every scrap of information available about the pirate and his contemporaries in an attempt to find the real Blackbeard. The result is a fascinating and authoritative study that reads like an exciting swashbuckler. Lee goes beyond the myths and the image Teach so carefully cultivated to reveal a new Blackbeard—infinitely more interesting as a man than as a legend. In the process, he has captured the spirit and character of a vanished age, “the golden age of piracy.”

All the N.C. sports trivia you could want: “Instant Replay” by Jimmy Tomlin

Here in North Carolina, you either love or hate the Tarheels. But either way, you’re probably going to be watching today’s game against Michigan State on the flight deck of the USS Carl Vinson. And this event is exactly the kind of thing you would find in Jimmy Tomlin’s Instant Replay: 365 Days of North Carolina Sports Trivia (Bandit Books), just released this month.

Instant Replay covers the state’s entire sports landscape—from tennis and track to football and fighting to hockey and horse racing—with anecdotes for every day of the year that transcend mere box scores.

So if you happened to be so lucky as to get a ticket to today’s game (they aren’t available to the public) and you had this book with you, you’d be able to tell your friends that this day has been important to honorary UNC captain Michael Jordan before–in 1996, to be exact, when Space Jam premiered in Hollywood. The basketball legend starred in the animated motion picture.

While Instant Replay documents the unforgettable exploits of some of the state’s best-known athletes—Michael Jordan, Richard Petty, Catfish Hunter, and Choo-Choo Justice, just to name a few—it also tells the compelling stories of more obscure athletes, such as the high-school baseball player who homered five times in a single game and the slow-pitch softball stud who slugged more than 6,000 homers in his career. Tomlin revisits many of the state’s famous sports moments, like the year the Rose Bowl was played in Durham, but he also includes lesser-known moments, like the time a professional basketball player’s monstrous dunks shattered two backboards in the same game and the day a fisherman caught a record catfish with a Barbie fishing pole. Interspersed throughout the book are interesting sidebars detailing the state’s links to the careers of sports legends like Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Rocky Marciano.

This book is the perfect gift for any sports fanatic, no matter how he or she feels about the Tarheels.

(For those of who still want more info on the game: You can catch it live on ESPN at 7 p.m. EST and get all the details here.)

A great weekend for “Time” by Roger Reid

Hey blog readers, don’t forget to turn back your clocks this Sunday, Nov. 6. Ah, that extra hour of sleep! It almost makes that 5 p.m. sunset worth it. Well, almost.

But since we’ve got clocks on the brain this weekend, I figured it was a great time to share a little bit about Time, by Roger Reid (NewSouth Books).

A sequel to Space and LongleafTime continues the young-adult saga of teenage sleuth Jason Caldwell.

Jason has nearly lost his life twice solving crimes in Alabama, but he can’t turn down an invitation to return to the state for an archeological dig at the historic Stephen C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the same weekend that the criminal Jason put in jail in a previous adventure, Carl Morris, escapes from prison – and it’s a sure bet Carl’s going to be hunting for Jason.

Accompanied by his friend, Leah, Jason discovers that all is not science as usual at the excavation location, where someone has been stealing fossils. Even if Jason can catch the culprit, he still has Carl Morris to worry about – not to mention the question of whether he and Leah are “just friends,” or something more.

Time is a fast-moving story that incorporates factual information about geology and paleontology into its intriguing tale of suspicion, pursuit, and revenge.

Roger Reid is a writer, director, and producer for the award-winning Discover Alabama television series, a program of The University of Alabama’s Alabama Museum of Natural History in cooperation with Alabama Public Television. Learn more about him at his website.

And if you want to find out more about the Jason Caldwell saga, check out this video of the author as he speaks about his books:

Willie Parker Peace Prize winners: Chris Hartley and Ann Greenleaf Wirtz

The North Carolina Society of Historians has presented two of our authors with the Willie Parker Peace History Book Award! Chris Hartley, author of Stoneman’s Raid, 1865, and Ann Greenleaf Wirtz, author of Blair-distributed The Henderson County Curb Market (Parkway Publishers), were honored on October 22nd at the 71st annual meeting of the NC Society of Historians in Mooresville. The society, whose mission is to “collect and preserv[e] North Carolina history, traditions, artifacts, genealogies and folklore,” presents the Willie Parker Peace Award annually to “encourage the writing and publication of the history of a North Carolina county, institution or individual.”

Chris Hartley’s Stoneman’s Raid, 1865 is a comprehensive account of Federal major general George Stoneman’s cavalry raid—one of the longest in U.S. military history—into the heart of the Confederacy, and of the fierce skirmishes and destruction that ensued. Stoneman’s 1865 raid devastated areas across six Southern states and impeded postwar recovery in the South. To this day, the raiders’ legacy lives on in The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” Award-winning Civil War historian Eric J. Wittenberg calls Stoneman’s Raid, 1865 a “deeply researched and eminently readable narrative [that] brings George Stoneman’s raid of the spring of 1865 to life,” and “a must-have for anyone interested in the campaigns of 1865.” Clint Johnson, author of Touring the Carolinas’ Civil War Sites and Touring Virginia’s and West Virginia’s Civil War Sites, states that Mr. Hartley’s use of “personal anecdotes from that time period accurately details what Tar Heels were thinking and feeling as the war’s loss hit home.”

Ann Greenleaf Wirtz’s The Henderson County Curb Market: A Blue Ridge Heritage Since 1924 recounts the history of Hendersonville’s farmer’s market from the establishment of the Henderson County Farmers Mutual Curb Market in 1924 up through the present day. Ms. Wirtz focuses especially on “the people who made, and still make, the curb market possible through hard work, commitment, and creativity,” and concludes that “the curb market has always been, and remains, the essence of Appalachian industry and family.” When judges presented Ms. Wirtz with the Willie Parker Peace Award, they stated, “This unusual history of a curb market reads like a reunion of sellers and buyers from the past to the present.  It has been expertly researched and lovingly written by an author who has an affectionate relationship with the place and the people associated with it.”

Congratulations to both Mr. Hartley and Ms. Wirtz!