Columnist: Bob Ashley

Jul. 26, 2015 @ 07:16 AM

Donating fans can bring relief to neighbors in need

We are, as it has been impossible not to notice, in the heat of our Piedmont Carolinas summer. We all know – and feel – the drill. Temperatures soar near 100, and weather forecasters talk about a cool spell when they tip into the upper 80s. Humidity envelopes us, and the heat index pushes into triple digits.

Jul. 18, 2015 @ 10:36 PM

Atticus Finch’s deceptive ‘patrician calm’ hardly unusual

How to react to the revelation that Atticus Finch, that revered model of integrity and parental devotion in “To Kill a Mockingbird?” had a darker side.

Jul. 11, 2015 @ 10:17 PM

‘One more candle and a trip around the sun’

A few weeks ago, at a meeting of non-profit board I’m on, I glanced around the room and was struck by a vaguely unsettling realization. A few board members’ terms had just ended and now I was the oldest person in the group.

Jun. 28, 2015 @ 12:00 AM

Even as civic sphere secularizes, ironies abound

A few weeks ago, my wife, son and I – food-festival groupies -- dropped in on the Jewish Food Festival at the Levin Jewish Community Center on Cornwallis Road.

Jun. 21, 2015 @ 07:17 AM

A generation ago, gun control debate looked quite different

North Carolinians can breathe a bit easier after the State House backed off some of the more extreme gun measures it had seemed poised to pass.

Jun. 13, 2015 @ 09:37 PM

Upcoming book an invaluable guide to Duke’s buildings

I’m one of the many people – Duke students and employees, alums like me, residents from Trinity Park and other nearby neighborhoods -- who enjoy the jogging/walking track just inside the stone wall that encircles the university’s East Campus.

Jun. 07, 2015 @ 07:41 AM

Our unusual school-funding model diffuses responsibility

The discussion between the Durham Public Schools board and the Durham County 
Commissioners is a near-annual event.  

May. 31, 2015 @ 01:34 PM

Starting lines differ widely in the game of life

I sometimes tease my son, Andrew, that he chose his parents wisely.

Children don’t choose their parents, of course, or the settings – socioeconomic, cultural, geographic – into which they are born and in which they grow up. Those factors can make enormous differences in the life they can expect.

May. 24, 2015 @ 03:33 PM

Attracting, embracing newcomers helps shape Durham

Since the 2010 census, Durham has grown by more than 18,000 residents – a growth spurt of more than 8 percent, coming on the heels of 20-percent-plus growth the previous decade.

May. 18, 2015 @ 08:53 AM

Savoring contrasting vibes downtown, and wondering

Last weekend, shopping and strolling through the Durham Farmers’ Market as my family does most Saturdays, it was clear that we’re heading into the bounteous season. Product and purchasers are becoming more plentiful, and I was reminded once again of how the market and its surroundings have transformed in the past decade.

May. 09, 2015 @ 10:22 PM

Preserving legacy of a remarkable school-building program

Around the turn of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald was building Sears, Robuck and Co. into the mail-order behemoth that embedded itself in American culture as that century’s

May. 03, 2015 @ 07:44 AM

Deep divisions have faded but their legacy remains today

This past Friday marked the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the end to decades of war in Vietnam. As often happens these days, I was bemused by the realization that 50th anniversaries now mark events very much part of my memory and events 40 years ago were well into my adult, professional life. 

Apr. 25, 2015 @ 11:10 PM

Habitat’s 30 years of delivering ‘sermons you can see’

In 1985, Joe Harvard was only a few years into what would be a distinguished three-decade tenure leading Durham’s First Presbyterian Church.

The young pastor already was deeply involved in social ministry, and was part of the Durham Congregations in Action group who with others in the would join an effort spanning the globe to help people high on hope but low on assets become homeowners.

“"The Habitat train is leaving the station. If you want to join us, you better get on board,” Harvard said then – a remark recalled this past Tuesday when Habitat for Humanity Durham celebrated its 30th year.

It has much to celebrate.

Apr. 19, 2015 @ 08:17 AM

Celebrating a “dawn of peace” that sadly really wasn’t

Ten days ago, the nation celebrated the 150th anniversary  of Confederate Gen. Robert E.
Lee’s surrender to Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia.
Grant declared “the war is over” and ever since that surrender has been seen as the
welcome conclusion to a civil war that tore about the nation less than a century after its

Apr. 12, 2015 @ 11:14 AM

We benefit from taxes, even as we rail against them

In declaring his presidential candidacy last month, Republican Ted Cruz took aim at the Internal Revenue Service.

“Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends meet, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a postcard.” Cruz said. “Imagine abolishing the IRS.”