Questions or comments? Contact Jeff Sykes at jeff@yesweekly

Groups work to move beyond current barriers to vibrant futures

“And our time is flyin’ see the candle burnin’ low Is the new world rising, from the shambles of the old.”

And so begins what will become my regular column here on these pages. Yeah I know some big Hollywood production named The Rover just kicked off, but daggumit, I‘ve been thinking about calling my column The Rover for a few weeks now. Life is sometimes full of synchronicity like that. I took the idea one afternoon when, yet again, I got that Jimmy Page riff stuck in my head and had to go pick up my guitar and lay down that thick groove from Physical Graffiti.

I was born in the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese Zodiac, and have always been a bit loyal, though at times some would say it was more of a grim persistence. Either way, I’m a dog, known to say “what’s up dawg?”, and am more than capable of finding both a bone and my way home.

I hope, in all seriousness, that you will call my name if you have a story idea, some dirt that needs to be clawed up, or if you just want to pat me on the head. Just don’t swat me with the newspaper!


Growing up in Winston-Salem my mother used to take us to Hanes Park often on summer mornings, whether it be after swimming lessons at the nearby Y or before or after we visited her father, who lived in a small duplex up on West End Boulevard.

I can recall the playground equipment in the shaded area near the stone bridge and large steps leading up to West End. Like so much else, it seemed much larger as a child. I’ve run on the track, played church softball on the field near Reynolda Road and tennis on the courts of the Joe White Tennis Center with my brother. I may have even trespassed there in the dark as a teenager.

But the real crime is the state of disrepair the 95-year-old park is in. The details are laid bare in an audit report released this spring by the Friends of Hanes Park. The group, along with city officials, conducted a pedestrian audit in February. More than 40 people took notes and photographs to document the needed repairs. And what did they find?

The park was showing it’s age in the mid-90s when I lived nearby, so you can imagine the pock-marked steps leading down from West End in the original grand entrance to the park, set out on 47 acres donated by P.H. Hanes in 1919. But the details of the report would probably make Hanes roll over in his grave. The report notes crumbling infrastructure throughout the park and goes on to make several recommendations, calling for upgraded pathways, rethought entrances and lighting, better signage and clear lines of sight, in addition to basics like improved parking, restrooms and security.

Hanes Park is a jewel, a lynchpin where Ardmore, West End and Buena Vista come together, not to mention its juxtaposition along Reynolda Road, which leads thousands of people from the city’s northwestern suburbs into downtown. Hopefully the city will find a way to improve the park in time for its 100 th anniversary, at least that’s the goal of the Friends of Hanes Park.

Some cosmetic improvements are underway, with benches and tables replaced and a crew this weekend out building new stone flowerbeds near the historic bridge. But serious investment is needed to give the park increased viability as it closes in on the century mark. Go to www.friendsofhanespark. org to read the audit report.


The late-morning heat on the concrete of Government Plaza in Greensboro last Thursday did little to dampen the spirit of the crowd gathered to announce the Welcoming Greensboro Initiative’s official report.

More than a dozen representatives of immigrant communities from Asia, Africa, and Central America were on hand, in addition to representatives of the American Friends Service Committee.

The Greensboro City Council adopted a resolution in April declaring Greensboro a Welcoming City to immigrants and refugees, joining a list of 30 American cities like New York, Austin and Los Angeles. The city also has agreed to reform the Human Relation Commission’s International Advisory Committee, which examines the challenges facing the more than 35,000 foreign-born residents living in Greensboro. The IAC can recommend solutions to the HRC, which can choose to forward them to the city council for consideration.

With more than 11 percent of the city’s population foreignborn, there is considerable support for making the city more inclusive and welcoming. Finding ways to pay for the initiatives may prove difficult.

The 50-page report details plenty of splendid ideas, including providing more translators or multi-lingual city staff so that foreign-born residents can interact with city government to obtain services. The report calls for increased access to healthcare, transportation and employment for the city’s immigrant population.

“Participants at every community discussion mentioned that services and social programs have been insufficient to meet their needs,” the report states. “Many immigrants and refugees face poverty, food insecurity and economic troubles.”

One of the biggest barriers to economic viability is transportation.

With the city sprawling across miles of roadways that provide little pedestrian mobility, many immigrants rely on public transportation. The report calls for extended bus routes, and even new bus routes to areas like Oakwood Forest north of the city on US 29.

The report provides a detailed insight into the many obstacles faced by immigrants to the American way of life. In a time of stagnant municipal revenues, with large swaths of voters feeling taxed out, or having closed their hearts and minds to the strangers among us, it’s hard to see where increased funding for these initiatives will come from.

Perhaps a nod to the future, envisioned in programs such as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will give future generations the boost they need to integrate with the American economy. !