Jennifer Brookland

Jennifer Brookland is a temporary producer for The State of Things.

Jennifer grew up in Baltimore, MD and studied International Politics and African Studies at Georgetown University. She spent four years as a Special Agent with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations in North Carolina and Maryland, and deployed to Djibouti and the Comoros Islands.

After earning her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University she contributed to News21, a national reporting project on transportation safety in America. She also interned at PRI’s “The World” and in Nairobi with IRIN, the United Nations’ humanitarian news and analysis service. She received a master’s degree in human security and NGO management from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Jennifer spent three years producing content for international development organizations in D.C, highlighting aid work in countries including Tajikistan, Haiti, Honduras, India and Tanzania. She moved to Durham in 2015 and began freelance writing, editing and producing. Now that Durham is getting an Ethiopian restaurant, she’s vastly more likely to stay.

 

 The historic flooding from Florence has eased, but communities and environmentalists are just beginning to take stock of the damage it caused.

Being able to walk into a supermarket and pick up a carton of strawberries in January makes it easy to believe that all food should be available at all times. 

As a counselor in Laurinburg, North Carolina, Noran Sanford provided therapy to young people whose backgrounds weren’t too far removed from his own. These boys came from broken homes, struggled with poverty and addiction and lost family members to violence. But as he stood over yet another grave of a talented young man he had tried to help, Sanford knew he hadn’t done enough.

The cases of around a dozen missing or murdered young black women in Rocky Mount scarcely made headlines when they occured in the early 2000s. City officials seemed more concerned with public perception than in finding the murderer and meting out justice. Meanwhile, the vagrant killer of a white woman in the same city was apprehended within the day.

Though Hurricane Florence has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone, its floodwaters continue to wreak havoc on North Carolina communities. 

Many cultures mark the end of childhood with a rite of passage. And for many Latinas, the transition from girlhood to womanhood often includes a giant party – the quinceanera. A growing number of Mexican families in the Triangle are keeping that tradition alive despite how costly these lavish events can be for low-wage workers. And for the teenagers being feted, the whole experience can make them feel both connected to their heritage and extended family, and like helpless victims of their mothers’ projections. 

Public hearings on environmental issues are often publicized in the back of the newspaper and roundly ignored. But amidst alarm over GenX and other contaminants in the Cape Fear River, Columbus County residents showed up in droves to two public meetings on the proposed use of methyl bromide in a local logging operation. 

When six-year-old Ben arrives in the emergency department of a Rhode Island hospital, the physician who attends to him uses her medical training to try to understand his trauma. But as the boy’s memories start returning, and they don’t seem to be his own, she must expand her understanding of how people are connected and what kind of phenomena might be possible.

The Book of Genesis says that man was created in God’s image. But a new study finds human beings may be returning the favor.

When Asha Bala was born, her mother looked at her and declared that she would be a dancer. Her country, India, was a newborn as well, recently independent from British rule. So many parents were keen to revitalize ancient cultural and spiritual practices like Bharata Natyam dance, once practiced in the temples and based on epic tales and mythology.

It can be as difficult to explain why an artist is driven to paint or sculpt as it is to define what makes great art. But for some of the highest-achieving artists the motivation to create is clear: competition.

When Dr. David Casarett asks patients with a terminal illness what they would like to do with the time they have left, some stare blankly back at him. Others have a big list of family members they want to spend time with and to-do list items to check off.

A brush with the criminal justice system for something as small as a busted tail light or speeding ticket has outlandishly large implications for people who cannot pay the fines, fees and surcharges associated with a court appearance. These costs add up for people, and they add up for the court system too. Last year North Carolina brought in more than $300 million dollars from assessing these charges.

New research from the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation found that companies across the state are interested in making their businesses more family friendly. That includes policies from offering health insurance and family medical leave to paid time off, job-sharing and flexible work hours.

 
When Eve Ensler first unleashed a string of feminist, body-positive, pro-sex monologues onto a New York City stage in 1996, the themes resonated with many women. “The Vagina Monologues” went on to have a successful off-Broadway run, an HBO adaptation and an annual performance slot on college campuses around the country, and even the world. They also spawned a global anti-violence movement called V-Day, which opened a chapter in Raleigh in 2016. 

Iris Carlton-LaNey is often impressed by the resourcefulness and strength of those living in poor, underserved and rural communities. As a social worker, she has spent a career observing how many in those communities have a strong commitment to hard work, family and religion. And those are values she recognizes from her own upbringing on a tobacco farm in southeastern North Carolina, where education was valued above all. 

The members of the band Young Yonder all have day jobs – in fact several of them met while helping customers at the Apple store. They make music work by packing in practices and tightly coordinating schedules. 

A new public health report from ECU shows that the death rate for midlife whites in the state increased 6 percent from 2000 to 2013. Many of these deaths can be attributed to so-called diseases of despair, like suicide, drug overdose and liver disease caused by alcoholism.

Last spring, the Army told recruiters it expected them to enlist 6,000 new soldiers – the largest mid-year increase in its history. It recently also upped its yearly recruitment goal to an unexpected high of 80,000.

In 1968, brothers Tom and Chuck Hagel volunteered for an infantry unit bound for Vietnam. One of them believed in the war; one was staunchly opposed to it. 

 

Jeffrey Halbstein-Harris had already beat addiction twice by the time he was in his 30s. But a doctor assured him that the opioids he was prescribing for Halbstein-Harris’s diabetic neuropathy were both effective and non-habit forming. Nevertheless, Halbstein-Harris became dependent and went through a painful withdrawal process.

2017 was a big year for new movie releases, but film experts Marsha Gordon and Laura Boyes managed to narrow down their lists of favorites to share.

Selections include “Kedi,” a documentary about the cats of Istanbul, Netflix original “Mudbound,” about two sharecropping families, and the box office-crushing release of “Wonder Woman.”

Host Frank Stasio talks with Marsha Gordon, film professor at North Carolina State University, and Laura Boyes, film curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art, about 2017 movies of note. 

There was nothing in Dwane Powell’s upbringing to suggest he would end up a political cartoonist. 

Christopher and Taylor Malpass didn’t go to daycare when they were little boys. They went over to their grandad’s house instead and listened to the old country jukebox records he brought home from his store.

Some children who rack up debt paying for lunch in their school cafeterias face a sudden swap when their hot meals are substituted for a cold sandwich or just a serving of fruit and vegetables and a cup of water. 

Human beings have been learning long before schoolhouse walls were ever built, bubble tests invented and recess bells rung. So why is there still so much confusion and debate about the purpose of school, the goals of education and the best ways to empower students to succeed in life? 

Animation has come a long way, from the hand-painted drawings of The Walt Disney Company’s 1937 feature film “Snow White” to today’s dazzling computer-generated imagery. 

Almost one in 20 people jailed in Mecklenburg County last year were held on failure to pay court fines or fees. Now, a new program supported by the MacArthur Foundation is modeling an evidence-based approach to criminal justice reform that changes the way people are assessed, held and released. 

Near-death experiences are undeniably difficult to study. And yet a passionate few scientists have dedicated their careers to understanding this phenomenon experiencers say creates an immediate and lifelong transformation. 

Scientists and researchers from major labs are putting their minds and grant dollars into gene editing tools like CRISPR, which enables humans to modify genetic code. 

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