8 Places Raleigh Needs That Don’t Revolve Around Alcohol

We are in the midst of an urban evolution here in North Carolina’s capitol. There have been several tweets and sound bites about places closing in downtown. Sure, I’m sad to see a few of them go, but I’m excited to see what’s coming. In Raleigh’s case, change means growth and growth requires change. Will 2016 finally be the year that a grocery store comes to downtown? Will it mark the Fall of the Bottle Shop Empire? I love a good craft brew as much as the next guy, but for the love of Joel Lane, please no more new bars, Raleigh!

Here’s what I propose as replacements to these newly vacant locales. Though I am almost certain that these places are all already spoken for, a girl can dream.

Seaboard Station

Old: Tyler’s Taproom
New: Trader Joe’s. Need I say more? Seaboard Station is prime for downtown’s first grocery store.

Hillsborough Street

Old: McDaid’s
New: A movie theater. Actually, put a movie theater back in the building that actually was a movie theater and bring Porter’s back to this location! Alas, there are existing plans for a new restaurant to take over the former book store that was previously known as Varsity Theater.

Downtown Proper

Old: Battistella’s
New: Pret a Manger. A Pret opening in downtown would signify that Raleigh has truly made it. It says, we’re world-class and we can serve pre-packaged yet magically fresh sandwiches.

Old: The Oxford
New: Dean & Deluca. A multi-purpose grocer or market that sells coffee, deli items, and wares. A locally-minded spin-off of that idea would be a scaled down version of Charlotte’s Atherton Market or Union Market in Washington, DC.

Old: Troy Mezze
New:  A tea room. I recently had afternoon tea at The Umstead in Cary and oh. em. gee. It was absolutely divine and it is now a necessity to have tea every weekend with my lady friends. Call me a lush. It’s ok. I can take it. Bonus points if the tea room is kid-friendly and caters to little ladies (and gentlemen).

Warehouse District

Old: Brewmasters
New: Reboot of Joe’s Place but with Laser Tag. The Warehouse District is hip and artsy and a 90s throwback like Joe’s Place would be welcome there. And let’s be real, laser tag is crucial for any city approaching the half-million population mark.

Old: Jillian’s (no one is talking about this spot?!)
New: Raleigh Beach. Let’s make Matt Tomasulo’s fantasy a reality.

Old: Capital Ice Market & Grill
New: Capital Ice Market & Grill. Must we gentrify EVERYTHING?!

Find a Changing Table in Raleigh

Six months into motherhood and I’ve met a fair set of public-facing challenges so far. I know there will be many more to come (toddler meltdowns, anyone?). But there is one that is particularly burdensome to me and that is the lack of changing tables that are available when Callida and I are out and about.

How is it that restaurants provide high chairs for our little ones, but no changing tables in the restroom? I don’t really see the logic there. Sure, I change her before we go out and hope that everything stays put while on our excursion, but let’s be honest: babies are unpredictable. I’ve heard of stories when moms had to change babies on their legs or on the floor. That’s not sanitary or fun for anyone involved. A clean, convenient changing table is needed. They are $200 on Amazon.

That’s why I created a Google map of changing facilities in Raleigh! Y’all know I love maps (remember my Breaking Bad map?) and I also love knowing where the nearest bathroom is.  It’s open to the public so anyone can go in and add a place to it using a key of varying changing table availability. Click here to check it out!

Unfortunately, the map is not super mobile-friendly but knowing Google, that will change soon enough! But for now, it is best to use this map on your desktop.

Instructions on how to use this map:

  1. Search for the place of business on this map.
  2. A green pin will appear on the map marking the location. Click “Add to Map”.step1
  3. The business will show up in the bottom of the list on the right. Click the paint bucket and select a color and shape based on the availability of changing area the business has!step2 step3
  4. Optional – Edit the business to add a description of the changing table and click save. step5
  5. And voila! The more people that contribute to the map, the more moms and dads it will help!

[MAP] Find a Changing Table in Raleigh

  • PURPLE STAR: Changing table available in women’s and men’s room or family bathrooms
  • PINK: Changing table available in women’s room
  • ORANGE: No table but some sort of changing area available
  • RED: No changing area

Tour the Garden this Spring!

What are the major indicators that spring has arrived in Raleigh? Dogwoods in bloom, downtown festivals, and of course yellow-covered cars! But the true kick-off of Oak City spring is Service Raleigh, which happened in late March.  Our neighborhood’s Wedge Community Garden has been a major part of Service Raleigh annually.

The Wedge Community Garden

This year, Service Raleigh was on an unseasonably cold yet delightfully sunny Saturday morning! Members from all over the Hillsborough Street area came to the garden to help gear it up for spring. Ace Hardware worked to install a new bulletin board as NC State students spruced up beds.

Bob King, Ace Hardware
Five Ace Hardware employees spent over 20 hours building the bulletin board! Pictured: Bob King, owner of Seaboard Ace Hardware.



Service Raleigh

And of course you never leave the garden hungry! Mellow Mushroom, Irregardless, Moonlight Pizza, and The Cupcake Shoppe provided sustenance for all of the volunteers!

Service Raleigh Food

Even though I don’t necessarily have a green thumb, the Wedge Community Garden is always welcoming. That’s what is so great about the garden – it is so much more than dirt and plants! One of the most unique features of the garden is the WedgeConnect program, which helps college students build skills and experience for the real world, while doing good for the community. Students design and lead a project for the garden with the help of professional mentors and businesses. Projects have included photojournalism, blogging, reporting, poetry, educational workshops, and so much more. The Wedge Community Garden’s goal is not only to grow beautiful fruits and veggies, but also to grow young community leaders. It’s no wonder it is a finalist for Neighborhoods USA Neighborhood of the Year!

The garden is open to the public, but your chance for a special tour is coming up on May 2nd at 11am during Raleigh’s 2nd annual Jane’s Walk. Learn all about the garden’s mission to grow a healthy community! Don’t forget there is still time for anyone to sign up to lead a walk, so if you are passionate about Raleigh fashion, art, food, architecture, technology, business, conservation, dogs, anything at all, this is your opportunity to share your passion with your neighbors!

Wedge Garden Gardening Days

3 Apps Every Raleighite Needs

The City of Oaks is synonymous with the City of Tech! Raleigh is known to be a hotbed of both small start-ups and well-established  technology companies. Plus, we Raleighites encourage each other to push the technological envelope through events like CityCamp NC and NC DataPalooza hosted right in downtown. So it should come as no surprise that the local app market is quite bustling!

Here are my top picks for favorite Raleigh-made apps:

1. RaleighHistoric
You don’t need to be a seasoned historian to become an Old Raleigh expert. All you need is your smartphone! The Raleigh Historic Development Commission has developed a free app called RaleighHistoric to help guide pedestrians through our city’s past. Learning more about North Carolina’s capital city has never been easier thanks to technology.

RaleighHistoric App

The app is complete with an interactive map as well as several self-guided tours, including five different development era tours.

RaleighHistoric Tours

Take a cultural look at Raleigh by checking out the African American Landmarks tour or grab your bicycle for the Historic Bike Ride tour.

Click on each landmark to view a photo and a brief description.

Raleigh Historic Map

Next time you’re out and about, be sure to pull out this app for a snapshot of Raleigh’s history.

Water_Tower Water_Tower_Historic_Site

RaleighHistoric is available for download the iTunes App Store and Google Play.

2. Offline
The tagline for this app is “Avoid Average Weekends”, and its purpose is to help users do just that (quite successfully!). I use Offline sort of like Pinterest. I can collect the things I want to do in Raleigh all in one place on my phone.

Offline Profile

When it’s time to get out of the house, or I’m out of activity ideas, I simply pull up Offline to review my bookmarks.

Offline Bookmark

What’s even more fun is the “check it off” button! Does anyone else get that rush of self-satisfaction after checking off an item on the to-do list? Well, doing it on the Offline app renders the epitome of that feeling! It makes me feel like I’ve been very productive while also having fun. It’s also an extra excuse to Instagram what I’m doing (as if I needed an excuse…) because you must include a photo in order to check off a bookmark.

Check it Off

Offline is your barometer for Raleigh enjoyment because it keeps track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you still want to do. Not even sure where to start? It aggregates things to do in Raleigh into different categories for easy browsing.

Offline Browsing

Available in the iTunes app store.

3. RGreenway
The folks over at Oak City Apps submitted this app as a concept to CityCamp NC in 2012 and it is now a reality! RGreenway is a mix between Google Maps, Foursquare, and Strava, with a dash of your handy-dandy weather app – all for the Capital Area Greenway Trail System.

With this app, you can locate nearby trailheads and find out more information about the trail, such as the trailhead’s exact street address, route details, and surrounding landmarks. Once you are on the trail, you can check-in and submit any issues to SeeClickFix without even leaving the app. Do all of this while tracking time and mileage!


Raleigh Greenways

Raleigh was one of the first cities to adopt a greenway system in the 1970s, which is now a network of over 100 miles and counting.

Available in iTunes and Google Play.

Some honorable mentions to add to this list are the Tasty Beverage app and the North Hills Parking app. What are your favorite Raleigh-made apps?

How does your community garden grow?

There’s a little slice of Raleigh that produces fresh food, educates people about healthy living, and offers opportunities for all community members. It’s a place that has been built solely by the community. The cost to maintain it is volunteer sweat and the donations from generous contributors. Well, I should really call it a little “wedge” instead of slice because I’m talking about the Wedge Community Garden, right in the heart of Raleigh!

Can you believe that urban community gardening has been around since the 1890s? So it’s definitely not a fad or trend! And I am even willing to bet that the concept dates even further back. Community gardens can be found in cities, towns, and neighborhoods all over the nation. In North Carolina, there are 163 registered community gardens that serve as school gardens, food bank suppliers, job training tools, therapeutic purposes, and so much more (and all of the above).

Wedge Garden Mural
The Wedge Garden Mural was created by NCSU student Lauren Caddick and sponsored by the YMCA.

Back in 2010, a few  members of the Hillsborough Citizens Advisory Council (HCAC) established its own community garden, called the Wedge at 214 Park Avenue, behind the Alexander Family YMCA on Hillsborough Street. It’s a unique garden because it is the only truly communal garden in our whole state, meaning there are no individual plots. Everyone works together, harvests together, and eats together using the same piece of land. The garden depends on its volunteers to make it all happen.

Summer garden veggies!
Summer garden veggies!

The garden takes as good of care of the community as the community takes care of the garden!

Volunteers come from the surrounding neighborhoods, but also nearby organizations like NC State, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, YMCA members, AmeriCorps, NC Roots & Shoots, and many others that gave at least 579 hours in 2014. The Haven House alone has given the garden 21 Saturdays and 66 volunteers throughout the year.  Did you enjoy a cup of coffee from Benelux recently? You can feel extra good about that because the cafe donates its weekly coffee grounds to the garden.

Haven House Wedge Garden
Fall Planting with Haven House Volunteers

This amazing volunteer work reaped 270 pounds of food donated to Plant a Row for the Hungry over the summer, along with dozens of pounds of food for neighbors and Service Raleigh sponsors.  The Wedge features its own herb garden, given by the Fletcher Family of the Pullen Park Neighborhood, which has been used by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle culinary school, City of Raleigh Community Services, HCAC, Pullen Arts Center, and many others.

Citronella from the Fletcher Herb Garden

As much as the Wedge relies on its volunteers and in-kind donations, the garden also looks to the City of Raleigh for appropriations. One of the many benefits of our city’s Citizens Advisory Councils is that community based assets may apply for improvement funds. The Wedge did just that through the HCAC and was awarded $1000 which went toward wood and a pitchfork, topsoil, and various tools.

Are you interested in becoming involved in the Wedge Community Garden as part of your New Year’s Resolution? Whether the goal is to eat healthier or become more engaged with Raleigh, or both, vow to make 2015 the best year yet by making a difference in the community! Come by the garden on Saturday mornings to work with other volunteers and get yourself acquainted. No gardening experience necessary; the only requirement is the willingness to get your hands a little dirty. And don’t worry, it’s not all work and no play! Volunteers, neighbors, and garden members are invited to special events throughout the year including the Spring Planting Kick-off, a summer garden party, and pumpkin carving in the fall.

Raleigh Community Garden

For more information, email Shamsa at thewedgegarden@gmail.com.