Roanoke’s generational change (Blue Ridge Outdoors)

The May 2016 election marked the end of an era in Roanoke politics, and the start of something new.

I wrote about the election for Blue Ridge Outdoors within the context of Roanoke’s transformation over the last couple of decades, from a deteriorating industrial center into the next great outdoors city.

Read “Roanoke Reinvented” in Blue Ridge Outdoors.

Hokies fight for Flint (Virginia Tech Magazine)

The cover story for the spring 2016 issue of Virginia Tech Magazine, which I co-write with Jesse Tuel, focuses on Virginia Tech’s Flint water study group.

I feel privileged that I got the chance to meet and learn from people doing powerful things in the name of service to others. These faculty and students are changing the world in a very real way for the residents of Flint.

Read the story at Virginia Tech Magazine.

How the Grateful Dead and a hula-hoop dancer helped Roanoke land Deschutes Brewery (All About Beer)

Bend, Oregon’s Deschutes Brewery was searching for site for its East Coast production facility when something unusual happened: News of the search leaked out.

The leak generated an aggressive grassroots campaign in Roanoke to win Deschutes, which was considered more likely to locate a few hours south in Asheville, N.C., the multi-time Beer City U.S.A. A social media campaign was just one element of the Star City’s attempt to woo Deschutes.

For All About Beer, I wrote about the behind-the-scenes operation to win Deschutes, not just with infrastructure and a public push, but with intangibles like an illuminated dancer and the historic concerts of a historic jam band.

Read the story at All About Beer.

The mysterious death of an off-trail hiker in the Smokies (Blue Ridge Outdoors)

Only a couple of times have I interviewed someone who broke down crying during our conversation. It’s a rare and amazing thing—a moment when someone places enough trust in me as a reporter to open display that raw emotion.

When it happens, I feel a special responsibility as a journalist. That moment occurred during the reporting of this story, over the phone with a source I’d never met in person. I hope I did that particular source —- and Jenny Bennett, my subject, whom I’d also never met — some measure of justice here in Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

Rediscovering Spazz, 20 years later (Noisey)

During a short stint on the West Coast, I discovered the musical subgenre of power violence, defined by mostly short metallic hardcore songs that pushed the boundaries of crossover’s conventions.

I heard Spazz a few times during that period, but it wasn’t until recently that I dug more deeply into their catalogue. Fortunately, Slap a Ham Records (run by a band member) and, more recently, Tankcrimes, released collections of the band’s numerous EPs and comp tracks.

With the rerelease of 1997’s “Sweatin’ To The Oldies,” collecting 1993-1996, and 2001’s “Sweatin’ 3: Skatin’, Satan & Katon,” collecting 1995-1998, I interviewed two of the band’s three members to figure out why this music resonates so many years later.

Read the story and interview at Noisey.

Or read it at Vice Japan.

The coal depression’s downstream effects (Roanoke Business)

The combination of competition from cheap natural gas, a decline in overseas construction and enforcement of federal clean air regulations have sent the U.S. coal industry into a tailspin.

It’s not just miners who are suffering, however, but also the various downstream businesses that support the coal industry. For Roanoke Business, I wrote about how railroads, equipment manufacturers and other support businesses are dealing with the slump.

Read the story in the April issue of Roanoke Business.