HousingFest is THIS WEEKEND!

HousingFest is happening on May 28th with the goal of bringing people together to end homelessness through the power of music. Each ticket costs $39 and is the same cost as keeping a person in permanent, supportive housing for one day.

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Charlotte has a goal of ending chronic homelessness by the end of 2016 and HousingFest gives you a chance to help the city reach that goal – while listening to some pretty fantastic music – including local band, Matrimony.  The rest of the lineup includes: Josh Ritter, Lindi Ortega, Nikki Hill Band, Jim Lauderdale and Justin Fedor.

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HousingFest began in 2014 and has only continued to grow raising funds for our community’s most vulnerable homeless neighbors. This year’s show is expected to be a sell out with 2,000 people in attendance at the Fillmore. Urban Ministry Center is one of my favorite non-profits in Charlotte (see: 5 things I Learned While Volunteering at Urban Ministry Center), and they are the geniuses behind HousingFest – with the help of a group of sponsors.

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It’s not too late to get your ticket to listen to good music and do a good thing for the community at the same time.

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#HashtagLunchbagCLT

Have you heard of HashtagLunchbag? It’s a movement that’s not unique to Charlotte, but fortunately has been adopted here. A group of volunteers meets at Triple C brewery each month and swiftly puts together hundreds of lunch bags that contain a sandwich, a cookie, a piece of fruit, a granola bar and a bottle of water… and an inspirational note.

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I went for the first time in March and was amazed at how quickly this group worked to fill the bags and handwrite notes of hope and love for Charlotte’s homeless neighbors.

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After the lunches are all packed, the volunteers box them up and head into the streets of Charlotte to deliver them to those in need.

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As a first timer, I was grateful to have Danielle and Jacinda swoop in and give us the scoop on how the morning would go. All of the volunteers were pleasant and helpful as well and truly worked together as a team.

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Once we signed in and made our donation (volunteers are asked to bring $10 to help with food costs), we were added to one of the sandwich making tables. After all of the sandwiches were made, I moved over to the note making station and eventually moved into the box-packing group.

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There are several prime locations to hand out these lunches which are identified before leaving the brewery. Everyone goes in groups and for safety reasons, it is recommended to have a male in each group. That being said, I never felt unsafe while delivering the bags.

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At the men’s shelter, we started approaching the neighbors and handing out bags but were quickly told that we couldn’t do that. We either had to donate the bags to the facility or stand outside of the gates to distribute. One gentleman kept following us and asking for a bag (I wanted to give him the whole box) but we had already been told to move off the premises. Once we made it outside the gate, we were able to distribute the bags freely. We also stopped at Urban Ministry Center and were able to donate a ton of bags to them and also hand out many more to the neighbors who were already lined up waiting to get in.

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It took our group 35 minutes to make 275 lunch bags and pack them all up to be distributed. We started at 8 A.M and were home by 10 A.M. My heart was so full after those two hours. There are many volunteer roles where you’re working in the background and know you’re doing good but with #HashtagLunchbagCLT, you are on the front lines. You’re not only doing the pre-work but you’re actually engaging with those in Charlotte who need a hand up.

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Starting in April, there will be two opportunities to volunteer. #HashtagLunchbagCLT will meet on April 2nd and April 16th at 8 A.M. at Triple C. The goal would be to have sessions weekly and keep Charlotte from going hungry. Let’s make it happen. Go, volunteer, do something good for your community. Email lunchbagclt (at) gmail (dot) com to let Danielle know you’re coming. And I’ll see you there!

*If you’re not in Charlotte, check out the website to find opportunities in your area!

#InstabeerupCLT: Why you should be there

I attended my first #instabeerupCLT in March, and I’ve been every month since (kicking myself for not going before then!). I am incredibly excited for next week’s #instayearup at Unknown Brewing.

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Instabeerup is more than just an opportunity to have beer at one of Charlotte’s many craft breweries. You can do that any day of the week. It is a chance to casually network and an even better opportunity to make new friends. In fact, one of the “rules” is to meet at least one new person. I’ve been fortunate to meet journalists, funny guys, Kristi of @FeastFoodTours, other people in my field of work, and a few ‘friends’ from Twitter. Being friends IRL is way more fun.

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I look forward to these monthly gatherings because they aren’t stiff networking events where everyone is walking around with name tags, business cards and a personal agenda, it’s more everyone is walking around with name tags, a pint and a friendly smile.

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While I personally haven’t made connections for my career, I have enjoyed meeting new people and hearing about their exciting ventures in Charlotte. Also, there’s beer. And sometimes the first beer is sponsored by someone awesome like Yellow Cab of Charlotte.

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So unless you hate beer, don’t want to make any connections for future jobs or new friends, and are basically a recluse, you SHOULD be going to #instabeerup. My husband is an introvert and he went, so you can, too. Again, unless you are a hermit, I expect to see you on Thursday, 6/25 at Unknown Brewing with a smile on your face, beer in your hand and talking to at least one new person.

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PS – let’s give it up for Corri Smith (@corriasmith) and Amy Herman (@VTGCLT) for putting this together. Charlotte is a big place, with so many smart people and so much potential, so we need to be getting together more often. Share your ideas, make new friends, taste good beer, do big things in our city.

What’s all the buzz about?

On Saturday, we ventured to Time Warner Cable arena to watch the Charlotte Hornets face off against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hornets were Charlotte’s team from 1988-2002 and then left for New Orleans. The Bobcats filled in until last season, when the decision was made to bring back the buzz, in big part to Michael Jordan (thanks, MJ!).

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On Saturday, the first 10,000 fans received Hugo the Hornet bobble heads, so the line was quite long (and the air was quite cold!). The arena was much more packed than it used to be for Bobcats games, but still wasn’t full. I’m sure it will be when we play Cleveland and LeBron visits.

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Everywhere you looked you could find Hornets memorabilia or gear, as well as purple and teal people on stilts, a DJ or “honey bees” signing photos or calendars.

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It’s the perfect set up if you have young kids who need some entertainment and can’t sit still through a two-hour game.

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The team store is packed on game days. Supposedly it’s being moved to make for a better user experience and traffic flow. On Saturday it was one out, one in. That being said, the line moved pretty fast but the store itself was crowded and it was difficult to look around. I did manage to snag a shirt from one of the smaller merchandise booths.

IMG_6455Our first stop was the Craft Beer Garden which is sponsored by Dandelion Market. They serve mostly local brews, which is awesome since we have so many wonderful breweries here in Charlotte.

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If you’re not interested in craft beer, you can find domestic beer in about a million other spots in the stadium. The court has a beautiful new honeycomb design. Huge monitors project the game so folks in the upper levels can see clearly if the court is too far away. There’s not really a bad seat in the house.

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There are still tickets available for plenty of games, so you can still visit Buzz City and watch the Hornets in their inaugural season back in Charlotte. IMG_6458

While the Hornets didn’t win their game on Saturday, they did have a miraculous comeback during their first game from a 24-point deficit and won in overtime with a shot by Kemba Walker. There’s guaranteed to be plenty more of that action this season. I can’t wait to see what this team does throughout this first season back. Welcome back, Hornets, welcome back.

It’s getting hot in here!

For the past few years, I have been trying to do yoga on a somewhat regular basis to help in my recovery from running. It seems that yoga studios are on every street corner these days, so it’s hard to know what sets them apart from one another. I first tried the convenient location less than a mile from my house. They only offered “warm” yoga, but I loved the helpful instructors. Then I tried a studio that I’d heard great things about. The temp was around 90 degrees and the classes were great, but it seemed I was the only non-yogi in the classes. So most recently, I signed up for 31 days for $31 with Yoga One.

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I love this intro deal, which gives you the chance to explore the studio on an unlimited basis for 31 days. Also, they offer Karma classes throughout the week that are only $5 to attend, and the money is given to a selected charity for the month.

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They have two locations, one in Plaza Midwood and one in University. Each location has a plethora of classes, so you can always find one that works with your schedule. The studio is heated to 100 degrees for classes – so take water!

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I have taken several of Liz’s classes and really enjoyed the flow, the feeling and the focus of the practice. I did take one class with a different instructor, that moved at the pace of a cheetah and did not leave me feeling connected to anything.  You definitely have to explore the instructors and find one whose style matches your focus.

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The classes vary in length from 60 minutes to 90 minutes (with 75 in between). The instructors guide practice but do not practice at the front of the room as some studios do.   IThroughout practice, you can see the words “Awaken” “Inspire” “Empower” “Sweat” on the wall. Such simple but purposeful words.

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It’s funny how you buy an “unlimited” package and think you’ll go every day. I’ve probably attended 7 classes since signing up, but it’s been a great introduction to Yoga One. I’m excited to have found this studio and been able to practice with such a large group of people, of all shapes and sizes and all levels of yoga experience. Definitely recommend checking out either location if you’re in the market for a yoga studio.

A night in the Biergarten!

Olde Mecklenburg Brewery is famed for their german style brauhaus and brews. Just last weekend, they opened their new facility which is about a gazillion times as big (and beautiful) as the old warehouse style brewery. 

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Sticking to their traditional German style beers and not adding in jalapeños, peaches or thyme like some of our other local breweries, Olde Meck has their own niche within Charlotte’s world of breweries. 

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Copper is a long time favorite beer in the Queen City, as well as their Captain Jack Pilsner. Occasionally, they’ll introduce a new beer, such as their anniversary beer or the recent Southside Weiss, but they never venture outside of their German roots. So if you’re looking for quadruple hops or fun flavors, go hang out at Unknown, NoDa or Birdsong. If you want a classic taste and style, you’ll want to check out Olde Meck.

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The new Brauhaus is strikingly gorgeous. It’s decorated perfectly to match their style, with old barrels for tables, stunning wood everywhere and a crisp look and feel.

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There is plenty of room to move around in the new place without feeling crowded, and if you don’t want to go inside, there’s an amazing outside biergarten that awaits you. 

IMG_3841There’s a self-serve station in the biergarten for ordering food and drinks, and plenty of seating. This will be HUGE when Mecktoberfest and their other festivals happen. Plenty of room for not just standing, but there’s actual seating! Not into sitting down? Feel free to play cornhole or bring your pup and play in the yard (just be careful, it’s not totally fenced in!). Be sure to join them for one of their Wine & Design nights, Yoga on Tuesdays (6:30 PM), or music on Fridays. 

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Kudos to OMB on their new space. It’s perfectly designed and absolutely spectacular. I know great things will happen here for years to come. 

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While it’s not technically Southend as it’s classified in some places (more Steele Creek-ish), it’s worth spending an afternoon indulging in German beers and enjoying the feeling of being in the city but outside of it at the same time. Prost! 

 

90’s Night!

Decked out in denim and sunflowers (my husband in a Nirvana shirt and ripped jeans, my friend in flannel) we ventured out for Discovery Place’s Science on the Rocks (#SOTR) night last Friday. The theme this week was 90’s Throwback and was complete with 90’s music, plenty of flannel and even 90’s trivia (think Friends, Homeward Bound and Bill Clinton). Science on the Rocks is basically adults night at Discovery Place and alcohol is served (must be 21+ to attend).

IMG_3610Upon entering, we were given slap bracelets and pointed in the direction of one of the four bars. The bars upstairs were rather crowded but downstairs was pretty empty.

IMG_3626It was pretty neat to see this place at night and not crawling with kids. Although, there were definitely some “adults” who could have passed for children. The biggest attraction was the bed of nails…

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Which was far more exciting than the Air Chair…

IMG_3603It seemed exciting but the release was slow and disappointing. Giant pong was being played in the middle of the floor, which brought college memories flooding back to us all. Except this actually required skill to sling it into the bucket.

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The rope climb was fun with stations for “hard”, “harder” and “hardest” (which was actually pretty darn hard!).

IMG_3577Giant tug-o-war was also available, as well as a disc-toss (remember all those AOL CDs you used to get in the mail?).

IMG_3620We did actually venture around and try to “discover” new things. We built a structure that could withstand an earthquake without TOO much structural damage, and checked out the cyborgs…

IMG_3588Throughout the night we kept hearing sporadic and LOUD booms. We finally made our way over to the corner were Ace Ventura was serving liquid nitrogen wine slushies. Yes, you read that right, and yes, it was delicious.

IMG_3608I highly recommend checking out Science on the Rocks next month when it’s offered. It’s a great Friday-night date-night idea, and you’re right uptown so you can grab a bite to eat afterwards.

Be sure to follow @whenincharlotte on Instagram and Twitter for more photos,  updates and events!