Catch the Vision of RTP 180: Art in the Triangle (and meet the speakers)


08 8-14 RTF BESusans 2Not long after I started working here at the Foundation did I starting dreaming about the possibilities of having a few bands out in the grassy area behind our gorgeous office. I’ve seen a few bands play sets in fields and it’s one of the best ways to see a show. Our CEO is all about building community, and nothing brings people together better than music, so the idea has always been bopping around in my brain.

When we started planning this month’s art themed RTP: 180, the team knew we wanted to focus on more than just visual art. The Triangle is a place rich with a variety of creativity, and we wanted to throw an event that really celebrated that in a fun, yet geeky way.

Unfortunately, one of the Research Triangle Park’s best kept secrets is that one of the earliest organizations to locate within the Park was the National Humanities Center. Our commitment to celebrating the intersection of art and science goes back to before I was born (in 1987, in case you were wondering).

So, this month we really blew it out of the water to bring you a show that’s filled with science, bugs, art and music. We’re lucky to have partners that get just as excited about these things as we do, and are willing to spend the time to plan and come on the third Thursday of the month to hang out.

If you weren’t able to snag a ticket before they sold out in 10 days, have no fear! The livestream will be set up over at and you’ll have the opportunity to hear these seven fine people speak tomorrow:

AaronWallAaron Shackelford of UNC-Chapel Hill is the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow for Carolina Performing Arts. He works with factuality, artists and students to create opportunities for people to connect the performing arts into their ideas and daily lives. He’ll be speaking on Arts@TheCore: The Value of the Arts across Campus.

Hopscotch Music Festival, Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011.If you haven’t heard Greg Lowenhagen’s name, you definitely know the festival he founded. Hopscotch is celebrating its 5th anniversary this year in downtown Raleigh, and is also expanding to include the two-day Hopscotch Design Festival. Greg will have five minutes to speak on The Positive Financial and Cultural Impact of Music in the Triangle.

WilliamBrownThe NCMA Contemporaries group has great events, and recently I was fortunate enough to attend one that William Brown helped to lead. He is the Chief Conservator at the museum and uses a whole bevy of instruments (everything from lasers to sponges) to restore and care for the collection.

BethYerxaBeth Yerxa is a force. I believe I first met Beth at a RTP: 180 event, and I’ve been impressed by the work she does as an arts advocate in the Triangle. From an environmental lawyer to the executive director of Triangle Artworks, Beth is going to tell us about her two crazy ideas about supporting Triangle artists.

Sculptures that serve as a love motels for bugs…yup. That’s how Dr. Brandon Ballengee described his art. They’re intended to help insects native to North Carolina come together and mate. His work will be on display. Outside, of course.

CarrieDonleyEach year, the Chapel Hill Analytical and Nanofabrication Laboratory (CHANL) at UNC-CH organizes a Scientific Art Competition. Carrie Donley leads this charge, and is going to take the stage for five minutes to tell us why art is important to scientist. Prepare for beautiful imagery on this one!

MartinFischerAt every RTP 180, there’s usually one brilliant scientist that does amazing work that goes right over my head. For this edition, it’s Duke scientist Martin Fischer. In plain terms, Martin is going to talk about using lasers to peer under the surface of artwork. I can’t wait to learn what “nonlinear optical contrast mechanisms for high-resolution 3d imaging in biological tissue and artwork” means!

While our speakers will be indoors like always, outside there will be some real fun. Once the lightening talks are over Randy’s pizza will be served and the LondeRider beer will flow once more. Then, I get to see a miniature version of my music-in-the-field dreams come true:

Jack the Radio is playing under this tent!


We’re also going to have exhibitors from Research Triangle High School selling t-shirts made of cotton grown right here in North Carolina, NCMA will be on hand doing live screen print demos, and we’ll have Vitreous Humor Art Glass.

It’s not quite a full blow music and arts festival, but in the spirit of all things RTP, it’s our beta version of something we might like to try on a larger scale one day.

Food Truck Rodeo: Bike To Work Month Edition


May’s food truck rodeo has a special perk for those who cycle to lunch. As part of Bike to Work Month, cyclers that are spotted cruising  into the rodeo on two wheels will get special prizes, courtesy of  SmartCommute@rtp!

The following trucks are lined up to serve you goodness:

Pie Pushers
Twitter: @PiePushers

Only Burger
Twitter: @OnlyBurger

Chirba Chirba
Twitter: @ChribaChirba

Chick N Que
Twitter: @Chick_N_Que

the Parlour
Twitter: @parlourdurham

Sweet Traditions by LeAne
Twitter: @traditionssweet

Fahsyrah’s Lemonade
Twitter: @fahsyrahlemon

In the spirit of Bike to Work Month, throw on your spandex and don your helmet rather than riding in a car. If you must drive, please carpool! We’ll see you there!

Never been to a RTP Food Truck Rodeo? Check out this video from our April event!

The RTP Food Truck Rodeo is brought to you by the Research Triangle Foundation and is sponsored by RTP Company, Fidelity Investments.

Entrepreneurs. Electronics. Elevators. Expansions. Oh my.


Phew! It’s Friday. And what a week! A week filled with excitement and energy in and around the RTP and the Triangle. Bear with me as I recap… I promise, I have an important point.

  • Entrepreneurs. As many of you know, we started the week with a bang as The Blackstone Charitable Foundation committed $3.6 million in 2011 to support a dense network of entrepreneurial support in this region.
  • Electronics. The RTP community through wind rain and sun came out in force to recycle old electronics and donate reusable computers to Kramden Institute, Inc., a 501(c)(3)not-for-profit charitable institution to refurbish. Kramden then empowers hardworking, less-advantaged students in the community by giving them home computers, allowing them to bridge the digital divide and advance their achievement.
  • Elevators. Elevator pitches that is – during a 2-minute lightening round from some of the most promising start-ups and some serial entrepreneurs at the CED Venture Conference. First, can I just say the coffee at the beautiful and expansive Raleigh Convention Center rocks! And second, we’ve got some serious rock-stars in this area. Michael Capps at Epic Games. You crushed it. Ben Weinberger at Digitalsmiths. Just to name a few.
  • Expansions. I told you. It was a busy week! RTI International held a grand opening event for their gorgeous, new 127,000 square-foot LEED Silver Building (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) on its main campus in the Park. And we celebrated with nearly 300 Biogen Idec employees and partners from the RTP and from around the region and broke ground for an 180,000-square-foot LEED office building, expanding their presence in the Park. Continue reading

A Taste of South America in RTP


Spicy cheese, picadillo beef, or corn with currants stuffed inside your empanada. A side of fried plantains, a cup of gazpacho, or a bowl of steaming beans. Did someone say lunch break?

Sarah’s Empanadas has offered these tasty options – and more – for over 20 years in a bustling eatery in Greenwood Commons, a commercial center right outside of The Research Triangle Park. “Sarah’s”, as regulars affectionately call the lunch spot, is owned by Sarah – go figure – a Bolivian woman who is often seen at the restaurant eating lunch herself, surrounded by her kids and grandchildren. The place rarely has an open table for long as the hard working staff quickly juggle plates of warm empanadas to satisfy hungry RTP employees on their lunch break.

Two empanadas with rice and beans

Sarah’s is one of my top spots for grabbing lunch with colleagues and friends who work in and around the Park. The delicious food comes out fast and the staff take care of their regulars. The menu is simple, but filling. Patrons chose from a variety of empanadas and side dishes, or can order the special of the day – typically a traditional Bolivian meal with meat, rice and spices. The somewhat-sweet, homemade salsa is one of the best parts of grabbing lunch here, and is well worth the $0.50 charge for extra. They also offer authentic Bolivian juices, soups, and desserts. All at reasonable prices.

For those who prefer empanadas for dinner, Sarah’s is only open for lunch on weekdays from 11am to 2pm. But don’t worry, there is a way to enjoy those delicious half-moon pastries whenever the craving hits. Frozen empanadas are available by the dozen at the checkout counter. Don’t forget to grab a jar of salsa to go if you really want to recreate Sarah’s magic at home.