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Unsung Heroes of the Durham Innovation District and Beyond

Durham Innovation District

As recent as July 14, 2016, The News & Observer heralded the unveiling of plans for two seven-story buildings to be built downtown as part of the continued development of the Durham Innovation District. Several elements of the article captivated my attention; items that were present in the material and items that were not.

Durham Innovation District

Naturally, the article image (above, Courtesy of Duda Paine Architects), rendering the two new buildings to be named North and South and capturing the beauty of the anticipated landscape, enticed my gaze. What also intrigued my thoughts was how the post skillfully included various “making it happen” contributors, those who might be considered the “heroes” of development. In addition to Duda Paine Architects, the post included Longfellow Real Estate Partners, Measurement Inc., and Duke University. As a lessee of the new development, the article also announced Duke Clinical Research Institute. With appreciation for their contribution–and rightly so they should receive recognition–I paused.

So what elements, not included, beg for attention? Amazingly, that which the article mentions inspires a beyond the surface exploration. Look through the windows of the two office buildings. See rooms, technology space, the retail businesses, the restaurants. Did you see it? Yes, imagine the employers, employees, managers, store owners, waiters, and waitresses, and chefs diligently engaged in service in their varied workspaces. Yes, workspaces! How did those workspaces come about?

Looking Beyond

Thinking of such construction projects, we may expectedly picture the abled excavators, electricians, and plumbers, as well as those contractors handling the framing, priming, and painting. After the laying of the carpet, and perhaps while completing the landscaping, the work of the unsung heroes must take place to make the project usable. Yes, the work of the workspace movers and installers.

Top Shelf Installerz and Moverz, Inc., owned by Angelo McEachin, of Durham, NC, is one such company. It exists “to provide, through installation, moving, and general maintenance services, the perfect workspace for businesses in the hospitality, commercial and residential markets.”1 Moreover, while providing this essential service to the incoming lessees, the moving and installation industry assist in providing employment for The Bull City, even for those needing a second chance at life.

The line of products may carry the name Steelcase, Herman Mills, Knoll, Teknion, National Office Furniture, or Hon. Whatever the product, whoever the lessee, while applauding the movers and the shakers, we must sing a song in concert with the words, “Let the work begin!” Let us sing a song of gratitude for an industry that will faithfully serve as this development project closer. Let us applaud the movers and the installers serving Durham, the Triangle, and beyond.

1McEachin, Angelo. July 14, 2016, http://www.topshelfinstallerz.com/aboutus/our-purpose/

Proving Lives Matter

Lives Matter, Empowered, Dignified, Independent

Proving Lives Matter One Project at a Time

Whether the terms inspire you or offend you, the country is experiencing a division regarding the terms “Black Lives Matter” versus “All Lives Matter.” Many raise questions about the intention of the user of either term. Is anybody listening to the voices of the community? There are some who are listening; they are acting with sincere intention.

There are entrepreneurs in the community, though not as visible or verbal, who prove every day that lives matter. The often overlooked small business such as staffing companies or moving and installation companies are in the trenches supporting the community through the altruistic avenue of employment. If there is ever a way to prove that lives matter, it is to hire somebody.

Consider Jason, the day he receives his first paycheck! See him walking into the credit union to make the deposit with a pleasing smile on his face and his head slightly tilted in the “I earned this” position; the thrill of independence is all too noticeable. Day after day, he gains confidence as his work ethic and acumen in his position increase.

One community-minded entrepreneur, Angelo McEachin, owner of Topshelf Installerz and Moverz, Inc., a moving and installation company, is listening. “We take pride in our furniture technicians being courteous and well-dressed and trained to handle projects in a professional way,” he says. “The belief is that a win-win opportunity exists when our workers experience achievements that reward persistence or when the community benefits when our business is involved in a community volunteer project.”1 Such entrepreneurs are making a difference every day, project by project, in the lives of people like Jason.

The act of protest is an instrument of change; a means of bringing to the front a voice that has not yet been heard. Employment is also a tool of change; a method of creating within the heart of despair a pulse of dignity, a sense that “my life matters.”

1McEachin, Angelo. July 14, 2016, http://www.topshelfinstallerz.com/aboutus/our-purpose/