A Table in Every School

Written by Robin Minnick

Before he ever made his job-related move from New Jersey to Fayetteville, N.C. in 2009, Rich Perez was on the phone making arrangements, finding a location, securing memberships – all in order to ensure the establishment of a table tennis club; ready to have its first meeting the very week he moved in. It’s the measure of his passion for the sport.

Worldwide, table tennis is second only to soccer in popularity, as Rich is happy to tell, partly due to China’s large population and their love affair with the sport. When a Chinese youngster excels in table tennis, or another sport, their whole family’s life can change. They’re sponsored to schools specializing in the sport, and their families even receive financial support. Rich would like to see the United States follow suit – sort of. He’d like to see more support for table tennis as a national sport; he’d like to see it in every school. His love of instruction is nearly as strong as his love for table tennis.

Thursday nights at the Massey Hill Recreation Center, headquarters for the Cape Fear Table Tennis Club, can be crowded.  Usually, there are four tables set up for play, according to Rich. This night, there was an “instructional table” in the back room, as well as five tables set up for play in the main room. Rich and league coach Tony Murnahan work with three youngsters in the back.

“Hold the paddle right…if it’s too close, open it a little bit,” instructs Rich, a lilt in his voice. “Get the snap in it, too. High five!”

Tony directs 6-year-old Samuel’s returns while Sai, also 6, collects the orange ping pong balls they use. Sai keeps up a running commentary, “Surprise that ball! Kill it! Kill it! Surprise that ball!”

When 9-year-old Susanna takes over, the level of play changes. She returns the ball readily, keeping the volley going for a dozen turns. There are 10 kids training at the Club, and Rich is happy to report that Susanna is rapidly becoming a local favorite. She and Samuel are his children.

They start kids at 5 or 6, the usual age for hand-eye coordination to kick in. More important than age is the player’s ability to balance a ball on the face of the paddle. They start with trying to keep the ball on the paddle for 10 seconds, then 20, 30, 40, etc. – up to 90 seconds. The next step is being able to bounce the ball up and down with the paddle.

“Table tennis is the only sport where a 6-year-old can be competitive with an 80-year-old,” explains Richard. “It requires only reflexes, hand-eye coordination, and knowledge of the spin.”

“It’s a workout for your body and your brain,” he adds. The combined workout sends extra oxygen to the brain and even helps develop brain cells. New research shows playing ping pong can ease or delay symptoms of Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Most of us are familiar with the game; many grew up playing it. Few of us, however, take it as seriously as some of the players do here.

Cape Fear Table Tennis Club is sanctioned by the United States Association of Table Tennis (USATT). It holds three-four tournaments per year. Players work their way up the ladder via tournaments, earning ratings which are used to place them in competitions.

Rich’s main goal is to build players; whether they compete for honors, or play for fun. There’s no difference between the game referred to as ping pong and the sport of table tennis, except the degree of gravity.

“Ping pong,” reminds Rich, “is what it’s called when you’re just fooling around in the basement. If you’re serious about it, it’s table tennis.”

He’s serious enough to make his own paddle. A cheap paddle costs about $100. The materials he uses cost upwards of $250. Both sides are covered in rubber, which can run from $30-75 for each piece. The wood – bamboo, cypress, koto, or the most popular, hinoki – can cost $250 alone. The middle layers consist of a carbon fiber fabric with sponge in between. The materials makes the game more spin-based.

Table tennis is the only sport where players can compete with whatever rating they have. That is part of what led Richard to challenge himself to try out for the USATT National Team. The other, he confesses, was that it was a joke. He didn’t expect to be taken seriously, but within a short time of teasing his friends to sponsor him at a tryout in Raleigh, N.C., he had a fully-funded GoFundMe account, and a shot at the team. He entered, despite the fact that his ranking of 1,500 was 1,200 behind the national champion’s, and 600 points behind those of his direct competitors.

The March 25 trials were held in Morrisville, N.C., home to the biggest club in the nation, the Triangle Table Tennis Club; 25,000 square feet of professional, full-time playing space. The rules require a player to compete against three others to work his/her way through a match. Unfortunately, Richard was the first out.

“It’s about what I expected. My goal was to win one game, and I came close, but…” he shrugs. He’d given it a shot, and he had fun. “I got to pretend I was a pro for a day.”

Would he like to try it again? The answer is at first an uncertain “yes.” He says he’d have to start now to be in training – with a strict regimen of diet and exercise – like a boxer – if he’s going to try again. Then, he suddenly looks up – his eyes brightening – and says, “No, wait. I am. I’m going to do that.”


As a rule, ARRAY writers don’t put themselves in their stories. However, when the interview was done, Rich Perez turned the tennis tables on us and, after introducing us to proper paddle positions, he invited – well, insisted – we play a little.

It had been a long time since we played during the first years of our marriage, but it came back. Dave’s use of his left hand forced me into returning the ball with a backhand. Neither of us could figure where to stand at first, or how to serve the ball. We persevered, with Rich’s encouragement, and spent about 20 minutes volleying, dropping, fetching, and serving. Without noticing the effort, we worked up a small sweat and raised our heart rates. No wear-and-tear on the feet or spine, and a lot of laughter at ourselves.

It was definitely fun, and that was Rich’s gift to us; a gift of his passion for a sport that he simply wants to benefit everyone.

Paddle positions:

Upright on edge (or perpendicular to the table) is Neutral.

Turned slightly forward (or inward towards the center) is Closed.

Turned slightly back (or outward) is Open.

The Cape Fear Table Tennis Club,

a USATT sanctioned club meets

Mondays and Thursdays, 6:45-9:00 p.m. at

Massey Hill Recreation Center

1612 Camden Road, Fayetteville, N.C., 28306

New players of all ages are welcome.

Photos & Captions

Please credit all photos: by Dave Minnick


by Dave Minnick

  Ping Pong balls!

by Dave Minnick

  Rich Perez trains his daughter Susanna

by Dave Minnick

  Susanna Perez skillfully returning a serve

by Dave Minnick

  Sai Meka training hard

by Dave Minnick

  Rich Perez in action

by Dave Minnick

  Rich Perez practicing for a weekend tournament

by Dave Minnick

  Samuel Perez at practice

by Dave Minnick

  Rich’s latest paddle

by Dave Minnick

  A busy night with the Cape Fear Table Tennis Club at the Massey Hill Recreation Center

by Dave Minnick

  Rich Perez


E.J Snyder Doc – SNS

Written by Olivia Burke

            E.J. “Skull Crusher” Snyder is a U.S. Army veteran, extreme survivalist, motivational speaker, and an all-around loveable guy.  He is best known for his survival success on the Discovery Channel’s, “Naked and Afraid,” and is the only man who has completed the challenge three times! E.J. is also the host of, “Dual Survival” – a show that follows him and Jeff Zausch as they take on the world’s most wild and unforgiving places.

E.J. learned his survival and outdoor skills from the formal training he received in the U.S. Army. He also honed his skills through being a survival instructor for 20 years; it’s what led to him dedicating his life to becoming the best survivalist he can be.

In addition to having these impressive qualifications and skills, E.J. is also a husband, and a father of two. I sat down with E.J. and talked with him about his career, upbringing, life advice, and more!

Can you tell me a bit about your life, what you do, and how you got into it?

“I joined the army after I grew up in North Jersey. My parents divorced when I was very young. Joining the army was probably the best thing for me. I spent 25 years in the Army. I saw combat in the Gulf War in ‘91, and in Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005. When I retired from the Army, I went into being a survival instructor for the United States Army as a contractor for about six years.

My dream as a child was to be an actor and a stuntman. My mother didn’t support my choice. She thought I’d starve and wouldn’t make it. Right before I retired from the Army, I started doing TV; different things – producing, independent films, acting, stunt work, and trying to figure out how to be a military tech advisor – a new career from the Army. I moved here (Fayetteville) with my family. My wife’s folks retired here at Fort Bragg – this was my first duty station. Her mother got sick, so we moved back here. That’s when I found work as a survival instructor – my two worlds collided.

Discovery channel happened to find me. They recruited me for a show called, ‘Dual Survival,’ where I was to be the replacement for the host. They ended up picking another guy over me. I wound up going on a show called, ‘72 Hours.’ When I came out of that race, we didn’t find the money, but I got a phone call from Discovery saying that they had a brand-new show called, ‘Survival’. I had no idea about the naked part.”

How do you teach the lessons you’ve learned to your family, kids, etc.?

“I’m a people-watcher, so what I’ve learned through the military was by watching these leaders. What I’d witness in their leadership, I’d adapt the good stuff into mine. You can lead in three ways: first is by example. I tell [people] to watch me, then mimic what I do, emulate it, and when we’re sitting down at dinner having a beer, ask questions.

I’m bound by God to help anyone who asks for it – I believe that firmly. If they’re open to receiving that message, and applying it, I just ask that they repeat that – give it to somebody else. You can do it by example, your own mentoring, teaching, and ask others to do the same. The other way I do it is by [motivational] speaking.”

Do you ever talk about politics or faith on your platform?

“I speak about faith all the time. I’m a Christian and I hear God’s voice loudest in the wilderness. I don’t like the bonds of rules – church should be happening wherever. I can disciple to people in a way they don’t even know, because they don’t see it coming. I don’t have to mention God’s name, but I give glory to God all the time. For me, I’m very spiritual. I’m not confined to a church, although I find it to be very awesome. I see God in people, and in the birds that sing in my backyard; that’s where I really connect to God.”

Can you tell me about your family?

I have a wife. We’ll be married for 25 years in a couple weeks. We’ve been roller-coastered, but we love and stay true to each other. I value her and thank God every day that she’s in my life, because I’d be lost without her. I have two kids; a 22-year-old son and an 18-year-old daughter. They’re two of the greatest gifts in my life. They’re so kind, mature, and helpful. They’ve been very supportive of my dreams. “

How do you balance the things you do work-wise with the things you do with your family?

“I’m always working, so I learn lessons, and pass them along – that’s my gift back to everybody. When I come home, I take my phone and put it in a basket (I’ll go back every now and then and check it to see if I get an email or something). I do that as a symbol of how I’m not at work anymore – I’m home. I make sure that when we’re together, we plan fun events. It’s quality over quantity.

What’s your favorite thing about your current situation?

            “Inspiring people – especially kids. If I make a positive impact on at least one person, that’s a win. Knowing I helped somebody in this world – that’s my favorite thing about it all, because that’s why I’m here. To me, that’s very fulfilling.”

The Sculpture Culture comes to Fayetteville – Part 6

Written by Stone Samuels

We are flying through 2017, and June is already here. Summer is upon us, and that means that the number of sculptures is getting smaller and smaller. When we started this project, it was clear that there was much to be learned from; about both the sculptures and their artists. As the writer of these articles, the knowledge that I’ve been gained has been invaluable, in putting together my research for these articles.

The success of these sculptures should draw other types of artists who work in different mediums. Hopefully, this will prompt The Arts Council of Fayetteville to expand, and to bring more projects to the downtown area, which is ever-expanding.

We are once again showcasing the work of sculptor, Rob Lorenson. Having a chance to see his work up close and personal has made this writer go even deeper into researching his work, and I have to say that I am truly impressed with his work. His work will talk to you and have you trying to figure out, “What was he thinking?” At least, that is what it does for me.

Come to the downtown area, have some lunch, take a walk around, and enjoy the sights of these amazing sculptures. Give yourself a chance to expand your mental palate, and add to your plate of knowledge. You will not regret the experience. If nothing else, it will give you another topic for dinner conversation.

Coming downtown and viewing the sculptures can also give us an opportunity to cultivate new acquaintances, and even new friendships. These sculptures, in their own way, can help to bring people from different walks of life together on something to talk about, and that just brings us all one step closer.

Rob Lorenson –“Tall Trikaya”

Rob Lorenson is a very accomplished sculptor that has a lot of different works; many in different galleries and exhibits all over the country. He is a very well-educated and talented man, who has his beautiful works in over 200 various collections; both private and public. His work varies in size; from small table top pieces, to full large-scale sculptures. Rob earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Northern Iowa at Cedar Falls, and he earned his Masters of Fine Arts from Northern Illinois University at DeKalb.

He lives and works in southeastern Massachusetts. He has been a Professor of Sculpture at Bridgewater State University, and has been teaching sculpture to students, since 1999. Effectively, what Lorenson has done over his career as an educator, and as an artist sculptor, is to give lovely pieces of art to the world. Also, he has passed on the tools for many young artists to carry one artist’s view of the art world into the future. These young students must be in awe – learning how to sculpt from such an accomplished sculptor.

Looking at his sculptures, you can see the meticulous work and long hours spent refining each little detail. The “Tall Trikaya” sculpture seems to be suspended in time. You get the illusion of pieces of the sculpture are being suspended in the air. The yellow-painted aluminum stands out because of its shape and size. If you want to get the full effect, you should look at the sculpture from a variety of different angles. When you look at Rob’s body of work, you can see a theme to it, but in the same sense, they are all different.

If you are an artistic individual, you can get a sense of who Lorenson is as a sculptor, or if you are just the casual viewer, you can see that this very talented man is a rock star in the art world. Do yourself a favor and come downtown, and take a very long gander at this wonderful sculpture. “Tall Trikaya” is on the corner of Rowan and Green Street.

Natasha Williams: A Bright Star

Written by Amy Garner

Natasha Williams is bigger than life—her presence brightens up the entire room.

She was in town briefly recently, and we got together to chat and take a few pictures. We met up at the ARRAY office at Revolutionary Coworking, and she quickly morphed from your standard running-errands-attire of sneakers, khakis and T-shirt into this amazing figure-gripping black-and-white symmetrical dress, killer heels and perfect lipstick. Perfect, ya hear me? Her personality revealed itself in the confident strength of her posture and the lift of her chin. Before she even said a word, I knew she was poised and articulate. She wore it in her face and her walk.

Now a New York-based actor, Natasha is a Fayetteville girl, born and raised. She is known for her work on “A Log Story,” “The Big Shot-Caller,” “30 Rock,” “My Parents Are Crazier than Yours,” “The Delivery Man” with Vince Vaughn and “Orange is the New Black.” A1989 Cape Fear High School graduate, she went on to earn her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

University North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Natasha got her first big break in a national tour of the Broadway musical “Once on This Island.” That role led to a part in a European revue tour called “The Sound of Motown.” She has also appeared in commercials for Publix Super Markets, Bojangles’, Popeyes and H&R Block, among others. Her biggest spot yet was a national American Express commercial for Blue Cash titled “Salad Bargaining” in which she is featured as a flight attendant serving Tina Fey.

Natasha maintains ties to Fayetteville and is a member of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber, The Arts Council of Fayetteville, and Group Theory, Inc., a community-based organization where she recently participated in a school backpack giveaway program that is held annually. “That project means a lot to me. I feel like we are really helping to line local students up for success,” she says. “And that is very important in this community and in others all over the country. We need to share our resources and make sure our young people have all the tools necessary to go as far as they possibly can.”

Natasha appeared at FSU’s Fine Arts Week in April and presented her signature workshop “What’s Next and How Can We Help.” Sponsored by FSU’s theatre program, Natasha stressed career pathways in theatre, TV, film and commercials. “I approached this visit to FSU and to Fayetteville in a very personal way. Fayetteville is my home and I feel very bonded with the people who live here,” she says. “I wanted to make sure that my message gave FSU students a very clear message about working in the industry and building a career.”

I welcome your feedback and suggestions. You can reach me at arrayadventures@gmail.com

New Fayetteville Chamber ‘Shoots Straight’

Written by Robin Minnick

On March 24, the Greater Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce announced a new CEO and president would be taking position in April. Once Christine Michaels has completed her move from Florida to Fayetteville, she will step into her new role heading up the Chamber.

While she brings nearly 20 years’ experience of association management with further background in communications economic development, and government relations, one of the most important assets she brings to Fayetteville is prior experience with three chambers associated with a strong military presence. She comes here from the Greater Brandon Florida Chamber, which supports MacDill Air Force Base, but she has also served at the Melbourne Regional Chamber of East Central Florida, and the Alexandria, Va., chamber. Her experience in these locations make her uniquely qualified to lead the Greater Fayetteville Chamber.

Ms. Michaels generously made time during her busy moving process to answer a few of ARRAY’s questions.

ARRAY: What do you see as essential to helping the two communities, civilian and military, work together as self-sufficient partners to mutual benefit?

Ms. Michaels: I think open communication is essential to a strong working relationship between the military and the business/civilian world. I have found the relationship becomes strongest when the military is kept aware of community efforts to support their personnel, and finds a welcoming environment such as Fayetteville. And likewise, when members of a military installation serve side by side with community groups and offer briefings and ways for non-military to become involved, as is most welcome!

ARRAY: You have noted elsewhere that when you became head of the Greater Brandon Florida Chamber, you “reorganized everything.” From what you’ve seen so far, do you think you will need to do that here?

Ms. Michaels: I have been very impressed with the direction of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber. I think we are in a growth mode, and ready to work closely with other organizations in the community. I also think that we are returning to our roots, that is our members, and will be offering programs to help them succeed in business. I see myself as someone who can bring best practices, experience and new ideas to a chamber that is ready to be active!

ARRAY: In a quote to the Chamber, you mentioned being impressed by their enthusiasm and determination to move forward. What else do you see that our city has going for it, in terms of the future?

Ms. Michaels: I was recently told that there are states who do not have the benefit of having a community as large as Fayetteville to call their own. The sheer size of the city, county and surrounding areas and the constant influx from the post make this a vibrant area. The cultural offerings, festivals and events, the Crown Complex, the new baseball stadium, Civil War museum and other resources which are planned will add to the area’s “destination” appeal. More importantly, it seems as though the people and community leaders want the city to be a leader in the state and to be prosperous and thrive. It’s usually attitude and determination which can overcome any challenges to get there.

The mission of the Greater Fayetteville Chamber is to “be a catalyst in growing a healthy business community through its advocacy of business friendly public policy, the fostering of diverse innovative business initiatives, through strong collaborative partnerships and delivering valuable programs and services to our members.” As the transition begins and interim CEO Darsweil Rogers steps back, the question arises: How will this change affect the Chamber’s mission?

Along with her experience with other chambers, Ms. Michaels brings ideas from the national association and her colleagues, as well as best practices. She says, “I think our membership will be pleased once I am able to get feedback and assess what our members really want and need.”

Michaels sees her previous work at the regional level as valuable in helping the Fayetteville Chamber increase its role as advocate and leader in the dialogue between other community organizations and individuals to help bring them together in pursuit of common goals.

“I look forward to getting to know the entities and people in the Cumberland County/Fayetteville area so that we can find our common ground,” she says.

Currently Ms. Michaels is busy with the herculean task of packing up to move and finding a new home. Eventually she will be joined in Fayetteville by her nonagenarian mother and the four-legged portion of her household. Ms. Michaels is actively involved in animal rescue work. She has mostly cats right now, but she’s taken in dogs and farm animals, too. It’s been her passion for many years. History, the arts, and gardening are among her other interests. That’s good, because there’s a wealth of all of that here.

And she’s ready for it. “I hope to engage in local groups as soon as I get acclimatized,” she says.

Ms. Michaels paints a refreshing picture of a city leader who is accessible, involved, enthusiastic, and eager to engage. Her background cites tested and proven ability, and it includes experience uniquely pertinent to Fayetteville’s needs. Her “final answer” highlights what she is offering our city.

ARRAY: Finally, what do you see as your personal strengths, both as a person and as our new Chamber of Commerce CEO?

Ms. Michaels: I am by nature a humble person, but if pressed to give my strengths I’d say they include being both a big idea person but also being practical enough to chart a course to make that idea a reality; and I am a patriotic and loyal person who sets high ethical standards; and I am a “straight shooter.”

Seems right on target.


The Sculpture Culture Comes to Fayetteville Part 5

Written by Stone Samuels

Wow! It looks like time is truly flying this year because here we are again and it is already May. We are already almost half way through 2017 and we are featuring our fifth sculpture in our series of ten. This month we will be featuring the work of Sculptor, Painter and Illustrator Charles Pilkey and a piece named “The Tree of Good and Evil”.

This sculpture stands at ten feet, with highly detailed elements welded all around the tree. He doesn’t stop there – the metal is painted. This work was inspired by a parable in Old Testament in the book of Genesis. It is a metaphor for man’s strange relationship with technology.

Brilliant is a word that does not give complete credit to what this journalist sees in this wonderful work. It is complicated and whimsical all in one. Having looked at, studied and photographed this piece of art from every conceivable angle it is still very hard to describe what is being seen in front of my eyes.
It is located at the back of the Arts Council building on Maxwell St. in the parking lot. The way in which the sculpture is situated,  the viewer can look from variety of different angles to give yourself the best chance of coming up with your very own description or analysis of what you are looking upon.

Warmer weather and larger groups of people making their way to the downtown area is helping to improve the downtown scene. One of the coolest aspects of going downtown is that there are a lot more young people, making the area more vibrant. They are getting the opportunity to see great works of art that they might never get to see any other place around the world.

Charles Pilkey

The Tree of Good and Evil

Charles Pilkey grew up in the Piedmont area of North Carolina. Married with one son and three cats, he makes his home not far from Charlotte, in a town called Mint Hill. Charles is a educated man who was not always a sculptor – in fact, he graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a Bachelors of Science in Geology in 1978.

That is a long way from sculpting.

However, he also holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from East Carolina University, an Masters of Fine Arts degree from University of Missouri, and MLT ASCP from Central Piedmont Community College. He is a learned and diverse individual with a multitude of skills and creative energy that translates into amazing works of art.

He also taught Stone carving and welding classes at Kyushu Sangyo University in Fukuoka, Japan from 1998 to 2005. He lived in Japan for about 15 years. He has also been doing Freelance Scientific Illustrations since 1994. During his time teaching he must have had a lot of influence on young artists. Pilkey has been part of 10 international sculpture symposia. Pilkey works in steel, bronze, stone and terracotta. His works can be seen on campuses, in parks, museums and in other public spaces. He has works displayed in China, Italy, Japan, Korea and Turkey. He also has pieces displayed in the United States.

Looking back at the “Tree of Good and Evil” there is a lot of thought and creativity put into this piece. There are many people out there that should be very happy at his accomplishments. It has been a pleasure covering this exceptional piece of art.

The city of Fayetteville and the Arts Council are showing the citizens that they are committed to bringing new and different exhibits to town, in the ever-changing scenery of the art world.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Sculpture Culture where we will continue to bring you another piece of this amazing art.

The Sculpture Culture comes to Fayetteville Part 3

The Sculpture Culture comes to Fayetteville Part 3
Written by Stone Samuels


Well, here we are already on our third installment of the Sculpture Culture and all of the interest that they have garnered in the short time that they have been in the area. In my estimation, the sculptures have been drawing more and more people to the downtown area.

Bob Doster - Falling LeavesOver the years drawing folks to the downtown area has always been a challenge, but that has been changing over time with new businesses coming to the area. The downtown area has been growing, and as a result more people and businesses are looking to move to the area. Fayetteville downtown is not the same as it was when I was a young soldier stationed at Fort Bragg.

The Fayetteville Arts Council (Work in Progress Initiative) has given this journalist and photographer a chance to gain some valuable knowledge about a very different facet of the art world. It has been a very nice learning experience, something that I am always looking to find.

Having the sculptures in the immediate downtown area is helping to bring more and more people out to check out tremendous pieces of art. Looking at each sculpture, you get a different story from each piece of art and another story from the mind of the sculptor.

These amazing sculptures vary so much in the way they are done and it would be incredible to be inside the head of one or all of the sculptors as he/she as they are coming up with their concepts. That would make them even more incredible to behold.

This month we will be focusing on a flowing piece sitting on Hay Street near the Wine Café. The name of the sculpture is “Falling Leaves”; sculpted by internationally known sculptor Bob Doster, this brilliant work of art is made from Corten Steel.

Just imagine – sitting outside of the Wine Café having a glass of wine with a friend and discussing the merits of this piece. It does not get much better than that: being able to sit outside and view it in this beautiful weather only adds to the allure of this beautiful sculpture.

Bob Doster - Falling LeavesBob Doster
Falling Leaves

Life-long South Carolina resident Bob Doster has been an artist for more than fifty years. He is an internationally acclaimed and award winning artist. He is also the owner (since 1977) of Backstreet Studio in Lancaster, SC, and operated by Bob and his wife, Cherry Doster. Bob has artwork in many different venues around the world: museums, galleries, parks, corporates offices, and both public and private collections.

Mr. Doster is heavily involved in the art world. His Avant Garde Art Center is a non-profit that helps out in the community with all types of programs including Summer camps, Concerts, Youth work study, Mask-making, Soles for Souls and so many more. He is a known entity in his community and far beyond, having been featured in magazines and newspapers all over the country.

Bob was educated at both the University of South Carolina and at Clemson University, holding art degrees from both universities. He has worked with more than 150,000 students of all ages and backgrounds; when you think about the amount of students that he has come in contact with, the numbers are quite overwhelming, but these associations will reach far into the future. His influences could usher in the next Auguste Rodin of Paris or Donatello of Florence, Italy.

Bob has sculptures that are very playful and some that are truly complex. In either case you will find something that will catch your eye.

Having found such an internationally known sculptor that is virtually right next door has been real eye-opening experience because you do not get to see the work of someone with such an impressive body of work both as a sculptor and as a scholar in small-town America. We are glad that one of Mr. Doster’s fine works of art is gracing the downtown area of our fine city.

Next month we will be continuing with our series with our next sculpture. Stay tuned for another amazing piece of art.

The Sculpture Culture Comes to Fayetteville Part 4

The Sculpture Culture comes to Fayetteville Part 4
Written by Stone Samuels

Look how time flies – here it is almost springtime (with all of the crazy weather changes from day-to-day). We are already on our fourth installment of the Sculpture Culture. In this month’s installment we will be again featuring the work of Jonathan Stivers Bowling. We will be looking at his “Giraffe”, which has been placed at the front of the Fayetteville City Hall. This “Giraffe” is the epitome of creation meeting imagination.

When you get close to this amazing sculpture, just the sheer size of it will make you want to look even closer. As in all of Mr. Bowling’s works, there is great attention paid to the details; from the overall look to the materials used to bring it to life. This piece will speak to you because looking at it will move your mind to the real animal. When you glance down and see the wheels it, however, it also takes you in a completely different direction.

If you speak with Jonathan about his love of what he does, you could truly see why his work is so amazing.  You can see it in his eyes as he talks: there is passion in his words and that passion translates into beautiful creatures that are made of metal. He has great vision in his approach as to how that he will create each piece.

Having a chance to write and photograph these wonderful pieces of art has given this writer a unique perspective and appreciation of the artists and of their work. They put their hearts into it, and they deserve all of the benefits and accolades that they receive from the public and from the art world.

This is just the first quarter of 2017 and we have so far to go. Keep yourself entertained by continuing to support the artists by viewing their wonderful pieces. Follow their stories and you never know, it might entice you to bring out the inner artist in you.

Jonathan Bowling

Jonathan Stivers Bowling is a sculptor and collector who lives in Greenville, NC.  He primarily uses old pieces of scrap metal (rail spikes, metal from old cars, forks, and knives and such) that he turns into beautiful works of animal art. If you ride through Greenville you just know that you are in the right spot, because you can see his sculptures all over town.

Jonathan is also a collector of art, so he also has an eye for the work of other artists of all kinds. From one artist to another, appreciation of a peer’s work is one of the greatest things one artist can do for another.

Like many artists, Jonathan used to do different types of abstract art, something that, over the years, he has gradually moved away from. He wants his art to touch people in a way that moves them and gives the viewer something that they can relate to, reactions that abstract art often does not generate. Bowling studied Sculpture at the University of Kentucky where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts and also received a Bachelor of Arts in Art History. He would pursue his graduate degree in Fine Art at East Carolina University.

He grew up in Kentucky on a cattle farm, and has been working in different mediums of art since childhood. His education and his experiences on the farm help feed his passion for what he creates as an artist – and has produced some great artwork.

The city of Fayetteville and the Arts Council are showing the citizens that they are committed to bringing new and different exhibits to Fayetteville in the ever-changing scenery of the art world.

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Sculpture Culture, where we will continue to bring you another piece of this amazing art.

First Couple of Spring Lake

Where Love Meets Politics: The First Couple of Spring Lake
Written by Robin Minnick


Love languages. What a strange topic for discussion with a politician.

But then, Chris V. Rey is not your standard politician. Mayor of Spring Lake since first elected in 2011, Chris divides his time among family, public service, and directing his non-profit, Cumberland HealthNET. To do so, he’s become fluent in love languages, those means of communicating love identified by Dr. Gary Chapman of Winston-Salem, NC.

The subject arose as Chris was talking about the intentional means they use to raise their children.

“When you’re part of a blended family, there’s things that put you in that space,” he says. “The dynamics can be positive or negative. The way we are with each other will affect how our kids’ views of relationships develop.”

QUALITY TIME: Giving your undivided attention.

Chris’s relationship with his oldest son began when he learned of the child’s existence when he was about two-and-a-half. From that point on Chris made an effort to put himself in his son’s life. Jonathan is sixteen now, and a great athlete, as well someone who thinks deeply about life and service. Chris says, “I can see him thinking through the problems that plague people.”

His daughter Caroline, even at twelve, seems ready to take up causes. She’s already run a lemonade stand and donated the proceeds to the local animal shelter for medical supplies. She’s volunteered there, too.

Chris’s overall philosophy is simple: “I can never say I love you enough.”

All men are different, he says, dependent on how they themselves were raised. Because Chris makes an effort to know what love language speaks to his son, Jonathan knows he’s loved no matter where he is. All their children do. Through the time spent with them and the gifts and hugs at times of celebration, they know they are loved.

Adwoa Rey has a Masters in Divinity from Howard and is now working on a Ph.D. in Human Behavior so that she has the proper training for what she wants to do. She believes as strongly as Chris in the purposeful, intentional raising of children. This all feeds into how they handle their lives and relationships. They call and they text their kids, and whenever they can, “provide the best experience we can while they’re with us.”

“A lot of folks, when they see the final picture of us,” says Chris, “they see the ‘final product,’ they think ‘that’s what I want…’ We made cognizant choices in our lives to make this picture what it is.” He adds, “There are tools out there to make this work.” They’re not trying to be perfect, just doing the best they can.

PHYSICAL TOUCHING: Nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.

It may go without saying, but in a family, touch plays in important part in communicating love. Photographs of the Reys illustrates this – the arm around a daughter here, husband and wife drawn close there, the little ones snuggled on the lap.

People naturally do these sorts of things, and they are a part of the Rey family life. But, first, they were applied to the relationship between Chris and Adwoa.

They met at what Chris describes as “a very interesting time in my life.” He was going through a difficult divorce, essentially at a very low point. “It’s amazing how you view yourself,” he says. “I wondered, why would anyone want to be with somebody like me?” He had two children, and he didn’t have his life together.

They met at a Democratic caucus retreat in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was interning with Congressman John Lewis of Georgia, and she – Adwoa Ansah – was with Congressman John Larson of Connecticut. She had been to this sort of thing before, but it was Chris’s first event.

When she entered the room, he thought, “Wow, who’s that?”

He had no courage to speak to her. She was sophisticated. She was like a light in the room, stopping at nearly every cluster of people she passed to speak to someone. Gradually she made her way to him – because he was the only one in the room she did not know. They made small talk, then she said, “Well, I’m getting ready to go back to DC. My Sabbath is getting ready to start.”

There’s wonder in his voice. “It was a unique connecting point. This was a Friday night. We were both Seventh Day Adventists.”

They exchanged numbers and agreed to stay in touch. That was as far as they could commit.

She was a woman of faith and dating someone else. He knew he wasn’t ready for another serious relationship. So this became a comfortable one. Then he left Capitol Hill to go to law school at William and Mary in Willamsburg, Virginia.

Their friendship continued to grow.

She started a group on Capitol Hill called Women of Praise – offering women an opportunity to pray in conference calls – to help with the challenges of working in that environment and with those tasks that needed doing daily.

It was this kind of thing and the constancy in their relationship that let Chris know what kind of woman she was; she was the real deal.

She stayed in D.C. until he proposed.

The incongruity of the circumstances did not escape her. She’d never planned to live in the South or to marry a military man, yet here was Chris, proposing to her in Veteran’s Park in Fayetteville.

He took her for a quiet afternoon at the park, strolling from monument to monument, reading the plaques and exploring how the topic written about on each one related to serving not only country, but people, especially one another. He’d hired local jazz musician Reggie Codrington and his band to play in the park. Adwoa didn’t know that wasn’t a normal part of things.

At last they reached the final monument, which ‘happened’ to be right next to where he’d asked the musicians to set up. This plaque’s topic was ‘Commitment.’ To the background of jazz, he got down on one knee and proposed to her, on her birthday.

Beyond her surprise and her answer and her excitement, she tried to call her family, but no one answered. So Chris took her to see his family, Adwoa still calling and still no one answering.

Once at his house, his family greeted them in the living room and congratulated them. Then her mom and her sister walked in. Chris had brought them to Fayetteville for her.

In August of 2012 the couple was married at Cape Fear Botanical Garden, catered by a company out of Pinehurst. It was a small ceremony with only a hundred guests — fifty of the most important people in each of their lives. His son was best man, his daughter flower girl.

“It was just amazing.” And then he confides that despite not being ready, he knew when he met Adwoa Ansah, “This was the person I was supposed to marry.”

RECEIVING GIFTS: Gifts make some people feel most loved.

This was an easy language to learn. Every family celebrates, and gifts are part of family celebrations. Everyone feels loved when gifts are involved.

WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: using words to affirm others.

These – along with handshakes, high fives, and pats on the back – often go to the people Chris works with at HealthNET or through the Mayor’s office.

On the Mayor’s facebook page, he commends Spring Lake citizens for donating two thousand hours to examining and straightening out information from a recent audit. He expressed pride in his friend and new District Court Judge, Tiffany Whitfield, on the day she was sworn in as the newest Cumberland County District Court Judge. He publicly thanked his HealthNET staff for participating in the 22 Push-up Challenge to bring awareness to the 22 veterans that commit suicide every day. He has congratulated children’s sports teams for their success and praised others who have worked hard to achieve goals and contribute. Such words go a long way to make people feel appreciated and loved, and employing them shows great consideration for those he cares about.

ACTS OF SERVICE: Actions speak louder than words.

This, for Chris Rey, is at the core of his being. It is what he does, what he advocates, and what he models for his children.

“I was born to serve,” he says frequently, and his family in his decisions understand that this is what he does and who he is. They benefit from his acts of service directly to them, and they benefit in that, by seeing what he does, it affirms in them the same urge they feel to serve.

Dealing with change

The country has completed a contentious election during which both sides were guilty of extreme rhetoric, insults, and varying amounts of fearmongering. The resulting administration is of an opposing party, with very different ideas about governing and what is right for America than many Democrats. Chris Rey is a black Democratic mayor of a town in North Carolina that has its own share of diversity. He runs a non-profit that finds insurance resources for those who don’t have them. What is it like for Chris as mayor? How does he navigate the next four years?

He chuckles a little before answering. “I’ve learned that a lot of folks in DC don’t really know how Main Street works.”

A lot of what they decide there, says Chris, will not affect that fact that he has to meet the daily needs for street and traffic lights and trash pickup and services in the community. Banking and regulatory issues, however, can affect the lending ability of financial institutions – who lend money to the developers who then spark how the city grows. How Washington’s actions affects the entrepreneurs will affect what Spring Lake’s mayor needs to do. If the entrepreneurs are set, Chris can do what he needs regardless of the positioning and rhetoric going on in Washington.

Finally, Republicans say they’re going to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Does he find that threatening?

“What is important,” he says, “is what it is replaced with, that it not take away that under the current law; we’ve added 20 million people receiving coverage. They must keep it, and it needs to expand.”

It’s essentially a waiting game. He will keep on doing what he’s doing in health care until the environment changes, and then he will adjust course to keep on serving the people of Spring Lake and the people HealthNET assists.

Of all Chris Rey has done, he is proudest of having served his country. He makes no bones about saying so. Still, he mainly looks to the future. His own words, shared on his Facebook page, describe his outlook and his wishes for others best.

“I am a dad, I am a husband, I am a son and brother. I am a veteran, I am a mayor, I am a professor, I am lawyer, I am tech guy. I am a executive director, I am a lover of people, I am a friend, I am a sigma. I am a motivational speaker, I am a believer.

“Don’t let folks limit who you are and what you can be. Let 2017 be your year to know who you are. I am just getting started.”

Love Languages are those means of communicating love as identified by Dr. Gary Chapman of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC. Generally spoken of in reference to romantic love, these languages can have multiple applications. People can use more than one, although often they have a favorite. Chapman identified five distinct love languages: quality time, physical touch, words of affirmation, giving/receiving gifts, and acts of service.

  • QUALITY TIME: This language is all about giving the other person your undivided attention.
  • PHYSICAL TOUCHING: To this person, nothing speaks more deeply than appropriate touch.
  • RECEIVING GIFTS: For some people, what makes them feel most loved is to receive a gift.
  • WORDS OF AFFIRMATION: This language uses words to affirm other people
  • ACTS OF SERVICE: For these people, actions speak louder than words.

Please credit all photos: Courtesy of the Rey family.

Photo id Caption
Image-1.png The Engagement Photo
Image-5.png Celebrating birthday with his girls
Image1.png Jonathan, Chris Rey, Eva, Adwoa, and Caroline
Image2.png Chris and Adwoa with their youngest, Eva and Ethan
Image3.png Mayor Chris and wife Adwoa at a civic event
Image4.png Fun with kids from the community
Image6.png The election night Chris Rey became mayor
Image7.png Shooting a commercial for a local jeweler
Image8.png Hanging out at Camp David


Coworking Revolutionizes Fayetteville through Friendship

Coworking is good for anyone who needs space to work. Not only can you be around other people who are working, but it is affordable, efficient and shrinks the carbon footprint. It does a lot of good things.

“But for me,” says Dalton Carter, a founder of Fayetteville Coworking, “the word ‘coworking’ is a trendy, new buzz word. I have been coworking for years – we just never called it that. I am a home-base business guy and I do not need that overhead. But I do need reliable internet service, a comfortable chair, good coffee and a little table. And most importantly, I need to network and meet people. I need to connect. I work better around other people who are working with good energy,” Dalton Carter explained.

Dalton has helped to organized Fayetteville Coworking, a local, fluid group of people that work independently in common spaces, for almost two years. Through this group, Dalton met Hanah Ehrenreich.

Hanah’s personality and excitement for coworking literally bursts from her face. As she is talking, she is glowing with excitement. Like Dalton, I asked her how she got into coworking. She shared a story about a fellow military spouse, Kelly Weatherby-Pennisi, who relocated to Fayetteville and worked remotely for a large non-profit organization.

Kelly never saw Fayetteville. She only saw the walls of her home and the inside of her gym. She needed a quiet work space but also really needed to be around other professionals, but ended up leaving Fayetteville feeling like she had just escaped a prison. Kelly’s experience inspired Hanah.

Hanah also runs Sustainable Sandhills, an environmental non-profit where 98% of the staff are transitioning military and/or spouses of same. She goes on to describe that her experience there, Kelly’s experience of isolation and Dalton’s support of networking and sharing space led to establishing Revolutionary Coworking.

Dalton and Hanah put their heads together and decided to revolutionize the Fayetteville coworking scene. They felt like Fayetteville needed a non-profit coworking space model. They discussed what that would look like, who would be involved, who would be served.  Hanah shared that they felt that coworking “created a community and a gateway that can be pulled together now, more closely, with Revolutionary Coworking.  There is a wonderful, established business community here in Fayetteville. But if you are a newcomer or just starting a new business, it takes a lot of effort to get into that circle.

Revolutionary Coworking provides you an entry point. Historically, this has been missing. “There is a sweet spot that is missing for professionals. There is a shortage of quality, affordable conference spaces in this area and we want to address that need also.” Revolutionary Coworking will provide an actual building for professionals, students and creators who need somewhere to spread out and work but within a relaxed environment, surrounded by other working people. For the work-from-home person, this model provides often needed discipline and routine. It also offers high-speed internet, a quiet space with fewer distractions and a “good vibe”.

Hanah is also very focused on bringing growth to the downtown area. “We have a beautiful downtown area that is underused. Everyone will tell you so…the shopkeepers, the restaurant owners, the Chamber, city officials. We need more workers here. For us it was a no-brainer where Revolutionary Coworking would be located and it had to be Downtown. We found a beautiful space in the Self Help building and it was perfect to serve this community. We will have a classy space, where you can bring someone and have meetings and conference calls and work in a fabulous atmosphere.”

Memberships are now on sale for Revolutionary Coworking. You can purchase different tiers of membership, similar to gym memberships.  The basic membership, with access to common areas and high speed internet is $99/month. Ramp it up to your own desk for $125/month. Private office memberships and 24-hour access fees start at $400/month.

There are other options to use common areas. Transitioning military, military spouses and military entrepreneurs will be eligible for discounted rates.  You will be able to utilize common areas, large and small conference rooms, individual and group offices and other amenities that you would find in a traditional office environment. Revolutionary Coworking is going live between January 15 and February 15.

Hanah, along with Dalton and Kelly’s influence, will continue to guide the focus of Revolutionary Coworking. “Anytime I work in a shared space, I want to be comfortable. I don’t want to be distracted by the temperature in the room, poor wifi signal or loud socializing. I like everything to be right. I also like meeting new people and bouncing ideas off new people. I enjoy introducing people to the coworking concept and seeing how they respond to this type of experience.”

Hanah also lights up towards the end of our interview. “Our goal for this space, for this community partnership, is to be visible and accessible, while offering a green business, taking into account energy efficiency, air quality and good sustainable ethos. We want to inspire other businesses and each other.”

To inquire about memberships, visit revolutionarycoworking.com. Revolutionary Coworking is located at 100 Hay Street, 6th Floor.