Like many American cities, Durham, N.C. has been turning once-abandoned factories into tech hubs and microbreweries. Over the decades, it has also been building a shared commitment to the poor, the disenfranchised, and people of color. Barry Yeoman, a veteran journalist who has lived in and loved Durham since 1985, digs into the city’s soul. And he discovers an architecture underneath this community with some unusual layers.
Every few years, discussions about using straw as a building material, in bale form, come up again. Now, as our environmental challenges mount—from wildfires to hurricanes—straw bales seem to offer an answer to a good many of them. As we step into October, and the one-year anniversary of Northern California’s first wave of historic fires, it’s time to ask: Has the straw bale’s time finally come?