Though they come from different walks of life, the instructors at Happymess Art Studio find common ground in their passion for artistic expression. They harness their diversity and devotion in the studio, which offers an eclectic assortment of art classes week after week. Happymess is not just painting?its schedule features watercolor classes, drawing classes, and a "Paint Like" series, where you can absorb the ideas of iconic artists by studying their stylistic approaches and grocery receipts.
Outside the studio, the Happymess instructors work their magic in the community aboard the Happymessenger art bus, a mobile art experience that partners with local art groups, schools, and organizations.
Part of the North Carolina Railway Museum, the New Hope Valley Railway shepherds passengers through pine forest aboard vintage diesel and steam-engine trains. Covered cars protect riders from the elements, while a historic open-air caboose allows them to recline in locomotive fashion as they enjoy the shade of the woods, the breeze of the wind, and the harmonious serenade of local wildlife choirs. Trains depart from and return to Bonsal Depot, where a gift shop awaits filled with keepsake merchandise and a display track showcases vintage railroad equipment.
Free to the public, the North Carolina Railway Museum houses historic railway artifacts including vintage trains from builders such as Vulcan Iron Works and General Electric. On select Saturdays and Sundays, the Railway lets passengers take control of diesel-electric or steam-engine trains to experience firsthand life as a conductor.
Richard Petty was a race car driver for more than 30 years, an epic career that earned him the nickname "The King" and a slot in NASCAR's Hall of Fame. His last race was in 1991, and he's now happily retired. But at Richard Petty Driving Experience, civilians can re-create his glory during race car rides of their own.
At NASCAR tracks around the country, Petty's eponymous company provides a broad spectrum of high-speed experiences. Amateurs can hop into the driver's seat of a streamlined, 600-horsepower race car and hit the track for as many as 50 laps. However, they can also opt for a ride-along, and enjoy speeds of up to 145 mph without the hassle of steering or hand-cranking the engine.
Bob Meyer, who has spent many a tour alongside bands such as Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Phish, and The Allman Brothers, helms Give To Live Guitar Studios, which provides music lessons with a focus on community outreach. He and his staff of experienced, enthusiastic instructors welcome students for lessons in stringed instruments such as guitar, violin, banjo, mandolin, or bass as well as drums, vocals, and keyboards. They teach in all styles, from Bach to rock and roll, and help their students move from basics to live performance, hosting benefit concerts for local charities.
All big movements start small, but many would be surprised to learn that Ten Thousand Villages—a nonprofit and retailer with 70 stores nationwide—began out of a car trunk. In 1946, Edna Ruth Byler started the organization out of her car, taking a name from a quote by Mohandas Gandhi, who said, “India is not to be found in its few cities but in the 700,000 villages.”
Her willpower and determination allowed her vision to grow into a nonprofit that today supports more than 130 artisan groups in 37 developing countries. These artisans' wares go on sale at the organization's nationwide retail outlets, which brim with items including jewelry, stationery, and home decor. Everything is made using environmentally friendly processes, and every artisan is paid a fair wage. The money earned from sales goes directly to the artisans—who might otherwise be unemployed or underemployed—for financial help with education, food, housing, and healthcare.
The organization has risen to such stature that it won the People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year in 2005, and has acted as one of the founding members of the World Fair Trade Organization.
When a new exhibit comes to Contemporary Art Museum Raleigh, it transforms the entire space. In warehouse-style rooms, pieces spill out of the traditional boundaries of the wall like marshmallow cereals spill out of rainbows, sprawling over the floor or engulfing visitors totally. The multi-level gallery takes on six exhibitions each year, immersing visitors in an ever-changing landscape of installations, sculptures, and paintings by local and national artists.