Cupcakes & Cocktails: Meet the Judges!

As Cupcakes & Cocktails rapidly approaches, we are excited to announce the panel of judges for this year’s cupcake contest. With a wide range of experiences and backgrounds, we can’t wait to hear their feedback as they sample the scrumptious sweets available this Sunday!

Sera Cuni
Sera Cuni

Sera Cuni grew up in Trumbull, Connecticut, with a family of self-taught cooks who enthusiastically embraced their Italian and Czech heritages. After attending Green Mountain College in Vermont on a soccer scholarship, Sera took her passion for food and cooking back to Connecticut, where she graduated from culinary school. Over the course of her career, Sera has worked at the Fearrington House Inn and Nordstrom’s Café. In 2006, Sara Foster hired her as a chef and kitchen manager for the Foster’s Market Chapel Hill restaurant. Since then, she and her wife Susan have purchased the Chapel Hill location and continue to abide by Sara Foster’s primary food ethic—that great food doesn’t have to be fancy. These days, you can catch Sera working away as co-owner and chef at The Root Cellar Cafe & Catering.

Yelena Etten
Yelena Etten

Yelena Etten has been interested in baking for as long as she has loved sugar. She remembers helping her mother make yeast rolls at the tender age of 3. Once her family moved from Russia in 1992, she signed up for her first cake decorating class and was the youngest student in the class. She has been making cakes for the last 20+ years, perfecting her technique and flavor combinations. She was the Cupcake Champion for the Center’s Cupcakes & Cocktails in 2014 and is looking forward to helping judge all of the yummy cupcakes this year.

Bill Smith
Bill Smith

Bill Smith hails from the town of New Bern on the North Carolina coast. An accomplished chef and writer, his food writing has been featured in well-known publications like the New York Times, and his cooking has twice earned him a vote into the final five for James Beard’s Regional Best Chef award. Bill currently creates interesting spins on classic Southern dishes at Crook’s Corner, which was named one of “America’s Classics” by the James Beard Foundation. After 22 years at Crook’s Corner, he continues to interpret heirloom recipes, often resulting in iconic dishes. There’s talk across the nation about his Atlantic Beach Pie, but locals  know that it’s the decadent Honeysuckle Sorbet – available only briefly each May – that’s worth the annual wait.

Molly Stillman
Molly Stillman

Molly Stillman has been sharing her likes, dislikes, and a piece of her mind with the internet for nearly a decade as a life and style blogger. On her blog, Still Being Molly, she writes daily about fashion and beauty, some of her favorite recipes, her DIY and home decor projects, essential oils, photography, product reviews, and life as a wife and mother, and even about money. She’s basically your best friend and a Jane-of-all-trades. Her main passion is entertaining and inspiring others through empowering women to look and feel confident in the skin God gave them. Molly currently resides in Durham with her husband John, their daughter Lilly, and their two dogs, Audrey Hepburn and Tater.

Dorothy Tong
Dorothy Tong

Dorothy Tong is The Cupcake Princess and a champion from the Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars.” She was a proprietor of Cupcake & Cookie, her innovative bakery located in the heart of Los Angeles, California, until she moved to Durham in pursuit of her MBA at Duke University. With her passion for extraordinary desserts, Dorothy’s Cupcake & Cookie specialized in cupcake-filled cookies, cookie-filled cupcakes, and liquid truffles.

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Get your tickets for Cupcakes & Cocktails at ocrcc.org/cupcakes for only $40 through April 10. After that, a limited number of tickets will be available at the door for $50. See you on Sunday!

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SAAM Online Activism: Use Your Hashtag for Good

activistforchangeThis year, you can spread awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month without ever having to leave your keyboard. Ever since the word “hashtag” made its way into Merriam-Webster dictionary, it seems we can no longer ignore the power behind the little symbol, once known as the “pound sign.” Online activism is trending now and what better way to spread awareness about sexual violence than through the power of the internet. In a world where social media is so pervasive, we invite you to participate in SAAM and use your hashtags to advocate for the end of sexual violence.

Ujpeg (2)sing the #SAAM or #SAAM2015 hashtags not only increases awareness to those who follow you, but also connects you with other activists in the movement. Take to Twitter to share the news and inspirational tweets of fellow advocates. See below for details on an Anti-Street Harassment Tweetathon on April 14, where you can be a part of a global event, 140 characters at a time.

InstagramOf course, Twitter isn’t the only outlet to paint the town teal. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) is challenging Instagram users to a #30DaysOfSAAM Instagram contest. Follow them on Instagram @nsvrc to see each week’s challenge posted. Below is an image of the challenge for week one of SAAM. Good luck!

#30DAYSOFSAAM Instagram Contest

jpeg (1) Another way to stay involved is through our Facebook page. There you can find links to events, related articles, photos, and news from the Center during #SAAM2015. Invite your friends to like our page. Be sure to RSVP to the different events we’re hosting this month and invite your friends to those events as well.

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The Problem with Victim-Blaming

rapeWhile growing up in a rape culture, women are constantly told to follow the “rules” to ensure their safety. This list dictates what women should wear (nothing too short), what they consume (no drinks you didn’t prepare yourself), and even how they commute (never alone, never at night, and never in a “bad part of town”). Not only do these rules perpetuate a series of rape myths, they also result in victim-blaming.

Victim-blaming is a pervasive part of the trauma many survivors experience. Too often when survivors disclose, they are met with a checklist of questions, all centered on their actions instead of the perpetrator’s. Rather than focusing on the inappropriate and illegal conduct of the perpetrator, many will blame the victim for not adhering to the prescribed list of rules. The notion that any “disobedience” of the guidelines could result in or justify sexual assault is not only incorrect but it also discourages survivors from coming forward about their experience.

Victim-blaming occurs for many reasons. Some of it is rooted in notions around masculinity (“boys will be boys”), some of it in a general disregard for women’s bodies, and some of it comes from fear. Sometimes, people resort to victim-blaming to as an attempt to maintain an illusion of their own safety from sexual assault. In this case, it is easier to police the list of rules and insist that following them will prevent assault than to acknowledge the scary truth that rape can happen regardless of what the survivor does or does not do. But rape happens because of rapists—not the length of a hemline, or the amount of alcohol consumed. When people victim-blame, they distance themselves from the victim and keep alive the myth that the responsibility to prevent rape lies on the assaulted, not the perpetrator.

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A Most Delicious Affair: Cupcakes & Cocktails

Join us for Cupcakes & Cocktails on Sunday, April 12!As the last guests trickled out the doors and into the night, staff and volunteers looked around the room with awe. We had just pulled off our very first Cupcakes & Cocktails fundraiser! Equal parts exhausted and sugar-facilitated enthused, we began to clean up and discuss the highlights of the event.

For some, it was the spirit of competition brought on by the cupcake contest. For others, it was the warm conversation shared with community members. For me, it was the incredible spread of cupcakes. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and baked goods don’t generally excite me. The spread at Cupcakes & Cocktails, however, was different. Every table seemed illuminated with expertly-applied frosting, inventive flavors, and on occasion, the option of a vegan treat. To my left, cardamom cream cheese frosting sat gallantly atop carrot cake while on my right, rich ganache seemed to smother the Black Forest cupcake. Needless to say, by the time we were announcing the winner for the evening, I was experiencing a full-fledged sugar high.

After finally coming down (read: crashing) from all the sugar, I began to worry about my own baking talent, or lack thereof. Fortunately, the cupcake contestants were generous enough to provide us with their recipes so that we can attempt to recreate the magic in our own kitchens.

As the second annual Cupcakes & Cocktails approaches, consider entering this year’s cupcake contest! The event is on April 12, and competition entries are due April 1. If you need some inspiration to get the creative juices flowing, check out this recipe for the Fuzzy Navel Cupcake, runner-up of last year’s competition, by Nancee Merritt…

 

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Punk Cuts 2014

Alex Stewart receives her third punk cut at the annual Punk Cuts to End Rape 2014.

If there is one thing that has remained consistent about me over the years, it’s that I am always concocting some controversial haircut (kindly referred to as my “five-year hair plan”). Last month marked the third year I participated in Punk Cuts to End Rape for the Orange County Rape Crisis Center, and I couldn’t have been more excited to shear my mane for the summer. As the Administrative Services Coordinator for the Center, I feel it is both an honor and a privilege to sport a “punk cut” as I greet newcomers to the office.

Watching the Punk Cuts fundraiser advance, and foster more attention from the community, has left me inspired by the generosity and support of the area. What started off as a disordered house party, with haphazard haircuts, has transformed in merely two years, to a crowd-packed gathering, in a public venue brimming with supporters, professional hairstylists, a craft bazaar, and a total of seventeen shaved heads!

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Living in a Rape Culture: A Primer

Being introduced to the concept of rape culture changed everything. It changed my understanding of television, music, jokes, laws, and even language. When asked to write a primer for rape culture, I assumed it would be a simple task. Surely, I had been using the term for years, since taking a Women’s Studies 101 course at UNC. It took the better part of a week, however, to even start this overwhelming blog post.

It feels difficult to define something as pervasive as rape culture, but essentially it is a set of attitudes and practices that normalize, tolerate, and even condone sexual violence. We hear messages supporting rape culture everywhere, from television and music to casual comments and jokes from friends. These everyday messages have a deep-rooted impact on society.

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Punk Cuts to End Rape

Punk cut!

A year ago on a warm night in June 2012, folks assembled into the house of the bold and brave Rachel Valentine to donate to the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. When the number of donors reached a total of 50, Rachel’s friends brought out the clippers and gave Rachel a punk cut to remember. This past weekend, the tradition lived on.

Arriving at Orange County Social Club on Saturday night, I was taken aback at how many people had gathered inside to support the Center. I pulled out my camera just in time to capture the first cut: the brave Amado, the son of Board Secretary Lydia Perez. Others joined in and soon, the room filled with applause and punk spikes supported by hair gel. The amazing stylists from Mina’s Studio provided an array of fresh styles to our team, including Rape Prevention Education Coordinator Rachel Valentine, Rebecca Honeycutt (wife of Crisis Response Coordinator Joey Honeycutt), Education & Finance Coordinator Alexis Kralic’s family, StartStrong Intern Amanda Baldiga, the Ruiz-Perez family, and Heather Wegerzyn.

In accordance with the punk DIY mentality, the night became more unceremonious as the gifted stylists left, leaving Rachel and myself with a pair of buzzing clippers and a flock of nervous volunteers. Community members began an impromptu “live auction,” offering to shave their heads for funds raised on the spot for the Center. The punk cuts performed by yours truly turned out “just fine” even if a little sloppy, and I was even able to get my own hair all punked out by Rachel. It felt incredible, not only to feel the summer breeze on the sides of my head, but also to feel the overflowing sense of love and gratitude among all the folks involved.

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