Tuesday, January 29, 2008

    City Council Set Goals—You’re Invited

    Asheville City Council is hosting a community goal setting forum tonight, Jan. 29, at 6 p.m. in the Randolph Learning Center located at 90 Montford Ave. Council members will use the community input to help determine goals and priorities during the city’s upcoming 2008-09 budget process.

    After a brief introduction, citizens will break into smaller focus groups. Citizens will be asked to talk about the community’s needs and what issues are most important to them.

    I recently asked the same questions over at the Mountain XPress online forum. I received a lot of interesting answers but none as compelling as this reply from a local author: “They [City Council] are, collectively, Asheville’s biggest problem. All other problems pale in comparison. In fact, without City Council, we’d have a great deal FEWER problems.” The poster went on to provide some sarcastic examples of City Council’s follies. Tongue-in-cheek or not, the comment illustrates an important point: It speaks to the broad, general contempt that many Ashevillians have toward City Council. Yet, here’s a golden opportunity to have your voice heard by Council leadership.

    It’ll be interesting to see how many good citizens bring their ideas to the table for consideration. And once they do, perhaps it’ll be even more telling to see what, if anything, comes of those ideas.

    During tonight’s focus group sessions, City staff will facilitate and record each group’s progress. Following the meeting, a summary report containing all input will be distributed to City Council members. The report will be available at

    City Council began hosting Goals for Asheville forums in January 2006 in order to gain citizen input on key initiatives. The series is part of City Council’s commitment to promoting inclusive decision making, which is included in Council’s strategic plan for Asheville.

    The meeting is open to the public, and parking is available at the school. Citizens who are unable to attend the forum may submit written comments to Trisha Hardin at by Jan. 31.

    Friday, January 25, 2008

    Faces of Asheville: Community and Individuality are Sacred

    I originally posted a blurb on ephemera about the Faces of Asheville project, but I think this portrait documentary project deserves further recognition and comment. For those who haven’t heard, Jenny G. Bowen, an Asheville-based professional photographer, is the creative force behind Faces of Asheville. She’s in the midst of taking hundreds of pictures of Ashevillians—between now and April 1, 2008—with the intent “to visually document the eclectic and outstanding friends and neighbors who make up the well as the zeitgeist of Asheville.”

    I recently had the pleasure of sitting for a Faces of Asheville portrait. During my half-hour photo session, Jen said she hopes to exhibit the photograph in early 2009. She still needs a few hundred more participants, so I encourage everyone in Asheville (and the surrounding area) to schedule a photo shoot with Jen as soon as possible. For more details on becoming part of this worthwhile and exciting project, visit Jen’s Web site.

    When I left the photo session, Jen handed me a note with further instructions. Her note included the following thought, which I believe drives home the significance and importance of this project: “My wish is that through voicing the ideas, hopes, dreams, and fears of a wide variety of citizens we can gain a greater understanding of our city’s current status, and develop a conscious design of our future. When this documentary is looked at a century from now—people will not only see your unique portrait of individually—but they will also examine how we as a community came together during this period in Asheville history to develop the future in which we will reside. There is a great change happening in the world on so many various levels, and this is our moment to be mindful of how our city and our lives will transform and take shape during this momentous time of decision.”

    Thursday, January 24, 2008


    StoryCorps, the oral history project featured on National Public Radio, is coming to the Asheville office of MemoryCare to record the life stories of people there who are experiencing memory loss. They treat Alzheimer's patients and memory disorders.

    The weekly StoryCorps radio feature, heard Friday mornings on WCQS-88.1 FM, has a loyal following because of the warmth and humanity that comes through the unscripted conversations.

    StoryCorps - Our mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.


    Pretty noble cause.

    Welcome aboard, Marty!

    Marty Weil will be adding his voice and Asheville flavor to Around Asheville as a guest blogger so I look forward to his input and I'm sure you will also.

    I can always use an extra hand or voice around here and getting Marty to help out, as talented and as busy as he is, is indeed a blessing. So, welcome and thanks, Marty!

    Wednesday, January 23, 2008

    Adding My Voice to Around Asheville

    Around Asheville has kindly provided me with a forum to comment on local issues as a guest blogger. I’ll use my status as an Around Asheville guest blogger sparingly; after all, to paraphrase Ben Franklin, guests, like fish, begin to smell after a few days.

    I’ve visited Asheville regularly since 1990, but I’m a relatively new resident. My love for Asheville drove me to alter the course of my life in order to fulfill my wish to live in this wonderful city. It’s my hope that I can give something back to the community by blogging about worthwhile local topics, events, and causes. That’s why I’ve agreed to add my voice to Around Asheville. Meanwhile, I will continue to post content related to Asheville on my own blogs. Currently, I have two blogs dedicated to aspects of Asheville pop culture: My photoblog captures images from my first year here, while a section of my ephemera blog features Asheville-related papers and historic documents.

    I look forward to posting topics of interest on Around Asheville, and I look forward to exchanging ideas and comments with you. Asheville is one of the greatest places in the world—a happy, gentle place with so much to offer. Thank you for welcoming me.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008

    Asheville Fringe Arts Festival


    Friday, January 18, 2008

    Another New Asheville Site

    They're raising farm animals and fresh food over at the Asheville Farm, a newtome website with beautiful photographs documenting this idyllic working farm.

    As a newly established farm (converted from horse boarding facilities in August 2006), we're committed to healthy, sustainable farming and pasturing methods with the dream of becoming a preferred supplier to health food stores, natural-foods consumers and artisan wool hand-knitters in Asheville (as well as greater Western North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia).

    New Blogs In Town

    I'd like to welcome some new blogs to the "Around Asheville" blogroll on the right sidebar. I continuously add new ones, so keep checking the blogrolls over there.

    In no particular order,
    Girl Talks Kitchen,
    my life in cake, and
    What To Expect When You're Electing.

    This is a good time to remind you to send me new Asheville links to add to the list. Blogs and otherwise. I'm not spending a whole lot of time in Asheville lately so I count on the kindness of friends and strangers to help me keep this place updated. And if anyone would like to "guest blog" here let me know and we'll set it up.

    Thursday, January 10, 2008

    To Asheville: A Beautiful Requiem to Eaties Cereal Bar

    Thanks to all that made Eaties Awesome! Sadly we are closed for good. I truly wished to create a space for community to come together and I think that wish came true. But wishes don't pay the bills. As some of you may believe, my desire to move to California was why I closed Eaties. The truth is...Eaties just wasn't making it. The true reasons vary: It's hard to compete with fast food, its hard to have a weird location, its hard not to charge ridiculous prices and its hard to have a restaurant based solely on cereal alone. WE RAN OUT OF MONEY! That is the ultimate truth. The few that loved us were unfortunately too few and too infrequent.

    Eaties was a last stand in my mind before Asheville turned completely into Aspen Colorado...a yuppy tourist town. It is my observation that the creative folks are fleeing in droves. Maybe not too far...say West Asheville for example, but my experience with Asheville so far has been priding itself on how "WEIRD" it is but doing everything in its power to destroy that creative spirit. The only "weird" thing left is perhaps the few poetic souls who display creativity on the streets. The buskers, street performers and even the homeless are the last stand. We are left begging the rich tourists for a buck.

    On more than one occasion, a tourist would come in to Eaties and comment on how "Funky" and "weird" asheville really was based on my little restaurant. Then they would turn around and eat at one of the nicer restaurants down the street. If I could have charged for people to have peeked at Eaties I probably wouldn't have to be writing to you all right now and Eaties would be good as gold.

    My hope is that the creative folks will fight back a little harder. Vote for city council, RUN for city council, protest when their city changes in ways they dislike. Practice random acts of art. Create REAL community. Create REAL industry so we don't have to all work service jobs! Take a stand! Join Arts2People, cooperatively buy commercial real estate, support local businesses, realize there is more to community than the drum circle (which IS very kick ass). Direct tourists to the River arts district. VISIT the river arts district. Make time to help a local non-profit. YOU ARE PART OF WHAT MAKES ASHEVILLE why people want to live here, visit here and be here. Reclaim that! Asheville is YOUR CITY!

    This may seem odd coming from someone considering moving 3,000 miles away. But I haven't given up completely on this beautiful mountain city. When asked what it is I enjoy about Asheville the most I often say, "the people". That answer still holds true. All the amazing people that helped make Eaties what it was. Again I sincerely give thanks.

    Becky Johnson