Category Archives: Asheville

Look what j-school did to me: journo training changed my brain forever

I just wrote a Facebook post sharing the video above. So did a colleague. Here’s how two people, one with journalism training and one without, see the exact same video with local news value:

  • TEDxAsheville Video time: ANOTHER outstanding youth presentation from TEDxNextGenerationAsheville. Ever heard about the alleged toxic spill IN ASHEVILLE? Studies are inconclusive, but there’s widespread sickness in a South Asheville neighborhood, and residents blame toxic groundwater. One young cancer survivor, Gabe Dunsmith, speaks out about alleged contamination at CTS Corp. Six-minute video.

  • TEDxNextGenerationAsheville Asheville LOOK at the spill that is happening in our own backyards. A courageous young leader, Gabe Black Walnut Dunsmith, is not willing to stand for innocent people suffering and dyeing. He’s taking a stand. Will you join him?

Can you spot theĀ  writer who sold her soul to Edward R. Murrow in 2009?

Eh, I’m not sorry. A friend one told me that the way a scientist sees the world is the only way to see the world, and that stuck with me. I tried to learn to see the world as a scientist does, but I didn’t have the right mind. But when it comes to words and information, I’m your woman. Journalism is a magical combination of words and truth, and is its own royal road to discovery. A scientist, I suppose, finds new things, and a journalist interprets things to find a new truth, however humble. Both, when they do it right, chase something elusive and magical.

The mental paces a learning journalist goes through are the best exercises in fairness I have encountered, and freshman newswriting rewrote my writing mind in the best possible way (of all the classes I took in college, its the one that I think should be required for any writer). It taught me how to write with the truth in mind first, and the needs of the reader second, and gave me a formula to do that. Before, I was just regurgitating information onto a page.

I’m not saying my colleague was wrong and I was right in what she and I posted. Hardly. I’m saying there’s a place for both ways of presenting information. Passion and reason are excellent bedfellows.

Anyway. If you live in Asheville, watch this 6-minute video on what seems to me to be one of the most disturbing and under-reported stories I’ve heard in the 30 years I’ve lived here.

Gordon’s Excellent Buncombe/Asheville/NC Voting Guide

(Image snagged from Aric)

Looks like this is a new tradition from Asheville’s most outstanding liberal political blogger.

Here’s a great voting guide to help guide your choices as you vote in the coming election. Don’t forget the slate includes not only prez and VP, but a whole backside of nonpartisan offices like commissioner of labor, superintendent of education and soil and water conservation district supervisor…

Scrutiny Hooligans Voter Guide

I’m Jennifer Saylor and I approved this voter guide because it is totally awesome.

Blogiversapaloozathon 2008: All in a Night’s Work

It’s 12:34 and all’s well. I just took a Zantac and a sleeping pill and I’m hoping they both kick in soon. (The chcolate cake, the hummus, the 1/2 gallon of sweet tea drunk at 8:30 p.m…)

I just had a ball at Blogapalooza 2008.

We raised over $1000 for the homeless in Asheville. I sincerely hope there will be more fundraising from the team of Smith and Saylor.

Gordon did the heavy lifting (I was more of a junior partner) and we both had help from all the BlogAsheville regulars, but Blogpalooza 2008 was a Smith and Saylor production. I think it only really hit me when I finally met with Gordon for coffee not long ago (the day I mangled my foot and started going into shock in the classroom — an event later reported in the Blog Log of the local alt weekly, no lie), that he and I were arranging a large fundraiser together. Just us.

Gathering hundreds of dollars of sponsorship money, arranging donations, feeding over 100 people, getting them a little drunk, arranging multimedia, emceeing… (Learning to speak up and slow down…)

The food was delicious. An amazing gourmet spread of several kinds of cheeses and spreads, whole grain crackers with sesame seeds, roasted veggies with hummus and some kind of amazing sauce. Sweet tea, coffee, three kinds of local beer. (So much Eric had to call in beer-drinking reinforcements form the college who were happy to help out.)

And Jodi‘s cake? So good that I told Mrs. Gordon & sibling that eating one piece of Jodi cake was like eating three pieces of regular cake packed into one. It was so rich and moist it was like humus, like rich soil. Cream cheese frosting, covered with organic, local flowers. Scratch-made and good to the last crumb.

I had a beer with an Australian man in a pink pinstriped suit and matching pink alligator shoes. Later he informed an audience of over 100 people that he possibly planned on offering me his virginity. (Yes, this kind of thing is all in a night’s work when you are me. You get used to it after awhile.)

I was whisked away into the relative quiet of the gallery for no other purpose than to be thanked sincerely by the gallant Paul for putting on such a great party.

And I had a front row seat for the Amazing and Soon to Be Legendary Disappearance of Mr. Ash Vegas. I was sitting between Ash and my excellent new friend Christy when we all heard realy loud crazy shouting from outside (N. Lex on a Saturday night…) . We kind of wondered what it was, but I was busy telling people about the food and the band and the raffle and taking money, and didn’t pay much attention.

My friend Stephanie said the police were involved, and had just had to carry some guy off “like a chicken.” (?)

Honest to God, you should have seen Ashvegas go. He was like a shark that smelled blood in the water. He got up camera in hand, looked out the courtyard gates, and disappeared into the night. Blogga just about had a hunting knife clenched in his teeth.

And that was the last we saw of him.

We ended up handing him awards right and left all night and happily propagating rumors he had left in a police car or something, hot on the trail of a story. He won Best Overall Blog while covered in human blood and developing fluid or something, I am sure.

Let’s see, what else… I got the lead guitarist of the If You Wannas to made awesome guitar laser sounds at me while making suggestive movements with the guitar neck. (This is something I must also frequently deal with.) And I got brand-new admin privileges over at BlogAsheville. It’s official, I am joining the team as the BA fourth administrator. Just call me Paul McCartney.

I didn’t win a damn thing. :0) Didn’t expect to. It wasn’t what I was there for.

I had a great time, though. BlogAsheville bloggers, I send you love. Congrats to the winners, which tonight I feel like is all of us. I am Jen and we are BlogAsheville and together we rocked a party to the tune of $1000 to people in our community who really need it.

Good night!

VOTE in This Year’s BlogAsheville Awards

BlogAsheville’s third annual blogger blowout is this Saturday, September 27.

Food, live music, DJ, three kegs, BYOB, standup comedy, snazzy downtown courtyard location, good times. We’ve even got a shuttle to take you back to your car and scratch-made cake from Short Street Cakes, which is the part I am really looking forward to. :0)

If you’re an Asheville blogger or blog-reader and want to come join the fun, comment or send email and I’ll send you details.

Party 6 p.m.

Awards 8 p.m.

$10 suggested minimum donation goes to AHOPE, a shelter/program helping the homeless here in Asheville.

The awards are voted on by Asheville’s online community. If you live in Asheville, this means you!

Check out all the nominees here. Cast your vote online here (the online voting tool doesn’t link to nominee’s blogs, so I’d keep another browser open for reference). Vote in as many or as few categories as you like

I’ve been nominated for the following 2008 awards:

Best Craft Blog

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

Best Writing

Best Overall

I am grateful for all the nominations. Thanks to Jana and anyone else who nominated JSFW.

Whoever nominated me for Best Craft Blog, I hope you’ll come to the party so I can both buy you a beer and listen to your rationale for this nomination. I’m puzzled but grateful.

I’m emceeing the party this year, along with Gordon Smith of Scrutiny Hooligans, Master of Blog Puppets, the Sam Adams of Asheville.

I’ll be the one in the teal blue dress and feather boa, eating Jodi’s homemade organic cake and brown bagging it with a 7 and 7 or something similar. Hope to see you there!

Asheville for Obama: Free Obama Stuff

UPDATE: I’m fresh out! Locally, try Rosebud Video on Charlotte St. for Obama/Biden signs and stickers, cheap. Elsewhere, try the official Barack Obama store here.

Attention Asheville,

A friend of mine is printing Obama materials at cost. I’ve got free Obama yard signs, bumperstickers and buttons (while supplies last) I can deliver to you.

If you want some, just let me know what and how many.

I can deliver in AVL city limits or drop off at the college if you are at UNCA.

  • yard signs: 2′ X 9″, Obama ’08
  • bumperstickers (3 kinds): Obama ’08, Obama/Biden ’08, Another Mama for Obama

Leave a comment or send email!

I’m Busy, But I’m Not Too Busy to Post About Extravablogiversapaloozathon 2008

Blogapalooza is coming. I’m nominated. You’re invited.

Best Craft Blog (?????????????)

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

Best Writing

Best Overall

Thanks, everybody. See you at Blogapalooza for the awards, food, music and good times downtown!

JSFW BlogAsheville Award Nominations 2008!

Blogiversapaloozathon III approaches, and Asheville’s bloggers and blog readers have until Sept. 10 to make your nominations for this year’s slate of about 20 different awards in Asheville blogging.

If you’re in Asheville, get yours in

This blog already has a few noms. Big thanks to Jana and anyone else who nominated JSFW this year. And huge thanks again to all the people who nominated me last year.

I really was thrilled by all my BlogAsheville noms last time around. I never did find out who some of you were, but I am truly grateful nonetheless. I DO like a nice nomination, in much the same way that I like a nice comment and some juicy stats. :0)

Here’s my own nominees for the 2008 awards. Most categories represented.

Good luck everybody!:

Best Craft Blog

All Knit and No Sheep

Most Likely to Make Money by Blogging

Don Mak

Blogger I’d Most Like to Have a Beer With


Most Likely to Make You Laugh Out Loud

The Hangover Journals

Best Art/Photos

(IMO this category needs to be split out!)

A Dark Topography

Best Design

Quilt Baby

Best Food Blog

She Who Eats

Blogger You’d Most Like to See Naked

I’m with Gordon again this year: SHAD MARSH!

Biggest Slacker

Domestic Bliss

Best Local Happenings


Best Political

Now and forever it’s Scrutiny Hooligans, if only for its amazingly thorough citizen investigation into and coverage of the Parkside debacle.

Thanks guys.

Best Blog Beginning with the Word “The”

The Hangover Journals

Most Inspirational


Most in Need of a Redesign

The Hangover Journals, a great blog that takes like 9,000,000,000 years to download, and I am not exaggerating. Felicity is way cooler than her layout.

Most Likely to Have New Material

Ashvegas again. That guy is a madman with the posting.

Best New Blog (created in the last 12 months)

Ami’s Anecdotes

Most Deserving of Wider Recognition

eatbees blog

Best Writing

The Hangover Journals

Best Overall


Big Asheville Blog Party Sept. 27

The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cool…

Must mean Blogapalooza III is on its way!

This year’s event for Asheville’s blog community involves three kegs, catered food, live music, a dj and a snazzy downtown location. (I know this because I am one of the event planners! Couldn’t resist!)

If you’re in Asheville and you want to go, send email, comment, or send email to the address in the graphic below:

(Image from a great Bele Chere photo by local photographer Frank Merenda. Thanks Frank!)

Hope to see you there!

Nominations for this year’s awards are open — click here to nominate an Asheville blog.

Gordon has more here over at BlogAsheville.

Why I Oppose Parkside

My name is Jennifer, and I am a fairly ordinary Asheville citizen and 30-year WNC resident raving fan. if I could change my history and place of birth and be truly from here, I would.

Like most liberals (and most Americans) I am working-class. I am self-employed on a low five-figure income and am putting myself through college. My next big purchase will be a weed eater.

And I oppose the proposed Parkside condominium development in downtown Asheville.

Here are my concerns:

1. I oppose the Parkside development because it involves the sale of public parkland to a private developer, with no input from the public.

Low-profile sale of public property is a bad practice I will not support or ignore.

And the property in question holds a very old magnolia tree that many locals hold dear. As a gardener I am, frankly, not always sensitive about destroying plants. But I find it reckless and insensitive of county government to sell off/destroy a historic tree with strong local sentimental value — under its branches is the traditional site of Shindig on the Green, a summer bluegrass tradition more than four decades old. The big old magnolia, which is around 100 years old, would be cut down.

(Image of City Hall, magnolia and protesters by Bill of AshVillein)

2. I oppose the Parkside development because the public property in question was sold not only without significant public knowledge or input, but at a price below its market value.

Downtown public parkland was sold for a song — according to local liberal blog Scrutiny Hooligans, at $278,000 less than appraisal value. I understand that the sale was conducted according to the letter of the law, but this does not excuse point 1 or point 2 of my opposition to the project.

Why was this land sold so fast for so little? What was with the low-profile discount sale of half a million dollars’ worth of public parkland?

3. I oppose Parkside because putting condominium homes in a public park sounds like a lose-lose proposition for both condo residents and park visitors.

Downtown condo owners near Pritchard Park have complained about the noise of the Friday night drum circles, one of the city’s most beloved and classic summer events, to the point that the circles close down earlier so as not to disturb residents. In my opinion, Parkside condo owners and park visitors would likely be in for similar noise problems.

Each side, prospective Parkside residents and park visitors, has rights. Downtown condo owners deserve a peaceful home free from the intrusive noise of banjos, July 4th fireworks, drum circles and other Asheville noise. People gathering in a public park deserve the right to hoot, holler, play bluegrass and generally not have to worry much about the neighbors. These rights don’t mix.

The preexisting rights of the park visitors trump the rights of residents of a nine-story condo building in a public park in the heart of a vibrant, music-loving downtown.

4. I oppose Parkside because it disrespects the explicit will of George W. Pack, who deeded the parkland in question to the people of Asheville forever. *

* [added July 10] Looks like the question here isn’t selling off parkland, but whether or not the magnolia parcel is part of the land Pack deeded to the city in the first place. The Pack heirs are currently suing developer Stewart Coleman and the county over the sale. I stand by my other points.

I don’t know what’s up with the second deed that the county based the sale on. Nor am I clear how any instrument can legally trump George W. Pack’s explicit will that the parkland be deeded to the public in perpetuity. Americans have the right to dispose of their property as they wish according to the law, and Pack’s will is clear.

5. I oppose Parkside because developer Stewart Coleman has been offered money in a city buy-back deal and turned it down.

Coleman’s been offered the chance to sell the property back and refused despite a county commissioner characterizing the parkland sale to Coleman’s realty company as a failure and a screw-up, a 1,000-signature anti-Parkside petition and an ongoing daily protest conducted by all manner of locals from the fringe to the center. According to Scrutiny Hooligans, he was offered $1.5 million to sell back the property — and countered with $4.1 million. I won’t speculate on Coleman’s reasons for refusing a county buyout, but his refusal to sell back the land in the face of widespread public opposition and outcry does not bode well for his civic-mindedness in developing property downtown. Or anywhere.

And for purely personal reasons I don’t support Parkside because of Coleman’s recent bad behavior. He assaulted a photographer who may or may not have shoved a camera in his face. Grabbing and twisting a photographer’s hand is not behavior I support in response to being photographed. I wasn’t there to see if photographer Byron Belzak was being a camera-shoving ass or not. But regardless, I find Coleman’s response rude and inappropriate.


I don’t discount profit. I really don’t. I am self-employed and I like having and making money. But there are other kinds of value than the money kind.

Assigning everything a value based only on its monetary impact means that to you, a person is only worth the amount of money they can generate over a lifetime, or the value of their organs on the black market. A person is worth more than that.

So is a place. A place is more than the profit it can generate or the buildings it can hold. I don’t oppose any and all development, but I do oppose development that eats away at the character of my city, replacing too many classic Asheville places with tourist-based high-dollar establishments that appeal to a transient population who represents only one segment of our city — and who may not even live here anymore in a decade or so, while the rest of us remain, supporting our city with our dollars year-round.

Fellow Asheville residents, it looks like keeping Asheville Asheville is a struggle now, like home ownership or physical fitness, a never-ending battle of maintenance. This is my advice to all of us, including and most particularly myself:

If you see a project in town that concerns you, read blogs, read the C-T, read Mountain Xpress and educate yourself. Get facts and information from all over and if the project bothers you, do something. Be heard. Go to a city meeting. Write a letter. Send an email. People have stopped bad development in this town, but not by leaving it up to the “activists,” whoever they are.

Your favorite places and sights in town should never be a memory, nor should you be unfairly hushed up, shut down or priced out of the people’s paradise we call Asheville. Be the person you are hoping someone else will be.

Great Moments in Asheville Being Asheville

Via BlogAsheville, a photo entitled “Asheville classroom”:

(credit: brilliant local photog Zen Sutherland)