Category Archives: Asheville

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)

Asheville WWKIP Day Event June 14

As all knitting knerds know, World Wide Knit in Public Day is held annually in June. WWKIP Day will be celebrated this year literally all over the world, with events in Perth, Lisbon, Paris, Ontario, Buenos Aires… you name it.

Here’s a flier for the 2008 Asheville event: wwkip-asheville. I’m pretty sure that 2008 marks Asheville’s first-ever observation of WWKIP Day. Hope to see all you Asheville yarn-crafters there!

From the flier:

Celebrate

WORLDWIDE

KNIT IN PUBLIC DAY

in ASHEVILLE

Knitters do it once a year.

In the park.

And everybody likes to watch.

Saturday, June 14

11 a.m. -2 p.m.

Charlotte Street Park (corner of Macon

and Charlotte Street in North Asheville)

Bring a chair or blanket
lunch/something to drink/cooler/snacks to share…
yarn to swap or give away…

Show the world that knitting is alive, well and public.
All crafters and yarnworkers welcome — newbies too!

Asheville Bumper Sticker for My Social Strata

Over a fine dinner of fish tacos at the French Broad Taqueria my friend Katie came up with the ultimate Asheville bumper sticker for our social strata. Are y’all ready?:

I CAUGHT THE CLAP AT AMAZING SAVINGS

(AND I STILL WENT BACK!) *

* You will not fully perceive the hilarity of this statement if you don’t live in Asheville or shop at good ol’ AS, the best discount hippie grocery in the history of the world. Also, the appreciation of this statement is improved by the consumption of a few glasses of sangria and/or the punchiness conferred by the study-drunk, braindead final days of senior exams.

Semester’s almost over y’all. I’ll pick up a big technical assignment on Friday and consider myself launched out of school mode and briefly into my summer mode of work and river trips. Thanks for sticking with this blog during an extended spell of low activity and lots of personal posts.

Attention Asheville May 6 Democratic Primary Voters

Attention Asheville May 6 Democratic Primary Voters: some local Dems are posting info to help us all shake out a vote in the upcoming primary. That ballot is gigantic. My own personal tip/trick? I print a sample ballot and fill it out, bringing it with me to the polls as a cheat sheet.

First, local journalist/county commission candidate Cecil Bothwell has gathered a list of candidates endorsed by “generally progressive groups in the county and state.”

Second, local political uberblogger and generally principled and intelligent liberal activist Gordon Smith has posted his own voting choices at his group blog, Scrutiny Hooligans. My own choices match his almost exactly, one exception being David Young (no way — I definitely prefer Cowell). Scroll down the entry to read comments from local people including former city council member Bryan Freeborn.

Here’s my own list so far:

President – Barack Obama
Senate – Jim Neal
Governor – Bev Perdue
Lt. Governor – Dan Besse
Auditor – Beth Wood
Commissioner of Insurance – Wayne Goodwin
Commissioner of Labor – Robin Anderson
Superintendent – June St. Clair Atkinson
Treasurer – Janet Cowell
County Commissioner – Holly Jones, Cecil Bothwell (Keith Thomson, K. Ray Bailey) *
Appeals Court Judge – James A. Wynn
Appeals Court Judge – Kristin Ruth

* I am casting only two of my allotted four county commissioner votes in order to help my challenger candidate of choice, Cecil Bothwell, have a better chance of beating out the competition from the other challengers. The candidates in parentheses are the ones for whom I would also vote if I were not voting strategically and using all four of my allotted county commission votes.

BTW, in no way do I endorse voting for someone because someone “told” you to in a blog. What I do strongly endorse is public political discourse of the kind you see in Gordon’s comments, where smart people who want to do more than just make a mark on a ballot share information to make the most educated choice.

Voting is our single most important right, because without it none of the others are secure. As with so many of our rights, exercising this one isn’t easy. I’ve heard people say, “It doesn’t matter if you don’t know anything about the candidates or the issues. You still need to get out to the polls.” I disagree. If you don’t know why you’re choosing a specific person or position, all you’re doing is showing up and making a random mark. That’s not voting.

– Cheryl Dietrich

Sunday Song: O Lucky Woman!

Richard Thompson, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning”

[YouTube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxKTzwaEa2o”%5D

Thompson’s in town tonight at the Orange Peel performing his original “1000 Years of Popular Music” show, in which he performs music from a period literally spanning hundreds of years.

From the Peel website:

The show runs about 2 hours and features accompanists Judith Owen (keyboards, vocals) and Debra Dobkin (percussion, vocals). In the show Thompson has been known to include “Summer is Icumen In“, the oldest known song in the English language, and continue through time from madrigals, ballads, sea shanties, British Music Hall, Broadway tunes, garage rock and even Britney Spears. Rolling Stone says “this show proves two things: Richard Thompson can play anything, from thirteenth-century rounds and minersí ballads to Squeeze and Abba; and he can make anything rock.”

I only discovered Thompson a few years ago, while listening to the radio and randomly coming across “Beeswing” for the first time. It floored me completely, sucked me in immediately, and I knew nothing but the song until it was over.

It was the official and overdue start of my love affair with British folk. And like all great musical obsessions with a worthy object, my affair with Thompson’s music just got better the deeper I went into the catalogue.

I’m still a fan, and grateful this concert arrives early enough in the semester to find me with time and money. See you at the Peel!