Lately it feels to me like everything has sped up. I have been seeing an upsurge of action around equity and racial justice in Asheville, not to mention the signs of a cultural shift in the air. This gives me great hope, while also bringing to light how much work there is to done. All I can do is focus on using my energy and talents as strategically as I can, while accepting that I cannot be involved in every group or attend every event that I think is worthwhile.

As you determine how you will engage, here are some things on my radar:

Petition to Create a Monument at Pack Square to Recognize and
Honor the Contributions of African Americans to Buncombe County
This petition that I shared with you the other day now has an option to sign online. So if you haven’t printed out and signed a petition (and gotten signatures) yet, please click here to sign. Then share widely, please! Yesterday the Center for Diversity Education had this post on Facebook: “Thanks to everyone who is sharing the petition for the monument at Pack Square to honor the contributions of African Americans. There are some 380 signatures on the online petition as well as over 1,000 hand written signatures. We are close to 1,500 total!” We can at least double that, right?

Event: An Exchange of Memory: Oral Tradition & Storytelling
“On Saturday, March 7th, between 5 to 7 pm, Date My City will connect the city to the rich local history of African Americans in Western North Carolina through oral tradition, a remarkable legacy exchanged to our generation through storytelling. We dare to remember and allow this memory to be the catalyst that shapes the visions we erect for the future of Black Asheville. Join us at Cork & Keg (part of The Weinhaus), 86 Patton Avenue in downtown Asheville, as elder storytellers unveil their experiences and give voice to mighty leaders of our past, bringing passion and relevance to the cultural upsurge that is upon us now! Complimentary hors d’oeuvres, music and networking.
stephens lee 1951

AND…… immediately following, we will be attending Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective‘s production of “From Ashes to Angel Dust: A Journey through Womanhood.” Showtime is 7:30 pm at the BeBe Theater just around the corner from the Cork & Keg. Secure your ticket in advance at differentstrokesavl.com.” (Note: the Saturday show is sold out, but there still are other nights/weekend available. Different Strokes! is a wonderful theater company, and there is a great cast for this play.)

Housing Residents and Advocates Speak Up at Citizen’s Police Advisory Council Meeting
My last post about the breakfast I attended in Hillcrest mentioned the residents’ concern about the Asheville Police Department’s Public Housing Unit, and questions around the continuation and potential expansion of units in housing. There was a meeting yesterday of the Citizen’s Police Advisory Council, and this topic was discussed.

Below are a selection of tweets that David Forbes of the Asheville Blade made during the meeting, quoting some of the speakers. The speakers make important points.

Tweets by @DavidForbes, March 4, 2015:

At Citizens Police Advisory Committee, discussion of continuing or ending public housing unit.

Sir Charles Gardner, Resident Council President: a lot of ppl don’t feel safe when police present, need changes if it continues.

Iindia Pearson, vp of Residents Council: don’t need special public housing unit, need $ for training, jobs, improvements in area

Calvin Allen, Hillcrest resident: patrolling already part of police’s job, don’t see ned for special unit, don’t think effective.

Kimberly Latham, sec Residents Council: Crime happens in Candler, don’t have special unit for trailer parks. Use $ for improvements.

Keith DeBlasio, acting pres Hillcrest Assoc: many at Hillcrest already help resolve disputes. Last shooting in area was by outsider.

Speakers agreeing on reallocating funds, say better uses preventative.

James Lee: officers need to understand what badge represents, “history of oppression and mistrust” not that far removed here.

Lee: “the past is our community’s reality,” until that’s recognized, will continue to have this disconnect.

Lee: not anything against them as individual, but what badge represents. Have to own, understand that. Ready to bridge gap.

Lee: appreciate local law enforcement leaders being at table w Racial Justice Coalition, but need more, have to understand reality.

Beth Walton of the Citizen-Times tweeted this during the meeting:

A separate public housing unit further segregates communities and depresses communities, another resident says.

Click here for the Citizen-Times coverage of this meeting, which highlights the speakers’ frustration.

As I stated in my last post, I stand with the residents on this issue.

*     *     *

Bringing it Home: Building a New Economy for Everyone
On Wednesday, March 18 there is going to be an exciting conference about our local economy. The Mountain Xpress has given this conference significant coverage as the cover story with several features in this week’s issue. I am impressed with the speaker line up and intentions. Find out more and register at bringingithomewnc.org. Scholarships are available.

Loving After Lifetimes of All This
I will write more about these later, but for now, click here for info on two events being hosted by the Center for Creativity, Craft & Design that you’ll want to save the dates for.

Ok, that’s it for now, and I feel like I’m only scratching the surface!