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TONIGHT
“Last fall, UNC Asheville was gifted more than 1,000 photographs by artist Isaiah Rice, including many shots taken locally from the ’50s to the ’70s. ‘What people will see in these photos is a different Asheville as far as the presence of African-Americans is concerned,’ UNCA assistant history professor (and grandson of the now deceased Rice) Darin Waters told Xpress just before the exhibit was unveiled. A year later, the university is loaning a portion of the collection, titled The Way We Were, to public radio station WCQS, where the images will be displayed through November. Waters curated the sampling along with UNCA Special Collections head Gene Hyde, and he’ll speak at the opening reception at WCQS, 73 Broadway, on Friday, Oct. 7, at 5 pm. Free.” – Mountain Xpress

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TOMORROW
The Word on the Street website launch party is tomorrow at the Edington Center, 133 Livingston Street, 6:30 – 9:30 pm. Such a wonderful project! Here is the text from their FB invite:

“Vamos a Presentar y Celebrar una NUEVA Revista EN LINEA.
Creado por Jóvenes, Para todos los Jóvenes
Nuestras voces, talentos y imaginación serán
empoderando nuestras comunidades y cambiará el mundo!

We’re going live with a NEW ONLINE MAGAZINE
Created by Asheville-area YOUTH, FOR All YOUTH
Our voices, talents and imagination will empower our
communities and change the world!”

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Southside neighborhood resident JoAnn Skinner (Photo: Robert Bradley, Asheville Citizen-Times)

RAD REDEVELOPMENT AND THE SOUTHSIDE NEIGHBORHOOD
The Mountain Xpress recently ran this story: “Road to redevelopment: Big infrastructure upgrades on RAD’s horizon.” In this week’s Xpress, there is a Letter to the Editor (text below) which addresses some of what has been on my mind and the minds of others I’ve spoken with about the impacts of these major changes to the city. It also offers vital criticism of the coverage of the story:

What will be RAD’s effects on Southside Residents?

The Sept. 14 issue’s headlining article, ‘Road to redevelopment: Big infrastructure upgrades on RAD’s horizon’ [Xpress], was certainly thorough in it’s appraisal of how the RAD’s redevelopment would affect artists’ businesses and daily lives – however, the article neglected to evaluate how the construction and infrastructure improvements will affect the surrounding residential neighborhood of Southside. This leads to an unbalanced public discourse that centers the narrative of development on the positive impact for some, while ignoring the experience of many of the area’s deeply rooted citizens.

This article mentions that one of the greenways ‘will thread its way through the booming South Slope neighborhood…Along the way, signage and exhibits will highlight the South Slope’s heritage as a vibrant African-American community during the days of segregation and the civil rights movement.’ As of the last census (2010), the neighborhood was 55 percent black, which is quite significant when one considers that Asheville is only 13 percent African-American. This suggests that Southside is more than historically African-American as the article seems to put forth, but is also presently home to a significant black population.

Southside has been gentrifying since the area’s urban renewal project of the 1970s when huge swaths of Southsiders were removed from their homes and placed in public housing (according to Inside East Riverside, the neighborhood was 98 percent black at the time). One wonders: Will these new infrastructure projects raise property value in such a way that makes rates of gentrification in the area rise exponentially? Is the city interested in offsetting this issue and maintaining and growing diverse communities – starting with the folks who have been in Asheville decades upon decades?

Asheville’s history with urban renewal and the city’s moves toward slowly eliminating public housing and pushing poor folks out into the county suggest that the city doesn’t actually want to truly maintain a racially diverse Asheville. I suggest the Mountain Xpress account for these realities in future discussions of the RAD redevelopment project and other projects like it.” – Erin Daniell, Asheville

Let’s continue to raise these concerns with our elected officials and the media! Millions and millions of dollars are being spent, how can equity be woven throughout this project?

As always, there are many more events and topics to address, but that’s all for today. Peace.