Awesome Events + More

My October piece for the Urban News is about an upcoming event that is being produced by Sheneika Smith of Date My City in partnership with Buncombe County and the UNC Asheville African Americans in WNC Conference (more details on that below) entitled, “Unsung Heroes: A Grand Celebration of Latinx and Black Resilience.” Here is the story:

Unsung Heroes: A Grand Celebration of Latinx and Black Resilience

Unsung Heroes: A Grand Celebration of Latinx and Black Resilience” will be held on Sunday, October 30 at 3 pm at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium. This celebration is free and open to the public. Unsung Heroes is the culminating event of UNC Asheville’s African Americans in WNC Conference, which begins on Thursday, October 27.

We are inviting the entire community to join us in celebrating not only these identified heroes but also to come together, to connect and align our efforts as we move toward a more resilient community. We have so much to be thankful for in our community and we know that there is great potential when we work together, recognizing what each of us has to offer.

Unsung Heroes will highlight points of light in the community through storytelling, music, and dancing. “We will celebrate the heroes’ stories of resiliency and how they have committed their life’s work to shouldering movements by lifting up ideals, giving wisdom and guidance to their communities,” says event producer Sheneika Smith. “By uncovering and celebrating the work of individuals and groups who demonstrate resilience, we will provide an opportunity for attendees to connect to this community’s resource grid.”

Attendees will leave Unsung Heroes uplifted and ready to access the extensive network of resources our community has to offer.

The Unsung Heroes who will be celebrated on October 30 are:

Educational Enrichment – Keyla Estrada
Keyla Estrada immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2015. A senior at Erwin High School, she is now a leader in the Nuestras Escuelas/Our Schools campaign and an instructor of traditional dance and Spanish language literacy with the RAICES program.

Ally – David Forbes
David Forbes, founder of the Asheville Blade, advocates relentlessly and unapologetically for marginalized communities through the powerful medium of journalism.

Arts & Entertainment – Oskar Santana
Oskar  Santana (DJ Malinalli) is a DJ who supports community, grassroots organizations, and social justice movements through his work as an artist and entertainer.

Health & Wellness – Kathey Avery
Kathy Avery is an Registered Nurse for the Asheville Buncombe Institute for Parity Achievement (ABIPA), who works with vulnerable populations providing health services and education.

Environmental Stewardship – Eric Howell
Eric Howell began as a student at Green Opportunities after making the decision to turn his life around. He is now an instructor and math tutor for the program.

Entrepreneurship – Dulce Lomita Mobile Home Cooperative, LLC
Maria del Rosario Segovia Salas, Ricardo Segovia Salas, Patricia Guerra, Bruno Hinojosa, Maria Ruiz, Rosalba Cruz, Abel Gonzalez are member-owners of Dulce Lomita. This LLC is a resident owned and governed mobile home park, and is working on creating a shareable model to prevent displacement of mobile home residents.

Historic Preservation – Priscilla Ndiaye
Priscilla Ndiaye has performed extensive research on the black community when information and scholarship seemed scarce. She researched, wrote, protested and continues to advocate for difficult issues using history as her framework.

Spirituality – Rosalia del Carmen Islas
Rosalia (Rosy) del Carmen Islas is a healer and spiritual guide who tirelessly holds space for the Latinx community’s continued healing and spiritual wellness.

Community Legacy – John R. Hayes
John Hayes has served the Asheville community since 1977 through the Hillcrest Enrichment Program, Hillcrest High-steppers Majorette and Drum Corp, the NAACP, the Empowerment Resource Center, and WRES 100.7 FM.

Community Legacy – Lucia Hinojosa Hernandez
Lucia Hernandez has been an instructor for RAICES since the beginning of the program. She holds an important place in the Latinx community as a mother and grandmother figure, because many families have been separated from their elders due to migration.

If you have questions about Unsung Heroes, email

This event is sponsored by Buncombe County.

African Americans in WNC Conference

Press release excerpt:
The third annual African Americans in Western North Carolina Conference will be held Oct. 27-30, 2016 at the YMI Cultural Center and UNC Asheville. Conference activities are free and open to everyone…The conference starts on Thursday, Oct. 27 at the YMI Cultural Center with a 6:30 p.m. reception and special presentation for community service, followed by a keynote speaker for The Jesse and Julia Ray Lecture. [Note: DeWayne Barton of Hood Huggers International will be receiving an award at this event.]

Friday, Oct. 28 [9 am to 5 pm] will feature panel discussions in UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, as well as invited presentations introducing two documentary film projects. The films will include Beneath the Veneer, which explores race, class and income mobility by taking a glimpse beneath the veneer of life in a progressive, affluent, Southern city as seen through the eyes of its “invisible black boys,” and Testify Beyond Place, a documentary film that pays homage to the Mount Zion AME Zion Church and its relationship to Western Carolina University.

UNC Asheville also will plant and dedicate a tree in memory of Don Locke, at 5:15 p.m. at Karpen Garden on campus. Locke, an author, education advocate and longtime champion for diversity, served as director of Diversity and Multiculturalism at UNC Asheville.

See You There!


(Art on the poster by my sweetie Jason Krekel.)

More announcements:

“Assessing Space” October 26
The WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition is offering a lunch and learn on “Assessing Space” 11:30 am – 1 pm Wednesday, October 26 in Brown Hall Dining Hall – UNC Asheville. “Do you ever walk into a space and get that immediate sense of ‘I belong here. I am right at home’ or another reaction of ‘Something doesn’t feel right – do I belong here?’ This interactive training facilitated by Deborah Miles, Director of the Center for Diversity, will look at how spaces are sometimes created with specific people in mind – either consciously or unconsciously. Participants will learn how to access space for ‘messages’ and learn ways to create spaces that are more welcoming for all.”

This awareness is SO important if we are to make Asheville more inclusive. Relevant to anyone with a public space they are a part of – store, church, art gallery, etc….

Firestorm Seeks Sustainers
Firestorm Books & Cafe is the only remaining bookstore collective in the Southeast. They provide a righteous space for a ton of kickass stuff, offering free events and supporting grassroots organizations. They are currently on tenuous ground. Click here to read about becoming a Firestorm sustainer to support this vital resource.

That’s it for today…
Once again, there are so many positive and important things happening in Asheville related to justice and transformation – I capture just a fraction of them here. Let me also say you can stay tuned for a first person post soon, I am overdue on sharing more of what’s in my head with you all.