Ami Worthen and Westsound Community Action and Cultural Diversity in Asheville

A Major Shift

“It was one of the most interesting meetings I’ve seen in a long, long time. And honestly, it did feel like something major had shifted. There were years when no one commented during budget public hearing. I don’t think that will ever happen again and think what we saw last night will be a lot more common for budget hearings from now on.”

That quote is from the Asheville Blade‘s David Forbes about Tuesday night’s Asheville City Council budget hearing, where many people stood up to voice their disapproval of the proposed $1M increase requested by the Asheville Police Department to hire more officers. This shift is very heartening, to say the least. Speakers expressed concern about the racism embedded in the police department and offered suggestions of ways the city can invest resources to increase community safety and wellbeing instead of spending more money on policing. Click here for a video of the meeting.

Volunteer interpreters at the city budget hearing. Photo by Virginia Daffron.

The Citizen-Times covered the hearing in this story, “Police funding opponents pack Asheville budget hearing.” Excerpts: “Several speakers echoed the larger national debate over police racial bias, including Dewanna Little, an African-American resident who said she’s experienced problems locally. ‘We are the ones who police stop walking down the street,’ Little said.”

“Some of the biggest applause came after Luis Serabio, who was providing live interpretation in Spanish, spoke against the funding. Serabio told council members more needed to be done to include Hispanics in local government. ‘All of you, what do you do to reach out to my community?’ he said.” This is an essential question for our Asheville. The interpretation was coordinated by a local nonprofit (I did not catch if it was CIMA or CPC), not by the City of Asheville. It’s is past time for more language justice.

council forum

Related, last Sunday the Asheville People’s Council hosted the first forum of candidates running for the three seats that are coming open on city council. The focus of the forum was policing. It was a very powerful and eye-opening conversation, with lots of thoughtful dialogue, emotion, and fruitful discomfort. Click here for a video of the forum, or click here to read the Asheville Blade’s coverage of the event.

Asheville City Writers in the Schools & Community was recently celebrated at the Asheville City Schools Foundation‘s “Celebration of Champions” for their work with Word on the Street/La Voz de Los Jovenes. I’ve written about WOTS before, and will continue to highlight this transformative program whenever I can. Click here or above to watch the incredibly inspiring short video created for the celebration.

Ami Worthen and Westsound Community Action and Cultural Diversity in AshevilleThe Montford Music & Arts Festival happened last Saturday, and I had a great time performing with my band Krekel & Whoa. A special treat was when our friends from Westsound joined us on stage. I appreciated the community/neighborhood vibe at the festival, and, as a resident of Montford, felt grateful for the opportunity to have fun with my neighbors. We cannot overestimate the importance of taking such time together. I was also very happy to learn about African American history signs that are being installed in the new bus stop on Montford. Below is a photo of one of them. I look forward to seeing more such signs throughout the city.

african american history

On Wednesday, June 14, the WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition is hosting a lunch and learn entitled “Holding Ourselves Accountable for Equity and Inclusion.” Many of you have reached about to me looking for strategies to increase equity and inclusion in your businesses and organizations, this lunch and learn could be helpful to your process. Click here for more information and to register.

That’s it for today, thank you for reading!


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