“What does it take to rebuild community as a beautifully defiant act of resistance and a necessary tool in our collective survival?” Marisol Jiménez offered a beautiful, powerful, poetic testimony in response to that question at a recent CreativeMornings event. I highly encourage you to take 15 minutes to watch the video of her deeply moving talk.
“The foundation of activism, I believe, is love. I believe it is hope. I believe it is sacred and ancestral. It is radical visions of liberation that are more spiritual than anything of this place.” — Marisol Jimenez
Support Steady Collective
In my post, “Capitalism vs. Community,” I wrote about how the City of Asheville issued notice of zoning violations to 12 Baskets Cafe/Kairos West Community Center and Steady Collective (specifically their weekly needle exchange at Firestorm Books), putting those programs in danger of having to close. Happily, the violations against 12 Baskets have been revoked. Unfortunately, the Steady Collective is still vulnerable.
Here is their most recent update:
“On Friday, August 31st — just hours after our fundraiser was launched — it was confirmed that Steady Collective’s contract with Buncombe County could not be renewed. Due to the notice of zoning violation, Steady’s insurer refused to renew the organization’s policy. It is a condition of Steady’s contract with the county that insurance coverage be maintained. The notice of zoning violation mis-characterizing Steady Collective’s outreach at Firestorm as a ‘shelter’ has now directly resulted in the loss of thousands of dollars of critical funding for harm reduction in Asheville. As Steady’s Director, Hillary Brown, reminded those gathered Friday evening for Overdose Awareness Day, we are in the state with the second fastest growth rate for overdose. We cannot zone our way out of the crisis.
When we met with Asheville’s principal planner Shannon Tuch and city attorney Robin Currin last week, we learned something new and concerning. City officials stated that, regardless of the outcome of our appeal, it is their intention to write ‘syringe exchange’ into the Unified Development Ordinance as a particular ‘land use.’ Like disaster relief organizations, syringe access programs must go where the need is greatest. If syringe access is added to the city’s zoning code, it will create barriers to response, and organizations like Steady may end up fighting an uphill battle every time they enter a different area of town. Worse, as the first municipality in North Carolina to consider such regulation, Asheville could set a dangerous precedent for the entire state drastically reducing the effectiveness of harm reduction work throughout the region. We can’t afford to let that happen!”
Stephens Lee Update
As I posted in “Returning Stephens Lee to the Black Community,” Libby Kyles of the YTL Training Program is asking the City of Asheville to lease the Stephens Lee Recreation Center to her program, with the expectation the center would be shared with other black-led organizations. This proposal was discussed during the last city council meeting, and these tweets from David Forbes of the Asheville Blade summarize what was said.
I’ll report on developments as I learn of them.
One piece of good news related to space for black-led programs is that My Daddy Taught Me That and My Sistah Taught Me That have signed a lease on a location in the Asheville Mall. If you’d like to support them with this big step, click here for their registry for furniture, etc. Congratulations to Keynon and Leslie Lake on manifesting this!
Help Monica Make a Move
My friend Monica is trying to move out of her mold-ridden apartment and into a house she owns. She’s started a GoFundMe to help make this happen: Click here to support.
Stumptown/Hill Street Mural Dedication
A new Stumptown/Hill Street mural at Isaac Dickson Elementary School will be dedicated on Friday, September 21 at 5:30, followed by a school wide potluck. This looks like a beautiful project, which utilized oral histories and local artists to create a permanent tribute to a historically African American neighborhood, one of the first to be devastated by urban renewal. Here’s to art and healing.
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