Fortify the Fortifying

Discouragement and despair wash up on the shores of my psyche daily. The dissonant banging of construction outside my window shakes my concentration and my confidence in the possibility of positive change. Tuning into the news crumbles my courage. Optimism often eludes me.

Yet – incredible groups of people are not only holding on to hope, they are actively engaging in collective creativity, imagination, and manifestation. They are building and fortifying platforms for love, transformation, and liberation. They lead me back to my optimism again and again and again.

Today I’ll share about two such fortifying groups and ask you to fortify them in return: Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community (whose programs include Word on the Street/La Voz de Los Jovenes) and Firestorm Books.

mountain of words
Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community

As I wrote in my last post, I am participating the the Asheville Writers in the Schools and Community’s annual Mountain of Words Write-a-Thon. Why?

“Because AWITSC ignites social change through the power of the arts, culture and restorative self expression…Because AWITSC works with children, teens and families who are too often overlooked and unheard…Because AWITSC programs provide learning and healing spaces where they are inspired to share their voices, talents and power to create a more just and equitable world…Because the collective power of financial generosity will help to create a sustainable future for these vital programs.”

The narratives we experience, and who creates them, shape our reality. This work is shaping our world in wonderful ways.

Word on the Street Squad
Word on the Street/La Voz de Los Jovenes squad meeting.

I’m very happy to report that I have raised $500 in sponsorship so far, exceeding my initial goal of $250. Many many thanks to everyone who sponsored me! However, AWITSC still has a ways to go to reach their $10,000 goal. You can still click here to support this fundraiser by choosing a writer or writers to sponsor – it is an incredible group of folks participating in the Write-a-Thon.

You can also join AWITSC this Saturday, November 17, at 7 pm at the Lenoir Rhyne School for Graduate Studies, for a celebration featuring readings, music, wine, and light desserts. This is a free event, though an RSVP is requested, click here to get your ticket. As the invite states, “2018 has been tremendously rough for our community, and we want to get off the internet and spend some time face-to-face. There is something magical that happens when we gather and share stories.” I’m ready for that magic for sure.

firestorm sustainers.jpg

Firestorm Books

Part of why the construction sounds near my house are so disheartening is that they are an audible reminder of the unsustainable development and gentrification that has been happening in Asheville. Through this, we’ve seen racial disparities increase, racial diversity decrease, and an innovative artistic ethos be drowned in beer.

Which is why Firestorm Books is so essential. They cater to the resistance, not the rich. They lead us towards liberation and away from cultural devastation. Remembering key community spaces we have lost, I shudder to imagine our city without them.

Firestorm is currently recruiting monthly sustainers via their Patreon page, with a goal of 200 by the end of the year (they are at 56 as of today). You can be a sustainer for a little as $7.50 a month, and you’ll get some cool perks. As they explain, “Our sustainers ensure that our co-operative continues to have the resources needed to do grassroots community work that is unmonetized and accessible to all. This includes hosting over 200 free and unique events per year, providing space for numerous activist organizations, offering free computer access, regularly donating resources to local changemakers, and acting as a platform for the community work of our members. In the first half of 2018 we hosted 750 hours of grassroots content – more than four hours per day!”

firestorm books
Just a few of the many amazing books available at Firestorm.

“Ideally bookselling would be so profitable that our co-operative would not only finance tons of great community work but also pass off sacks of gold coins to other rabble-rousers throughout Southern Appalachia. In fact, we’ve committed to doing just that if books ever get as popular in this town as beer! But meanwhile, we’ve been covering the costs of maintaining grassroots infrastructure largely out of our own pockets.”

Click here to become a monthly sustainer of Firestorm, a true Asheville treasure.


WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition Professional Development Series

Just a quick note that the WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition talk on communication that I was scheduled to give on October 11 was rescheduled due to weather. It is going to to this Thursday, November 15 at 6 pm. My presentation will be part of the time, with the rest to include a panel on diversity and the series graduation. Click here to register. I am looking forward to my first official public speaking gig, and I would be interested in doing this kind of thing more often, please keep me in mind for such opportunities. If you have an idea, you can contact me here.

Gratitude to all of you for reading and for your continued compassionate action. You are another group of people who give me hope.  

Click here for a Community Events Calendar


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