Culture Cultivators

Asheville has long been known as a cultural and creative hot spot, or “vortex,” as you will. This is certainly an aspect of our city I celebrate. I am currently half way through writing four articles for the Mountain Xpress about some of our city’s current cultural cultivators and their work. The first two stories, which are out in print, are highlighted below. All four stories are about visionary people who are willing to stretch themselves to create and activate. People who refreshingly do not represent our dominant white, straight culture. Let’s support them. We can fertilize a more diverse culture ecosystem.

Elizabeth Lashay Garland and Alexis Wardlaw. Photo by Cindy Kunst.

Click here to read my story about Slay the Mic, a radio show on Asheville FM, with hosts that are also active in the community. Teaser from the Xpress site: “DJs Alexis Wardlaw and Elizabeth Lashay Garland have connected artists, activists and audiences. They are providing spaces for mutual support, both on the air and off. The goal is for increased synergy and visibility of black culture in Asheville.” You can tune into the show Saturdays from 5 to 7, and listen to past shows on the Slay the Mic page on the Asheville FM website. If you’re a social media person, give them a follow, they rock their FB and IG accounts, expanding the impact of their show.

Cast of Left Behind: Reflection, which opens Nov. 30 at 35below

Click here to read my story about Left Behind: Reflection, a play by Monica McDaniel which opens this weekend. Teaser from the Xpress site: “Of black-led theater, McDaniel says, ‘People want it and people crave it. I think we need it here. You can go to the big cities and see it any time — the big cities are spoiled. Let’s spoil each other here.'” You can buy tickets to the show via the Asheville Community Theatre website.

City of Asheville Disparity Study

The City of Asheville just released the dismal results of disparity study of the demographics of the businesses that receive money through contracts with the city.

Ashley Cooper created this graphic, which she posted with the text, “In the graphs the City of Asheville released about the disparities in government contracts, one demographic was represented in the numbers presented, but not labeled in any of their charts. Below is a new chart illustrating the information the City has released from the Disparity Study regarding the $118 million that it spends on contracts. How we organize data influences the story that is being told. You can see the City’s presentation with the original data here.”

disparity study

Systemic racism is real and has barely been addressed in our city. There is so much work to be done. Ashley also wrote a letter to City Council about this study, with some excellent suggestions for action steps. You can click here to read it, then write Council as well.

YTL Summer Campers 2018

In other equity-related city news, YTL Training Program posted an update on FB about their proposal asking the City to lease the Stephens Lee Recreation Center to them for $1/year. For transparency’s sake, I will note that I work with YTL. Clearly, the City needs to pursue new strategies to get new results for Asheville’s black community. This could be one of those strategies. Sign up for YTL’s email list to be notified when there are opportunities to support this effort.

Reminder to keep an eye on my events calendar, there is some good stuff on there. Thanks again to Keaton Hill for helping to curate it.



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