normal was the crisis

Normal was the crisis. You know that. Which is why, instead of trying to “get back to normal,” we’re cultivating more life affirming alternatives.

“Demand a New Normal: Everything for Everyone” (Autonomous Design Group)

As I prepare to present the next topic, believe me I know it is one of the lesser challenges we’re facing. Still, it is an issue I continue to address, even as my heart and cells are oriented around a global perspective. It is always a moment of global moments. A time to be in solidarity with those activating greater possibilities of liberation and healing in Palestine, Columbia, India, México, and across this planet. We are interconnected, our freedom and joy and health is tied up in each others’ and the earth. We must consider the whole.

Yet I also hold the truth of fractals, as described in adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy, “how we are at a small scale is how we are at a large scale” and “small is all.”

We can shift right here, connecting to shifts everywhere.

The TDA is Terrible: Turn it Off

I admit to being genuinely heartened to see an op-ed in this week’s Mountain Xpress entitled, “Rampant tourism or true progress? Buncombe commissioners must rein in the TDA.” In it, Ben Williamson, interim executive director of Green Opportunities, echoes the ongoing critiques of the TDA as expressed by many over the years. He was also infuriated by their recent retreat, which, he says, “made it painfully clear that the only way to rein in this broken entity is for the commissioners to use their power to repeal the occupancy tax that funds the authority’s efforts. That would put pressure on state lawmakers to allow the use of future occupancy tax receipts to meet pressing local needs.”

He lays out the reasons for repeal including unchecked growth, lack of local input, community disconnect (lack of true representation), and resistance to funding community needs. On the latter, he states, “Addressing our essential needs would benefit all economic sectors, including tourism. But the commissioners must stop allowing economically stressed workers and families to subsidize this bloated, self-serving industry.”

The whole piece contains a strong, compassionate case for change. Another of many voices speaking out against the extractive tourism industry, and for investing in community.

At the end of the day, there is an out-of control, harmful institution that we can just turn off the funding to – an attainable win for us to achieve and use as momentum for greater transformations.

And now YOU can join in the fun and contact any and all buncombe county commissioners to let them know where you stand on this tired topic! #abolishthetda

Occupancy % graph by Asheville Quantified, data from BCTDA

Related: City council will have a public hearing (and then a vote, perhaps, not sure) on amended guidelines for Airbnbs in Asheville on Tuesday, May 25. While there are people I love who have them, I unequivocally hate the damage Airbnbs have done and are doing to my neighborhood and others. They are another piece of the problem of overtourism, and too many are gaming the system. Let’s restrict them as much as possible. 

How to Kill a City

Today I started reading How to Kill a City by Peter Moskowitz. The introduction reminds us, “Gentrification is not about individual acts; it’s about systemic violence based on decades of racist housing policy in the United States that has denied people of color, especially black people, access to the same kinds of housing, and therefore the same levels of wealth, as white Americans. Gentrification cannot happen without this deeply rooted inequality; if we were all equal, there could be no gentrifier and no gentrified, no perpetrator or victim. Gentrification is also the inevitable result of a political system focused more on the creation and expansion of business opportunity than on the well-being of its citizens (what I refer to as neoliberalism). With little federal funding for housing, transportation, or anything else, American cities are now forced to rely completely on their tax base to pay for basic services, and the richer a city’s tax base, the easier those services are to fund. That can mean attracting the wealthy to cities, actively pushing out the poor (who are a drain in taxes), or both. The latter seems to be the preferred one in most cities these days.”

Whew! More language to name the dynamics at play in order to disrupt them. Maybe y’all can read this book, too (if you haven’t already), and we could talk about it with each other. While we’re at it, we could also dive into “We Do This ‘Til We Free Us” by Mariame Kaba, because the police and prisons are part of the problem, of course. Here’s to greater awareness as fuel for the fire of change. 

Protest is a Right Not a Riot

From Siembra NC:

The NC GOP is trying to criminalize dissent. HB 805 is designed to criminalize peaceful protest by expanding the definition of a “riot” or “inciting a riot,” potentially resulting in felony charges for peaceful protests – even for juveniles.

This bill is clearly targeted towards the thousands of young, Black activists who took to the streets over the last year – it is not aimed at college students who celebrate after their team wins the championship.

Join us in standing with Emancipate NC, Advance Carolina, Black Voters Matter Fund, Care in Action, the ACLU of NC and other organizations leading the charge to stop this bill.

Click here to send a letter to your state senator, or use this directory to lookup their phone number.



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