On a recent visit to Asheville, I was surprised at the changes that have taken place in the “Paris of the South" in the year since I moved away. After living here for four years, I came to the conclusion that there was very little about the overall structure [of] Asheville that is sustainable; I have suffered through the agony of relocating to a place where the wind chill gets below minus-30 degrees for real life improvements.
From the local media, I saw that Pastabilities was shutting down — with no mention of places like the Village Wayside [in Biltmore] adapting to the economy. In other media outlets there are [stories] that fit a very specific image [of Asheville] and that artists of all types will be milled through. Even if artists moved to Asheville last month and leave the next, they are considered "local," which disregards the efforts of the actual local artist community that struggles to survive. Asheville seems to represent a microcosm of the larger global economy: catering to the interests of the wealthy while Rome burns.
I'm really not sure how much longer the town itself can sustain the image that has made it such a popular destination without really doing some serious self-examination. It’s great that the Biltmore [Estate] exists, but does the entire culture of Western North Carolina have to pivot on making rich people feel better about themselves by hiding away from any of the help? Are there any technology groups in the classifieds? Where are the green jobs? What about the smart grid? To sit back and allow the [class] disparity to widen in Asheville is beyond hypocrisy for the liberals and progressives, and gets at the very core of the unemployment, homelessness and all the other unstable features Asheville has to offer the working class.
— Dallas Taylor
White Bear Lake, Minn.