An Asheville native reflects, laments

I grew up here, attended preschool at both First Presbyterian downtown and Asbury United Methodist, [and visited] the north branch of the library when it was behind First Union Bank. I frequented Beanstreets and Reader’s Corner. I’ve watched this town and all the changes it’s been through. Businesses come and go, and some preschools might still be around when I have kids. As a product of Asheville who has now lived in various places, I’m most disappointed … by the apparent lack of respect and care for the town that so many more people call home.

Cigarette butts decorate the sidewalks, litter dances in the wind along the streets and the primary waterway — the French Broad — is a very dirty gal indeed. Is this what we’ve become? The Paris of the South turned dirty and neglected? As a native, I must say, I’m no longer as proud as I once was of my hometown. I’ve seen downtown go from being a unique and accessible destination for artists and community activists to a place racked with cars and sky-high housing in the middle of town.

Of the places I’ve lived in — Kansas, Colorado and Washington — each has easily accessible outlets for a host of environmental action, from city-run compost piles to sectioned recycling containers on the sidewalks. With all the environmental activism we claim to have in [Asheville], where are our recycling bins on the street sides? But perhaps cleaning up our cigarette butts would be a more logical place to start.

Asheville is only going to get bigger and more populated from here, and though the culture in this town is indeed unique, and Asheville has a reputation for being one of the “happiest” places in the country, let’s build on these advantages and acknowledgments to restore what we’re about: art, environmental action and beauty. I and the French Broad will most certainly thank you.

— Camille Cody
Port Townsend, Wash.

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