Around Town: Buncombe County Special Collections blog opens to community posts

HAVE YOUR HEARD? Buncombe County Special Collections manager Katherine Cutshall hopes opening the HeardTell blog to community submissions will encourage a sense of agency and community centered on the archives. Photo courtesy of BCSC

The Buncombe County Special Collections room at Pack Memorial Library doesn’t get a ton of foot traffic. But thanks to its HeardTell blog, BCSC welcomes about 100 virtual visitors each day, says collections manager Katherine Cutshall.

The blog, which started in 2013, has more than 300 posts on local topics, including the recent five-part series, “Occupations of Black Women in Asheville, 1890.”

“We often direct patrons to the blog as they begin their research because so many of the posts include basic information that might traditionally be found in a vertical file,” Cutshall explains. “The blog is perfect for outreach because not only does it make it easy to connect to our more than 4,000 followers, but it highlights how Buncombe County Special Collections is home to more than a bunch of old books.”

Since its launch, postings on the blog have been limited to staff and regular volunteers. But starting in July, BCSC will accept submissions from residents as part of its mission to connect the community and share a wide range of voices and ideas, Cutshall says.

Blog posts generally should be about 500-1,500 words, she says. Topics can range from observations, curiosities and hidden histories to personal memories. In-depth research is not expected, but submissions should be factually accurate and include citations when appropriate.

And BCSC staff is especially interested in posts that include plenty of visuals and are linked to collections and materials held in the library.

“Our hope is that this effort to crowdsource tales of our past will result in a sense of agency and community centered on the archives,” Cutshall says.

To see the submission guidelines and find out how to submit entries, go to

Reality bytes

As a film editor, Jaime Byrd spent 15 years traveling to Mexico, Southeast Asia and other places around the world. But when the pandemic hit in 2020, everything was put on hold.

“I ended up using the downtime to start painting again,” she says. “It was not long before I got involved in NFTs [nonfungible tokens] and creating digital movies of my paintings. It was a perfect time to merge these two art forms and skills I had into one.”

Trackside Studios in the River Arts District will host Home and the Journey There, an exhibit of Byrd’s works, through Sunday, July 31. A reception for the show will be Saturday, July 2, 4-7 p.m.

Visitors to the show can use phones or tablets to download a free online app and then point their camera at Byrd’s paintings to view an augmented reality experience that includes animation, video and sound design created to go with the specific painting.

“The experience is fun and can be exhilarating and even magical,” she says.

The paintings in the show were inspired by Byrd’s nomadic travels around the globe and the various places she has called home. “It explores our emotional connection to these places and what home might mean to each of us,” she says.

Trackside Studios, 375 Depot St., is open daily 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to   

Valley days

Dykeman Legacy Press recently published Jo Ann Thomas Croom’s No Work in the Grave: Life in the Toe River Valley, a history of the watershed told from the perspective of one mountain family.

The book weaves together the journals of Thomas Croom’s uncle, Monroe Thomas, the written reminiscences of her father, Walter Thomas, and the author’s own observations. Combined, the three voices offer an in-depth look at the transformations in the Toe River Valley during the first half of the 20th century.

“This sweeping change, driven by the railroad and large-scale mining, upended personal lives as well as the socioeconomic culture of the Toe River Valley,” states a press release from the publisher. “While this is the story of one particular family, it represents a microcosm of the history of the region.”

Dykeman Legacy Press is a division of the Wilma Dykeman Legacy, a nonprofit founded in 2012 to sustain and promote Wilma Dykeman’s values of environmental integrity, social justice and the power of the written and spoken word.

For more information, visit

Skin in the game

This Skin I’m In, a collection of visual autobiographies by artists in and engaged with the LGBTQIA+ community, will be at Revolve Gallery Saturday, July 2-Monday, Aug. 29.

Photographers were invited to submit images and narratives that expressed their personal experiences of queerness. “The goal is to empower the photographers to be seen and heard as they wish, and not as a viewer may preconceive,” a press release says.

The show features work by 21 photographers at different points in their careers, including Michael Borowski, a professor who teaches photography at Virginia Tech’s School of Visual Arts, and Julie Rae Powers, a photographer whose work has focused on Appalachia and queer chosen families.

The show is curated by local photographer Starr Sariego.

Revolve Gallery, 821 Riverside Drive, No. 179, is open daily, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. For more information, go to

Tennis, anyone?

The 90th Asheville Open Tennis Championships will be held at Aston Park Tennis Center Tuesday, July 5-Sunday, July 10 (adults) and Saturday-Sunday, July 23-24 (juniors).

“It’s the biggest tennis event of the year here, bringing about 600 players and their families into town from as far away as Zimbabwe,” says Larry Shames, who helps with publicity for the event. “While tennis is the main focus of the event, it’s also an Aston Park-based festival, with live music, food trucks and beer.”

Friday Night Lights Family Festival, featuring beer, music and prizes, will be Friday, July 8, 5-8 p.m.

Aston Park Tennis Center is at 336 Hilliard Ave. To volunteer, get tickets or learn more, go to

Windows 2.0

Historic Johnson Farm recently received grants of $25,000 from the Community Foundation of Henderson County and $10,000 from the Marion Stedman Covington Foundation to begin restoration of the windows on the historic brick farmhouse.

The glass in the 142-year-old house is original, but the window frames have peeling paint and will need to be scraped, primed and painted. Low-emissivity glass storm windows will be installed to provide the ultraviolet protection to protect artifacts inside the house.

Logan Restoration of Asheville will do the restorative work.

Historic Johnson Farm is a heritage education museum owned by Henderson County Public Schools.

To contribute to restoration project, send a check to the farm at 3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville, NC, 28791. Online donations can also be given at by clicking “Give to the farm” and choosing “Window Restoration Project” from the drop-down list.


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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