I must begin with a double disclaimer. I’m not a resident of Asheville or Buncombe County. I am also Not From Here, having moved (from Florida, of course) to our Madison County farm back in 1975. But I’ve watched downtown Asheville change from a boarded-up wasteland to the vibrant place that it is today, just as I’ve watched condos and McMansions begin to cover the once-wooded hillsides that made the area so appealing in the first place. Change for better … and for worse.
What would I like to see happen in the Asheville area in 2012? Oh, I can make a never-ending wish list, beginning with universal peace and love, harmony, understanding and respect for all living things. With the wave of a wand, I’d ensure that mountaintop removal was forever banned, that fracking was a silly euphemism rather than a threat to the water table, that new housing blended into the landscape, that there were no unwanted children or pets, that recycling became a way of life for everyone, that conspicuous consumption was something to be ashamed of.
But I don’t have a magic wand. More’s the pity. And wishing is just a hazy beginning. It’s the second question that’s the kicker: What will I make happen?
There are lots of good organizations already in place, working to achieve the goals on my wish list. One that I’m especially interested in is Muddy Sneakers (muddysneakers.org), a local group that works with fifth-grade classes in the area “enriching North Carolina’s standard course of study with hands-on learning in pristine forest areas and wilderness sites and allowing students to develop a personal connection with the land, become more physically active, gain in self-confidence and connection with peers.”
In a time when it’s far too easy for kids to grow up detached from nature, a program like Muddy Sneakers is vital for helping the next generation appreciate and respect the environment, and understand the necessity for protecting this amazing place in which we live.
There are many other shining examples of groups out there working for positive change. But as a writer, I believe I can have the most impact by continuing to record and preserve the fast-disappearing old ways. I hope to promote in my work, a deeper understanding of the unique qualities of our mountains — their flora and fauna and their peoples, from the first Cherokee to the most recent transplant. And I hope that this understanding will translate to a desire to preserve and care for these same flora, fauna and people.
For more about Vicki Lane, visit http://vickilanemysteries.com.