Editor’s note: For our fall Nonprofit issue, we invited local nonprofit leaders to reflect on the successes and challenges of operating a 501(c)(3) in Western North Carolina.
Aaron Snook is the co-founder and curator of America Myth Center. The nonprofit works to curate stories that spark difficult conversations within the community.
What are some of the myths that your organization is actively working to dispel?
Snook: Myth is a tricky word, and we embrace its seemingly contradictory definitions. On the one hand, myths are false narratives like the Lost Cause and the American Dream; on the other, they are powerful stories that can provide catharsis for a community. At the AMC, we aim to create new powerful myths aimed at dispelling the old deceitful myths
How has your work with the Vance Birthplace been effective in addressing your mission?
Both collaborations with the Vance Birthplace and the Mountain History and Culture Group have been the purest representations of the work we want to do, existing in the intersection of art and activism. Our An Appalachian Christmas Carol and Leah & the Rabbit bring stories into our community that spark a necessary conversation around our country’s relationship to racism and justice.
What has been your AMC’s greatest success in 2023?
Leah & the Rabbit was a puppet show written and directed by Mikayla Wilson that tells the stories of Brer Rabbit through the eyes of Leah, who was enslaved by the Vance family. In 2023, Leah & the Rabbit played at the Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, Asheville Amadeus Festival and then in a Buncombe County tour produced by the AMC that took the show to four libraries and back to where it began at the Vance Birthplace for Juneteenth.
What is one new goal you’re excited to address in 2024?
We are producing a puppet show that takes the classic story of The Three Little Pigs and uses it to illuminate the history of redlining and urban renewal in Asheville. In support of the organizing efforts around reparations in Asheville, we see this as a vital story to bring to our community.