IN THE BEGINNING: Reputed to be the third oldest river in the world, the French Broad has gone from a polluted industrial dumping ground to a key cog in Western North Carolina’s outdoor and tourism industries. This renaissance is a result of government, nonprofit, and individual efforts to improve water quality throughout the watershed. Photo by Mike Belleme; courtesy of Transylvania Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Development Authority

Communitie­s along Upper French Broad work to restore water quality

In this two-part series, Xpress invites you on a guided a trip down the river as we examine the work of various communities to write the next chapter in the French Broad’s history, beginning with Transylvania and Henderson counties.

EMPOWERING EDUCATION: Corrie Price, a former teacher and the student empowerment director at i.b.mee, models and coaches teachers the art and science of resiliency and connection in the classroom so students are truly ready to learn, grow and contribute. Photo courtesy of i.b.mee

Conscious Party: Asheville Celebrates Teachers Extravagan­za

WHAT: A self-care celebration for Western North Carolina educators WHEN: Wednesday Aug. 2, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. WHERE: Asheville Music Hall WHY: With the start of the school year quickly approaching, the days before teachers are thrust back into a hectic classroom are limited — a problem that i.b.mee, a nonprofit focused on empowerment […]

PAYING TRIBUTE: "We are are asking for your donation to launch our Women Who Made Music History concert series," Peggy Ratusz, left, and Paula Hanke write online, "where we entertain and educate while we honor and pay emotional tribute to an array of influential divas, dames and darlings."

Faces in the crowd: WNC crowdfundi­ng initiative­s

Each week, Xpress highlights notable WNC crowdsourcing initiatives that may inspire readers to become new faces in the crowd. This week features a female duo’s traveling tribute to iconic songstresses before them; a parent’s efforts to end lunch debt shaming in local schools; and a team of Erwin High track athletes’ trip to compete at nationals.

"This was a personal satisfaction to know that you were the owner of your things," Guerra, a member of the Emma community said. Photo by Kari Barrows

Housing co-ops, a potential affordable housing solution

The second in a three-part series on innovative models for promoting affordable homeownership sponsored by the city of Asheville focused on housing cooperatives. The May 4 education and information event provided perspectives from national experts as well as representatives of the Dulce Lomita Mobile Home Cooperative in Asheville.

SCHOOL DAZE: Shown here in a 2008 photo, Eben Heasley is a long-time educator at Evergreen Community Charter School. Though he says he loves the teaching profession, Heasley says he's planning to leave it for a second career that offers a better balance of schedule, stress and compensation. Photo courtesy of Evergreen Community Charter School

Burned out: Preserving Asheville’­s teacher corps

When seasoned teachers leave the classroom, everybody suffers. Students lose out on the benefits of the educators’ experience, school systems struggle to find and train replacements and the larger community often mourns the departure of a valued contributor with established relationships. While Asheville and Buncombe County public schools have lower teacher turnover than in other parts of the state, retaining and attracting the best teachers is increasingly challenging.

MAKING THE GRADE: Kathryn Medford, left, works with Tristan Cox at a recent Homework Diner at Enka Middle School. Tristan began attending the weekly dinners with his grandmother, Portia Simpson, in order to improve his grades.

Feed your brain: Homework Diner program offers families dinner, academic support

Homework isn’t something students or their parents necessarily look forward to tackling in those precious after-school hours of freedom — especially when there’s also dinner to worry about. But the new Homework Diner initiative spearheaded by the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County offers help with schoolwork while feeding families and the community in […]

TIDAL WAVE: Walter Vicente is a master stitcher, sample maker and worker-owner at the Valdese-based company Opportunity Threads. With nearly half of local businesses owned by baby-boomers, economic analysts are working to draw attention to the impending mass retirements of these owners, while others advocate alternative succession plans, like employee cooperatives. Photo courtesy of Opportunity Threads.

Passing the torch: What happens when local business owners retire?

With 45 percent of business owners in Buncombe County alone facing retirement in the next decade, local groups and service providers are encouraging them to start planning for their company’s next chapter, while simultaneously devising ways to turn an impending crisis into an opportunity for employees to shoulder new responsibilities.

HERE COMES THE SUN: Appalachian Offsets is offering an opportunity to offset your carbon footprint and support a solar array for Isaac Dickson Elementary at the same time. Rendering courtesy of Appalachian Offsets

Appalachia­n Offsets seeks donors to help Isaac Dickson school go solar

Appalachian Offsets is providing an opportunity for Asheville residents to both protect the environment and invest in environmental education, by helping fund Isaac Dickson Elementary School’s much-anticipated 600-kilowatt solar system. Donations can be made via Appalachian Offsets’ website, which calculates a person’s carbon footprint and then asks for a donation to offset that footprint. The […]