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.

BUILDING ON SOMETHING: Before a house can be raised or a unit can be repurposed, land use has to be sorted out. A group of affordable housing activists are in the driver’s seat to spend $1 million of Asheville’s general obligation bond money on a community land trust. The fledgling group will grow into a membership organization that will own pieces of land on behalf of the community, to be used to help address the city’s affordable housing problem. Photo courtesy of Asheville Area Habitat for Humanity

Community land trust project has bumpy launch

If trust is a function of time, an innovative approach to affordable housing may already be in trouble. On July 13, about 30 community stakeholders gathered in an echoey auditorium at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Center and took the first meandering steps toward establishing a community land trust. But the two-hour meeting produced […]

Graphic by Scott Southwick and Able Allen

Is WNC fairly represente­d on state boards and commission­s?

“We’re certainly not overrepresented,” says Republican Rep. Chuck McGrady, who’s in his fourth term representing Henderson County in Raleigh. In fact, depending on how you break down the numbers, you could say that Western North Carolina falls a little short of genuinely proportional representation on state boards and commissions, according to data obtained from the […]

GROWING THE ARTS: "If the kids want to play basketball, they can go to that court over there, but what if they want to be a theater major or artist or performer?” asks Hood Huggers International co-founder DeWayne Barton, center in green shirt. “We want to create that structure in the neighborhood.” The collaborative Ancestors in the Garden event looks to provide such a solution.

Peace Garden partners with local theater for a community rejuvenati­on project

On Saturday, June 3, Hood Huggers will celebrate a new partnership with Voices United (a youth theater program that teaches young people to write, produce and perform in their own musicals) and Asheville Creative Arts (a local children’s theater company) by producing Ancestors in the Garden, a music and art event at the Peace Garden.

UNDER OBSERVATION: Kathleen Godfrey (left), 8, and her sister Eleanor, 6, check the rain gauges their family monitors as observers for the CoCoRaHS program. Photo courtesy of Christopher Godfrey

Backyard scientists fill gaps in weather tracking

This year’s rainy spring has been keeping citizen science volunteers with the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network busy checking their gauges and recording the rainfall totals. The network helps fill in the gaps in data between official weather stations and allows scientists to form a more accurate and complete picture of the region’s weather patterns.

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER: While community members largely spoke out in favor of Alternative 4B for Section B of the I-26 Connector Project, several aspects of NCDOT’s design, such as the three bridges that would span the French Broad River near Montford (above), have a coalition of Montford neighbors and others questioning the scale and scope of the design. Image via NCDOT; courtesy of DWAC

Despite progress, concerns about the I-26 Connector persist

When the DOT finally decided on a design for Section B of the Connector project in 2015, many stakeholders thought they saw light at the end of a very long tunnel. Other residents, however, see serious flaws in Alternative 4B, questioning whether the project’s long-term benefits will justify the sacrifices their neighborhoods must make to see it completed.

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