BIG RIVER: Flooding concerns have played a pivotal part in the recent debate over redevelopment plans for the River Arts District. Photo by Xpress.

If the creek don’t rise: Flooding, money and politics in the River Arts District

City plans to improve infrastructure, expand public space, increase access and encourage private development in the River Arts District have triggered considerable controversy. Xpress reached out to the city, RAD business and property owners, and organizations involved in the now flourishing area’s revitalization to try to answer some key questions.

“[Hall Fletcher] is a great school, but an unrecognized one,” says the elementary school's principal Gordon Grant, citing the establishment's 72 percent rate for children on free or reduced lunch as the highest in Asheville. “[But] a school for poor children should look as beautiful and attractive as any school for any child anywhere,” Grant says. His team hopes to engage students of all backgrounds by “bringing the classroom outside” with an Outdoor Learning Center. Project renderings courtesy of Hall Fletcher Elementary

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 Hall Fletcher Elementary school’s outdoor learning space, Roots + Wings School of Art and Design’s expansion onto a new campus and local band The Circus Mutts’ quest to raise funds for a new tour vehicle.

CALL ME HARLEY: After selling his house, most of his possessions and quitting his job, 58-year-old Henry Wasserman, under trail-name Harley, began his Appalachian journey on March 19. All photos courtesy of Wasserman.

Transforma­tive journey: Appalachia­n Trail thru-hiker reconsider­s his life path

On February 18, Xpress published “Tales from the Trail,” detailing the experiences of Appalachian Trail thru-hiker Gary Sizer. In the story, we met Henry Wasserman, who was seeking a transformative experience on the A.T. On March 19 Wasserman began his months-long trek north, trudging mile after mile through red Georgia clay.

ORCHARD PROJECT: Volunteers came out on a beautiful day to plant an orchard on a formerly vacant green space in the Hillcrest Apartment complex.

In photos: Hillcrest get an organic boost from GreenWorks

Asheville GreenWorks partnered up April 11 with volunteers to transform an empty green lot at Hillcrest Apartments into an orchard. GreenWorks received a grant to plant its sixth community orchard at Hillcrest, with 24 ball-and-burlap apple trees and 36 blueberries. The goal is to promote better access to food, greenspace, shade, community pride and jobs.

Mother Earth News Fair

Mother Earth News Fair gets down and dirty in Asheville

Mother Earth News Fair returns to the Western North Carolina Agriculture Center on Saturday, April 11, and Sunday, April 12, marking the fair’s second consecutive appearance in Asheville. The fair is an opportunity for fans of the bi-monthly environmental magazine to get hands-on experience with the topics covered in the publication from sustainable agriculture to green home building.