“Either you love us or you hate us,” joked Lauren Bradley, “But nonetheless, you’re here because you care.” Bradley, assistant to Asheville’s city manager, was addressing a group of some 30 Asheville residents who had turned out for the first session of Citizen’s Academy, a workshop series that’s meant to give residents an up-close look at the inner workings of city government. The course began with a warm welcome from Bradley and Administrative Assistant Trisha Hardin, who also works in the city manager’s office.
The room was filled with active citizens from all walks of Asheville life: artists, business owners, real-estate professionals, sustainable-development advocates, a neighborhood-association president and even an eighth grader in the midst of home-schooling who aspires to some day become involved in city government. Many were newcomers and, judging by the introductory remarks, all seemed proud to call Asheville home.
The course, which runs from April 10 until July 8, is already full and in session—but Mountain Xpress readers can get a recap of the three-hour classes here in “Citizen Xpress.” In the coming weeks, Citizen’s Academy will provide an inside look at the Asheville Police Department, a tour of the Mills River Water Treatment Plant, a presentation on the city’s Planning and Engineering department and more. Xpress will take notes on it all, and we’re making it a homework assignment to fill you in on what you missed.