Back to (Asheville’s) future

Josh Dorfman isn’t following the typical Asheville literary script. He wasn’t born here, like Thomas Wolfe and Charles Frazier, and he’s certainly not buried here, like O. Henry. Nor is he a poet (Fred Chappell), a historical-fiction writer (John Ehle) or a multitalented professor with a literary bent (David Brendan Hopes).

Groomin’ green: New Asheville resident Josh Dorfman (aka The Lazy Environmentalist) stars in a Sundance Channel series of the same name that premieres June 16 at 9 p.m. In one episode, he tries to green a dog-grooming business. Photo courtesy Rainbow Media

Instead, Dorfman is “The Lazy Environmentalist,” a blogger who became a radio host, wrote a couple of books, runs a furniture business (among other ventures), just completed shooting a TV show for the Sundance Channel and plans to start writing his next book this summer. He’ll accomplish the latter task in the comfort of his new home in Kenilworth.

Dorfman’s last book was The Lazy Environmentalist on a Budget: Save Money. Save Time. Save the Planet. (see “Saving Green by Going Green,” April 8 Xpress). The new Sundance show (simply called The Lazy Environmentalist) premieres Tuesday, June 16, at 9 p.m.

“People want to see our environmental problems solved, and they want to be part of the solution, but they’re so used to convenience,” says Dorfman. His response is to offer easy, cost-efficient ways to go green. “There’s a perception that going green is expensive, [but] when you really start to look at what’s available, there are lots of great choices right now,” Dorfman maintains.

In the new TV show, he spends one episode trying to help a dog groomer go green; in another, he challenges a school principal’s limited resources and budget, finding ways to save money and educate kids while reducing the school’s carbon footprint. In yet another episode, Dorfman helps a fashion designer create eco-friendly outfits for a male rap star. Of this most challenging assignment, he says, “We had to find the green bling.” (Watch the show to see if Dorfman and crew pulled it off; it helps that The Lazy Environmentalist is backed by Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Producer David Metzler).

But filming for the seven-episode series is done, and Dorfman has Asheville, that next book and more green ideas on his mind. “What I love about Asheville,” says Dorfman, “it’s one of the few places I’ve been to [where] everyone loves being here. That creates a good energy.” Asheville also has its own budding green industries and an overall attitude that he finds encouraging. “There’s not just that environmental awareness but the awareness turned to action,” notes Dorfman, citing things like restaurants buying local and organic, entrepreneurs developing solar businesses, and assorted groups coming together to address climate change.

Dorfman also likes “being able to step outside my door and be in nature.” And as for cultural offerings, he reflects, “The other thing that feels different—compared to New York City, where obviously there’s tons of stuff going on—it’s more accessible in Asheville.”

Tie all that together, and Asheville is where Dorfman says he wants to be now. “There’s a great opportunity to develop a sustainable urban model for the rest of the country. I’d like to plug into that and help make Asheville not just a leader but a place where other cities look for an example of what the future can look like.”

Maybe that’ll be easier than finding some green bling.

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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12 thoughts on “Back to (Asheville’s) future

  1. hauntedheadnc

    “’What I love about Asheville,” says Dorfman, “it’s one of the few places I’ve been to [where] everyone loves being here…'”

    Hooey. All good Ashevillians know that you must never, ever show any sign that you are enjoying Asheville. In fact, if you think you feel an attack of enjoyment coming on and won’t be able to squelch it, you should hide in your home with the doors locked and the drapes pulled, and only then enjoy Asheville from an interior room. Run water and play a stereo for extra protection against any neighbors suspecting that you are enjoying Asheville.

    Why? Because if other Ashevillians think you might be enjoying Asheville, they’ll conclude that you must be a tourist and then they’ll try to run you off the road.

    All good Ashevillians know that life is nothing without complaints, and that Asheville is only a shade of its former self. It’s washed up. A has-been. No longer cool. No longer weird. It used to be perfect — here we had all these fun, free-spirited artists making art, and then all these damn tourists and outsiders had to come in and buy it all up, spending their money. It was just disgusting. And that’s not even the tippy tip-top of the iceberg of things to complain about. I could go on for days.

    Careful though… All good Ashevillians know that complaining is the purpose and zenith of life, and you must take great care to never fix whatever it is you’re complaining about because then you’d have no reason to go on putting up with this hellhole and thinking about how much cooler it would be to live in (pick one: Atlanta/San Francisco/New York/Boulder/Portland/Seattle/Denver/etc).

  2. who

    Ah, the enthusiasm is contagious. Hauntedheaddnc, do you think that you could try to sound a little more bitter? You know, put a little more of a negative spin on things?

  3. hauntedheadnc

    What, you expect me to openly enjoy Asheville like some kind of dirty tourist? Next thing you’ll be telling me to actually be gauche and bourgeois enough to go to Biltmore House or the Arboretum.

    How, I ask you, would I ever maintain my hipster cred if I was waddling around with a smile on my face like Susie and Wilbur Phatt down from West Craphole, Ohio? Openly enjoy Asheville? I think NOT, good sir or madam.

    I’m far too cool for that, and far too cool for Asheville. Every other place is cooler than Asheville. Honestly. Don’t you know that? I thought every hipster knew that.

  4. The Piffster

    Oh boy. That’s all we need. Another yankee transplant showing us how to do things the right way (the school teacher, etc above). And Asjheville would indeed be a happier place if hauntedhead would take a hike back to Florida.

  5. who

    The piffster just can’t be pfkp, or piffy. I think somebody’s hijacking your name, P, unless if you had some big IQ drop in the last few days.

  6. hauntedheadnc

    Just pointing out how whining seems to be a major form of recreation, Piffy. I was born in Fletcher, btw. Lived here all my life.

  7. “Next thing you’ll be telling me to actually be gauche and bourgeois enough to go to Biltmore House or the Arboretum.”

    Any local person born here or transplanted who seriously cares about gardening, the environment, sustainable landscaping and native plants would go to the Biltmore gardens, the Arboretum and the Botanical Garden on a regular basis. Scowl if you must hauntedhead, but you will be among locals and the only one scowling. Gardeners as a lot are not big whiners and can find satisfaction and joy in the simplest of things.

  8. hauntedheadnc

    Good lord… You people don’t recognize sarcasm when you see it?

    I was commenting on how here we have one of the finest small cities in the nation and yet it’s almost as though you’d be a pariah to ever get out and enjoy it. Enjoying Asheville is something those filthy tourists do. We Ashevillians are too busy looking down on them and remembering the good old days of the mid 90’s when everything was so hip and cool that it practically hurt to breathe around here.

    I do go to Biltmore House. I shop downtown. I go to the Arboretum and if you want to know the truth, my only complaint about that last one is the fact that the new statue “O Great Spirit” has feet that are way out of proportion to the body. Fred Flintstone clodhoppers, if you will, although I hope they’ll soon plant something around the statue to hide them.

    It pains me to have to explain sarcasm, people. It really does.

  9. Piffy!

    i like how hauntedhednc complains about people complaining.

    how post modern!

  10. Piffy!

    [b]The piffster just can’t be pfkp, or piffy. I think somebody’s hijacking your name, P, unless if you had some big IQ drop in the last few days. [/b]

    thanks for noticing. i actually beat my head in with a hammer and changed my named to cullen-thomas anderson.

  11. Ken Hanke

    i actually beat my head in with a hammer and changed my named to cullen-thomas anderson.

    Nah, it’d take more’n that.

  12. I’m sorry hauntedheadnc I confused your sarcasm for hyperbole. Maybe the giant feet on the statue “O Great Spirit” is hyperbole. I’ll have to check it out.

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