ICYMI: Xpress feature reads of the week

Looking for some longform (or longerform) reads to cozy up with over the weekend? Here’s a round-up of our leading feature stories from the last seven days. Happy reading!

News

A change is gonna come: Prayer breakfast honors King’s legacy
By Virginia Daffron

“It’s important for people to understand: This event is not just something I decided to do,” saysOralene Anderson Graves Simmons, sitting in her Kenilworth home surrounded by photos and mementos of Asheville’s long-running Martin Luther King Jr. Prayer Breakfast.

Oralene Simmons, founder of Asheville’s Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast, looks through photos spanning 34 years of the event’s history. Photo by Virginia Daffron
Oralene Simmons, founder of Asheville’s Martin Luther King Prayer Breakfast, looks through photos spanning 34 years of the event’s history. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Simmons founded the breakfast, one of the oldest such events in the country, back in 1982. The third Monday in January didn’t become a federal holiday honoring King until the following year and wasn’t celebrated as such until 1986. But long before even the first prayer breakfast, says Simmons, she had “a feeling of wanting to make a change” based on the injustices she’d witnessed and experienced in her own life.

Born in Madison County, Simmons attended elementary school in Mars Hill. But after completing the sixth grade, she had to make a daily 42-mile round trip to attend the segregated Hill Street School and then Stephens-Lee High School in Asheville. “I had to catch a bus and travel to another county to get an education,” she recalls. “I would pass by schools and we could not stop — that bus couldn’t stop there — because of the color of our skins.”

Sometimes Simmons stayed in Asheville during the school week, but weekends would almost always find her making the bus trip back to Mars Hill. “I would take a shortcut across the Mars Hill College campus from the bus stop to our house,” she remembers, “and I would wish I could look forward to going to college there. I mean, this was my home.” (continue reading)

What would MLK say?
By Virginia Daffron

As Western North Carolina prepares to celebrate the life of Martin Luther King Jr.,Xpress asked various local leaders to reflect on King’s influence and legacy nearly half a century after his assassination on April 4, 1968.MLK Darkness

Some of these people remember King’s life and work well. Some even participated in the civil rights movement or heard him speak at marches in Washington, Selma and beyond. Others hadn’t even been born yet when King was killed. All of them, however, say his work and example had a profound impact on American society that continues today. Here’s what they had to say, along with some compelling quotes from King himself. (continue reading)


Arts

2015 at the Movies: The Great, the Good, the Underrated, the Overrated and the Just Plain Awful
By Ken Hanke

The 2015 movie year was a rich and somewhat strange one. It was rich in that there were a lot of good — even great or near-great — films, but it was strange in that its peaks didn’t soar. Apart from Clouds of Sils Maria (and even it haunted me more than it did anything else) and the late-in-the-day U.S. (barely) release of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s magnificent The Young and Prodigious T. S. Spivet (which I’d actually seen in 2014), I was left wishing for that transcendent feeling of true excitement. Thank Clapton, the end of the year provided that. Twice.greta-gerwig-mistress-america-stairs

By my reckoning — and not counting reviews for special showings and other one-offs (that would about double the figure) — I reviewed 157 movies in 2015. And at a rough guess, I saw another 50 or maybe 100 or so. (This does not factor in TCM playing off to the side while I work — unless I end up really watching, which happens way too often.) I suppose it’s a good thing that I really have no life. This also marks my 15th Best of list. (I started too late in 2000 to do one, but my number one for that year would almost certainly have been O Brother, Where Art Thou?.)

Also interesting is looking back at last year’s list and seeing this comment: “And there’s an inherent problem with such a great year for art titles. What about 2015? Of course, there’ll be a new Woody Allen film (it’s already in post-production) and Pedro Almodovar has something in the works, but a great many — maybe most — of the filmmakers who made these 2014 films won’t release anything in 2015. That means that 19 of the 20 filmmakers responsible for my 2014 top 20 year won’t be contributing to the new year. That’s kind of sobering.” Well, Alomodovar didn’t come through (we get that in 2016), but Alejandro G. Iñárritu did — and…well, it’s no Birdman(continue reading)

 


Food

On the side: Asheville chefs further food causes beyond the kitchen
By Liisa Andreassen

SPEAKING OUT: Chef Joe Scully, right, collaborates with food writer Stu Helm, left, to produce a popular podcast that focuses on local food issues and the Asheville restaurant scene.
SPEAKING OUT: Chef Joe Scully, right, collaborates with food writer Stu Helm, left, to produce a popular podcast that focuses on local food issues and the Asheville restaurant scene.

Working chefs already have a pretty full plate, but that doesn’t stop many Asheville culinarians from making efforts on the side to promote and enhance the local food community and help others. Whether working with area nonprofit organizations or collaborating with other industry professionals and farmers, a number of Asheville chefs are making an impact in our community in more ways than one.

Hungry for food talk? A relatively new food podcast, “AVL Food Fans,” is a burgeoning series where food writer Stu Helm and chef Joe Scully of the Corner Kitchen and Chestnut banter with locals about what’s going on in the Asheville restaurant scene.

The discussions dish about anything food-related, both locally and farther afield. Since the series launched in June, topics have touched on tipping, front-of-house versus back-of-house work, cheesecake, coffee, microgreens — pretty much anything is fair game. (continue reading)

Beer Scout: Burial Beer enters a growth spurt
By Jesse Farthing

Burial Beer Co. has been teasing a kitchen expansion for months — scaling up the Salt & Smoke offerings from former Bull & Beggar chef Josiah McGaughy — but it turns out owners Jess and Doug Reiser have had much more than that up their sleeves.

CAN-DO SPIRIT: A lone can of Burial's popular Skillet Donut Stout rests in the long-empty halls of what will soon be the company's new taproom. Burial plans to add a new brewhouse, two-story taproom, restaurant and more to its recently acquired property near Biltmore Village.
CAN-DO SPIRIT: A lone can of Burial’s popular Skillet Donut Stout rests in the long-empty halls of what will soon be the company’s new taproom. Burial plans to add a new brewhouse, two-story taproom, restaurant and more to its recently acquired property near Biltmore Village.

On Wednesday, Jan. 6, Burial announced the purchase of a 1.4-acre property near Biltmore Village where the Reisers and head brewer Tim Gormley plan to repurpose the six 1920s-era buildings on the premises into a 20-barrel brewhouse with 60-barrel fermenters, a restaurant (scheduled for 2017), taproom and more over the next few years.

“The growth is something that we always anticipated,” Jess Reiser says. “We thought, initially, that we’d be brewing on the 1-barrel pilot system [at 40 Collier Ave.] forever because we didn’t own the building. Once we were able to purchase it, we wanted to fit a bigger system in because we were struggling to keep up beer-wise. (continue reading)


Living

Bees here now: Home Depot and Lowe’s to phase out neonic-treated plants
By Jane Morrell

In the past few months, two major chain retailers have been busy bees. Both The Home Depot and Lowe’s have begun phasing out the sale of flowering plants containing pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining populations of bees and other pollinators.

THE BUZZ AROUND TOWN: Chain retailers The Home Depot and Lowe's have begun paying out the sale of flowering plants containing pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining populations of bees and other pollinators. However, the president of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association maintains that a pest called the varroa mite, not pesticides, is the greatest threat to bees. In this file photo, urban beekeeper, Sage Turner shows off some of the bees in her West Asheville backyard. Photo by Carrie Eidson
THE BUZZ AROUND TOWN: Chain retailers The Home Depot and Lowe’s have begun paying out the sale of flowering plants containing pesticides called neonicotinoids, which have been linked to declining populations of bees and other pollinators. However, the president of the North Carolina State Beekeepers Association maintains that a pest called the varroa mite, not pesticides, is the greatest threat to bees. In this file photo, urban beekeeper, Sage Turner shows off some of the bees in her West Asheville backyard. Photo by Carrie Eidson

“Right now, 80 percent of our flowering plants are neonic-free, and we plan to completely phase out the use of neonics on our live goods by the end of 2018,” saysMatthew Harrigan, Home Depot’s corporate communications and public relations manager. “But in the meantime, we’re one of the few retailers that have started requiring the suppliers to label neonic-treated plants, so that customers who believe that neonics are impacting the bee population won’t unknowingly purchase those plants.”

The decision to phase out these flowering plants was made about two months ago, Harrigan explains. And though the company listens to the feedback from activist groups, he continues, Home Depot ultimately makes these kinds of big decisions based on its own research and analysis. (continue reading)

Combining yoga and physical therapy accelerates healing
By Kate Lundquist

The intersection of yoga and physical therapy is a relatively new field, but the combination is springing up around Asheville. While physical therapy directly addresses an injury for rehabilitation, yoga therapy can further the healing, say several local practitioners.

NO SURGERY NEEDED: Hilary Drake, left, helps Doris Rettig heal her back with yoga therapy at Asheville Family Fitness. Photo by Kate Lundquist
NO SURGERY NEEDED: Hilary Drake, left, helps Doris Rettig heal her back with yoga therapy at Asheville Family Fitness. Photo by Kate Lundquist

“There is a growing body of evidence to support yoga’s therapeutic application for a wide variety of health conditions,” says Libby Hinsley, manager of the yoga therapeutics program and certified physical therapist at Asheville Family Fitness. To offer clients a well-rounded, healing environment, she strives to integrate physical therapy and yoga therapy, noting that the practice’s staff training included sharing peer-reviewed articles on yoga’s benefits. “As [physical therapists], we always return to the importance of evidence-based practice, and with yoga therapy, that base of evidence is growing.” (continue reading)

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About Hayley Benton
Current freelance journalist and artist. Former culture/entertainment reporter at the Asheville Citizen-Times and former news reporter at Mountain Xpress. Also a coffee drinker, bad photographer, teller of stupid jokes and maker-upper of words. I can be reached at hayleyebenton [at] gmail.com. Follow me @HayleyTweeet

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