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

What’s next for Haywood Street site?
By Virginia Daffron

By now, it’s a familiar image: the red-brick facade of the Basilica of St. Lawrence framed by a blue sky, an emerald green lawn and leafy trees. Seen on countless yard signs all around town, this idyllic depiction of a future park on city-owned parcels at the corner of Haywood Street and Page Avenue has loomed large in the grassroots campaign to persuade city officials to halt the search for a commercial developer for the site.

The people have spoken, and they want a significant public space facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center. A City Council committee considers the way forward. Photo by Virginia Daffron
The people have spoken, and they want a significant public space facing the Basilica of St. Lawrence and the U.S. Cellular Center. A City Council committee considers the way forward. Photo by Virginia Daffron

Now that City Council has agreed to move forward with a planning process for the area that will include public input, though, that picture-postcard scene must confront some cold, hard realities: a steep slope, a mishmash of vehicular and pedestrian activity, and a complex web of lot lines, not to mention different constituencies’ conflicting wishes.

Those issues plus a lengthy history of wrangling over this prominent piece of real estate formed the backdrop for the Planning and Economic Development Committee’s Jan. 26 discussion of how to structure a planning process to determine the area’s future.

Presented with an outline for a design competition, Vice Mayor Gwen Wisler — who chairs the three-member City Council committee — remarked, “I think the idea of a competition is fun.” Nonetheless, she proceeded to put the brakes on the idea, at least until a representative sampling of the community can weigh in through what she called a “visioning process.”

“I’m not sure we do have a vision yet,” Wisler explained.

Chris Joyell, executive director of the Asheville Design Center, agrees. “To just jump into a design competition right now,” he maintains, “would be setting the participants up to fail. There is no clear charge from the city of what we, as a community, would like to see happen on that property.” (continue reading)


Food

The tipping point: Is Blue Dream Curry paving the way for no-tip restaurants in Asheville?
By Lea McLellan

Tipping at restaurants is a practice so deeply ingrained in our culture, that it’s hard to imagine enjoying a meal out without calculating that 20 percent. But the times might be a’ changing in Asheville.

CHANGING TIMES: Server Deena Jackson brings food out at Blue Dream Curry House. Blue Dream recently converted to a no-tipping system, opting to pay servers and other employees a living wage rather than the industry standard of $2.13 per hour plus gratuity.
CHANGING TIMES: Server Deena Jackson brings food out at Blue Dream Curry House. Blue Dream recently converted to a no-tipping system, opting to pay servers and other employees a living wage rather than the industry standard of $2.13 per hour plus gratuity.

Blue Dream Curry owners James Sutherland, Chris Cunningham and Sean Park recently made a surprising move when they eliminated tipping from their downtown restaurant. While rare, the decision isn’t unprecedented. The concept of a no-tip restaurant gained national attention in October when Danny Meyers of the Union Square Hospitality group in New York City, decided to eliminate tipping from over a dozen of his restaurants.

While the idea of a no-tip restaurant doesn’t yet qualify as the next big thing, other local restaurant owners are considering the move, and almost everyone in the industry seems to have an opinion about it. For Sutherland, Cunningham and Park, it’s partly a matter of principle.

“For a very long time, servers have been paid $2.13 per hour plus tips. This means it’s up to the guest to subsidize the server’s pay,” explain the owners in an email exchange. “We believe it is our responsibility to compensate our team and not our guests’ responsibility.”

Base pay for all staff at Blue Dream Curry is now $12.50 per hour, which is the living wage in Asheville as certified by Just Economics. Staff will also receive a guaranteed bonus based on a percentage of total sales. The owners anticipate that with a sales increase, employees should receive a pay range of around $17-$25 per hour. “Along with regular raises, paid time off and other benefits like shift meals and discounts for their families, we feel like this is a total package that works,” say the owners. (continue reading)


Arts

Sherwood’s Music changes hands and location
By Dan Hesse

MUSIC MEN: Brian Landrum, left, and Charles Gately recently purchased Sherwood's Music from its namesake, Matthew Sherwood. The new owners are both seasoned local musicians.
MUSIC MEN: Brian Landrum, left, and Charles Gately recently purchased Sherwood’s Music from its namesake, Matthew Sherwood. The new owners are both seasoned local musicians.

UPDATE: As of publication Sherwood’s Music has officially changed its name to Heyday Musical Instruments & Repair and is now open for business at its new location at 108 N. Lexington Avenue.

“I had to tell David Byrne his credit card was declined,” says Charles Gately, co-owner of Sherwood’s Music. These things happen when your music store is known for having rare and vintage equipment. Byrne, the former Talking Heads frontman, eventually resolved his bank issues and took home a 12-string Rickenbacker guitar during his 2013 Asheville tour stop. Gately says having a famous musician in the midst of regular customers is a fairly common occurrence at the store.

Gately and Brian Landrum recently purchased Sherwood’s Music from its namesake, Matthew Sherwood, who wanted time to pursue other interests. Landrum is a veteran musician who has worked at The Grey Eagle and Echo Mountain Recording Studio, where he and Sherwood started repairing music equipment in 2010. Landrum says after about a year, they had outgrown the available space and opened Sherwood’s Music in 2011. Gately has also been with the store since its beginnings. He’s is a seasoned musician, currently playing with the Asheville-based band Doc Aquatic. (continue reading)

NEW MEDIA: “These are artists who, in a lot of cases, have grown up with video, the Internet and social media, and they’re able to use video in a much more fluid way than my generation or generations that preceded them,” says Garth Johnson, curator of the exhibition Recorded Matter.
NEW MEDIA: “These are artists who, in a lot of cases, have grown up with video, the Internet and social media, and they’re able to use video in a much more fluid way than my generation or generations that preceded them,” says Garth Johnson, curator of the exhibition Recorded Matter.

CCCD fuses ceramics and video (with porcelain skateboards and more)
By Steph Guinan

One of the things that intrigues Garth Johnsonabout the artists represented in Recorded Matter: Ceramics in Motion, “is that there isn’t a tremendous obsession with where the art lies,” he says. Johnson curated the exhibit, which is on display at The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design through Saturday, May 21. He adds, “There is a confidence that video is just one more aspect of the way that we experience the material.”

For more than four years, Johnson had been exploring the intersection of ceramics and video. Collecting his reflections into a showcase, he sought to include artists who demonstrate a wide spectrum of approaches. “This exhibition, in a lot of ways, bore out some suspicions and thoughts and interests that I had about ways that younger artists operate, and ways that younger audiences engage with craft,” he says. (continue reading)


Living

A look at holistic dentistry in Western North Carolina
By Cindy Kunst

DOCTOR INSIDE: Dentist Mark Knollman puts patients in charge of their own dental needs. Photo by Cindy Kurst
DOCTOR INSIDE: Dentist Mark Knollman puts patients in charge of their own dental needs. Photo by Cindy Kunst

“Would you like a cup of nettle?” asks Janna Gower,  office manager and the wife of Dr. Phil Davis, a local dentist. She hands me a chilled infusion of nettle root meant to naturally energize without producing the edgy nervous energy and acidity of coffee. A yellow smiley face at the mailbox marks the driveway for Healthy Smiles, Davis’ general dentistry practice, less than a mile from the Western North Carolina Farmers Market on Brevard Road.

Inside the renovated farmhouse, surrounded by organic gardens and a variety of large oak, elm and maple trees that shade the house, the atmosphere is cozy and welcoming. The private patient rooms are spacious, with large windows that can be opened to let in fresh breezes during nice weather and the sound of birds in the trees. The kitchen, where staff members share lunch each day, is clean and bright. She pulls out a quart jar of dark tea from the refrigerator and pours me a cup. This is what one facet of local holistic dentistry is like upon first look.

Holistic dentists (also called biological or integrative dentists) offer all the services you would expect from any dentist. They have attended dental school, graduated with a doctor of dental medicine or a doctor of dental surgery degree and are licensed by the state Dental Board. However, at some point in these dentists’ experiences, they recognized systemic problems as distinct from “business as usual” practices of traditional dentistry — whether that be through doctor-patient interaction, type of treatment or the avoidance of certain invasive procedures. (continue reading)

Prayer: A gateway to healing
By Nicki Glasser

PRAY FOR ME: The Rev. Bonnie Willow, interfaith peace minister, believes prayer is helpful "because it allows us to feel that something bigger than the problem can bring in a solution." Photo by Kaylene Willoughby
PRAY FOR ME: The Rev. Bonnie Willow, interfaith peace minister, believes prayer is helpful “because it allows us to feel that something bigger than the problem can bring in a solution.” Photo by Kaylene Willoughby

Does prayer work? And how? Local prayer leaders and pastors who spoke with Xpress are in general agreement that the answer is “yes” — but it often depends on your definition of a successful outcome.

“I believe God still performs miracles, [but] he’s not a vending machine,” says Michael Lombardo, who serves as director of pastoral care and service chaplain at Hendersonville’s Park Ridge Health, a faith-based hospital. “If I pray a prayer a certain way, he doesn’t have to answer my prayer no matter what. … [God] knows what’s best, so I often pray for his will to be done in the midst of asking for things I’d like to see happen. I see only part of the picture; he sees the whole picture.”

Nevertheless, there are many stories of prayers being answered. “I’ve seen miraculous things happen over time with prayer,” saysJeanne Robertson, a healing prayer minister and board member of the Mountain Chapter of the Order of St. Luke in Asheville. Robertson tells a story of a woman who asked for prayers to help her heal after eye surgery, when her doctor said to expect black eyes and facial swelling. After the surgery, “we prayed for her. … She never had black eyes, and her face didn’t swell. We consider that an answer to prayer,” she says with a joyful laugh. (continue reading)

Flower essences and subtle plant medicine In WNC
By Emily Nichols

Sitting upright with gently clasped braids holding back her chestnut hair, Asia Suler is the quintessential medicine woman. She speaks passionately about the subject of plant medicine, specifically the history and usage of flower essences.

THE BLOOM OF HEALTH: "Flower essences help us to see that what we’re feeling as our weaknesses are actually pointing us to our gifts,” says Asia Suler, founder of One Willow Apothecaries in Marshall. Photo by Emily Nichols
THE BLOOM OF HEALTH: “Flower essences help us to see that what we’re feeling as our weaknesses are actually pointing us to our gifts,” says Asia Suler, founder of One Willow Apothecaries in Marshall. Photo by Emily Nichols

“We’re suffering from the belief that we’re just physical beings,” says Suler, sitting on a Victorian chair covered in floral fabric, golden afternoon rays of sunlight streaming in through the giant glass windows in her Marshall studio. Though it’s the middle of winter, the room is full of a steady warmth — and it’s unclear whether this warmth is radiating from the old wall heaters or Suler herself.

“I think we’re at a period of time where people are opening up to alternative ways of healing,” she says. “Especially people who have been continually failed and dissatisfied by the Western medical model.”

During her late 20s, Suler was one of those people, living in New York City and suffering from chronic pain with no direct answers or resolutions from modern medicine. It was around that time, she says, that a book on natural healing and flower essences made its way into her lap. “It opened me to magic, to bringing back my connection to the unseen world and, ultimately, to my capacity to heal myself,” she recalls. (continue reading)


Opinion

Suspicious minds: Paranoia, prejudice and common sense
By Abigail Hickman

Abigail Hickman
Abigail Hickman

I recently drove downtown to take advantage of Pack Memorial Library’s book giveaway. After several hours perusing the volumes on offer, I was walking happily back to my car with a pile of newly acquired books in my arms when a man in a tracksuit darted out from a corner of the cold, dingy parking garage. He appeared disheveled, and I thought he smelled of urine. Later I realized that the smell had emanated from the garage, not the man. But he was black and male, I’m white and female, and I’ve been programmed to believe that the conjunction of his race and gender permitted — indeed, encouraged — me to label him “suspicious” and consider calling 911.

As we walked toward each other, I was already thinking about how I could gouge him with my keys, which I carry positioned between my knuckles in such situations, just in case. But as we came shoulder to shoulder, he asked, in a voice that could have come from a national news anchorman, “Need some help?”

“No, thanks,” I mumbled as I headed toward my car, feeling both relieved and a little ashamed. (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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