Tired of newcomers? So is Portland

It’s hard to go a day in Asheville without overhearing someone complain about all these people in our cozy mountain oasis.

Asheville’s a cool city, but it used to be our cool city — not the readers of Food Magazine or various travel guides that paint Asheville as America’s next big thing.

But, unfortunately, the word is out: Asheville is awesome. And hipsters, hippies, yuppies and tourists from all over want to come see for themselves — sometimes permanently, making it even harder to compete for the little affordable housing Asheville has left.

At the same time, our sister city, Portland, Ore., is struggling with a similar problem. Shows like Portlandia and other positive-yet-quirky media coverage are driving newcomers to the Pacific Northwest city in hordes — much like we see here in Asheville. That’s when a few creative Portlanders came up with a master plan to stop the madness: anti-tourism videos.

And although the influx of tourism is great for our local economy, which has been based on tourism for quite some time, it’s a bit therapeutic to laugh about anti-tourism following a morning of plowing through groups abruptly stopped on sidewalks gawking at all the quirkiness and waiting six lights to turn left onto Merrimon after work.

So where’s our video, Asheville? Where’s our “Beware the Asheville Maniacs” campaign? Check out Portland’s here:


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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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15 thoughts on “Tired of newcomers? So is Portland

  1. bsummers

    Cool video. Makes me want to move to Portland. Asheville Chamber of Commerce should definitely make one of these.

  2. N

    So, let me get this straight. People in Asheville are complaining about people doing what they did — moving here?

    I’ll refrain from use of the H-word until I get a verification.

    • I meant the post as more of a joke, but I DO know people who moved here who complain about people moving here. I’m guessing it stems from the whole, “I thought it was cool before EVERYONE ELSE thought it was cool” kind of thing. :)

  3. stevo

    and no.. it stems from the I grew up here and had to deal with this place before it was a mecca for hipsters..

    • Me

      I did grow up here and they converted me to a hipster…I thought I was doomed to be a typical native Ashevillian that hates everything progressive and didn’t actually grow up in the city limits.

      • N

        Born and raised inside the city limits of Asheville and as liberal/progressive as any newcomer. I lived here when the city was struggling and downtown was a ghost town, and will still be here when Asheville’s 15 minutes are up and the hipsters have moved on to another place to oooh and awe over.

        I appreciate what newcomers add to life here but find it hypocritical to hear people who have moved here complain about other people moving here. Why is it OK for you to move here but not others?

        • Me

          I was serious…I did actually grow up in the city limits as well. I’m 40. I have been and will continue to be here. My point was not aimed at you but the folks who can’t appreciate the fact that culture was and always will be here. But there are a lot of folks who are also from “here” that want nothing to do with the new found popularity and wonderful progession that we have witnessed in the last 20 + years. I have never been more proud of my hometown than I have been of our progress in the recent past. Sure it’s not for everybody, but in terms of the 21st Century we should count our “blessings” that despite the exodus of traditional career opportunities we are thriving and able to live where we grew up.

          • N

            Sorry, I did not mean to imply I thought your point was aimed at me, I guess I just inadvertently hit reply after your comment.

            I wholeheartedly agree with you about art and culture always being here and it does irk me when I hear newcomers seem to think that this is something they brought here. Back in 1984, when much of downtown was boarded up Mikhail Baryshnikov gave a performance at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium. The performance, sponsored by the Ashevill Regional Arts Council sold out in just a couple of hours after tickets went on sale.

            A few years earlier Dizzy Gillespie had a concert at the Civic Center. Some lucky audience members who went across the street for a nightcap at Jarred’s, a restaurant right across the street at the time, were treated to an encore when members of Gillespie’s band walked in and played for a while with Jarred’s house band.

            The list goes on and all of this was here long before Asheville became the “fashionable” place to move to. The city has been a draw for arts and artists virtually ever since its founding and is not something the hipsters have brought here.

  4. David

    Born here-Weaverville, Fairview and downtown(45 y.o.). It was a sleepy town for a long time and still is in many respects; I leave my place of business downtown every night at 8-9:00pm and often don’t see another soul. My high school buddies and I would have water balloon fights downtown with no fear of repercussion. Same with skating any piece of interesting concrete downtown; no one cared. The mountains are what I took for granted then and what have kept me here as an adult. I live in a community (Montford) that only drew you in for a couple of purposes in the 70’s & 80’s none of it legal. We all know what it’s become…and I love it. Folks who have moved here in the last 20 years – I say “Welcome!” but please spare me the “I was here before it was cool!”…you have no idea what it was like way before Rolling Stone declared it freak central. So many more anecdotal stories about what the ‘Ville was, I’ll spare you all…

  5. I was born and raised in Leicester. I am all for tourist IF something is done to the roads and housing. Other wise Asheville is getting too big just like Knoxsville did when the world’s fair was there, a couple years later downtown Knoxville was a ghost town. It may have come back some now, Who knows? South Asheville is nothing but condo’s and apartment complexes going up and traffic????? When it takes anywhere from 1 to 1.5 hours to go the 9 miles into Asheville, too much.

  6. Nita

    One would assume it would be great for the LOCAL economy. I do recall when the city was struggling and downtown was a ghost town, as one comment on above. Locals cannot handle the influx, but love it when the local economy is getting better and better with outsiders money. Its either one or the other take a pick. In order for Asheville to become a great city, locals need to embrace the influx not only their $.

  7. mike seely

    My family moved here in 1898 to recover from TB. We did a lot of great things (built 2 hotels and an arcade and a castle).The problems Asheville faces are a water system that loses 50% of its water to leaks from old concrete/asbestos pipes Love that asbestos in my morning coffee.
    The roads that are not adequately patrolled by the police which makes driving dangerous. For proof of this watch the Exit 53A off ramp from I 40 eastbound connecting to Charlotte Highway. Drivers zooooom right through the 2 big stop signs and also make prohibited left turns all day long.
    Kamikaze City at that one place and wrecks all the time.
    Finally, the patronage system in local gov’t hiring is amazingly expensive for us taxpayers (ask Wanda Green how much her family makes at the public salary trough).
    Asheville is great but will be better when Canton puts a filter on the paper plant odor.
    Thank you.

  8. Curious

    “ask Wanda Green how much her family makes at the public salary trough”

    Could Mike Seeley give us details? Has this accusation been verified?

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