Topping my list: Thomas Calder’s favorite stories from 2020

Thomas Calder; photo by Tatiana Rivest

Good news felt hard to come by in 2020. Yet, as I reviewed my reporting this year, I was pleasantly reminded of some of the local initiatives that occurred. Historians, students, writers, religious leaders and neighbors all stepped up to shine light on important topics. Below are a few of my favorite from a difficult year.




Illustration by Jade Young


Uprooted: Urban Renewal in Asheville

As in hundreds of other cities throughout the country, urban renewal dramatically changed Asheville’s neighborhoods and streetscapes. Established by the Housing Act of 1949 to clear blighted neighborhoods, the federal initiative displaced millions of predominantly African American individuals and families between the 1950s and 1980s. This piece looks at local initiatives to address this part of our city’s history that is often ignored.




Rev. Eric Gash and his wife Katy Gash; Photo courtesy of Gash





Love Thy Neighbor: Religious Leaders Tackle Systemic Racism

Many religious leaders in Western North Carolina are using the pulpit to call for racial justice. For some, the message predates the killing of George Floyd; for others, the issue is a new and delicate topic.










Olivia Metz and her father, George Gibson; photo by Cindy Kunst





Name that Creek: Kenilworth residents honor George Gibson

For more than 35 years, George Gibson has volunteered to help maintain the South Asheville Cemetery. In appreciation of his dedication, community members recently named a creek in his honor.










Author photo by Carrie Hachadurian


‘A corpse in every story’: Author Leah Hampton examines modern life in Appalachia 

On July 14, Waynesville resident and former Western Carolina University instructor, Leah Hampton, celebrated the release of her debut book, F*ckface: And Other Stories. Several of the book’s tales take place in and around the Asheville area.






Clinical social worker Tyra L. Goodman; photo by Noa Levine




Moments of joy: Finding happiness during times of collective grief

Xpress spoke with Asheville community members to learn how they’re finding moments of joy amid an unrelenting pandemic and the latest incident of an unarmed Black man killed by a white officer.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, comes out on March 23, 2021.

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