Our area sees its fair share of awards and recognition ceremonies. And many dedicated individuals receive well-deserved attention for the work they do to make our community a great place to live.
But it often seems a small group of movers and shakers get all the glory, while the energy and talent of legions of other contributors remain hidden in plain sight.
So, in the spirit of our mission to build community and foster civic dialogue, Xpress set out to find some of those lesser-known folks who are quietly doing important work in the Asheville area. We put out a call for nominations and received a total of 41. From there, our editorial team conducted background research on the nominees, including interviews with colleagues and collaborators. Gradually, over a series of meetings, the list was narrowed to eight outstanding influencers.
The nominees, overall, embodied a high degree of the qualities we were hoping to celebrate. That’s the calling card of a committed community: We have an abundance of passionate citizens mobilized to make a difference in the Asheville area. We realized, through the course of this project, it only scratches the surface of all the active, influential people in our region. As such, Xpress hopes to revisit this concept in the future.
Xpress applauds the work of those profiled here, and we hope you will be as inspired as we have been to learn more about their motivations and contributions.
— Xpress editorial staff
Xpress is rolling out the eight profiles on our website from Dec. 2-5, or pick up this week’s print issue to view all eight profiles.
One of our eight influentials declined to accept the public profile. Xpress deliberated about choosing another nominee to profile or offering the person a chance to make an anonymous statement. In the end, we felt the statement offers a chance for dialogue and was earned by this anonymous person’s work in our community.
I feel a lot of gratitude for being nominated for this award but don’t feel that this is the time for public recognition of me as an individual doing this work. I am a white woman with a lifetime of unearned privileges associated with that race. The work I do focuses on people and communities which are systemically marginalized, and many of these people and communities are hurting right now in a very real way. Many people are freshly afraid for their safety and the safety of their children and families. Many people in these communities have been fighting their whole lives to shift the societal inequities which keep them and countless other people excluded from the opportunities and resources needed to pursue their goals and build the lives they want for themselves and their families. My own racially conferred privileges created opportunities for me to pursue the education and career choices that brought me to a position of paid leadership in this work, but ultimately, the work isn’t about me. Many people without such privileges are working hard every day to fight injustice and build a world in which everyone thrives, and it is their faces, voices and stories which I feel should be centered in prominence at this time.