How did Xpress readers process all the local news and changes this year? Here’s a look at the topics that generated the most commentaries, letters to the editor and online comments in Xpress in 2019.
“By letting the urban forest become too dense over the last several generations, and by failing to clear away the underbrush bears love, we have invited them back in from the wilderness.”
“And if that isn’t enough, you’ll also get to see one of your current or former City Council members do stand-up comedy.”
“It’s difficult to change our ways. For instance, almost no one worried about gas guzzlers when gas cost 19 cents a gallon.”
“Sourcing more of our food locally would simultaneously boost the region’s economic stability, food security and health.”
“Housing is in short supply and unaffordable. Rather than take an honest and comprehensive look at the issues, barriers and contributors to the problems, however, we in Asheville have smugly chosen the easy way out.”
“So much for the popular Nextdoor mantra, ‘When neighbors start talking, good things happen’; a more accurate one might be, ‘When judgmental locals start talking, local places get unfairly dissed.'”
“Summer is our only chance to give our kids’ growing bodies and minds a break from all of the detrimental side effects of screen time.”
“I grew up in the depths of the Great Depression, when money seemed to be the driving factor for almost everyone around me, because nobody had any.”
“We are fortunate to live in an Usnea-rich bubble, but over-harvesting or other unsustainable collection practices could threaten the beard lichens’ very survival.”
“Oddly enough, the future of the Republican stranglehold on North Carolina and the nation can be glimpsed through Meadows and the 11th District.”
“Clearly, we already have both the expertise and the commitment to improve lives in our region. What we need is more funding and better coordination among our health care system, county public health and social service agencies, and nonprofit community partners.”
“As a culture, we suffer from plant blindness, largely ignoring the green organisms all around us that spend their days quietly gathering sunlight.”
“Our trees and their arboreal cohorts all across Asheville could be —should be — our city’s most effective and affordable defense against the dangerous flooding, erosion and temperature extremes that climate change is increasingly inflicting on us.”
“A major investment in electric public transportation will make a huge difference in equity and in achieving our goal of 100% renewable energy! So I invite all who value both social and environmental justice to insist on funding for great, electrified public transportation.”
“The way Asheville on Bikes and Blue Ridge Bicycle Club see it, the more people on the road, the more people need safety education.”
“We need to have as much say as possible over the decisions that affect our lives, the money that informs our projects, the food that we eat and every system we touch,” writes Lee Warren, executive director of the Organic Growers School. “Relocalizing means taking back our power in every possible way.”
Elevated national attention aside, there’s always been a danger in allowing New York-based media to define Appalachia.
“I was shocked and dismayed by the optics when, while watching the Michael Cohen congressional hearing, Mark Meadows, our own 11th District representative, paraded an African-American lady before the assemblage like a life-size cardboard cutout.”
“Oversight in this kind of system — where the board is appointed by a body with no regulatory authority, in a process closed to school employees, families and the community as a whole — is more than a little messed up. It is completely unaccountable, open to all kinds of corruption and anti-democratic, not to mention a lousy use of resources.”
Our community has learned a lot about the limits of open government law over the past year, as indictments of former Buncombe County employees Wanda Greene, Mandy Stone, Jon Creighton and Michael Greene revealed corruption and embezzlement concealed from both the public and the media over many years.