How did Asheville find its groove? (part 2)

Ask anyone who’s lived or worked in Asheville since the ’80s or ’90s, and you’re likely to get a different answer. We offer some responses in this week’s retrospective, such as:

• We faced key challenges from within local government.

• We fought city hall.

• We protected the environment.

• We stood up for nondiscrimination.

• We taught our children to care.

• We promoted the business of arts and crafts.

Glossing the answers I’ve heard to date, I’d say we’re here by virtue of the work of  hundreds of people with locally focused visions, huge faith in their ability to make a difference, a willingness to take lots of risks, and plenty of passion and tenacity to stay on target through the years.

Our coverage of how Asheville evolved continues this week and the next. If you would like to contribute, please email me at or add your views to our online coverage at — Jeff Fobes

Here’s a list of stories featured in the third week of our Asheville Groove series:

The Challenges We Faced in the ’90s,” by Gene Rainey

Investing in Downtown’s Future,” by Karen Tessier

From Housewife to Activist to Mayor,” by Leni Sitnick

The Early Days of Blue Spiral 1,” by Wendy Outland

The Gospel According to Jerry: Fighting City Hall,” by Jerry Sternberg

Before We Succumbed to the Modern World,” by Lance Wille

Making a Difference: A Decade of Activism,” by Ron Lambe

You might also be interested in our celebration of 20 years since Mountain Xpress launched its first issue.



Thanks for reading through to the end…

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About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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