Letter: Setting record straight on Firestorm Books

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I am writing in regard to the city’s recent zoning siege, particularly to Firestorm Books at 610 Haywood Road. Without knowing a soul, I moved to Asheville two years ago with my vehicle. I was homeless and healing from a traumatic back injury. Firestorm Books offered me a safe place during the day and encouraged my involvement in the community. I have been a patron ever since.

With so much misinformation out there, I wanted to correct the record. The collective provides secure public computer access to the poor, offers low-cost space for groups to have a diversity of workshops, meetings and presentations. Firestorm creates a positive learning environment for children and adults alike and serves as a safe and competent mediator in the community.

Firestorm is increasingly known for offering space to The Steady Collective for 2.5 hours a week for its needle exchange, reducing the harm and damage caused by the epidemic of opioid use. Firestorm has helped provide dispensary bins to prevent needle waste. Additionally, Firestorm hosts free STI and HIV testing every Valentine’s Day. They also coordinate Books-to-Prison donation drives, which help empower prisoners by increasing their literacy and self-confidence, thereby reducing recidivism rates.

Firestorm treats with humanity those patrons who are respectful, including the homeless looking for a safe place to stay for a couple hours. And of course, Firestorm is a hot spot for tourists in search of cultural relics. Our progressive city can promote tourism by showing kindness and humanity to its homeless residents. Money and commerce actually flow to those cities, making themselves a blueprint for other cities to follow.

I ask City Council to do right by history, by the city’s legacy, and by its own conscience by instructing interim City Manager Cathy Ball to work with city planners to remove these [zoning] violations.

— April Mycelia
Asheville

Editor’s note: For more info on the controversy, see avl.mx/5do. Another letter on the topic, “A Stain on This Town,” also contains a response and update from the city of Asheville on the issue.

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4 thoughts on “Letter: Setting record straight on Firestorm Books

  1. Jason

    Firestorm and Steady Collective are not wanted in West Asheville. They have turned our neighborhood into a destination for addicts, squatters, train kids and now cat killers. Firestorm has overstayed their welcome and need to leave.

  2. Enlightened Enigma

    Agree! Move it on over to Biltmore Village! Plenty of room over there to spread out and entertain the tourists … We’ve had plenty in Westville …

  3. Bright

    April’s comments are kind and come from the heart, she’s not a hater. Agreeing or not, the attitude of the repliers shows their hatred, anger, and insecurity. I’d hate to be in their families…and comparing a reply to trump…ugh, seems they need a little wall to protect themselves from the “deadly” Firestorm Books. Last I knew there was still freedom of speech, guess freedom to hate is included…its just so damned useless,common, and ugly. Have I unleashed a firestorm?

    • SpareChange

      Don’t quite know why some comments were selectively deleted. As for “setting the record straight” in this instance, my reference to Trump was to draw a parallel to the comment which was made, that if one did not grow up in West Asheville he or she needed to “get out” and that such people were a “plague.” Doesn’t that sound similar to you to the hate filled rhetoric currently being used about immigrants?

      I in no way support the sentiments expressed by some of the other commenters, but it seems to me that you are only acknowledging the hate when it flows a particular way. No, I have not been a supporter of the efforts at 610 Haywood, even though I have been a long time patron and supporter of Firestorm (both in their downtown and then West Asheville locations), but I have also been a supporter of many of the working class folks and small businesses who have worked hard to restore that area from what it had become and who have been negatively impacted by those activities, but it would seem that merely holding such an opinion runs the risk of being branded as a “hater.”

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