Letter: The dissatisfied move in

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Once upon a time, the dissatisfied from up North or down South — makes no difference — decided to visit a small city in the North Carolina mountains.

That city was Asheville.

We were a welcoming bunch and liked the attention from those who came from the big cities up North and down South.

We were loved because we cared about our environment, social justice, startups and other local small businesses.

In other words, we were cool.

But the cool can always be made better, right?

The big city folks decided that Pritchard Park needed cleaning up — parts fenced off, homeless people moved out, perhaps even some benches taken away so the homeless would go sleep somewhere else.

The big city folks had to invest the big sums they made from selling their homes in the North and South. So they built and purchased expensive homes here, sending the price of housing out of reach for those who worked to serve them and their expensive pleasures.

The creativity of our small city enthralled the people from the North and South. But soon the starving artists had to move away themselves because they no longer could live here.

We saw big corporate hotels take our skylines, hide our views of the mountains. Even one of our iconic landmarks, the Flatiron Building, was put up for sale with intentions of making a hotel of it. Beautiful old homes on Biltmore Avenue were slated to be gutted and turned into — you guessed it — boutique hotels.

Ben & Jerry’s moved in downtown. They used to be weird, too. But now only their prices were weird, $4.85 or more for a small cone.

The Dissatisfied found a utopia in Asheville. But like so many have done elsewhere, they missed that which they had left. And so within a decade, they gave Asheville a new face, a playground for the elite, a city with fancy rooftop expensive restaurants and fewer of us weirdos. They had all moved away to build again in other places once left for dead, places where they could once more afford to create and built a new sustainable utopia.

But this time they prayed to the universe and their goddesses that this time, they’ll not be discovered by the rich dissatisfied with dull lives in dull cities.

— Rachael Bliss


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12 thoughts on “Letter: The dissatisfied move in

  1. NFB

    “And so within a decade, they gave Asheville a new face, a playground for the elite”

    This is nothing new. Asheville has been a “playground for the elite” virtually since its founding when the wealthy (including big plantation owners before the Civil War) in places like Charleston and Atlanta soon discovered that temperatures were cooler here in the summer. All those buildings downtown that are so revered today were built by the elite, and the Vanderbilts, Fitzgeralds, etc. did not come here because the city was a backwater.

    What has been happening in Asheville of late isn’t really that different from what has gone on here , off and on perhaps, for the past 200 years.

    • Rachael Bliss

      This all happened in days before the last part of the 20th century. And now many of the dissatisfied don’t come to just vacation. Many of them want to remake Asheville into their image.

      • NFB

        Some would make the case that those who came here before the “last part of the 20th century” also wanted to “remake Asheville into their own image,” be it the retirees, the artists, trustafarians, etc. Just because something is happening now, or in the last part of the 20th century, doesn’t mean it is new. It is simply a pattern that has gone on in Asheville since its founding.

        One thing that has also gone on in Asheville for a very long time has been the tendency of people moving here, thinking they have found their Shangri -la, and then complaining about others doing the same. That’s also what’s going on now — “I moved here now I don’t want anyone else to do what I did.”

        • Gary Woods

          Well said, NFB. I see this all too often. the “let’s close the door behind us” mentality although they are the very part of the inmigration they so detest.

          My family has lived here for generations, not that matters, and everyone has the same right to visit and move here if they so choose. Enough with the us versus them.

          • bsummers

            It used to be standard procedure to acknowledge if you had a personal financial stake in the issue you were commenting on. Not so much anymore, apparently.

  2. Rachael Bliss

    Good points. I moved here over a decade ago when it was grungey and affordable. I found the best of both worlds and hated to see the changes that exponentially changed my favorite place. I do think that one day, however, another city will take our place and we can once more lay claims on the real Asheville, up from ashes once more.

  3. Jim

    Yeah, bullshit. When I moved here likely before you were born, 45 years ago, it was like the civil war was yesterday, not the “welcoming” you suggest. Having been priced out of the North East, Buncombe County was affordable, though not very friendly towards “Yankees”, we were hated more than blacks. I had many opportunities to fight, just because “you’re not from around here”. Not being wealthy, I had to find work, that was difficult too, for the same reason. yet there were great people too, they seemed to be the exception. Having grown up in a more rural place that turned into a “country” place for the wealthy from New York City to live, people from there had to sell and move, much like many Asheville people have to now. I loved not being looked down upon for having a pick up truck, or a gun , and the beautiful area, once I found accepting friends. Once again, people unwilling to adapt to the local culture are voting for people that will represent the out of state wealthy, not the average person that lives here. Those living here by choice or necessity are being forced out. Maybe another hotel or bar will change things, I think not.

  4. Mike R.

    The writer is spot on with her frustration and anger; however, I would suggest that it is misplaced. If anyone thinks that Asheville is the only city where a major influx of newcomers has changed the city’s dynamics, think again. Does Portland, Seattle, Vancouver (Canadian I know) San Fransico ring a bell? there are many other cities not listed.

    What the writer is highlighting is happening (to varying degrees) all across our once great land. That is the continued segregation of our citizens into the “haves” and “have nots”. That is the real issue. Unfortunately, our political system has been corrupted by big money and power hungry leaders (don’t be fooled, they exist in both parties), so nothing meaningful to change the status quo is even being contemplated. This situation will run to crisis, I’m afraid, wherein there will be a very ugly and likely violent reset in our political and economic structure.

    To the writer. anger will eat you up inside (Don Henley). Let it go. This is all bigger than any of us.

    • B Vickroy

      Mike ….. Re; the j”have -have not” dynamic. Don’t forget the MILLIONS of ”have nots” who enter our nation illegally each year. Many at our borders now, and those who blame the ”have-have not” divide for social ills, are ”SHOCKED, shocked” at those who resist this importation of poverty. BTW, importing so many ”have nots” is a millstone around the necks of many of our own ”have nots” who would like to move on up.

  5. Well Rachael, you can thank the local so called “Progressive” government for all this! The hypocrisy exemplified by City Council since I have been here (1984) defies logic, with all the bogus clamor about increasing “Affordable Housing”. Read my story, as I was among those in the 80’s whose efforts contributed to the cleaning up of Montford, only to be royally screwed by these “Progressives” who say they are “for the people” — which is TOTAL BS!

    How Socialism Destroyed My Livelihood

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