Letter writer: Price’s legacy includes cleaner, walkable downtown

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Thank you for writing such a wonderful article about the legacy of philanthropist Julian Price in your May 18 issue [“Anonymous: The Million Secrets of Julian Price,” Xpress]. Although I didn’t know Julian well, I credit him for making my first job out of college possible. After graduating from UNCA in the mid-1990s, I was hired at Quality Forward (now Asheville GreenWorks) to cover four program areas, one being pedestrian coordinator.

The story was that Julian moved into downtown Asheville and wanted to experience what it would be like to live without a car. It wasn’t easy. He found sidewalks in disrepair and curb cuts difficult for able-bodied travelers, let alone handicapped ones. By walking around, Julian noticed lots of things, like litter and overgrown, untended lots — things that Quality Forward could help with, so he gave them money and pitched in to help.

Through Julian Price’s many efforts, things began to turn around, and a cleaner, more pedestrian-friendly downtown took shape.

In my job as pedestrian coordinator, I worked with Julian’s wife, Meg MacLeod, to put on a huge, well-attended walkability conference. We invited nationally known speakers and put on workshops that pointed out the need to change from a car-centric culture to a more multimodal one.

As a result of the conference, an annual Strive-Not-to-Drive event was born, which was held locally for many years. After leaving Quality Forward, I worked for the Environmental and Conservation Organization based in Hendersonville, and brought the program idea of Strive-Not-to-Drive with me.

I have always felt blessed to be a part of Julian Price’s generosity.

— Katie Breckheimer
MountainTrue board member
Saluda

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