Oh, Asheville. I love you, Asheville. You are my neighbors and my family. I dance these streets with you, I stand in defiance and celebration with you, I drink to your health, and I care for your well-being. I am from here, and I have never felt more a part of a real community than I do now.
We have poured into this river valley from far and near to form this place that was once only an ideal: a space where we know and (for the most part) like each other, and somewhere we feel safe and welcome to create whatever world, physical or cerebral, that makes us happy — and we are so close. All around the world there are rumblings of distant thunder from towns like ours, where thousands of people have awakened and begun to realize the importance of having your neighbors back, of sustainability through trade, bartering and self-sufficiency, of surrounding yourself with people you love, and surrounding those you love with trust and support. It has become apparent that it is our responsibility to lead this distended and sagging society away from the path that leads to our destruction, and we are rising to the challenge.
But there is work still to do. We've only begun to actuate the potential of this type of culture, and our toes are barely wet in the depths of ideas we could bring to fruition with cooperation and empathy. It is essential to our survival as a human race to learn that the best way to "Look out for #1" is to look out for everyone around you, to edify the existence of others and in turn be improved and protected by the wisdom and strength of those you encounter.
That's why I'm writing you now. It's time to get involved. Want to see more done for the homeless? Volunteer at a mission. Want less crime? Do something about it when you see it occurring. Think local government is corrupt and unjust? Run for office. Want to see more terrific art exhibits, plays and concerts in Asheville? Go to the thousands already happening all around you. Stop complaining about vagrancy, lawlessness, injustice and cultural stagnation when you do nothing to change it. Instead of spending exorbitant amounts to see cover/tribute bands or touring bands you've seen hundreds of times, pay $3-$5 to go see local original bands you've never heard of, or poets, painters, dancers, actors, sculptors, comedians etc.
Get my drift? So many local artists, artisans and activists are struggling through these dire days with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts for what they do, where they are — and you. Go see them, and ask what you can do. They're building Heaven with shoestrings and duct tape, and they could use a hand.
— Jake Gardner