Invest in children, invest in the future

I’d like to call your attention to another Big Idea in the works for 2012, The Success Equation: a movement to reduce the incidence and impact of child poverty and create a community where all children thrive [”Big Ideas for 2012,” Jan. 4 and Jan. 11, Xpress]. Scientific research on toxic stress and brain development, […]

Community economics

In 2012, let’s dedicate ourselves to a “maker” system of economics that’s based on creating new value, not trading old value. Let’s focus on those who develop tools within our community to replace consumption as an end in itself, and create a manifesto that guides city contracts and organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce, to […]

Green Scene

Light pollution is something many of us don’t think much about, but for stargazers, migrating birds and folks passionate about energy conservation, dark skies are a resource worth protecting. Buncombe County will be approving new outdoor-lighting standards in 2012, particularly commercial and industrial lighting, and some local activists see it as an opportunity to strengthen […]

Support the arts that support Asheville

I moved to Asheville in 1996 and saw a city in transition. Many buildings were still boarded up and unused. Since then, I have seen huge growth, to the delight of some (and the chagrin of others). I saw folks coming from all over the country to Asheville, and bringing with them money from other […]

A call to action

MANNA FoodBank aims to involve, educate and unite people in the work of ending hunger in Western North Carolina. In 2012, we’ll focus on building and enhancing existing community partnerships across our 16-county service area to help our 231 partner agencies better serve more than 100,000 people seeking food assistance. Drawing on the region’s spirit […]

Thinking big by doing little

Meet your neighbors, talk to them — they won't bite. Even better, listen to them and their concerns. Pick up some trash (it doesn’t have to be much). Walk more, drive less. Don't be afraid: Together, there’s no problem an organized group of people can’t overcome. See some of Bill’s work at

Green Scene

Amid growing concerns about how stormwater runoff is affecting waterways near large developments and agricultural fields, ECO is launching Rapid Response Teams that will activate during storm events to assess turbidity and sediment flow, so we can better understand how runoff affects stream health. These tests will help establish a base line on how effective […]

Raising the bar

Cultural preservation through food and drink fits well with this area's hyper-local focus and reverence for handmade goods, says Cynthia Turner, a recent transplant to Asheville from New Orleans. Turner is impressed by the prevalence of artisan items and the fervor for local beer and food. "You feel it, you see it and people are […]

Rooted in the past

Cúrate's Katie Button cut her intern teeth at one of the most creatively advanced kitchens of our time, Ferran Adrià’s elBulli, the five-time “best restaurant in the world,” according to Restaurant Magazine. Noma in Copenhagen, Denmark, bumped the now-closed elBulli out of first place in 2010 and still holds the title. Helmed by chef René […]

When pigs fly

Michael Moore made a quiet splash in Asheville when he began the Blind Pig supper club in 2011. The concept is simple but exciting and long-overdue in this area. Much like other similar events across the country, talented chefs collaborate to present a themed dinner in a secret location that ticketholders don't learn about until […]

The big (fill in the blank) festival idea

I have an idea for a __________(vague-yet-hip word or word cluster) festival that will be the most face-melting, mind-blowing, spleen-shattering thing this town has ever seen.  There will be beer provided by ___________(trending local brewer) and the event will lend awareness to _________(hot topic, global crisis) while raising money for________(local charity) and will feature live […]

YMCA of Western North Carolina

2012 will be an exciting year for the YMCA of Western North Carolina. We’ll continue our efforts toward a healthier community by focusing on physical activity for youth ages 5 to 15, involving more adults 50 and older, and helping all communities access basic resources. We’re planning at least four key initiatives: • Consolidating services […]

2012 wishlist

1. Continued improvement in the unemployment rate — an ideal job for every job seeker in Buncombe County. 2. Understanding from the banking industry regarding foreclosures — restructure mortgage payments so folks can remain in their homes. 3. Improved state and federal funding for lifelong learning (pre-K through college and/or technical school) — our democracy […]

Small is the new big

Lately, my big ideas have all been about appreciating small. There's a sort of "runaway American dream" that says we should get bigger, grow, dominate and take over the world. But when we look back, we usually yearn for the days when things weren't so big. Small. Manageable. It's the difference between having five friends […]

Big Idea 2012: A more sex-positive Asheville

What I’d like to see in Asheville is people's views open on what sex-positive culture really is. Our town is liberal, but like any well-mannered Southern town, it’s still skeptical in its openness to sexuality — and fairly new to it. With the dawn of places like the Tantra School in West Asheville and the […]