Big Idea: On the job

What are you hoping to accomplish this year? Our focus has to be on economic issues. We will work hard to support efforts for new jobs, efficient government, holding the budget, partner with other governments, help residents who have lost jobs and/or experience economic distress. We’ll work on this by continuing to invest in our […]

Big Idea: Straight talk about unemployme­nt/underemployment

Create a civic forum for discussions about unemployment/underemployment and the long-term systemic ramifications for our region. Citizens in our region require a shared knowledge of 21st-century economies/economic development. At issue is the complexity of the numerous variables that have created our current economic situation. Understanding these variables is a prerequisite for developing, designing and implementing […]

Big Idea: Power to the ’hood: Pelly aims to boost Asheville’­s neighborho­ods

Chris Pelly’s third bid for a seat on Asheville City Council was successful, and the longtime neighborhood activist (who’s also president of the Haw Creek Community Association) has some big plans. “I intend to try to work to advance the ideas on which I based my campaign,” he reveals. “That includes expansion of our sidewalk […]

Big Idea: Helping kids

My goal is to help every child I can that has special needs in school and make their lives better, where they can have an opportunity to get a good education and be able to work and not be on public assistance in the future. — — child advocate/self-described "political gadfly" Jerry Rice

Big Idea: Making Asheville affordable­, sustainabl­e and prosperous

Thanks to the efforts of the people of Asheville, we're beginning to see some life in our economy, and we've got to build on that this year. We've also got to build on the momentum we have regarding affordability measures such as multimodal transportation infrastructure and affordable housing. New routes for the bus system will […]

Big Idea: Five steps to reducing poverty

Stop unnecessary foreclosures: In more than 80 percent of our foreclosure cases, Pisgah Legal Services is preventing foreclosures and saving homes. This success rate has convinced us that the vast majority of foreclosures can be prevented if homeowners have legal representation. Local, state and federal governments, foundations, the United Way and individuals should fund more […]

Big Idea: Managing downtown/d­efending Asheville’­s water

There are several things bubbling around. I think this should be the year that we have a downtown management system in place. This was part of the Downtown Master Plan from 2009, and it was first considered for downtown back in 1993. I'm hopeful that we can get it accomplished without hitting the three-decade mark. […]

Big Idea: First things first

• Maintain a balanced budget without raising taxes while still providing necessary services such as police, fire, water, garbage pickup, recycling and parks. • Continue to strengthen regional partnerships. • Plan affordable, long-term capital investments to improve our quality of life (sidewalks, greenways). • Work with our legislative delegation to protect and enhance Asheville (e.g., […]

Big Idea: Equal rights for all

In 2012, the Campaign for Southern Equality will expand our WE DO Campaign to communities across the South. Same-sex couples request and are denied marriage licenses in order to publicly express our full humanity, resist unjust laws and call for full equality under federal law by the end of the decade. We'll be doing this […]

Green Scene

The local Sierra Club chapter has another big idea for 2012: bolstering Progress Energy’s coal-ash ponds in Skyland to avoid a disaster like the massive spill at Kingston, Tenn., back in 2008. The local utility’s two coal-ash ponds are unlined and contained by earthen dams; activists worry that toxic contaminants are leaching into local ground […]

Green Scene

Buying only new tires puts more scrap tires into the waste stream; reuse is the highest form of recycling. Lots of folks can’t easily afford a set of new tires, and as long as they’re inspected for safety and tread depth, they’re often a good choice for the budget-minded. I don’t think it’s wise to […]

Green Scene

If we want to have an immediate, affordable, doable effect on the environment, Asheville needs lots more trees planted to combat the hot summers we've been experiencing, while helping clean the air. The DOT has removed hundreds of trees along the highways, and we need to take a proactive role in adding more trees back […]

Green Scene

As a native of Asheville, I want to help most of my friends and neighbors save money and finally move toward getting off the grid. Thank God, it's now not that hard to move toward a solar generator. I was miserable for seven days during the blizzard of 2009. I bought a gas generator afterward, […]

Big Idea: Reaching out from home

Mission Manna has spent the past decade trying to decrease the high death rate among children under 5 in the Montrouis area on Haiti’s west coast. Thanks to twice-yearly clinics where medical and lay volunteers see some 1,200 kids each trip, and distributing a nutritional mix of beans and grains, more children are reaching the […]

Big Idea: It’s the mission

At the YWCA of Asheville, our mission itself is the big idea: We incorporate “eliminating racism and empowering women” into everything we do. In 2012, the YWCA will continue to offer vital programs bridging gaps in child care, education, health care and earning power. In April, we’ll hold our third annual Stand Against Racism campaign, […]

Big Idea: Rising wheat

Jennifer Lapidus is a champion of flour — specifically locally grown and ground flour for bread that reflects a sense of place from field to hearth, as geographically distinct as true Champagne (and then some). As organic grains coordinator for Carolina Farm Stewardship Association ( Lapidus, along with a pilot group of seven WNC bakeries, […]

Big Idea: The big cheese

Kentucky has the Bourbon Trail, California has its wine trails and Western North Carolina is poised to get a Cheese Trail, says Jennifer Perkins, one of the faces behind Looking Glass Creamery. Looking Glass cheeses have been featured in the Willliams-Sonoma 2010-2011 catalog, Cooking Light Magazine and on There are several cheese-making destinations and […]

Big Idea: Time to bring it home — for everyone

Mark Rosenstein, former chef and owner of The Market Place, left the realm of fine dining to pursue his next career: rediscovering and advocating for the family-cooked meal. He’s the project manager for the new Green Opportunities Kitchen Ready Training Program, a cooking-based family training series. Green Opportunities is an organization dedicated to improving lives, […]

Grateful Steps

Local faith-based publisher Grateful Steps releases a wide array of books, from children's books and photography to historical nonfiction and poetry. Selections from 2011 include YA novel The Old Shoes, adventure memoir Sharks On My Fin Tips and kid's book Sammy the Dragon. Located in Lexington Station (159 S Lexington Ave.), Grateful Steps does more […]

Shoe the children

You've probably heard of Toms Shoes and their Soles4Souls program (for each pair of the comfy canvas slips-ons purchased, a pair is donated to a child in need). Well, Asheville's Sole Hope works in a similar way — helping needy children in Africa while also providing jobs locally. "We are based out of Asheville because […]