Views of the future: Asheville’­s chief sustainabi­lity officer weighs in

Amber Weaver, the city of Asheville’s chief sustainability officer, is working ahead of time. She’s working with the year 2035 in mind, when the Buncombe County landfill will be at capacity, and toward 2050, when the city has promised to reduce its carbon footprint by 80 percent. However, with new hotels on the horizon and […]

The search for sustainabl­e healthcare in WNC

Despite high hopes for Obamacare (aka, the Affordable Health Act), not all residents of Buncombe and surrounding counties have benefited from the national effort to extend insurance to ­­those who can’t afford it. Part of the shortfall is blamed on North Carolina’s decision not to expand Medicaid. Meanwhile, nongovernmental caregiving entities in Western North Carolina, […]

Just Economics (profile)

Through policy advocacy and grassroots leadership development, the members of Just Economics of Western North Carolina marked several items off the organization’s 2015 to-do list. Among the most notable: getting the city’s living-wage policy extended to include part-time, temporary and seasonal employees and the implementation of Sunday bus service through Asheville Redefines Transit. “Our mission is […]

Saving the family farm

When it comes to saving the family farm, Robin Reeves knows a thing or two. As a member of the sixth generation to grow up on her family’s Madison County farm — a lineage that predates the Civil War — Reeves was faced with being the last generation. The solution? A conservation easement made possible by the Southern Appalachian […]

Schools adjust to serve the area’s multicultu­ral society

Transitioning to a new language, country and culture can be extremely disruptive — particularly for children who are just beginning the process of learning to understand themselves and their heritage. To address the growing numbers of students from non-English-speaking households, the Asheville City and Buncombe County schools are each gradually developing a curriculum that gives […]

Beyond belief: Faith communitie­s embrace environmen­tal stewardshi­p

Churches are a special type of building — funded, operated and occupied by a community of users who must balance such priorities as care for the community, evangelism, education and worship. Even as these considerations remain crucial, many faith communities are also increasingly aware of ethical and faith-based imperatives to reduce the environmental impact of their operations. As Asheville’s […]

Appalachia­n Sustainabl­e Agricultur­e Project — profile

The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has kicked off 2016 with expanded outreach, not the least of which is a renovated version of its Local Food Guide. First released in print and online in 2002, it now features a new domain name and improved search and navigation functions, along with an interface optimized for smartphones and tablets. “It has […]

Blue Ridge Food Ventures — profile

Tucked away in the corner of A-B Tech’s Enka campus, budding local businesses like Buchi Kombucha and Lusty Monk Mustard have had the opportunity to grow their roots in an 11,000-square-foot, FDA-inspected, shared-use facility called Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Success for this organization doesn’t come from keeping clients, but from watching them leave. “It’s the […]

Green Opportunit­ies — profile

Green Opportunities, a nonprofit job training and employment program founded in 2008, works to ensure that all residents of the region have access to sustainable employment in our rapidly growing local economy. Operating out of the Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center in Asheville’s Southside neighborhood, GO focuses on workforce development in selected growth […]

Mountain BizWorks — profile

Each year, millions of dollars in loans flow into Western North Carolina-based businesses, and Mountain BizWorks is a big reason it happens. In 2015, the group made “nearly $2 million in loans to 80 new and existing local businesses. Those businesses directly created 175 new, good jobs in our community and supported an additional 200 […]

B Lab — profile

“Best for the World” is the goal of the companies that make up the B Corp movement. The “B” stands for benefit — and not just the monetary kind. Certified B Corps create benefits not just for their shareholders, but for the community, the environment, employees, consumers and more. “Instead of just focusing on maximizing profit, […]

Nonprofits face their own sustainabi­lity issues

In fulfilling their mission to help make Western North Carolina’s communities more sustainable, our nonprofits rely on grants, fees and donations to continue fulfilling their charitable missions. A sustainable cycle of giving and receiving lies at the core of their survival. Nonprofits are deeply woven into the fabric of WNC. They provide direct services, such as […]

Asheville Grown Business Alliance — profile

“With Asheville’s unprecedented growth and tourist traffic, we face new challenges and opportunities,” says Franzi Charen, founder and director of Asheville Grown Business Alliance, a grassroots movement helping level the playing field for locally owned businesses. “We want to foster a more in-depth conversation about what we want this community to look like 20 to 50 […]