Kids took over the downtown streets for fun Sunday. Photo by Adam McMillan

In photos: Open Streets Asheville Festival

The inaugural Open Streets Asheville brought residents and visitors into the streets to enjoy downtown in a new way. With Battery Park Avenue, Wall Street and portions of Haywood Street, Patton Avenue and Church Street closed to automotive traffic, folks did art projects, movement-based activities, listened to buskers and relaxed with yoga and massage.

MOUNTAIN MAJESTY: The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of the most beloved and most visited sites in the National Park System, attracting millions of visitors and tourist dollars to the region each year. Its creation was the result of over a decade of legislative wrangling, relentless promotion and fundraising, and the tireless efforts of WNC residents such as George Masa, a Japanese immigrant who helped introduce the Smokies to the American people through his photography. Photo via North Carolina Collection, Pack Memorial Library, Asheville

George Masa and the birth of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

“These efforts really are about protecting places for all Americans and for future generations,” notes Brent Martin of The Wilderness Society. The leaders of the national parks movement, he maintains, “all saw a much bigger picture, not only for all human beings, but for all living things.”

Behind the Lens: Jennifer Mesk, pictured center.

Humans of Asheville captures local life in pictures

It’s a sunny day when Jennifer Mesk, the photojournalist behind Humans of Asheville, sets out across the city that serves as her muse. Spotting a group of interesting-looking characters on Patton Avenue, she motions to them, then indicates her camera. They smile curiously, and she crosses the street. “Hi,” she says, smiling. “Can I take your picture?”