Asheville

The earliest stages of gentrification in North Carolina can be traced to the redevelopment of city centers.
Flickr

Word is getting out that North Carolina is a great place to live. The state has been readily attracting people from other parts of the country in recent years, but the rising tide has not lifted all boats.

Okra is a seed-to-stem plant, meaning that every part of the organism is edible.
Peter Taylor

Writing off okra as a slimy pod is a great injustice, according to Chris Smith. The garden writer and seed saver is an okra aficionado who asserts that while the vegetable may have a unique texture, it is a surprisingly versatile piece of produce.

the bandmates posing with their instruments outside
Courtesy of Sabra Music

The Asheville-based swing group Queen Bee and The Honeylovers made their entire debut album a tribute to their beloved hometown. “Asheville” came out in late April and features tunes about the historical characters and legends of the city in the style of a 1920s swing record.

This 2016 image from video shows the entrance to the Word of Faith Fellowship church in Spindale. A father and son who belong to the secretive evangelical church in North Carolina pleaded guilty Friday, May 25, 2018, to federal criminal charges.
Alex Sanz / Associated Press

A member of a secretive North Carolina church will enter a plea on a federal fraud charge as part of an investigation into an unemployment scheme benefiting businesses with ties to the congregation, according to court documents.

map of evictions in greensboro
Courtesy of Stephen Sills

There were an estimated 2,200 evictions in Buncombe County last year, according to reporting from The Asheville Citizen-Times. This statistic has many wondering: With Asheville’s booming economy and the historically low unemployment rate, why are its residents struggling to pay rent?

photo of Ben Phan holding a guitar
Ben Phan

Ben Phan remembers living in a van with his ex-girlfriend, bumming around the country and searching for a place to clean up his act and reinvent himself.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Why is Asheville not fighting a redistricting plan from the state legislature? Asheville’s local elections use an “at-large” system, which means that the six city council members and mayor are elected citywide. But last summer, state lawmakers created five districts for the Asheville City Council and delayed local elections for a year. 

Comedienne  Hilliary S. Begley at White Labs Kitchen making dumplings.
Courtesy of Jameykay Huffman

Asheville-based stand up comic Hilliary S. Begley had never acted professionally before landing a role in the hit Netflix movie “Dumplin.’” The film stars Jennifer Aniston, and is hailed as a feel-good, must-see movie of the season. It tells the story of a self-conscious teenage girl named Willowdean (Will), played by Danielle MacDonald, and her beauty-obsessed mother, played by Aniston, who is more concerned with running her beauty pageant than building a relationship with her daughter. 

There have been seven cases of mumps reported in North Carolina.
Flickr

North Carolina officials say a chickenpox outbreak at a private school has grown to the state's largest in more than two decades.

Courtesy Michelle Dorrance

Michelle Dorrance is revolutionizing tap dance, and the world is watching. Dorrance stomps and slides across the floor with movements that are experimental, loose, romantic and everything in between. She breaks the rules of what many expect tap dance to look like, and reinforces that tap dancing is first and foremost about making music.

The band Natural Born Leaders
Courtesy of Natural Born Leaders

The band Natural Born Leaders describes its sound as “the Fugees meets Black Sabbath.” The Asheville-based group is comprised of five members whose musical styles and influences range from metal and hard rock to hip-hop and folk.

DeWayne Barton in the Burton Street Peace Gardens
Angeli Wright / Asheville Citizen-Times

A highway expansion project in Asheville is set to destroy several homes in a historically black community for the third time. Parts of the Burton Street Neighborhood in West Asheville were demolished by state highway projects in the 1950s and 1960s. Now the proposed Interstate 26 connection project will go through the neighborhood again.

Matt Bush / BPR

The number of visitors at Dupont State Forest more than doubled this decade.  It’s just one of the many outdoor destinations that has helped form Asheville and Western North Carolina’s national profile.  Something else is now getting national attention – the region’s industry that builds the products those outdoor visitors use.

Asheville Fire Department

A ruling in a North Carolina firefighter's death could open the door for more benefits for their surviving families.

Heavy rain could be reducing farm yields across the state, like this one in western NC.
mystuart via Flickr, creative commons

 Western North Carolina is expecting more rain and thunderstorms over the next few days. A state of emergency for 33 Western North Carolina counties has been in effect since late May after heavy rains caused several mudslides, flash floods, rising rivers and falling trees. Some areas received 20 inches of rain over a two week period.

headshot of serapio
Courtesy of Luis Carlos Serapio

Luis Carlos Serapio crossed the border from Mexico as an undocumented immigrant in the early 1990s. He was looking for a better life. He moved around, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Utah, and then to the East Coast. After visiting Asheville for a wedding, he and his first wife fell in love with the city. They soon decided to take a leap of faith and just move there.

Electing a sheriff – even in one of North Carolina’s largest counties – doesn’t usually draw a lot of attention. But this year’s democratic primary in Buncombe County is different.  Voters will select a new sheriff for the first time in 12 years.  And law enforcement practices and reforms are center stage in the campaign because of an incident that took place within the county.

photo of tammy hooper in the blue ridge public radio station
Amanda Magnus

In late February, leaked bodycam footage of a white Asheville police officer beating a black pedestrian went viral, and the city is still reeling. The footage captured an incident that took place Aug. 24, 2017 when former Asheville Police Officer Chris Hickman confronted city resident Johnnie Jermaine Rush over alleged jaywalking and trespassing. Footage shows Hickman beat, choked, punched and stunned Rush.

photo of leeda 'lyric' jones playing guitar onstage
Courtesy of Leeda 'Lyric' Jones

Leeda “Lyric” Jones honed her skills as a writer, singer and performer busking on the streets of downtown Asheville. At first hesitant to play for strangers, she quickly realized her original lyrics and soulful style helped her forge connections with those who needed it the most.

photo of asheville and the surrounding mountains at dusk
Michael Tracey/Public Domain

Asheville city police face potential budget cuts a month after body camera footage of an officer beating a black pedestrian was leaked to the Asheville Citizen-Times. The beating prompted outrage and led to the arrest of the former officer who beat the pedestrian and the firing of City Manager Gary Jackson. Blue Ridge Public Radio News Director Matt Bush speaks with host Frank Stasio about the latest updates from the story.

photo of the airbnb website, with pictures of rooms for rent
www.airbnb.com/a/Asheville

The Asheville City Council voted to severely restrict tourist rentals in Asheville earlier this year. The new rules state that rentals that had city permits before the vote can stay in business.

photo of Jennifer Pharr Davis on a big rock with a plaque
Maureen Robinson

Hiking through fields and forests has been life changing for Jennifer Pharr Davis. She is a professional hiker and adventurer. At just 21 years old, she set off on a solo hike across the entire Appalachian Trail, a path that covers 14 states and more than 2,000 miles.

a vacation rental
Sara Hopkins / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/anPreC

A western North Carolina city has voted to restrict tourist rentals downtown.

The Asheville Citizen-Times reported the city council voted 6-1 Tuesday to restrict short-term vacation rentals. Supporters say the restriction will help prevent too many homes from being converted to short-term rentals such as those make popular by Airbnb and others.

people marching with confederate flags in Washington, D.C.
Elvert Barnes / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/ye6c21

Alderman Ralph Hamlett wants symbols of hate and racism to be banned from parades in his town of Canton, North Carolina.

Women walking down a street.
Isaiah Rice

Isaiah Rice spent decades working as a beverage delivery man in his native city of Asheville, but around town he often went by another name: the picture man.

Courtesy of Alan Gratz

Tens of thousands of people are forced to flee their homes each day due to conflict and persecution, according to the UN Refugee Agency. More people around the world are displaced now than ever before. 

A stone obelisk honoring  Zebulon Vance
Travis / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/dsjqqa

 In the heart of downtown Asheville sits Pack Square, a bustling center lined by popular restaurants and ongoing construction projects. A stone obelisk stretches skyward from the center of the square honoring Zebulon Vance, North Carolina’s governor during the Civil War. 

Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute
Greg Duckworth II / Flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/528zQV

Hikers trekking deep in the Pisgah National Forest are usually on the lookout for copperheads and black bears. But sometimes they are startled by a Big Bang of sorts, stumbling out of the woods and into a science fiction-like world of giant telescopes. But it's no illusion.

An image of UNCA professors and co-hosts Marcus Harvey and Darin Waters
David Allen / UNC-Asheville

Asheville has been home to an African-American community for centuries. However, African-American residents in Asheville and western North Carolina have historically suffered from systemic inequality and racial disparities.

In the new radio program and podcast “The Waters and Harvey Show,” co-hosts Darin Waters and Marcus Harvey examine western North Carolina’s cultural history and the narratives of marginalized communities.
 

An image of peace activists Ali Abu Awwad and Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger
Courtesy of Hanan Schlesinger

Even though Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger has lived in the West Bank for 33 years, he had never spent much time with a Palestinian. That was before he met Ali Abu Awwad. Schlesinger lived in the area with for decades seeing Palestinians as an invisible "other." 

Pages