Early in 2000, I was working on a Masters at a local Carolina college when a band from Asheville came to our area to play for a few nights. After a while, I got a chance to go to a couple of the shows. We hit it off. The band, Snake Oil Medicine Show, asked me to go to work for them and go on tour. Once the semester finished, I met the on the road. After that moment, I ended up moving back home to the area when the band came home that season.
During those years, Bluegrass was still tolerated (celebrated) in Asheville, Yoga was becoming a thing and the Asheville herbalists had formed a coalition to battle 'Big Pharma' and their cohorts in Raleigh. Compared to the COVID years when Asheville faced the most draconian executive lockdown policy, very few people supported large pharmaceutical operations and most espoused local healers and integrative doctors.
Local zines sported anti-pharma articles like 'The West Nile Blues', where today, such writing would be considered 'conspiratorial' since Pfizer pays for most of the Asheville newspapers.
Also, thanks to the New Age, Yoga and UFO communities, there was a healthy distrust of authority.
Unlike today, no one trusted the Asheville City Council, housing was cheap and so was health care. In those days, people with mental issues were cared for through a local program and they did not live on the street as they do now. Asheville's homeless problem back then consisted of folks who couch surfed out their welcome or camped in you back yard too long. Warren Wilson actually dealt with environmental issues instead of espousing isolating political doctrine or downright Maoist communism.
Also, there was a deep respect for both Cherokee and Southern Appalachian culture - a feature lacking in most executive decision makers today despite their lip service 'indigenous peoples day', while selling out the very same contested lands to the highest bidding developer to make more apartments we do not need for people who should not be moving to the area.
Back then, we were creating a way of life, not a way to 'make more jobs'. There was actually a silver economy and you did not have to use credit cards or money if you did not want to do so back then. I still have some of those coins to this da-y and remember buying rounds at the APBC movie night with them.
Actual sustainablity meant that your only obligation to the state, county or utility company was the goal of producing a yearly land tax payment.
Was it perfect? No. Life in Asheville then was not perfect, it was 'Bigger than it really is' back in those days. Our problem was we wanted to be bigger than Asheville, everyone wanted to be a music star, famous artist or big time yoga teacher. Well, eventually, we got what we wanted and Asheville became world famous.
That fame did not help out anything - as often stated in the old maxim, be careful about what you wish, you may get it. We did get it.
The cause and effect of pop culture was in full play ...
Instead of becoming the left leaning Libertarian mecca, Asheville developed into a faux-Democratic overpriced hell-hole like the Vineyard.
Asheville's purported hatred of corporate capitalism is also a facade.
So there you are, a bit about the battlefield you'd face if you wanted to play here. A few of my friends tossed around the idea to print up a bumper sticker (since this is a big town for that kind of 'independent marketing') that said 'Asheville, the dream is over, now go home'. However, I truly believe that the Spirit is merely buried deep, hidden like the Balls of Vance somewhere in the ground where the betrayers of the dream could not dig.
Asheville, like most of America, is in need of some type of healing process. However, that requires acknowledgement that there is an issue. Masking real estate deals (like the plan to sell off parts of Pack Square where once aforementioned phallic symbols thusted out into the skyline) as 'progressive historical revisionism designed to remove us from our repressive past', will not lead to healing. If anything, it creates distrust in a populace that already believes the government is full of shit. The removal of Asheville's past is all about money, power and greed, it has nothing to do with 'social justice', 'racial fairness' or 'equality' - that is just a lie being fed to the constituents that have yet to wake up to the hoodwink.
The goal of this site is not to forget history, but to deal with it. If you never knew Asheville had a Golden Age, then you would never guess what all the fuss was about and why everyone tried to move here. The only saving grace to the current economic downtown has been that it has slowed the spread of development and partially ceased the destruction of precious mountain land.
Things were better here once upon a time, and they came be again - the goal of this site is to explore how we get there - together.