There are two events coming up that I’d like to share with you.
The first is this Thursday, October 2, from 5 to 7 pm at the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center, 285 Livingston Street. The event, hosted by Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council and UNCA’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, is “Multi-Generational Conversations on Race, Pt. 1.” The invite reads: “Join us for our two-part series — a diverse group of panelists will participate in community conversations on race, age, and generational differences in perspectives.”
The second event, “Everybody’s Environment: Voices for Conservation and Community,” will be held on Friday, October 10, also at the at the Dr. Wesley Grant Southside Center. This conference will look at diversity and environmental movements.* The Keynote Speaker will be Melanie Allen, Diversity Director for Conservation Trust for North Carolina. To attend, you must register by this Friday October 3 at http://www.diversityed.org/everybodysenvironment
*Deborah Miles of the Center for Diversity Education shared this via email:
“Why a conference on Diversity and the Environment?
Here is a highlight from the recently published “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations” study which surveyed three types of environmental institutions across the US: 191 conservation and preservation organizations, 74 government environmental agencies, and 28 environmental grant making foundations:
The current state of racial diversity in environmental organizations is troubling, and lags far behind gender diversity.
- The percentage of ethnic minorities working in environmental organizations has increased over time.
- Despite the growth in the ethnic minority population in the U.S., the percentage of minorities on the boards or general staff of environmental organizations does not exceed 16% in the three types of institutions studied.
- Once hired in environmental organizations, ethnic minorities are concentrated in the lower ranks. As a result, ethnic minorities occupy less than 12% of the leadership positions in the environmental organizations studied.
- Yet ethnic minorities and people of multi-racial backgrounds comprise about 38% of the U.S. population.
- The diversity manager’s position is the only position that minorities are more likely to hold than Whites in environmental organizations. However, relatively few of the organizations had such a position.
WNC is a hub of activity for governmental and non-profit organizations with a focus on the air, water, and land that sustains us. Through intentional collaboration we can broaden best practices to improve these statistics in the staff, board members, vendors, and visitors of regional organizations.”
I’m very glad these events taking place! Kudos to the organizers!
I am embarrassed that, in my running around lately, I failed to post here about Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week, which just ended. This is especially remiss since I am on the MED Committee! My only excuse was that I was so busy trying to promote MED Week on other channels, I forgot to use my own. That said, it was a very successful week of free events and workshops for entrepreneurs. There was a nice preview story in the Citizen-Times, click here to read it. There will be a wrap up story in the Mountain Xpress, I’ll share it when it is published.
The highlight of the week was the annual awards event, which had great crowd and a truly inspiring program. At the awards event, the MED Committee honored six Western North Carolina minority-owned businesses. The winners were: Phyllis J. Sherrill Minority Entrepreneur of the Year – Sanesco International, Inc., Minority Restaurateur of the Year – Cooking with Comedy, Minority Emerging Business of the Year – Eagle Market Streets Block By Block Industries and CHIVA, LLC, Minority Artist Business of the Year – Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Minority Service Business of the Year – NC Brookhaven Behavioral Health. We showed videos about each of the winners, I will be able to share them here in a few weeks. In addition, The Support Center was honored as Lending Institution of the Year and the Advocate Award went to Deborah Miles of the Center for Diversity Education. An impressive group to say the least!
Why do we have the Minority Enterprise Development Committee? For starters, look at these statistics (using Census data) about ethnic minority business ownership:
City of Asheville compared to the State of NC
Black-Owned Firms 2.8% of population – NC 10.5%
American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms 0.2% of population – NC 1.0%
Asian-owned firms Suppressed; does not meet publication standards – NC 2.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms fewer than 25 firms – NC 0.1%
Hispanic-owned firms 1.3% – NC 2.7%
Buncombe County compared to the State of NC
Black-Owned Firms 1.7% of population – NC 10.5%
American Indian- and Alaska Native-owned firms To small to calculate – NC 1.0%
Asian-owned firms 1.3% of population – NC 2.5%
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander-owned firms fewer than 25 firms – NC 0.1%
Hispanic-owned firms 1.4% – NC 2.7%
As you can see, Asheville and Buncombe County are clearly behind in the amount of minority entrepreneurship in our area. It is my belief that in this country the game of business is rigged by institutional racism. The playing field is not level. And I believe the status quo will not change with out pro-active efforts like the work of the MED Committee, which offers events and support year round to local ethnic minority-owned businesses. It is vital to advocate for those the system is not designed to work for in order to have a more interesting and vibrant economic and cultural landscape in WNC.
Want to stay in the loop about these efforts?
Click here to sign up for the Minority Enterprise Development Committee email list.
pictured: members of the minority enterprise development committee of wnc
Stop by for a free massage, sweet tea, games for grown ups and balloon art for the kids. There will be tours to the YMI Cultural Center to see the “Cash Crop” exhibit leaving the Lounge 2:30 pm and 5:00 pm. Date My City is also hosting performers on the AshevilleFM stage.
Most importantly, the Date My City Lounge will showcase minority entrepreneurs, activists, writers, and artists from our community!
The Asheville Blade (ashevilleblade.com) is a new online media outlet, which has already covered crucial stories and added important perspectives to community conversations. With a slogan of “cutting to the point,” the Asheville Blade is a bold and necessary voice for our town.
Two recent pieces of note are:
Red Lines – an investigative journalism piece by Asheville Blade founder David Forbes
“Racist government programs shaped Asheville’s ‘urban renewal,’ demolishing homes and pushing out thousands. The results still haunt the city today.”
‘Diversity’ is the New Black – an opinion piece by Sheneika Smith
“Asheville’s current approach to diversity is like putting a bandage on a dirty wound. A better way will require a more politically and economically powerful black community — and the city truly addressing some hard history.“
I encourage you to read both of these pieces!
You can support the Asheville Blade for as little as $3/month. I did.
The Public Housing Advocacy Coalition (PHAC) is a new Asheville group comprised of public housing residents, representatives from community organizations and concerned citizens (including me). One of the things that frustrates me about Asheville is the general lack of awareness about our public housing communities. I am hoping this group will be able to contribute to increased awareness and support. Click here to follow PHAC on Facebook.
The main focus of PHAC right now is getting the word out about the Housing Authority of the City of Asheville’s (HACA) plan to shift their funding to HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program (RAD). There are many possible implications for this, including the fact that it opens the door to a shift to private ownership of public housing.
Below are links to a few articles about HACA and RAD, I encourage you to read them.
The Asheville Blade:
Carolina Public Press:
As you can tell from this blog, I am interested in seeing Asheville shift our long time status quo of dysfunctional racial and socio-economic dynamics. There are a lot of good heart-ed people living here that I like to believe can make Asheville a better place for everyone. I’d love to hear your thoughts about strategies for creating this shift, either in the comments below, or via email: amiworthen at gmail.
In the meantime, I’ll keep posting on this blog about groups and individuals that I see taking action in positive directions.
Photos by Matt Rose/Carolina Public Press
This Saturday, June 21, from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm at the YMI Cultural Center, UNC Asheville students from the State of Black Asheville course will present their research on the status of Black Asheville in several public policy areas such as: education, health care, housing & economic development, criminal justice, and culture. The event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be provided. If you have questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hey everyone, the fourth annual Juneteenth celebration is taking place on Saturday June 14th from 11 am – 4 pm in the field at Hillcrest!
Juneteenth is a celebration of the end of slavery in the U.S., and will be featuring free food, live entertainment, educational speakers, historical documents and artifacts, fun activities for children, raffle prizes, and more!
This is a free public event and is very family friendly, so come on out and celebrate!
We are looking for the following items to borrow: popup tents, folding tables and chairs, hoses, extension cords, and a generator. We are also looking for volunteers (and sponsors).
If you’re interested in helping, please call Nicole at 828-255-8777.
This week I thought I’d share a few opportunities…
The Mountain Xpress recently featured this great volunteer opportunity…
“For the past three summers, Nicole Hinebaugh has led a group of children from Asheville’s public housing neighborhoods down the hiking trails of Western North Carolina. This year, she needs extra help from volunteers to keep the program — the Trailblazers Outdoor Adventure Club — going strong. Most of these children have never seen the luscious greenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Hinebaugh cites this as one of the main reasons why local nonprofit Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation founded Trailblazers. ‘Honestly, we realized that a lot of the children didn’t know about these any of these places,’ Hinebaugh explains.”
To volunteer or learn more about the Trailblazers Outdoor Adventure Club, email Hinebaugh at email@example.com, or call 255-8777. To donate to the program, go to wwd-f.org/donate.
And the cover story of this month’s Urban News is the Read to Succeed Program…
Issac Coleman started Read to Succeed in 2008 because he was “especially troubled that so many children, particularly from public housing, were not reading at grade level.” Volunteering for the Read to Succeed requires extensive training and a multiple year commitment – both things that contribute to the likelihood of success with the child you tutor.
To find out more about being a volunteer for Read to Succeed, visit r2sasheville.com, contact Julie Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org, 251-4949 or (510) 459-3208.
The WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition is hosting a Mountain Mixer this Friday, May 23, from 5 to 7 at the Haywood Lounge, 590 Haywood Road. This drop-in event will be great chance to network and to support a minority owned business!
Ok, that’s it for this week! – Ami
The Ujamaa Freedom Market will hold a kick-off party this Thursday, May 15 at 9 pm at The Millroom, 66 Asheland Ave.
Admission is $10 at the door. Performers include DJ Anne-Marie on the 1’s & 2’s, Santos, Juan Holiday & Big Dave of Out the Gutta Ent.
The event will help support the organization’s mission to “to promote social, economic, environmental, and food justice by serving as a model for self-sufficiency while inspiring healthy relationships with food in order to strengthen the quality of life, health and well being of the community.”
Excerpt: “Officially founded at the beginning of 2013, the business is a worker-owned cooperative mobile market designed to provide fresh local produce, healthy prepared foods and other household necessities in communities throughout Asheville on a weekly basis, focusing particularly on communities experiencing poverty and so-called ‘food deserts.'”
Excerpts: “‘We want to show people that they can lift themselves while doing something that will benefit the community and benefit themselves at the same time,’ Lewis says.”
“‘The idea is to be a model for individuals that look like us and come from similar backgrounds,’ says Lewis. ‘We want to show that if you’re not accepted in the institutions that are out there, then you can create something new that is your own and supports you and that you will continue to be a part of.'”
You can find out their route each day on the Ujamaa Facebook page.
Hope to see you at the party!