Upcoming events at the Burton Street Community Center, 134 Burton St.:
Friday, March 14th 5-7:30PM
Training and cultural organizing for communities on police violence and prison
Saturday, March 15th 10AM-4PM
Mass Incarceration & Its Impact on Family, Community
Thursday, March 20th 6-7:30PM
Panel discussion and Spoken word poetry
Thursday, March 27th 6-8PM
Like Hood Talk on Facebook.
The first in a series of “Hood Talk” events happens this week. The focus of the series is to raise awareness of the challenges faced in African American neighborhoods and in public housing communities in Asheville, which are predominantly African American. The conversations will also address solutions to these challenges.
From the organizers:
Developing positive energy to restore greater communication and strength throughout our community in Asheville, from the North, South, East, and West.
Come join us at the Burton St Community Center this Thursday 2.27.14 from 6 to 8 pm as we hear from caring folks from several neighborhoods in Asheville. This is a safe and chill place to listen to what you have to share about what’s going on in your hood, enjoy light food, entertainment, and inspiration while we create solutions to stay empowered and overcome challenges in our neighborhoods!
Ubuntu,” I am because we are”
-Xhosa, South African Proverb
“A problem shared, is a problem halved”
“Shared joy is a double joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow”
Here are flyers for two events this week related to the South Asheville Cemetery – a history presentation and a work day. “For nearly 100 years — from the 1840s until it was closed in the mid-1940s — South Asheville Cemetery was the primary place of burial for African-Americans in the city. No one really knows how many people are buried there; estimates run from about 1,500 to as many as 5,000 graves.” (Mountain Xpress, If Stones Could Talk, 1998).
Announcement from the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation:
A Free Breakfast will take place every Saturday in February at Hillcrest’s Carl E. Johnson Community Center from 9 am until 11 am.
This program is in celebration of Black History month and honors the original Free Breakfast Program that was begun by the Black Panthers during the height of the Civil Rights era. They offered a free hot meal to the children of their communities in the morning, preparing them for the day nutritionally, and empowering their minds and spirits through education while they ate. The community leaders educated the children about their true rights and history, and taught them how to stand up for what they believed in, and for fair and equal treatment. At one point the head of the FBI at the time, J. Edgar Hoover, declared that the Free Breakfast Program was the single largest threat to national security.
You can make a donation to this program at wwd-f.org. If you’d like to volunteer, call 828-255-8777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
More about the Women’s Wellbeing and Development Foundation from their website:
WWD-F empowers women and girls to utilize their economic, social, intellectual, and spiritual potential to achieve personal growth and the integrated development of their communities. The foundation provides resources and capacity building to women-run projects that directly benefit marginalized and disadvantaged women and children throughout the world.
WWD-F realizes that the development of women and their communities requires a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach that addresses both personal and collective challenges.
Asheville likes to celebrate diversity, and we’ve got the bumper stickers to prove it. But when it comes to actually experiencing diversity, that’s another story. “I come from Miami, and I’m so used to seeing a diverse group of people, all kinds of people, hanging out,” says Tiffany Gill of The Color ME Brown Project. “I’d like to see more of that here in Asheville.”
Victoria Blount, the nonprofit’s creative director, puts it this way: “If you’re in a certain demographic, there’s a ton for you to do. But if you are not, it’s hard to get out there, so you have to make your own way.”
Sheneika Smith of Date My City, a local initiative to encourage cultural diversity, says: “Diverse entertainment in Asheville is essential for the overall well-being of the community. I believe if we offer opportunities to unite, even through arts and entertainment, it will eventually give way to opportunities for civic engagement and improved community involvement.”
Happily, promoter Joe Greene has a plan. “We’re promoting diversity through laughter,” he says of the vision behind his production company, KJG Enterprises. Specifically, “KJG Enterprises is built upon the belief that the cultivation of diverse audiences can create positive exchanges and foster equity for all community residents in Asheville.” This goal grew out of his experience with what he calls the social, economic and cultural isolation of the established African-American community.
“That’s my whole focus,” says Greene. “To break down walls between people; to get everyone together.”
KJG Enterprises’ next event, “Funny ’R’ Us,” will be held Saturday, Jan. 18, at Asheville Community Theatre. The show will feature urban comedians Tyler Craig, Fredo Davis and Terrell Marrow. All three are based in Atlanta. Craig, a native of that city, has performed on the BET network’s Comic View and worked with Chris Tucker; Davis, aka Fdstmp, has also worked for Comic View and the TV series Who’s Got Jokes?; Marrow is a standup artist. Asheville musician Lyric will open, and Blunation Films and Go Diva Photography will document the evening.
A portion of the proceeds from “Funny ’R’ Us” will go to support My Daddy Taught Me That, a development program for 12- to 19-year-old males, run by local author and social worker Keynon Lake. The mentoring program supports participants in character building, academics and career preparation. There’s also an emphasis on “morals and being accountable for your actions,” says Lake.
Greene says both he and Lake “want to show people that we can come together … that everything a young black male presents is not negative.” Lake agrees, saying he wants to send a message to “bring our different entities together to focus on one common goal.”
Unfortunately, says Greene, “coming from a minority man’s point of view, it’s hard. I’m fighting every day to do something the right way, but I’m already put in that category and limited by that stereotype.”
The Asheville native spent his childhood in the Klondyke public housing complex, then moved to West Asheville. He attended college in Greensboro, playing football for N.C. A&T State University. During that time, he got into event promotion. After college, Greene moved to Charlotte, where he continued working as a promoter. “I stayed away from Asheville for 10 years, because I thought there wasn’t anything for me here,” he says.
When Greene finally did return to his hometown, he was disappointed by the lack of entertainment options that appealed to him, so he began putting on events. His first Asheville comedy show was at The Rocket Club in 2007. This was followed by events at venues like The Magnetic Theatre, Asheville Music Hall, Haywood Lounge, Diana Wortham Theatre, YMI Cultural Center, the Asheville Civic Center and Hole N Da Wall.
During the past year, Greene took a break from putting on shows to focus on building his business skills. “I had to take a step back to learn,” he says. He participated in the Eagle Market Streets Development Corp.’s BLOCK Academy program and Mountain BizWorks’ Business Boot Camp.
“This show,” says Greene, “is to introduce everyone to what I’ve been doing.” With an early start time (8 p.m.) and a classy venue, Greene says “Funny ’R’ Us” is for “people who want to dress up, go out, relax and have a laugh.”
If things go as planned, KJG Enterprises will branch out into other types of events. Greene says he’s considering plays, R&B vocalists and old-school rappers. Greene says the latter is a strong possibility, since he hung out with Doug E. Fresh in New York City recently, thanks to connections made through KJG.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time: I’m, like, 15-plus years deep in this,” says Greene. “I’m fighting for it. I am fighting to break the barriers down.”
what: Funny ’R’ Us Comedy Show featuring Tyler Craig, with Fredo Davis and Terrell Marrow. Lyric opens
where: Asheville Community Theatre, ashevilletheatre.org
when: Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 p.m. $25
photo by jon farmer
Here’s a round up of recent positive stories and opportunities for action:
The Asheville Citizen-Times ran this feature story about Stephen Smith, “Asheville man uplifts others after prison stint.” It’s worth a read. Here’s a quote of Smith’s from the story, “I used the analogy of the body, how different organs and muscles and ears and eyes all work together collectively to achieve good health, and how a community of people is supposed to work when everyone is accountable and doing what they’re supposed to do.”
There will be a variety of Martin Luther King week events in Asheville. The MLK Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County has a series of events, including the annual Prayer Breakfast. UNC Asheville also will be hosting Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration week, as well as supporting the MLK Association events. Finally, this Color of Asheville post includes community events hosted by the Ethical Society of Asheville and Burton Street Peace Garden.
Finally, the next session of Building Bridges “Going Beyond Racism Through Understanding and Respect” starts on January 27 at MAHEC. In their invitation to this session, the Building Bridges board states, “This is a way we can make Asheville/Buncombe County more inclusive and equitable, by building mutual understanding and respect. Let’s grow these seeds so that we can work together to actualize the kind of community we want to live in.” If that resonates with you, I highly encourage you to attend. Register here.
Note: I may not be able to post next week, but I’ll be back at the end of the month!
photo for the asheville citizen times by bill sanders
Over the holidays, Major Mayfield of #MajorMoments and his friends organized a sneaker giveaway and day of activities for children in the Shiloh community. By all reports, the event was a great success.
Mayfield is also involved in organizing a series of networking events called Mix & Mingle. The team putting on this event includes Sheneika Smith of Date My City, Melting Pot Asheville and more.
The second Mix & Mingle will be this Saturday, January 4th from 6 to 10 pm at the Asheville Music Hall, 31 Patton Avenue. On his Facebook page, Mayfield gave a call out to “Entrepreneurs, Business Owners, Dreamers, Musicians, DJs, Rappers, Go-Getters, Photographers, Models, Hustlers, Hair Stylists, Barbers” to attend. As he puts it, “YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH!”
I recently received the following email from the Center for Diversity Education, a wonderful organization whose vision is to “help build relationships across differences to create a more inclusive and equitable community.” Specifically, the CDE “celebrates and teaches diversity in order to foster conversation and respect among cultures.”
- Sometimes it is Kwanzaa because of the founder’s political ideology
- Sometimes it is anything that is not Christmas
- Since 9/11, it is often about Ramadan.
This year the objection made its way to a WNC school board [in Haywood County] which resulted in half the students not attending the program. Still, the amazing principal and teachers held fast to the connection of the program to the 6th grade NC Essential Standards.
Here is the memorable moment.
The selection of holidays at Bethel Middle School were:
- Christmas in Greece
These were great traditions to teach in sequence to each other. The best part was the last three minutes of the final presentation.
The discussion had been about the contemporary Jewish, Greek Orthodox, and Muslim communities in WNC. I was explaining the Asheville congregations of Beth Israel (House of Israel) and Beth Ha Tephila (House of Prayer) and the relationship of those words to Bethlehem (House of Bread) when a student asked, “Uhm….are there any other words in Hebrew that start with Beth?”
It took me a few seconds and then I was grinning all over.
We were in Bethel Middle School in the community of Bethel. Beth (House)- El (God). Their community was named House of God. All the students eyes got big – and mine. Here was another heartwarming tale of the journey of language and ideas that was in front of us all the time. And I have since learned that Beth (Beyt) is the same word in Arabic and El is the beginning sound of Al-lah. We are not that different.
Having the opportunity to look at ideas from a different point of view, and being nudged by another’s question, is critical thinking – something the young man in our NC public schools was learning to do. Critical thinking, and feeling, enlarges our understanding of ourselves and of other people we share this world with. It is essential to peace making.
That moment with students wouldn’t have happened without donor support.
It takes a lot of work to put on Road Shows every year where educators travel across WNC to over 60 schools for some 7,000 – 8,000 students presenting Seasons of Gratitude, Festivals of Light, and Good Fortune. I especially want to thank Road Show Coordinator Amanda Silverman who managed the schedules, the 18,000 pieces of treats, along with 100′s of artifacts. Amanda, along with the community of educators, PTA’s, UNC Asheville interns, volunteers, and donors have made this happen every year for 19 years!
The Center for Diversity Education is fortunate to have the support of UNC Asheville which covers all the operating expenses of the ”the house”. Still, funds are needed for programming. Take a look at what your funding helped make possible for 2013 and consider making a donation at http://www.diversityed.org/year-in-review/.
There are other ways to be an ally:
- Volunteer (email email@example.com)
- Host a fundraising event (email firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Speak up and act up for Equity and Inclusion at your office, house of worship, club, or community center.
- Attend the Spring Building Bridges Session
Thank you for your generosity and support over the years, for CDE and all the other non-profits in our mountain home. Best wishes for the season of giving and a new year dedicated to working for equity and inclusion for all.
With much appreciation,
Here is a piece I wrote for the Xpress website about CHIVA, an innovative organization that is holding an event this Saturday evening.
CHIVA mobile outreach bus reflects on its first year
We are trying to contribute to the inclusion process of the new face of WNC,” says Carolina McCready of the CHIVA – Transporting Opportunities to People (TOP) Project, a social entrepreneurial endeavor that she helped to start a year ago with Sarah Nuñez and Victor Palomino.
Specifically, the CHIVA is a school bus that has been turned into a mobile outreach space. The CHIVA TOP Project is designed to deliver on the spot services, educational opportunities, resources and multicultural activities to communities in Western North Carolina, with a particular focus on Latino communities.
“In the past decade, NC has seen an incredible increase of Latino immigrants,” says McCready. “Latinos are the largest minority population in many western countries in WNC.”
McCready, Nuñez and Palomino have been collaborating on Latino community organizing projects for almost ten years. With CHIVA, says McCready, the group wanted to reach out to Latino communities in a different way.
“Knowing that transportation is a huge barrier, we did not want to wait for residents to come to community centers and art events, but instead decided to create a vehicle to transport opportunities to their neighborhoods and deliver workshops and information,” she adds.
McCready says that during 2013, in addition to getting the bus up and running, the group mobilized youth at UNCA with the Me2We conference, visited a Latino neighborhood, and collaborated with the Mexican Consulate visit to WNC.
On Saturday, Dec. 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Asheville Area Arts Council, 346 Depot St., CHIVA will be showing videos of work they did in 2013. The group will also be seeking input on their direction for 2014. There is no charge to attend the drop-in event and light refreshments will be provided.
Find out more at chivatop.com.
The Color of Asheville (colorofasheville.net) is a new website created by Sasha Mitchell. Sasha is a family and community historian, among other things. The site is described as “a network of connection serving and celebrating Asheville’s African American Community.”
“This site was formed to meet the need for connectivity between members of Asheville’s African American Community and our need to support our locally owned businesses, professionals and community happenings. We will include activities and events, a directory of Black-owned businesses, professionals, service providers and clubs. In addition, we will include articles about Asheville’s African American history to document and celebrate our past.
In the future, we will also include listings for businesses identified as those who hire and invest in Asheville’s African American community.
We have created a Facebook Group to encourage communication and sharing of the website. We encourage you to share the names of African American professionals, along with businesses which hire and invest in our community to be included in our business directory. If you have talents and skills we can use to grow and improve our community, please speak up and share!
Sasha Mitchell, Editor”
I look forward to following this site, and to using the black-owned business directory as a resource. There is a place to submit to the directory if you see something that needs to be added.
The history on the site will be interesting. Here’s a photo which was recently posted of Black Businesses in Asheville in 1947: