Communities Coming Together


steadfast-completeI just got back from the I-26 Forum at St. Luke’s Baptist Church in Burton Street Community.  What an amazing collection of people.  I’m going to give you the thumbnail sketch here, but Mountain X and WLOS covered it as well.  Those links will be in the comments as they arrive.

Miss Vivian led the walking tour.  She had stories about every home and person on Fayetteville St., and we all got to see the families who would be displaced if the I-26 Connector cuts through this neighborhood, a neighborhood that fell down and got back up.  About a hundred people from every walk of life took the tour.

At 6:30 the church pews filled, and Dewayne Barton introduced the program.  Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Design Center ran through the facts and, once again, plainly demonstrated that Alternative 4B’s design is superior in every way.  Stop me if you’ve heard this, but Alt. 4B uses less land, takes fewer homes, takes fewer businesses, connects west Asheville to downtown, separates local traffic from interstate traffic, and creates a 22 acre downtown development corridor in downtown Asheville.

The questions from forum-goers fell generally into one of two categories:  process or action.  Minicozzi and (Person Who’s Name I Ought To Remember) from the Southern Poverty Law Center fielded the questions very well.  Former Mayor Leni Sitnick spoke from the pews about the history of the project and about how to work to make change.  Reverend Hardaway, an undeclared candidate for City Council, got his question about effective action answered.  Another speaker announced a petition drive to have Buncombe County Commissioners vote again on the I-26 Connector.

Chairman David Gantt continued the Q&A session, urging attendees to focus on the Governor’s office and on whomever she appoints to the DOT Board. He was followed by Mayor Bellamy.  I missed the last part because I was out front talking to folks.

What’s next?  A multi-pronged strategy to influence the DOT.  At a community level, we need to continue to shine a light on Burton St. Community and on Asheville’s intention to be an alternative transportation friendly city.  At an petition level we can get our names on the lists to support 4B and to ask the County for a revote.  At an organizational level, we can contact the Governor, DOT, and Alt. 3-friendly County Commissioners, and we can plan to attend this summer’s DOT public comment sessions en masse.  At an individual level, we can tell our friends and families about what’s going on and what they can do.


  1. Jerimee says:

    As usual, I love the graphic. Let us abound.

  2. Jim says:

    Actually, Jason and I didn’t team up. We were both just there and twittering (sounds odd– is tweeting better? Microblogging, perhaps?).

    Mountain Xpress made a quick blog entry out of it. Lesson: When you think you’re just sending something out to 100 people, it may go to more people than that. And you can see the quality of Jason’s post are higher than mine– he’s a professional journalist; I’m just a citizen.

    Still, I think it shows the power of quick news. I remember the quake of Sept. 1, 2005 or so, when I had just moved to town. We watched the news to see what LOS had to say about it: nothing. ACT website- nothing.
    Twitter would fill such a gap.

    But it is NOT a replacement for a good news story or blog entry. And while we’re on the topic of professional journalism vs. blogs, I might mention that there’s a number of times I’ve attended an event, and not recognized the event I was at from news story, both here in the US and in Germany. So sometimes blogs are better than Pro Journalism.

    And Gordon’s blog is an interesting mix– for me, it’s a supplement to the MX and ACT (Thanks, Gordon).

  3. Tim Peck says:

    “I missed the last part because I was out front talking to folks.”

    Too bad. Bellamy had a lot of good advice for advancing a good cause.

  4. Gordon Smith says:

    Will you share it here, Tim?

  5. Was anyone from the NCDOT there? Those are the folks you need to be talking to.

  6. ObamaTJ says:

    I believe this was more of an event to inform people and to motivate people to take action – by contacting elected officials and DOT – and to let them know the fight is not over! I beleive it was more of an organizing event for what we need to do to get DOT’s attention and be able to influence their decision.

  7. Ryan says:

    Hey Gordon, just for an FYI, it was St. Paul’s Baptist Church (right idea, wrong Apostle), and Doug Ruley was the lawyer from the Southern Environmental Law Center.

    Thanks for reporting!