Capital at Play November 2020

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l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n

l o c a l i n d u s t ry

All in Good Taste: Catering p.14


Businesses Supporting Nonprofits p.78

Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise



MIGHTY Ten Diverse Western North Carolina Nonprofits Prove that Strength Lies in Spirit, Not Size

Annual Nonprofit Edition Volume X - Edition XI complimentary edition

November 2020

H o l y i d p ays p a H


| November 2020

Congratulations to the 2020 Parsec Prize Winners! This year’s unrestricted grants totaling $200,000 help support those working diligently and effectively to prioritize educational and literacy needs amidst the pandemic. We chose 15 awardees to commemorate the 15th year of the Parsec Prize. November 2020 |


Editor’s Thoughts


has been a challenging year, to say the least—a year in which we’ve battled pandemic, political division, economic recession, and divisive violence. With such an exhausting year coming to a close, practicing the gratitude that usually defines this month might seem like a stretch. But really, doesn’t this year call for more gratitude than ever before? The challenges presented in 2020 have made us stronger; they’ve pushed us to have tough conversations, address the gaps in our social and economic systems, and support our communities in new ways. For many entrepreneurs, 2020 has shone a spotlight on the shortcomings in their business models; for layfolk, it’s reminded us to shop small and local. Many of us have a new sense of gratitude for our health, our friends and families, and this place we call home. It was with this mindset that we turned to our annual Nonprofit Edition, which you hold in your hands now. We love looking at our business community—and watching how it’s adapted to COVID-19 has certainly been fascinating—but this year, turning our attention to our local nonprofits felt less like a diversion and more like a true act of thanksgiving. We’ve profiled ten nonprofits who support our community with a spectacularly diverse spectrum of programming, from providing resources to local farmers, to offering the serenity of yoga to inmates, to matching minority students to the right educational services. Alone, each profile represents the niche impact of a small nonprofit; together, they depict the quilt-stitch span and significant influence of the notfor-profit community. While we separate this edition from our usual capitalistic content, it’s worth pointing out that these communities operate in symbiosis: The nonprofit community is buoyed by the support—donations, volunteer time, resources, and know-how—of the business community, and, to an extent, vice versa. As Elly Wells says in this month’s Local Industry story that illustrates how businesses and nonprofits work together, “I haven’t met a business leader yet who doesn’t also have some involvement in an area nonprofit—and that’s the way it should be.” In a year when gratitude is a practice, it’s easy to feel grateful for these organizations that make our community possible.

Till next month,

Emily Glaser


| November 2020

Your Guide To The Region’s Finest Properties $3.995 M

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2020 | | 18 S. Pack Square, AshevilleNovember | 828.367.9001



kend ing wee v r e s w No

Western North Carolina's Free Spirit of Enterprise


for 1/2 off Margaritas every MONDAY all day Now

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Anne Obolensky associate publisher

Jeffrey Green managing editor

Emily Glaser copy editors

Dasha O. Morgan, Brenda Murphy briefs and events editor

Leslee Kulba

Can’t Wait to See you!

contributing writers & photogr aphers

Evan Anderson, Anthony Harden, Marla Hardee Milling, Bill Kopp, Emily Glaser, John Kerr, Angela Shepherd, Anne Chesky Smith art director

Lara Poll founders

Oby and David Morgan advertising director

Roy Brock

Information & Inquiries Capital at Play is Western North Carolina’s business lifestyle magazine. It embodies the idea that capitalism thrives with creativity—that work requires an element of play. Exploring everything from local industry to the great outdoors, Capital at Play is inspiration for the modern entrepreneur. In every edition we profile those who take the risk, those who share that risk, and those who support them—telling the untold story of how capitalists are driven by their ideas and passions. We cater to those who see the world with curiosity, wonderment, and a thirst for knowledge. We present information and entertainment that capitalists want, all in one location. We are the free spirit of enterprise.

gener al advertising inquiries

for editorial inquiries

e-mail or call 828.274.7305


for subscription information

subscribe online at or call 828.274.7305

marketing & advertising David and Katrina Morgan, Ellen Stroud marketing coordinator

Kirby Rucker

Editorial content is selected and produced because of its interest to our readership. Editorial content is not for sale and cannot be bought. Capital at Play is financially sustained by advertisers who find value in exposure alongside our unique content and to the readers who follow it. This magazine is printed with soy based ink on recycled paper. Please recycle. Copyright © 2020, Capital At Play, LLC. All rights reserved. Capital at Play is a trademark of Capital At Play, LLC. Published by Capital At Play, LLC. PO Box 5524, Asheville NC 28813

Community-Minded, Always. 6

| November 2020

Capital at Play is protec ted through Tr ademar k Regis tr ation in the United States. The content found within this publication does not necessar ily ref lec t the views of Capital At Play, LLC . and its companies. Capital At Play, LLC . and its employees are not liable for any adver tising or editor ial content found in Capital at Play. The ar ticles, photogr aphy, and illus tr ations found in Capital at Play may not be reproduced or used in any fashion without express wr it ten consent by Capital At Play, LLC .

November 2020 |


Vintage is

Always in style.

Enjoy browsing cabinet after cabinet of yesterday’s treasures, diamonds and gemstone jewelry lovingly refurbished to reveal a fresh glow. For thirteen years, we have been the area’s leader in the buying and selling of high quality pre-owned diamonds and gemstone jewelry. We showcase a wide selection of hand-picked pieces including antique, vintage and modern, all priced well below current market. Our expertise has spanned generations, dating from the 1920’s in Boston to the Tampa Bay area. Now, we celebrate our 13th anniversary in Historic Biltmore Village.

We buy diamonds, fine jewelry and old gold. Evaluations are free with no obligation and we know how to get you more when you sell. Please call for an appointment 828.274.7007

Historic Biltmore Village 2 Boston Way Asheville, NC 28803 828.274.7007 | 8

| November 2020

Open For Business with the latest in sanitization practices and social distancing friendly environment

thi s page : THE PUMPKIN PEDDLER 2019, photo by Paul King cover : ASHEVILLE ON BIKES’ advocacy spearheaded the Street Tweaks Team, which implemented the Coxe Ave. tactical urbanism project , photo by Justin Mitchell, art designed by Jenny Fares of Sound Mind Creative

F E AT U R E D vol. x

ed. xi



November 2020 |



n ov e m b e r 2020

FOOD CONNECTION PICKS UP fare from Wicked Weed's Cultura, photo by Julia Linholm - Wicked Weed Brewing


l e i s u r e & l i b at i o n

All in Good Taste

Catering Companies Are Cooking up Plates & Profits


colu m ns

12 Different by Design

Catherine Campbell of Bright Planning

34 A Farewell Column Written by John Kerr

70 On A Mission


Written by Angela Shepherd

38 Carolina in the West 74 The Old North State 96 National & World 10


| November 2020

lo c a l i n d u s t r y

Better Together

WNC Businesses and Nonprofits Collaborating for the Community


100 Events to Ring

in the Holiday Season (or Not)

one last thing

106 Looking Back,

Moving Forward

NOV 2nd - DEC 20th, 2020

Give the gift of employment by joining Asheville Express Employment Professionals’ 8th Pay It Forward Hiring Drive as we work to place 100 job seekers from November 2nd through December 20th, 2020. Being out of work during the holidays can be particularly tough and we would like to make sure as many people as possible earn a paycheck just in time for the season of giving. Join us in our effort to help put 100 people to work in our community, bringing hope and encouragement to them and their families. HERE’S HOW YOU CAN HELP 1. Hire an Express employee for at least one week between November 2 and December 20. Not


only will you gain a qualified worker to help

MAKE A DIFFERENCE To learn more about the Pay It Forward Hiring Drive and how you

Data Entry Clerk Join us in our effort to help put XXX people to work in •our community that week, bringing hope and can participate, contact your local meet your needs, but that worker will earn a • Accounting Clerk encouragement to them and their families. Express office: paycheck before the holidays.

2. For each Express employee hired, we will

• Receptionist

• Administrative Assistant

make a $10 donation to MANNA Food bank.

• General Labor

A single$10 donation will provide 40 meals

• Assembly

to those in need.

• Forklift Operator

3. Share our campaign with other area businesses

• Pick and Pack

to assist us with our vision of employing and

• Warehouse

providing a paycheck for 100 unemployed

• Warehouse Clean Up

1979 Hendersonville Rd. Suite B Asheville, NC 28803 828-654-8101

people during the holiday season.

November 2020 |



PHOTOS: Founder Catherine Campbell and Brandon Amico, photos by Chelsea Lane Photography.

Different by Design Catherine Campbell’s Bright Planning Has Carved a Niche with Businesses That Are Doing Better—and Look Cool Doing It

Most marketing agencies claim individuality as a schticky pretense, but for Catherine Campbell’s Bright Planning, it’s definitive of her brand, approach, and success. “From day one, I knew I wanted to serve companies that had an ecofriendly and/or socially responsible core to their business model. So that became a requirement and set us apart,” says Campbell, who founded the agency back in 2014. “People take notice, people care about those things. You can’t just talk about values, you have to demonstrate them. So I took a stand with my business and said, ‘We won’t take on just anyone.’ I walked away from a lot of potential clients, a lot of deep-pocket businesses because they weren’t doing anything to better their communities on a daily level, or their eco-friendly practices were basically PR moves, or they were actively causing harm to the environment or neighborhoods or cultures.” Being particular about her clientele may not have seemed like the savviest business move for the entrepreneur when she set out to open her own agency. At the time, recently laid off from her position as marketing director of a copywriting agency, Campbell was a single mother with two months’ worth of mortgage payments in her bank account. While applying for dozens of jobs, Campbell also pitched her talents—experience developing in-depth marketing plans and the ability to tell a good story—to potential clients. “I hit the pavement, going from business to business in Asheville, reaching out to small indie businesses whom 12

| November 2020

I thought were doing cool things, and offered to help them get organized in their marketing and tell their stories,” she remembers. “I managed to get my first ten clients that summer and realized it was my chance to build something meaningful: a business where I could decide who I wanted to represent, what I wanted to do, and how I could help make the world a better place. I opened the doors to Bright Planning in early fall 2014 and haven’t looked back.” Being just a little bit different—which includes keeping her agency and clientele small, maintaining a work-life balance internally, and a quirky aesthetic she describes as “if Wes Anderson was in charge at NASA” and credits to photographer Chelsea Bollhoefer and branding firm Atlas Branding —has always worked well for Campbell, and hers has become the agency du jour for hip, intentional businesses around town like Biscuit Head, Gan Shan West, and Elder & Co. “I’ve helped over 100 clients launch or reintroduce their businesses to the world through small and large projects,” says Campbell. “The agency has been profitable since year one (until we hit the pandemic). We literally doubled our revenues during years one through three.” Along the way, Campbell learned some important lessons in entrepreneurship—and life. When asked about her greatest obstacles overcome to date, she ticks off phrases familiar to those in freelancing or consultancy. “Confidence in charging what we’re worth, confidence in presenting campaigns to

stakeholders, and confidence in making decisions as a solo business owner,” Campbell says, adding, “As a woman, I’ve been talked down to and dismissed my whole life. My business helped me find my voice and fully grow into my leadership while trusting my instincts.” The Bright Agency was on track to have their biggest year to date in 2020, but, as with most small businesses this year, Campbell faced an abrupt disruption with COVID-19. “When we faced losing half our clientele overnight in March due to COVID19 closures, we pivoted and used that time to launch Asheville Strong to help our community,” she says (see sidebar). COVID-19 also inspired moments of fruitful introspection for the business owner. “In the excitement of the year’s promised growth, I had forgotten to ask ‘why’ I wanted to grow in the first place. The pandemic brought those answers for me,” Campbell recalls. “Marketing agencies tend to have a lot of ego involved,

“I’D LIKE TO SEE WNC’S ECONOMY BLOOM FROM WITHIN.ˮ and it can eventually overtake you if you’re an agency owner: You start focusing on the fancy client names, the offices, the awards, the connections. But marketing agencies aren’t the ones who are supposed to be remembered and revered… our clients are. That’s what I’ve been doing and will continue to fully practice in the months and years ahead.” Campbell is hopeful that the pandemic will serve as an impetus for others in the region, too. “The pandemic has shed light on the fragility and ethical complication of relying on a globalized economy and the importance of hiring businesses, makers, and creatives in our backyard,” she says. “I’d like to see WNC’s economy bloom from within, rather than depending on outsiders to come in and save us. There’s a lot of hidden talent in Western North Carolina. I wish we could diminish our dependency on certain industries and attract innovative companies or investors that view WNC as something other than a community of hillbillies. The talent is here, the minds and resources are here, we just need investors and stakeholders to pay attention.” With the mindset she applies to her own business, Campbell believes that Asheville’s economic success in the future could lie in being just a little bit different: “I think we have the power to set an example for all to see how a locally beneficial economy can grow and flourish, but it requires questioning and dismantling the status quo first.”

JEFF ANDERSON, Asheville Strong board secretary, photo by Stephan Pruitt Photography


The Nonprofit Founded by Campbell in Response to COVID-19 Carries Small Businesses Forward

When the community and country were in crisis in March of 2020, Campbell responded with a small, localized effort: Asheville Strong. At the time, it was a gift card directory and hashtag movement, both of which continue today, but it’s since grown into a nonprofit run by a board of established local business owners. Their mission? To support local small businesses year-round with awareness, resources, and crisis relief support. “Our greatest milestones so far in my opinion are: providing the immediate community with thousands of meals, becoming a legit fund to safely house donations, and the amazing response to the cookbook, Asheville at Home: Iconic Recipes From Your Favorite Local Restaurants that supported the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association,” says board secretary Jeff Anderson, adding that profits from the cookbook resulted in a $12,500 donation to the association. The Asheville Strong Fund, which was launched July 15, 2020, provides crisis relief microgrants to locally owned and operated businesses; the grants are designed to offer support where traditional systems like insurance fall short. While created in response to COVID-19, the fund—and Asheville Strong as a whole—is designed to outlast this crisis, as well as whatever crises may follow. “I envision [Asheville Strong as] an informational resource that is trusted with up-to-date directions on how to navigate anything similar to what we are all experiencing with COVID-19,” says Anderson. This month, Asheville Strong is officially launching its new restaurants and community meals initiative, Feed Our City. The hot-meals program will keep local restaurants in business while feeding our population experiencing food insecurity. • November 2020 |


leisure & libation

photo courtesy the Biltmore Company


| November 2020


TASTE Catering Companies Are Cooking up Plates & Profits in Western North Carolina B y M arl a H ardee M illing


hen you’re hosting a special event, whether it’s a big wedding with a plated dinner reception, a family reunion, a corporate meeting, or even a block or birthday party, the last thing you want to do when the guests arrive is attend to the nitty gritty details or slave over a hot stove. It’s more fun and meaningful to focus on the invitation list, and then spend time mingling and sharing in laughterfilled conversations. That’s where a good caterer steps in.

November 2020 |


SMASH EVENTS' offerings include cocktails, photo by Rachael McIntosh Photography


any caterers can oversee more than just preparing and serving the food; they can take on tasks like arranging the flowers, selecting decor, providing bartending, setting up and breaking down the event, and handling a myriad of tasks, including troubleshooting unexpected mishaps, in between. There are also plenty of specialty caterers (see sidebar, p. 21) who have a more specific focus if you’re looking for something out of the ordinary. Options abound when it comes to hiring a catering company. Some people may choose a drop-off delivery of prepared food, while others opt for all the bells and whistles. There’s usually flexibility in menu choices, so if you have a family favorite that you want served, a creative caterer can make that happen. There are caterers who will go to the venue of your choice (even if they’re running on generator power out in a field), venues that provide their own in-house catering, and even unexpected options at the grocery store.

Going the Distance In the catering business, Ashley and Nestor Teran, owners of Smash Events, have learned to never back down from a challenge—even if that means driving for days cross-country to thrill members of a corporate event with their flair for serving up great food with pizazz.


| November 2020

Ashley says about 90 percent of their business is weddings, the other ten percent corporate events. One of their corporate clients, DV Audio, hired Smash Events to cater an event in California a few years ago. “My husband and I drove our mobile kitchen cross-country,” Ashley says with a grin. “It took us four days to drive there, then three days catering the event, and four days driving back. We flew the rest of our 15-member crew out there. We got to be really creative with the design and presentation of food. They allowed us to go all-out with that, and it was fun.” Ashley says Smash Events strives to go all-out for any budget, but she learned early on not to let her enthusiasm overshadow the specific desires of her customers. “I used to do a lot more than I was paid for because I wanted it to be amazing and mindblowing,” she remembers. “I realized I was spending more money and time. I can’t care more about the client’s event than they do. I’ve learned to give the client what they want to pay for and do a great job for them. If they don’t want a swanky event, that’s okay.” Before arriving in Asheville, Ashley and Nestor had been living in Miami where she taught school for seven years and he worked in real estate. When their daughter was three months old (she’s now in the fourth grade), they made their move to Western North Carolina. In 2012 Smash Events emerged from their imaginations and experiences: Ashley already had a love of event planning, and Nestor, while not a trained chef, could cook like one.

leisure & libation

“When I started the company, I didn’t know what an ‘events company’ meant,” Ashley says. “I just knew I wanted to create beautiful spaces. I thought that meant being an event planner, so that’s how I started the business. I did some smaller parties for friends. I would do all the creative Pinterest-type things, decor and all that. We started getting some business and had three events in 2013. I didn’t even know how to price our services. Our first wedding had 125 people, and I charged $2,000.” The company evolved from there. They decided to add catering and outfitted a 12-foot 2012 Freedom Trailer, purchased new, as a mobile kitchen they dubbed the Smash Box. Inside they have refrigeration, lighting, a flat top grill, fryer, and storage. They considered operating it as a food truck, but quickly found that, for them, it was not a profitable enterprise; too many factors, including bad weather and an unpredictable customer base, had the potential to dramatically impact sales. Today there are three distinct aspects of Smash: a full kitchen crew, floral design, and event planning (Dominique Bedrosian took over the event planning side of the business

“We think it goes smoother when we are handling the majority of services.” when Ashley found she wanted to focus on its other aspects). Some customers just book for catering, others for all three. “We think it goes smoother when we are handling the majority of services,” says Ashley. “I am the initial point of contact. I sell the concept. I sell the dream. Nestor is the executive chef. He shops for, preps, and cooks everything. He directs the kitchen crew, but you may find me in the kitchen managing as well.” When it comes to catering, Smash Events has an expansive set menu on its website that’s a starting point for customers to make decisions, but they can go off-menu to highlight a special family recipe or a themed cuisine. Ashley says, “We started the menu by asking ourselves the following questions: ‘What can we do really well? What do we cook all the time that’s awesome? What are brides/couples looking for?’ We found a lot of people love the stations-style wedding, such as a mac ‘n cheese bar or make your own taco bar, along with premium stations, such as an Asian station, barbecue, and surf and turf.” Of course, in the days of a pandemic, the food is dished out or prepared to guest specification by staff who work

Catering 101

If you’re thinking of having an event catered, some of these questions may be swirling in your mind: HOW FAR IN ADVANCE DO YOU HAVE TO BOOK? Since weddings are most often held on Saturdays, that narrows the available dates each year to 52 choices. Booking a year or more in advance has become a common practice. Ashley Teran of Smash Events advises booking a caterer as soon as possible after selecting a date. She’s already booking into 2022. “Right now, we only have ten remaining Saturdays in 2021, and they are mostly in winter,” she says. CAN CATERERS HANDLE LAST-MINUTE BOOKINGS? The short answer: yes. It all comes down to availability, but don’t be intimidated about calling about the possibilities; you might luck into a cancellation or find an open slot in the schedule. HOW DO YOU PLAN THE MENU? Most caterers have a menu that you can use as a starting point that will showcase their most popular choices, but usually there are opportunities to customize and add in special family recipes or unique cuisine themes. Check out what they offer, and then build your own unique menu from there. HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH TO TIP? The caterers we spoke with all include a tip in their pricing. This relieves wedding parties and other hosts from having to calculate an appropriate tip or figure out how many people they need to slide an envelope to. Of course, for stellar service, customers can always decide to go above and beyond with an added tip at the end of service; that amount is purely personal. •

photo courtesy the Biltmore Company November 2020 |


leisure & libation

SMASH EVENTS’ Yuca Pups with Cilantro Lime Aioli, photo by AMW Studios

number of guests allowed at an event due to North Carolina mandates. At that point, their original deposit may have paid for the entire event. “That’s one challenge,” she says, “we’re not getting those final, larger payments. The thing that saves us is that we’re booking into 2022, so there are always new things coming in.”

Mixing in a Healthy Dose of Humor “The best thing I like to cook is something I haven’t cooked yet,” says Chef Clarence Robinson of Cooking with Comedy Catering. He loves the opportunity to be creative and innovative when he’s catering events: “The best thing is yet to come. I’m always looking for that new flavor. That’s why I call myself ‘The Flavor King.’” Along with flavor, he also uses a secret ingredient designed to produce smiles: his humor. The Asheville native, who grew up traveling and living temporarily in Hawaii, California, and Washington as a military brat, received his culinary degree from A-B Tech in 2005 and gained experience working at a variety of restaurants around town, including the Grove Park Inn, the Grand Bohemian’s Red Stag Grill, Sunny Point Cafe, Chestnut, and Another Broken Egg. He’s also fed the homeless while working as a continued on page 24

behind plexiglass partitions, wear masks, and adhere to stringent safety standards. “What’s interesting about COVID and catering is that there are restaurant guidelines but not catering guidelines,” explains Ashley. “So we looked at the restaurant guidelines and took it a step further to implement guidelines to make us feel safe and create distance between our staff and guests.” She points out that while it’s increased the amount of staffing the company needs, these precautions will be in place until pandemic conditions are snuffed out. While many of their 2020 events were cancelled or pushed into 2021, Ashley says they’ve fared better than a restaurant would because they have deposit money to keep them afloat. “Some of the deposits we’ve taken a year in advance. When an event is postponed, we still owe them something,” says Ashley. “We do keep deposits; they are non-refundable. If not, we would have wound up returning $250,000 for all the canceled events. It would have put us out of business.” COVID-19 time has also created some new challenges; for instance, when someone pre-booked a wedding for 150 people and had to scale back dramatically due to the maximum 18

| November 2020

CATERING AT BILTMORE, photo courtesy the Biltmore Company

SMASH EVENTS’ French Toast Sticks with Lavender Custard, photo by Rachael McIntosh Photography November 2020 | 19


| November 2020

photo by AMW Studios


Red Wine Reduction INGREDIENTS


1 onion, diced

Saute all vegetables on low until just softened slightly. Add in all herbs and wine and reduce by half. Strain through a fine sieve, and return liquid to pot to reduce by half again. In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and water to make a slurry. Slowly drizzle in slurry, and bring to a medium simmer until thickened and viscous. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

4 celery stalks, diced 3 carrots, peeled & diced 1 shallot, diced 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed 3 tbsp. vegetable oil 2 tbsp. dry parsley 8 sprigs of fresh thyme 3 bottles assorted red wine 2 bottles tawny port wine 2 tbsp. cornstarch Âź cup water

PREP TIME 10 minutes

COOK TIME 2 hours

YIELDS 6 cups

November 2020 |


leisure & libation



November 20 - January 18, 2021

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BRYCE BJORNSON OF JACK'S 47 MOBILE BAR, photo by Daniela Guerrero Photography | November 2020

Specialty Caterers Maybe you want a special dessert or bar option at your event without going into full-blown catering mode. There are some delightful options in our area that will inspire you with their creativity. JACK’S 47 MOBILE BAR | Bryce Bjornson created Jack’s 47 Mobile Bar in 2018 to provide a variety of beverage options at special events. “My whole premise is that the guest experience is important,” he says. “Guests interact with a bartender more than any other vendor. We focus on serving delicious drinks on draft, and it’s not just beer. We also offer hard cider, Kombucha, and signature cocktails on draft.” The latter allows for a smoother flow as people don’t have to wait for a drink to be mixed. Their most popular choices: Carolina Muleback (which is Bjornson’s take on a Moscow Mule) and Bourbon Cider Smash (a mixture of bourbon, apple cider, and maple syrup). The company offers three mobile bar trucks, one cocktail cart, and one stand-alone mobile bar. The trucks have six taps; the other two options have four taps. Average pricing is in the $1,250 to $4,000 range. THE HOP ICE CREAM CAFE | If you’re looking for a different twist on a wedding cake or fun desserts for your guests, the Hop Ice Cream Cafe will point you to its speciality ice cream cakes, on-site sundae bars, or ice cream cart. Owners Greg and Ashley Garrison have had to make adjustments to their business during COVID-19; the days of allowing people to build their own sundaes are over, at least for now, and this requires them to staff the sundae bars and build the creations to the guest’s specifications. “We normally sell 10–25 cakes a week through the year—it doesn’t slow down in winter,” says Greg. One of the easiest ways to offer something unique is by customizing the flavors. “We had one groom whose family was from India. We created amazing Indian-inspired flavors like mango lassi and chai ice cream,” says Ashley. SUGAR AND SNOW GELATO | When Amy Pickett was 12 years old, she moved with her family to Italy; there she discovered gelato, which was drastically different from the ice cream she was used to at that time. Her memories of gelato led her to create Sugar and Snow Gelato in 2013, and she takes pride in offering a homemade dessert to her customers. “We do everything except milk the cows,” she says with a laugh. “We make everything ourselves and get our dairy from farms in the region. We also moved to using organic sugar this year.” She has a gelato cart that she sets up at weddings and other events to scoop out cups of gelato for guests. There’s also a self-serve option available where gelato in cups with lids is available for guests to pick up. Sugar & Snow has ten standard flavors, but they’re open to requests for customized varieties. One bride had a grandfather who loved pistachio, and they made a special gelato and called it Frankie’s Pistachio in honor of the grandfather. They also make custom desserts like mini key lime pies and mini pecan pies. • November 2020 | 23

leisure & libation

chef at Western Carolina Rescue Ministry. In 2009 Robinson branched out to offer catering and created Cooking With Comedy. “I took the two things I love to do—cooking and comedy—and just put the two together,” he says, and he took his signature events to galleries, vineyards, and personal parties. “A lot of chefs get a bad name as uptight guys who are real stern and strict, so I wanted to change the game and keep it light.” Chef Robinson received wider recognition when he appeared on the Food Network show Cutthroat Kitchen, which gives each of four competing chefs $25,000 to use to buy advantages to sabotage the competition as they go head-to-head in an unusual cooking battle.

“I love cooking on-site; it makes it more organic and makes the event more lively.” Robinson appears in Episode 4 of Season 15, titled “I’m Kind of a Big Dill.” For one of the assignments, his rivals forced him to use a metal bat to prepare a Cubano sandwich. His appearance created some buzz and new catering bookings, and the show, which is archived on, provides customers with a good glimpse of Robinson’s ability to think fast on his feet while remaining calm—and funny—under pressure. Robinson doesn’t believe any event is too small or too large to accept; he’s catered meals for three and prepared food for big gatherings attended by 1,000 people. “I just love an opportunity to get my food out there,” he says. “I love cooking on-site; it makes it more organic and makes the event more lively. People really fall in love when they can watch you and they can interact. I’ve gotten more business after some people attend a private party and book me for other events.” New things are also in the works. “Right now, I’m working on my food truck,” he says. “I’ll still be doing my catered events from a commissary kitchen at Golden Ray Food Service, but I’ll be able to pull up and have my food truck on the spot as well.” The food truck will serve the staples his customers love, like his popular seafood mac ‘n cheese, deep-fried salmon, a variety of sliders, vegan soul food, and Jamaican dishes. The menu will change every two weeks. He’s also moving forward with plans to open Areta’s Soul Food in the historic Rabbit Hotel on McDowell Avenue in Asheville. If everything goes as planned, it’s expected to open in the fall of 2021. COOKING WITH COMEDY'S Clarence Robinson, photo by Evan Anderson


| November 2020

continued on page 28

photo courtesy the Ingles Table

C O O K I N G W I T H C O M E DY ' S

Apple Cranberry Chicken & Yellow Rice INGREDIENTS


2 lb. pack of chicken thighs (skin off)

Grill chicken thighs until done, then set aside until cool to the touch. (You can also cook the chicken in a skillet for approximately three minutes per side). Slice cooled chicken thighs into small strips. Add olive oil and butter to a medium saucepan on medium heat. Once melted, add the sliced chicken and all of the other ingredients, except for the green onions and cilantro. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring every three minutes. Garnish with green onions and cilantro. Serve with saffron yellow rice.

2 tbsp. olive oil 1/2 stick of butter 2 tbsp. chili powder 2 tsp. garlic powder 1/2 cup brown sugar 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar 2 tbsp. mustard salt and pepper, to taste 2 tbsp. honey lime juice, to taste 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped 1/2 cup green onion, sliced

PREP TIME 30 minutes

COOK TIME 15-20 minutes


2 oz. dried cranberries 2 apples, sliced 10 oz. Mahatma saffron yellow rice, prepared

recipe courtesy the Ingles Table

November 2020 | 25

photo courtesy The Biltmore Company


Biltmore Beef Meatballs INGREDIENTS


4 tbsp. unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. In medium sauté pan, sauté onions and garlic in butter and season with kosher salt. Cook until soft but not browned, then remove from heat. When cooked onion mixture is cool, add eggs, spices, Parmesan, and panko. Mix well and let sit ten minutes. Add ground beef and mix until well combined. Scoop meatballs into ½ cup portions and roll in hands to make smooth balls. Place in baking dish and cook for approximately 20 minutes, or until an internal temperature of 155 degrees is reached. Serve immediately as an appetizer, with your favorite pasta and sauce, or put on a toasted baguette with fresh mozzarella or fontina cheese.

1 white onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 tbsp. dried oregano ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper 2 tbsp. kosher salt ½ tsp. ground black pepper 1 ½ lbs. ground beef 1 cup Parmesan cheese 2/3 cup panko bread crumbs 2 large eggs ¼ cup chopped parsley

PREP TIME 30 minutes


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COOK TIME 20 minutes


ALL OF BILTMORE ESTATE'S events are catered in-house, photo courtesy the Biltmore Company

November 2020 | 27

photo courtesy the Chef 's Kitchen, Ingles Markets

More Than Deli Party Platters When you think of turning to a grocery store for catering help, you might envision the plastic containers of chopped vegetables and fruits lining the deli cooler shelves. Those items are quick, easy, and appreciated for impromptu parties and gatherings, but there are more options than meet the eye behind the scenes at Ingles Markets’ corporate offices in Black Mountain: The Chef’s Kitchen is a separate division under the Ingles brand that offers full-service catering. “Five-star chefs operate the catering division. It’s managed separately from any store operations. We’ve been doing this since 2017, and it’s extremely successful,” says Melissa Leavell, director of advertising at Ingles. “We’re reasonably priced, but we also provide a quality you might not expect. People may be hesitant to use a caterer under a grocery store label, but we can handle anything. One of the things we pride ourselves on is to fit in whatever the event is—there are no rules for us.” She says when they catered VIP events for the Fed Cup Tennis Tournament in Asheville, people reacted with surprise, saying, “This is from Ingles?” This division also dispels the myth that catering is only for big events and parties. Like Robinson, the Chef’s Kitchen


| November 2020

doesn’t consider any order too small; the chefs will tackle any type of request, from gourmet sandwiches for eight people to neighborhood block parties, office meetings, reunions, funerals, or a cocktail reception for 500. “You can call and have a discussion with a planner who will work with you,” Leavell says. “We can drop it off, or we can do everything—full service, alcohol, bring all the tables and chairs and provide all the bells and whistles.” Another advantage is that the Chef’s Kitchen can take over quickly and provide a plan “b” if someone’s plan “a” falls apart. One bride was wringing her hands just a few hours before her wedding at Lake Junaluska when the floral order didn’t show up as expected; they raced to the local Ingles store, and staff there jumped into action to produce floral arrangements that rivaled what the couple had first ordered. The bride and groom, overwhelmed with gratitude, wrote their thanks to the company and wound up shooting a TV commercial about their experience. “If you find yourself in an emergency and need professional, high-quality help, we can do that,” Leavell promises. “We’ve had to come in and pick up the pieces. We’ve had to do jobs in 48 hours. We had someone who dropped a wedding cake, and we made another one the day before the wedding.” continued on page 32

November 2020 | 29

photo courtesy the Ingles Table


Panettone Bread Pudding PUDDING INGREDIENTS 1 (12 oz.) panettone, cubed 3 large eggs, beaten 1/2 cup sugar 2 1/4 cups heavy cream 2 tsp. vanilla extract 1 tbsp. orange liqueur 1 pinch salt 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg 1 1/2 tsp. lemon zest 1 tsp. grated orange zest 2 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter 2 tbsp. white sugar

SAUCE INGREDIENTS 1/2 cup butter 1 cup white sugar 1/4 cup orange liqueur 3 tbsp. water 1/8 tsp. fresh grated nutmeg 1/8 tsp. salt 1 egg


Place panettone bread cubes into a 2-qt. buttered casserole; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture becomes light yellow in color. Mix in cream, vanilla, orange liqueur, salt, nutmeg, lemon zest, and orange zest. Pour mixture over panettone. Cover and refrigerate for 30 mins. Preheat oven to 350°F. Dot the top of the bread pudding with butter (cut into bits) and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until it is fully set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean (60-75 minutes). Remove and cool for at least 15 mins.


Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in sugar, orange liqueur, water, nutmeg, and salt until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat. In a small mixing bowl, whisk one egg while slowly pouring 2 tbsp. of the hot mixture into the bowl with the egg. Then, slowly pour the warmed egg mixture back into the saucepan. Place the saucepan back over medium-low stirring until the sauce almost reaches a simmer and thickens, 1 to 2 mins.. Spoon over the bread pudding and serve immediately.

PREP TIME 45 minutes

COOK TIME 1-1.25 hours

SERVES 8 recipe courtesy the Ingles Table


| November 2020

THE CHEF'S KITCHEN, Ingles' catering arm, offers surprising variety, photo courtesy the Chef’s Kitchen, Ingles Markets November 2020 |


leisure & libation

Whether it’s a big or small event, Leavell reiterates that the Chef’s Kitchen team is prepared to make it special. “Owen High School in Swannanoa recently hired us to create cookies in the shape of the school mascot, the Warhorse. They ordered 125 cookies that were baked by our catering division,” she says, adding that while it wasn’t a significant order, the team offered it the same level of attention it deserved.

All-Inclusive Events

photo courtesy the Chef’s Kitchen, Ingles Markets

While many caterers will travel to the venue of your choice for an event, there are some venues that don’t allow outside caterers. Biltmore Estate, the 250-room mansion built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s, is one of those places. The estate has its own catering team that creates Vanderbilt-inspired events for its customers. There are ten venues on the 8,000-acre estate for weddings, bridesmaid luncheons, rehearsal dinners, birthday parties, proms, corporate gatherings, and other special events. Biltmore hosts an average of 180 weddings alone every year; the most popular settings for “I dos” include Lioncrest and Deerpark, but the Champagne Cellar in the winery is a hotspot for elopements. “Several of the venues are off the beaten trail. Unless they come for an event, many people don’t know they even exist,” says director of catering Ashley Lewis, who started at Biltmore as an intern and has been in her current role for 13 years.

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| November 2020

Each venue offers its own menu, but all of the menus are fully customizable. Lewis loves working with couples and other guests to fulfill their special event wish list. “We want everything to be personal to the couple,” she says. “So many of life’s celebrations happen at the dinner table. Having a menu

“So many of life’s celebrations happen at the dinner table.” personalized to that couple is something we take pride in. We like to dive into that. When I meet with [clients], I always ask, ‘What is something you always order?’ People love to talk about food. It helps get the conversation started.” Like so many local catering companies, Biltmore’s team is up for just about anything. “We dove into Indian cuisine a couple of years ago and have learned so much about that cuisine and the spices,” Lewis says. “Whether a request is for

a full vegan meal or a sketch of a wedding cake drawn by a bride, our chefs say, ‘We’ll try it.’” The Biltmore’s catering arm is often at the forefront of changes in wedding culinary trends. Right now, there’s a move away from traditional ivory or white wedding cakes with brides and grooms choosing deeper colors and accenting with fresh fruits and vegetables instead of flowers. The booking window at Biltmore is about a year in advance. Once plans are made, party hosts are encouraged to return to the estate for a menu tasting two to three months before the big day. “That’s one of the most fun parts of planning the wedding,” says Lewis. “We can do the final checklist and go over all the details. We should be wrapping things up at that point.” The goal with Biltmore’s catering division—as with most caterers in Western North Carolina— is to create an event where guests will say, “This really reminds me of this couple.” Whether you’re planning a big wedding or a small shindig, Western North Carolina’s catering companies are dedicated to making it an event that’s reflective of you, without your having to work at all.

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S H O P LO C A L • FA M I LY O W N E D A N D O P E R AT E D B U S I N E S S November 2020 |



A Farewell Column


A Few Departing Tips to Increase Value and Maximize Joy

his is my last regular column for a while. I’ve loved writing for Capital at Play and I will miss writing here, but the wine business has grown more complex over the last few years, only to crescendo with tariffs and the pandemic. It’s time for me to shore things up.


J ohn K err

is the co-owner of Metro Wines, located on Charlotte Street in downtown Asheville.


Besides, I’ve accomplished what I came here to do: I’ve written this column for the last five years to share the information I wish I knew about wine before I got into this business. Although there is much to learn, the basics cover a relatively finite amount of knowledge. You’ll find the details in past issues, but here are the takeaways I hope stay with you. Above all, drink what you like. Simple advice, yet it’s somehow complicated for wine. Of all the different food and drinks out there, it seems like only wine raises our anxiety level. Whether it’s an anchovy pizza or scorching hot chili, the person who loves the unloved proudly defends his or her preference, but wine makes people nervous. No one frets about what their friends will think if they order

| November 2020

the potato soup rather than a garden salad, so order what you want and stop worrying. If you drink what you like, there’s a good chance you’ll save money: Studies continually show that the vast majority of people prefer less expensive wine. It sounds counterintuitive, but consider the characteristics of an expensive wine: They’re usually lighter in body and have subtle flavors, and those built to age are packed with tannins that add bitterness for the first few years. Most people want a bold, fruity wine with little bite; winemakers know this and produce plenty of good wines that fit this style. The ample supply keeps the price of these wines down.

J If you like the taste of expensive wines, know that you can enjoy world class quality at a great price. If you must have Napa Cabernet or Piedmont Barolo, you’ll have to pay up. But if you’re willing to try different regions or grapes, you’ll often get the same quality at a much lower price. The best values are in the $15 to $25 range. With a little guidance from a good wine shop, you will drink the best for less. Try enough to know what you like. When you buy a few bottles, add a wine you’ve never tried before. Everyone I know who’s done this ended up finding many new grapes or regions they enjoy. And because the wines are not known, they’re inexpensive—you’re not paying for the name of the region or winery. So try unknown wines for value and adventure. America’s interest in all things organic and natural has exploded. Demand is so high that even Walmart boasts an organic food section. There’s not a trip to the grocery where I don’t see a few customers studying the label for ingredients. So why is it that people who are so careful about what they put in their bodies throw that out the window when they buy a bottle of wine? Google wine additives and you’ll find that our government has approved over 60 for use. These additives can alter any and every aspect of your wine. Wine too thin? Want a particular

How do they decide what to add? That’s where you come in. Corporate wineries sponsor focus groups to taste through their “blends.” The winners end up on store shelves. These wines are more a brand than a reflection of an individual harvest. It’s like stopping at McDonald’s on a road trip: It’s not your favorite, but you know what it’s going to taste like. You can pretty much avoid additives with a little knowledge or guidance from a wine shop. Knowing that the Andes are so dry that pests and fungus can’t survive might steer you to ordering Malbec. Small, family-owned European wineries often use very little if any additives or pesticides; it’s their love of the land and their ancestor’s legacy they are protecting. Except for a small group of people allergic to it, sulfites are not the cause of headaches or other illnesses. The primary causes are the additives we just discussed, histamines found in grapes, and tannins from the grapes or oak barrels. The origin of the sulfite controversy is one of my favorite wine stories. Senator Strom Thurmond was a hardened teetotaler who wanted to land a lasting blow to alcohol before he retired. On his way out, he pushed through legislation that required the statement “contains sulfites” on each bottle of wine. This simple statement really says nothing but implies something’s wrong. If sulfites are so harmful, why didn’t the disclosure

MY FINAL PIECE OF ADVICE IS TO SHOP SMALL AND LOCALLY. YOU’LL NOT ONLY GET A BETTER WINE AT A GREAT PRICE, YOU’LL ALSO PRESERVE THE ANCIENT AND TIME-HONORED CR AFT OF WINEMAKING. flavor added or removed? There’s an additive for that. Additives range from natural ingredients to chemicals cooked up in labs. Many commercial wines have more chemicals than a Ho-Ho. Wine is the only processed food that isn’t required to disclose its ingredients, and national wineries work to keep it that way. Additives are more prevalent in cheap and/or national brands; these are not always but usually found in grocery stores. There’s a reason cheap wines need additives. Think about it: By the time the company pays for the bottle, label, cap/cork, and transportation, there’s not much left for the wine. Since most people won’t buy an empty bottle, they have to put something in it. To keep costs down, the entire crop is picked mechanically at one time. So the harvest covers the full range of ripe, underripe, and overripe grapes. Harvest machines don’t stop there and pick anything else in the way, including leaves, twigs, birds, and mice. The crushed mix tastes pretty bad, so a plethora of additives help make it palatable.

cover foods like shrimp and trail mix, which contain far more sulfites than you’ll ever find in a bottle of wine? My final piece of advice is to shop small and locally. You’ll not only get a better wine at a great price, you’ll also preserve the ancient and time-honored craft of winemaking. Like other industries, corporations are elbowing their way into wine. Since profit is a priority, many corporations cut corners once they’ve taken over a winery. One corporate winery changes nothing for three years and then slowly lowers quality until they hit peak profit, the level where the changes have not discouraged too many people from paying the original price. Many corporate wine shops operate a bit like the Rockefeller oil barons. Several wineries are so put off by their practices that they refuse to let them sell their wines. Some of us view this as a deal with the devil. Yes, they’re not the best for the economy, but we get a great price, right? This is so ingrained that many of you will find my next point of advice hard to believe: You'll almost always save money buying November 2020 |



wine at a small wine shop. People flock to corporate wine shops because they promote the image of low prices. Corporate shops know that most people won’t check the competition and use this to mark up their prices. They advertise a very low price for


a few popular wines, betting that you’ll assume the prices on all the other wines must be this low, too. I recently delighted a customer who wanted value with a case of wine that averaged $8.50 a bottle. When people buy shipped wines, they often forget to include the extra cost. Expect to add about $3 a bottle to your cost if you’re shipping six to 12 bottles. Ship less than six, and you could

pay more than the bottle’s price. Since shipping’s only worth it if you ship at least six bottles, don’t forget to include the local shop’s discount on a six to 12 bottle purchase in your equation. Often the price at your local wine shop is lower than the internet price once you apply the local’s discount, and that’s before adding in the shipping costs. So do your homework and save money. Buying local keeps Asheville vibrant by keeping jobs, wages, taxes, and profits right here. And buying from small wineries maintains the quality only created by their intensive and expensive processes and keeps indigenous grapes alive. If you don’t support the diversity offered by small wineries, you’ll be reduced to drinking corporate Cabernet and Chardonnay for the rest of your life. Why is wine such a big part of our lives? It is not just a beverage; wine is part of humanity’s roots. It is ancient—it is one of the few drinks mentioned in the Bible, and its history goes back much further. It’s shared among friends. It’s family breaking bread. It connects us to the earth. Thank you for your time over the past few years. I hope this column has been a benefit to you and helped make wine a joyous part of your life.

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news briefs

Needed a Change of Scenery HENDERSON COUNTY Mavidon, formerly of West Palm Beach, Florida, has moved to Flat Rock. Mavidon was founded in 1986 to manufacture collodion, the skin gel used with needle-free electrodes, acetone, and other skin treatments used in electroencephalography (EEGs). Through the years, the company expanded into European markets and added advanced skincare and effective natural cleaning products to its lines. It now manufactures adhesives and solvents for arts and crafts, optical laboratories, and the automotive industry as well. Owner


Tim Carroll cited the local climate and socio-economic vibrancy as contributing to his decision to relocate into a building in the Appleland Business Park last year. He also found the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development helpful in navigating local ordinances. Carroll has been working with local businesses to adapt the building for Mavidon’s manufacturing processes.

Brick-and-Mortar Is So Last Year SWAIN COUNTY The Tribal Planning Board of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

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(EBCI) asked general tribal leadership for direction on how to proceed with a Cherokee Cultural and Technology Incubator. The purpose would be to grow traditional arts beyond an expression of cultural identity and into the realm of economic development. Former Principal Chief Michell Hicks and Jason Lambert from Chief Strategy completed a feasibility study last year, but the presentation had to be delayed, first because of a data breach and then because of COVID-19 shutdowns. The consultants said the tribe could spend over $22 million on a new, large building or save money by rehabilitating an existing facility somewhere. They could also, for about $50,000, create an “incubator without walls,” which would focus on programming without a physical locus of convergence. Lambert recom mended pi loting the third option for a couple of years and then revisiting options for growth, at which time Sabrina Arch, director of EBCI Enterprise Development, reminded the audience of available United States Economic Development Administration

funding. The tribe committed to making a decision within 60 days.

One-Stop Vinyl Press BUNCOMBE COUNTY Gar Ragland, president and cofounder of NewSong Music, is now the CEO and founder of Citizen Vinyl. Ragland’s inspiration for running a vinyl pressing plant with a cocktail lounge was Jack W hite’s record store/performance venue/corporate headquarters, Third Man Records in Nashville. The impetus behind printing on vinyl was simply customer demand. Ragland finds people are burnt-out on the digital world and want to return to more tactile, analog forms of art. Citizen Vinyl will press all volumes of orders, from major labels to indie limited editions, and Ragland is expecting business to ramp up. He says musicians have had a lot of creative time during the pandemic shutdown, and when the economy reboots fully and they’re able to save some money, they’ll want to press their compositions. In addition to



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printing, there will also be a small, curated vinyl record store with a local focus and art curated by the folks behind Horse + Hero and the Big Crafty. And, since an aim before the shutdown was to host live performances as well, the bar only made sense. It will start with only cocktails but expand to serve farm-to-table food and coffee as reopening guidelines and the economy permit. Citizen Vinyl is located in the Citizen Times building in downtown Asheville.

carolina in the west

of bright colors. The original plan was to host events that seat 3,000, but current ordinances permit only about 300. In order to assure customers a safe and comfortable experience, reservations are required, last exactly two hours, and accommodate parties of no more than six. Out of respect for all the downtown neighbors, the space will go quiet at 10PM each night, but the party will continue, as 500 wireless headphone sets will be available for things like a “silent disco.” Like everything else, the headsets will be sanitized between uses.


Boone Loses Icon

Another business is seeing economic advantages in combining several activities in a socially distanced consumer space. Rabbit Rabbit just opened in Asheville as an open-air hangout for dining, drinking, or catching a movie, concert, play, or charitable benefit. A collaboration between the Orange Peel and Asheville Brewing Company, the space, which covers more than an acre in the heart of downtown, is designed with broad swaths

WATAUGA COUNTY After a 45-year run, Hospitality Mints will be leaving Boone. The soft and hard mints are individually wrapped with customized logos and are typically found in serving dishes at front desks and points-of-sale. As the COVID-19 shutdown persisted, Hospitality could not justify continuing business as usual. Mandated closures of hotels and restaurants, among

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other big customers, forced sales down 70 to 80 percent. Hospitality Mints will immediately transfer administrative operations to Mount Franklin Foods in El Paso, and, in coming months, migrate equipment and operations to other facilities, where the mints will continue to be manufactured under the same brand. Hospitality was purchased by Mount Franklin, a manufacturer and distributor of candy and nuts, in 2018. Since then, the company has cut its workforce almost in half, and the remaining employees are being offered assistance with relocation and training. Hospitality is the largest producer of custom mints in the United States, boasting sales of over 1.6 billion mints annually.

That Which Is Worthwhile Should Continue HENDERSON COUNTY Katrina Bragg has launched a product she calls Finishing Touches. Bragg is the owner of Task Mania, through which she provides virtual administrative assistance. Finishing Touches is a document that captures information often ignored in the creation of wills and estate planning. It covers “the softer side” of a person’s life, providing instructions for attorneys and family members on how a decedent, or someone suddenly incapacitated, would like things like their photographs, social media accounts, or daily affairs to be handled. It is intended as a supplement, not a replacement, for the traditional legal documents. Users can download the template and fill it in by hand or complete it online. They can also have Bragg walk them through the prompts. The document captures and organizes personal information and can be useful while people are still alive. As part of the package, Bragg issues regular


| November 2020

reminders for clientele to update their personal information. Also included is a free e-book by Bragg, Top 5 Things Not Covered in Your Will or Estate Planning.

Hospital Says, “Not So Fast” BUNCOMBE COUNTY Union officials are raving about a landslide victory for HCA Mission nurses in favor of unionizing. Should challenges by the hospital fail, HCA Mission would become the first hospital to unionize in the state, the largest hospital to unionize in the South in 45 years, and the largest union of any kind to organize in the South in 12 years. In a vote to unionize, counted virtually, 965 of 1,376 nurses voted in favor of forming a union, with about 100 ballots remaining contested by one side or the other. It is expected the hospital will take up to a year to review the election process and the conduct of activists to ensure the election was fair for both sides. A Right to Work state, North Carolina prohibits public employees from forming unions and allows privatesector employees to opt out of joining unions and/or paying dues. Rumors of unionizing began circulating after HCA acquired Mission, then complaints about labor conditions during the pandemic brought the matter to the boiling point. Of the 186 hospitals HCA operates in 20 states, National Nurses United, the force behind Asheville’s movement, represents nurses in 19 of those states.

Spray and Breathe Deep TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY AC Janitorial Service has expanded its offerings to include electrostatic sanitization. Owner Alan Crite had thought about purchasing sanitization guns for a while, but the pandemic

proved the deciding factor. Crite’s company provides full-service, interior and exterior janitorial services for residential, commercial, and industrial properties. The electrostatic sanitizers are an idea whose time has come because they diffuse hospital-grade disinfectants that destroy 99.9 percent of bacteria as well as many viruses, including COVID19. The spray precipitates germs out of the air, even behind obstacles, and neutralizes them on surfaces, penetrating deep recesses. The chemical is safe for permeable and impermeable surfaces and does not damage electronics. The guns are preferable to wiping because Crite can now disinfect a room in ten minutes. The chemical dries in 30 to 180 seconds, so rooms can quickly be reoccupied, whereas other processes require at least one shift to sit out. The sprayers, further, don’t spread germs from place to place like cloths can.

“Wear a Mask” Writ Large HAYWOOD COUNTY The Haywood County Chamber of Commerce decided to follow through with its annual apple festival, but, like so many other things, it would be reimagined. Apple Harvest Daze was a scaled-down version of the Apple Harvest Festival. It was designed as a pop-up market with fewer vendors with more space between them, one-way foot traffic, limited food offerings, no biergarten, and no bands. CeCe Hipps, director of the chamber, explained the town needed to do something to support its merchants and artisans who are really taking a hit from the pandemic and aren’t likely to see much business until next tourist season. The chamber needed the approval of the town’s aldermen, who were wary, considering the number of people who still refused to wear masks—particularly

visitors from states that may not require them. The aldermen were told event organizers could not ban the unmasked from entry because they might have a legitimate medical or religious reason, and the law prevents inquiry into why people go maskless. In the end, Hipps said all that could be done would be to post signs and politely ask people to comply. To that, Alderman Chuck Dickson requested that the signs be as large as possible. Waynesville’s other fall tradition, the Church Street Arts and Crafts Market, was outright cancelled.

Weaving a Tapestry BUNCOMBE COUNTY The Mountain Xpress called attention to a growing phenomenon in the Emma community of Buncombe County: Spanish-speak ing immigrants are forming cooperatives to pool resources and talents. The goal is to overcome barriers typically faced by wage-workers trying to improve their lot without generational wealth or connections in order to help with getting a mortgage or small business loan. Mirian Porras, for example, is now a member of four co-ops who help with housing. She and fellow members purchase and manage properties and even support construction and maintenance jobs. Porras likes the co-op model because, by not leaving each person to fend for himself, they foster a sense of caring not always present in business transactions. Another community organizer, Andrea Golden, co-founded PODER Emma (poder means "power" in Spanish) to support job training, promote living wages, and help workers build their savings. PODER networks culturally sensitive businesses that include accounting, translation, proper ty management, childcare, and cleaning.

Cautiously Crawling out of the Zoom TRANSYLVANIA COUNTY The local and Grammy Award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers have reunited. Like other bands, they have been unable and unwilling to perform live in traditional venues during the pandemic shutdown. And, like other bands, they’ve tried to keep the music alive through streaming exclusive content through Patreon subscriptions and giving solo, socially distanced house concerts. Frontman Woody Platt even played on a beach once for people in their boats. Band members are confident the musicians will pull through the pandemic, but they’re concerned about others in the music industry—like roadies, agents, venue owners and staff, and sound and light technicians—who may no longer be needed when the business is reinvented. But for now, the group’s first postpandemic tour consisted of three dates, beginning with the Brevard Music Center. It was a drive-in concert where people sat in their cars. There were no amplifiers; instead, the music was broadcast via shortwave into each car. Rather than clapping, people honked their horns. The event was also livestreamed. The concert was free, but the band members expected there were a lot of fans that didn’t have discretionary funds, anyway. The last time they played together was in March, before they cut their European tour short to beat travel bans.

Regional Cattle Trade AVERY & WATAUGA COUNTIES In a recent meeting of the Avery County Economic Development Committee, Watauga County Agricultural Extension Director Jim Hamilton presented a case for applying for grants for constructing a meat processing facility certified by the

Nonprofits transform shared beliefs and hopes into action. www.cfw Messages from visitors to Mel Chin’s WAKE, on view in Asheville. Courtesy of CFWNC. November 2020 | 41

carolina in the west

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). He said demand is high, but the nearest facility is an hour away, and backlogs can force cattle sales into the next year. A recent grant from the state would allow the expansion of the existing Watauga facility, but it wouldn’t be adequate for potential growth. A lot of regional producers sell directly and need USDA certification. Having a local facility could increase per-head income by $100–$1,000, and that could mean a lot to independent producers who don’t have the advantage of a marketing agent or connections from peripheral activities. Watauga County Livestock agent Eddy Labus explained the grant application would have more clout if more than one county board of commissioners could be shown to benefit from the facility. Labus

The Cabinet Design Studio at

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| November 2020

himself said he works with seven or eight producers in Avery.

Construction Galore JACKSON COUNTY At their quarterly meeting, the Western Carolina University Board of Trustees approved the issuance of $80 million in special obligation bonds for the replacement of Scott and Walker residence halls. Both halls are nine stories tall and were built c. 1970 without modern amenities like central air. Demolition has already begun via intentional dismantling to salvage as much material as possible. The old dormitories, which could house 1,150 students, will be replaced with three

buildings, each with 300 beds and all no taller than five stories. A fourth building could be built if enrollment demands it. Other capital projects underway include the replacement of the school’s steam plant, some portions of which are 100 years old. It is funded by the state with $750,000 for design and two $16.5 million installments for construction. Another $110 million from the state is funding the construction of the Apodaca Science Building. In addition, the school is building a 1,000space parking structure, replacing the glass exterior of the Ramsey Center with more leak-resistant metal, and redesigning the campus’ main entrance. New turf at the E.J. Whitmire stadium was funded through a capital campaign of the Catamount Club.

Call to schedule a visit and discover a holistic approach to a joy-filled retirement at Deerfield. Asheville, North Carolina 800-284-1531

November 2020 | 43



MIGHTY Ten Diverse Western North Carolina Nonprofits Prove that Strength Lies in Spirit, Not Size written by emily gl aser


| November 2020


photos by anthony harden

TRACTOR TEAM MEMBERS load a delivery truck with local produce destined for community organizations, photo by Anthony Harden November 2020 | 45


photos by Anthony Harden


mission We promote the Appalachian Heritage of small farms to build a vibrant economy, securing the access of local food for a healthier community. annual budget $500,000


| November 2020

# served annuallyÂ

type of 501c 501(c)(3)

funding Federal, state and local grants, private foundations, gifts-in-kind, revenue-based programming

founding year 2012


service area Avery, Mitchell, Yancey, Madison, and Buncombe Counties

Andrew Zucchino


Executive Director

very week, they roll up in this truck that’s worked harder than the few hundred horses, but the engine just purrs,” Dru Zucchino, executive director of the Burnsville-based TRACTOR Food and Farms, grins. He’s describing an older couple who are participants in the nonprofit’s Clinical Referral program, which provides fresh, local produce to those in the community experiencing food insecurity or a diet-related illness. “All smiles, they once told me, ‘This means so much to us. We are too old to grow our garden, but we love fresh vegetables.’” It’s this couple, and the more than 6,000 people like them who the nonprofit serves, who inspires Zucchino and TRACTOR. “These folks want to be happy and healthy, and they are taking the initiative,” he says, and lessons like these carry a lot of weight for Zucchino: “I’ll trade you hard work for perspective any day. If you’ve ever worked on a farm, you’ll know what I mean.” Zucchino, who has, in fact, worked on farms, certainly recognizes the value of perspective. TRACTOR addresses many of the disheartening realities of modern farming Zucchino witnessed out in the field, so to speak. “Increasingly, a career in farming has very little to do with skill or experience. It’s more about access and your willingness to exploit the environment, a market, and/or a workforce,” he says, recalling his own farm days when he’d help bury thousands of pounds of food justharvested thanks to a bloated agricultural market. “Our programming combats these social and economical issues surrounding agriculture by easing pressure on growers

wherever possible,” he continues. It began back in 2012 when, following the decline of the burley tobacco industry in the region, the Yancey and Mitchell County Cooperative Extension offices considered new ways to support their growers. A feasibility study found that transitioning into fruit and vegetable production was the most viable solution for farmers, and TRACTOR Food and Farms was born. Since then the nonprofit has worked with more than 200 farmers and food producers across Western North Carolina, providing them with support, resources, and markets. In the intervening years, the nonprofit broadened its mission, which initially focused solely on assisting farmers and preserving farmland, to also address food insecurity and provide access to healthy and nutritious produce. TRACTOR’s original food hub model aggregated produce to sell through local markets, but it proved increasingly unprofitable for farmers, so they pivoted to serve foundations, instead. The infrastructure already in place for the wholesale market was easily adapted to work with organizations that, like TRACTOR, were interested in bringing nutritious local food to families in WNC while keeping money circulating in rural areas. Today the nonprofit’s programs include Clinical Referral; Healthy Harvest, which connects food pantries to local produce; farm land leases; and $100 thousand worth of shared use equipment that is made available to farmers for little or no cost. “Our response is to bridge the gap between our limited resource farmers and limited resource families, whatever that may take,” Zucchino explains of the nonprofit’s impact, which far exceeds the bounds of its own programming. “Sometimes it’s connecting a farmer with a piece of equipment, farmland, technical assistance, or a new market, working with a food pantry to discover what kinds of fruits and vegetables their client base finds most valuable, or procuring storage crops to keep our community fed and our farmers paid through the winter.” Growth is a theme for the org in 2020: With support from local organizations like the AMY Wellness Foundation, TRACTOR was able to expand its Healthy Harvest and Clinical Referral Programs across Avery, Mitchell, and Yancey counties tenfold this year and will reach Madison, Buncombe, and potentially Henderson counties in 2021.

Support TRACTOR through their CSA program, which offers fresh fruits and vegetables and local milk, eggs, sauces, ferments, and flowers!

November 2020 | 47


DR. VEENA SOMANI of Mercy Urgent Care, photos by Anthony Harden

Mercy Urgent Care mission Mercy Urgent Care exists to bring excellent healthcare and other needed services to all those in our community who seek them. annual budget $10.2 million


| November 2020

# served annuallyÂ

264,500, including a halfmillion dollars in charity care and outreach annually

funding Patient service revenue, investment income, and special events

type of 501c 501(c)(3)

founding year 1900 service area Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, Polk, Transylvania, and Yancey Counties

Tim Johnston President & CEO


reland is a long way from Asheville—just as the early 19th century is a long way from the 21st—but that’s where the story of Mercy Urgent Care begins. Founded in 1831 in Dublin, Ireland, Sisters of Mercy and the women behind it have contributed to the health and well-being—mentally, physically, and spiritually—of patients and people the world over for nearly two centuries through schools and hospitals. Their ministry reached Asheville in 1900 when they established St. Joseph’s Hospital, which Sisters of Mercy owned and operated for nearly 100 years until selling to Mission Health in 1998. Mercy Urgent Care, still operating under the umbrella of Sisters of Mercy, retained and focused on its satellite urgent care facilities, and is the only local dedicated nonprofit urgent care network in the area. “I do what I do to sustain the 120-year history of nonprofit healthcare and service excellence in Western North Carolina and in the spirit and in honor of the rich legacy of the Sisters of Mercy,” says Mercy Urgent Care’s president and CEO, Tim Johnston, a role that is responsible for carrying forward the organization’s values: aacredness of life, human dignity, mercy, justice, service, and excellence. Since the opening of its first location 35 years ago, Mercy Urgent Care has expanded to eight offices and cared for more than 1.5 million patients. “Mercy Urgent Care exists to care for the non-life-threatening illnesses and injuries of our community,” explains Johnston. “Mercy puts patients first by eliminating barriers to care and by expanding in a sustainable way to serve additional areas in need. As the only local, dedicated nine

not-for-profit urgent care network in Western North Carolina, Mercy returns any income generated back to the community through lower prices and charity care.” The scope of that care and the organization itself have grown to meet the shifting needs and size of our community—and others. “Over the years, former divisions of Mercy Urgent Care have provided mental health/addictions recovery services, built affordable homes, and renovated dozens of medical offices,” says Johnston. “Donations to Mercy’s fundraising arm, the Catherine McAuley Mercy Foundation, help to provide equipment, supplies, and more than a half-million dollars in charity care locally and internationally every year. Donations have enabled Mercy to send 29 medical disaster relief teams to Haiti since 2010 and one to the Philippines, earning the Urgent Care Association of America’s Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2016.” In recent years, Mercy Urgent Care has expanded regionally to serve populations that formerly had little to no access to comparable care. “In response to the community, Mercy opened an East location in 2016, one in Burnsville in 2018, a Foothills location in 2019, and a Waynesville center in 2020,” says Johnston. These now locations offer urgent care services to communities without appointments and at a fraction of the cost of ER visits. For those uninsured and living at or below the poverty line, the nonprofit’s Compassionate Care program provides financial assistance in order to make care affordable. While all businesses and nonprofits alike have been impacted by this year’s pandemic, those in the healthcare industry have, understandably, had to pivot most sharply. “Since March 2020, Mercy Urgent Care has worked closely with the State of North Carolina and area health departments to provide COVID-19 testing [and] safe urgent care and employer services seven days a week at all eight locations in five counties, as well as via a virtual telemedicine platform,” notes Johnston. The nonprofit is also challenged by the healthcare system itself. “The most challenging part of being a nonprofit healthcare organization is navigating changing regulations in reimbursement, staying abreast of new technologies, and managing growth in a sustainable way in the face of growing competition,” he adds. Nonetheless, Johnston envisions a future for Mercy Urgent Care that matches its past: “Mercy Urgent Care will continue to be the recognized leader for providing urgent care and related services by eliminating barriers to care, putting patients first, and growing in a sustainable way.”

November 2020 | 49


MARCO AND HIS SISTER READ from their Dolly Parton Imagination Library book, photos courtesy Literacy Council of Buncombe County

Literacy Council OF BU NCOMBE COU N T Y

mission To transform lives and communities through the power of literacy. annual budget $347,000


| November 2020

# served annuallyÂ

275 students with tutors and 3,045 families receiving free books

funding Individual donations, grants, and special events

type of 501c Educational founding year 1986 service area Buncombe County

Cindy Threlkeld Executive Director


n reading these words, you’re already experiencing a privilege foreign to a surprisingly significant portion of our local community. “The lack of basic literacy is a relatively hidden yet pervasive challenge in our community,” says Cindy Threlkeld, executive director of the Literacy Council of Buncombe County. “Ten percent of adults in Buncombe County read, write, or spell below a third-grade level. That means they struggle to read the label on a prescription medicine bottle, to fill out a job application, or to read a bedtime story to their kids.” A lack of high school level literacy is a disadvantage with a ripple effect that impacts more than the life to which it belongs, Threlkeld points out: “Research shows that children of parents with low literacy skills have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels at school, thus linking low literacy to an interconnected, generational cycle. The goal of the Literacy Council is to break that cycle.” It’s a goal the Literacy Council accomplishes through its three-pronged approach to programming: Adult Literacy, Youth Literacy, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). The Adult Literacy program, which serves roughly 50 students annually, teaches reading, writing, spelling, and math to adults who read at or below a basic skill level. The program helps adults looking to better navigate many of the details of daily life we all take for granted, like helping their kids in school, or to improve their career or education prospects. Students are matched one-on-one and in small groups with volunteers who administer individualized instruction at one-hour tutoring sessions twice-weekly.

The Youth Literacy program targets the other end of the cycle by offering assistance to children and teens from low-income households who contend with low literacy skills. Volunteers go into schools to teach students during their regular day or in after-school programs two to three times a week with the intention of improving students’ academic achievements. The ESOL program is the largest at the Literacy Council, serving some 250 students annually. The program helps locals who have immigrated to the area from around the world with speaking, reading, and writing in English. Like those in the Adult Literacy program, ESOL students want to improve their career prospects and basic skills, but they may also be looking to pass the United States’ naturalization exam. Success within these programs, Threlkeld says, is diverse: “It means an immigrant passes the naturalization exam to become a U.S. citizen; a single mom with the goal of a better job to support her children earns a high school equivalency diploma; and a child with a learning disability improves his reading level by a full grade. Our work has a major impact on individual lives, families, and our community.” The nonprofit was born from the merging of two adult literacy organizations—then Altrusa of Asheville and the AshevilleBuncombe Literacy Council—back in 1986. The organization has since grown to impact a greater segment of the community. “We added the Youth Literacy program in 2010 and became an affiliate of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library in 2015,” says Threlkeld, the latter of which is a nationwide initiative that mails free books to families with children from birth to age five. The Literacy Council of Buncombe County faces many of the same challenges as other nonprofits, regardless of size or specialization: engagement. “Spreading the word about the importance of literacy in our community and inspiring people to engage with our work,” Threlkeld replies when asked about the greatest challenge she faces in her work. “We are in continuous need of more volunteers to serve as tutors in our three core programs, and our organization cannot grow without additional financial support.” But that’s not holding the organization back, she promises, nodding to an expansion into new areas of services planned for their upcoming five-year strategic plan. “I get a front-row seat to hear about the success stories,” Threlkeld says of her role with a smile, sharing the words of Irvin, one of the nonprofit’s Adult Literacy students, as an example: “I’m proud to say to anyone ‘Yeah, I come to the Literacy Council.’ It’s been a blessing for me. It’s never too late. Once you get this reading and writing, it’s something that no one can ever take from you.”

November 2020 |



MISS TALLAH, a rescue at Full Moon Farm, photos courtesy Full Moon Farm, Inc. and volunteers at Full Moon Farm

Full Moon Farm

mission Saving abused and refused wolfdogs made homeless. Loving them at the level of trust they desire. We save the ones we can, and pray for the ones we can't. annual budget $101,000


| November 2020

# served annuallyÂ

50 to 60 residents, plus helping others keep their animals by education or helping build fencing to contain their animals

funding Donations from the general public through newsletters, Facebook, and word-of-mouth

type of 501c 501(c)(3) founding year 2002 service area Lower 48 states

Nancy Brown President & Founder


hen asked why she does what she does, Nancy Brown, founder of Full Moon Farm, Inc., Wolfdog Rescue and Sanctuary (FMF), says, “Two reasons: Passion: If not me, then who?” she pauses and laughs. “Or, the Southern in me says, ‘I ain’t got no sense!’” The nonprofit rescues, rehomes, dispels myths around, and provides education on wolfdogs, the oft-misunderstood and generations-removed cousin of wolves. It’s these descriptors that also motivate Brown, and she continues, “Honestly, I believe in wolfdogs. I believe the truth needs to be told.” If anyone knows the truth about the breed, it’s certainly Brown. Since founding the farm in 2002 after rescuing 16 animals from Colebrook, New Hampshire, and receiving federal 501(c)(3) determination in February of 2004, Full Moon Farm has saved about 700 of the stately canines. “I never anticipated FMF being as large as it has become,” she says. The 17-acre facility just outside of Black Mountain averages 50 animals in-residence, but Brown adds that they’ve had as many as 101 at once. “We work with animal control agencies, animal shelters, and wildlife agencies from coast to coast, both as a rescue and as an information clearinghouse,” she explains. Brown, along with a dedicated team of volunteers (the nonprofit is run entirely by volunteers and funded by public donations), care for the rescues on the farm, which hail from all over the country. As for Brown herself, “I wear every hat in the organization, from chief poop scooper to bookkeeper, from volunteer training to adoptions, from shelter contacts to

animal transports,” she says. “I never expect my volunteers to do something I wouldn’t do.” But the nonprofit, as Brown said, isn’t just a rescue; it also serves as an educational resource on the breed, deconstructing fallacies and educating owners on the best practices for caring for their unique pet. “They must be owned responsibly, and the owner needs to be smarter than the canine,” Brown says. Many of the beliefs around the breed are just wrong, she points out: “They are not wild animals. They are not inherently dangerous. They are not half wolf, half dog.” In fact, Brown explains, wolfdogs are considered a domestic animal by the USDA and are most often three or more generations removed from pure, captive-bred wolves, meaning “seven out of the eight great-grandparents were wolfdogs, and the eighth a captive-bred wolf.” She continues, “Misrepresentation is rampant, as most people would not truly know a wolf if it came up and stole their lunch!” Because of her extensive experience with the breed, Brown has become the unofficial spokesperson for wolfdogs. “[Being] hands on with as many animals has put me in a position to speak to governmental authorities as an expert about wolfdogs,” she says. “I have challenged poorly written ordinances in several states over the years, most often successful in overturning unenforceable ordinances or speaking in Raleigh to defeat ‘Inherently Dangerous Animal’ laws.” Brown says the internet has increased the organization’s following (their Facebook page has over 33,000 likes), but the future of the organization is hazy, though she hopes the legacy will be carried forth by the next generation. “I am 64 years old and have not found many young people that want to work as hard as I do. I would welcome the opportunity to educate and train a compassionate person to carry on in my stead,” she says. “My ‘crystal ball’ is a bit cloudy with the craziness of 2020, COVID-19, and aggressive politics, but my heart will keep it going.” The best-case scenario, of course, would be for the nonprofit to be so successful as to be unnecessary: “My dream would be to educate myself out of rescue—but the reality is there will always be irresponsible backyard breeders of every species,” she adds. It’s hard work, but the greatest reward for Brown is also contingent to the job itself, she says: “Watching the softness in the eyes of the abused and refused wolfdogs who I have saved.”

November 2020 |



THE ONTRACK WNC Free Tax Preparation Team, volunteers and staff, photos courtesy of OnTrack WNC

OnTrack WNC

FINA NCI A L EDUC ATION & COU NSELING mission Our mission is to help people in Western NC achieve money and housing goals through financial education, counseling/coaching and support, so they can overcome crises, afford basic needs, improve money management skills, and make sound financial choices rooted in their values.


| November 2020

annual budget $1.1 million

# served annually 6,516

funding Grants, contracts for service, contributions, United Way, program income, interest & investment income

type of 501c Private, communitybased nonprofit founding year 2007 service area 18 Western-most counties

Celeste Collins Executive Director


eleste Collins, executive director of OnTrack WNC Financial Education & Counseling, joined the organization in 1993 after a 10-year stint in the banking industry, during which time she saw firsthand the negative impacts high debt, poor money management skills, and bad credit had on her customers. In her various roles at OnTrack WNC since—from certified credit counselor, to host of the weekly radio show “Money Matters,” to the executive director role she assumed in 2002—Collins has worked directly to remedy those obstacles she witnessed in the banking industry, right here in our community. “I’m not saying that OnTrack’s work is ‘magic’ and will remedy all the inequities and problems in the world, but it does make a life-changing difference in people’s lives, help people overcome fear and intimidation about money, provide keys to unlock the mysteries of credit scores and home buying, and offer support for their financial journey,” says Collins. “That’s why I do what I do, because having skills and confidence to manage money and credit can transform a person’s life!” It was with that in mind that the Better Business Bureau, United Way, and the Asheville Merchants Association came together to create Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Western NC (CCCS) in 1973 to provide local counseling focused on budgeting and repaying unsecured debt. Over the years, the mission and services of the nonprofit have expanded to include housing counseling, financial education services, and satellite counseling locations across Western North Carolina. In 2007 CCCS changed its name by adding DBA OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling, Collins says, “to better convey the full range of services which help consumers get ‘on track’ with their finances.”

The most recent change to the organization came five years ago, when OnTrack integrated their education and counseling services by implementing the Financial Capabilities model. “We connect comprehensive education with individual counseling/ coaching so people have information as well as personalized support,” she says. “This model promotes economic selfsufficiency and empowers people to take next steps toward financial self-sufficiency and stability.” Of course, change abounds for the organization in the time of COVID-19; this spring, OnTrack shifted their screening/ scheduling, education, and counseling services online and created new program content designed to help solve the problems at hand. “People facing the housing /financial crises caused by the pandemic can schedule free individual counseling /coaching for emergency cash flow planning, budgeting after an income reduction, dealing with debt, and preventing foreclosure,” says Collins, adding that new webinars, like Using Credit When You Can’t Make Ends Meet, also help clients navigate the pandemic economy. In many ways, OnTrack is an organization made for these times. “Nationally the next several months are critical; the National Low-Income Housing Coalition predicts that 30 to 40 million Americans will lose their housing in that period of time,” she explains. “In North Carolina up to 42 percent of households are at risk of eviction. OnTrack will play a key role in helping people in Western North Carolina survive the financial crises brought on by COVID-19 and rise from the devastation caused by the economic shutdown. Our staff will help people in crisis assess their situations, evaluate options, connect with resources, and move from fear to action.” While this has been the work of OnTrack WNC’s staff for decades, through financial crises like this and others, Collins points out that their work is only beginning. “I now realize the undeniable connection between poverty and our country’s policy and history. The road toward policy change is long, but I’m hoping that the attention on racial inequity and injustice will speed up changes that have been needed for generations,” she says. “In the meantime, I’m inspired by the work we can do to empower people with information about how these systems work and with strategies appropriate for their specific situations,” she says, sharing a host of real-world examples of this work and its impact, like programs that help people buy homes in their neighborhoods before rent increases spurred by gentrification push them out, and down payment assistance and loan programs that help people of color overcome redlining and discrimination to build home equity. November 2020 |



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MATT WASSON, Appalachian Voices' director of programs, speaks at a January 2020 N.C. Utilities Commission public hearing in Morganton, photos by James M. Davidson

Appalachian Voices

mission Founded in 1997, Appalachian Voices brings people together to protect the land, air, and water of Central and Southern Appalachia and advance a just transition to a resilient and equitable clean energy economy.


| November 2020

annual budget $2.7 million

type of 501c 501(c)(3)

# served annuallyÂ

founding year 1997

1,128 members + 419 volunteers + 22,649 subscribers = 24,196

funding Private foundations, government grants, and individual donors

service area Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and West Virginia

Tom Cormons, J.D. Executive Director


ppalachian Voices’ undertakings are both vast and varied. “You will find us in the halls of Congress or the state legislature; in the courtroom; in communities; and on the bank of a river,” says Executive Director Tom Cormons, J.D., of the nonprofit, which operates in five offices across three states (North Carolina, Virginia, and Tennessee). Despite this breadth of impact, the mission of Appalachian Voices is simple: a clean environment for Appalachia. “Our goal is to bring people together to protect the land, air, and water of Central and Southern Appalachia and advance a just transition to a thriving and fair clean energy economy,” says Cormons. It’s the courses of action necessary to accomplish these goals that complicate things. “Appalachian Voices is deploying grassroots power, policy advocacy, and legal challenges to hold polluters accountable, prevent new investments in dirty energy, and promote local energy and economic solutions where they are most needed,” he explains. These types of efforts, Cormons points out, require an immense amount of time and patience. “Appalachian Voices is known for perseverance,” he says, sharing an example: “For five years, we battled one of the region’s biggest coal companies following our discovery of tens of thousands of violations of the Clean Water Act, and in 2015, we and our partners won a landmark legal settlement.” That’s all in a decade’s work for the nonprofit. Appalachian Voices was formed in 1997 as an outgrowth of The Appalachian Voice newspaper, which Dr. Harvard Ayers had established the year before in Boone to cover environmental issues in the region; the paper highlighted the

urgent need for a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to the Appalachian region. “Our first campaigns aimed to protect public lands and private forests, cut toxic air pollution from power plants, and fight mountaintop removal coal mining. We championed the North Carolina Clean Smokestacks Act, one of the strongest air laws in the country, which passed in 2002,” says Cormons, and the nonprofit’s impact only grew from there. Cormons was hired to open the organization’s first Virginia office in 2007 and transitioned into the executive director role in 2013. In the past year alone, the nonprofit has been a force behind recognizable environment victories across the region: helping defeat the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which Cormons describes as “a multi-billion dollar boondoggle that would have damaged public and private land for hundreds of miles and deepened our region’s dependence on fossil fuels;” extending black lung benefits for coal miners sickened on the job; and assisting with launching the Energy Justice NC coalition in order to rout Duke Energy’s agenda to increase energy costs. Like many of the nonprofits in this year’s edition, Appalachian Voices, Cormons notes, recognizes and hopes to help remedy the injustices accentuated by the conditions of 2020. “This year’s reverberating demands for racial justice and a pandemic disproportionately harming low-income communities and communities of color further expose the stark inequities that pervade our society, including those embedded in the ways we produce, consume, and pay for energy,” he says. “From the burden that rising energy costs place on rural and low-income families—and the lack of access to local clean energy solutions that would alleviate that burden—to the health risks of living close to coal mines, power plants, or other polluting facilities, the problems we work to address were deep even before they became entangled with the human cost of the COVID-19 crisis. Our work has never seemed more important.” It’s this work that is at the very foundation of Appalachian Voices: “We hold a profound responsibility to safeguard our beloved mountains and rivers, our forests and farmland, our neighbors’ well-being, and our children’s futures,” Cormons says. “For more than a century, Appalachian communities have powered the growth of America’s industrial might and have suffered from the resulting pollution, ruined lands, and poverty. Today, Appalachia is on the frontlines of America’s clean energy transition. Together with local citizens, we are determined to help build equitable economies that foster sustainable local prosperity, which we believe is essential to achieving meaningful and lasting change for the United States as a whole.”

November 2020 | 61


FOUNDER SIERRA HOLLISTER shares a yoga practice with inmates (below), photo by Andrea Killam. Debra Kiliru photo (right) by Jahniya Kiliru

Light a Path

mission Light a Path's mission is to create resilience through connection. We do this by bringing yoga, meditation, strength training, and running to youth, the incarcerated, the unhoused, older adults, veterans, and those in recovery.


| November 2020

annual budget $48,000

type of 501c 501(c)(3)

# served annuallyÂ

founding year 2014

funding Primarily individuals, grants, and some local business support

service area Western North Carolina

Approx. 311 people a month

Debra Kiliru Interim Executive Director


yoga mat is a transformative place, regardless of where it lies—particularly for students of the regional nonprofit Light a Path (LAP). “At Light a Path, we harness the power of somatic wellness tools such as yoga, strength training, running, and mindful practice in order to build connections that foster resilience,” explains Debra Kiliru, interim executive director, who stepped into the role in January of 2020. “We mostly work with people who have or are experiencing forms of trauma and support them with programs that promote self-regulation and healing.” Light a Path’s programming reaches corners of the community that previously lacked access to such self-care practices, like at-risk youth, the incarcerated, veterans, older adults, and those in transition and recovery. It’s through physical practice, Kiliru says, that Light a Path’s participants cultivate healing that extends far beyond the limbs: “Somatic tools, like yoga and other mindful practices, support our whole body connection and provide techniques for emotional, physical, and psychological health that can help us work through embedded trauma and other ailments, ultimately bringing us closer to ourselves and one another.” Founded in 2014 by Sierra Hollister with Lisa Sherman and a group of Asheville-based yoga and healing practitioners, Light a Path was created to offer evidence-based wellness tools in under-resourced communities across Western North Carolina at no cost. What began with one weekly class at a women’s correctional facility and volunteering at a local high school had grown exponentially by the spring of 2020, when the nonprofit’s volunteers offered 25 classes a week across those aforementioned communities.

But the nonprofit—and the wellness community at large—still has a lot to learn, Kiliru points out. “The healing arts space has a lot of healing to do in and of itself. While Asheville is saturated with wellness opportunities, they are still exclusive in many ways,” she says, adding that the disparities in health and wellness are growing, particularly for Black and Indigenous communities. “I was exposed to yoga and embraced it when I was 15. Since then, yoga has been a cornerstone of my life, but it’s not just what happens on the mat that’s important,” Kiliru emphasizes. “The yoga world in the United States is plagued with a dominant white culture paradigm with a certain ‘look and feel and price tag’ that needs transformation. The work on the mat supports and prepares me to do the work off the mat. The art of infusing yoga philosophy and principles into daily life is where the strength is.” While Light a Path is a small organization, Kiliru envisions leveraging partnerships with other organizations, groups, and individuals in order to best serve those populations who most need the benefits of a wellness practice and to whom it has typically been least accessible. “I envision a deeper commitment to equity in our internal practices and external relations, developing scalable training modules that can be shared with a wider audience, and continuing to grow and invest in our volunteers,” she says when asked about the future of the nonprofit. While COVID-19 has dramatically affected the nonprofit’s programming, it hasn’t negated its impact. Kiliru raises the example of an incarcerated Light a Path participant who shared her experience in a recent letter. “Since their last class with LAP volunteers in March due to COVID-19, they have self-organized to hold their own yoga, barre, and strength training classes five days a week for 90 minutes,” she says. “This was a powerful act: Collectively they called up their inner resources, put them with the tools they acquired through LAP classes, and created a new experience in their own way, on their terms, and are sharing the benefits with others. This is a success story.” For Kiliru and the volunteers and part-time staff of Light a Path, it’s this intention—of providing the tools to navigate wellness and its benefits long after Light a Path is no longer directly accessible—that is the point. She says, “I have seen that when people have access to practices and tools that help rewire the nervous system and improve well-being in a safe and nurturing space, even just a little bit, it has a profound effect on their lives.” November 2020 | 63


LEAD COMMUNITY NAVIGATOR Giovanni DeStefano joins other WNCAP advocates at AIDSWatch in Washington, D.C., photos courtesy WNCAP


mission The Western North Carolina AIDS Project is dedicated to preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS and promoting selfsufficiency in people living with HIV. annual budget $1.7 million


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# served annually Over 5,000, plus 50 condom distribution sites

funding State, federal, and foundation grants; individual donors and savings from our subsidized pharmacy program

type of 501c 501(c)(3) founding year 1986 service area 18 counties in WNC

Antonio Del Toro


Executive Director

NCAP was founded in 1986 by a group of community members to help ease the suffering of people dying from AIDS in the Asheville area,” says the organization's executive director, Antonio Del Toro. “The volunteers helped with everything, from providing food/meals to individuals too sick to fend for themselves, to simple acts of kindness, like hospital visits. This was a time of extreme stigmatization of HIV/AIDS, even among some medical providers, so the need for compassionate anti-stigma education was also dire.” A lot has changed since WNCAP—which stands for Western North Carolina AIDS Project—was founded, both in the way the nonprofit operates and in the way the world perceives and responds to HIV. Since then, WNCAP has expanded its reach to all 18 Western North Carolina counties and its scope, which now encompass medical case management, including emergency financial assistance to prevent homelessness; HIV and hepatitis C testing; prevention education, including free condom distribution; harm reduction, including overdose reversal kits and two needle exchange programs; and pharmacy services, including home delivery, prescription assistance programs, and PrEP access. PrEP, or pre-exposure prophylaxis, is a once-daily pill that prevents HIV and just one of several ways the medical response to the virus has evolved over the past 34 years. “Today, HIV is a manageable medical condition. The vast majority of people living with HIV can reach ‘undetectable’ status. ‘Undetectable’ means that the level of virus is so low in their body that it cannot be

detected by a conventional HIV test,” explains Del Toro. “This is possible for the vast majority of HIV-positive people who have access to proper anti-retroviral treatment.” Such a status doesn’t just indicate a higher quality of life for those with HIV, it could also mark a step toward eradicating HIV altogether. “In the world of HIV, we say ‘undetectable equals untransmittable,’” he continues. “That means that a person who has reached undetectable status can no longer physically transmit HIV to another person during sex. This is a seismic shift in the field of HIV prevention and care.” Del Toro has played witness—and progenitor—to many of these advances in HIV treatment and response. “I started working in the field of HIV care and prevention as a medical case manager. It has been incredibly fulfilling to immerse myself in the work, from an entry-level perspective, all the way to a systematic perspective, and to get the opportunity to effect some of the changes I felt were necessary as I progressed from one position to another,” he says. It’s also a position that’s offered the executive director eyeopening perspective. “HIV/AIDS is at the intersection of a complex web of social injustices, including poverty, racism, homophobia, transphobia, addiction, and stigma,” he says. “People living with HIV today are often on the margins of our community and are especially vulnerable to crises like the COVID-19 pandemic. I’ve always been passionate about social justice, and it is extremely fulfilling to know the WNCAP team and I are helping to improve the lives of our clients and service recipients.” Of course, operating within an increasingly complex medical system presents its fair share of hurdles for the organization. “Generally speaking, I think the biggest challenge is navigating the ever-changing healthcare landscape. It requires planning in the face of uncertainty and agility within rigid systems,” says Del Toro. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV, and one in seven don’t know they have it. But still, Del Toro is optimistic when it comes to the fate of the virus and those who live with it, in part because of the role WNCAP will continue to play. “I envision a future with no new HIV diagnoses,” he says. “I envision a community where everyone who is living with HIV is aware of their status and is empowered to maintain an undetectable viral load. I envision a region whose residents have unfettered, judgement-free access to the care and resources they need to thrive.”

November 2020 | 65


ASHEVILLE ON BIKES’ advocacy spearheaded the Street Tweaks Team which implemented the Coxe Ave. tactical urbanism project , photo by Justin Mitchell, art was designed by Jenny Fares of Sound Mind Creative

Asheville on Bikes

mission Asheville on Bikes cultivates the culture of urban and commuter riding through advocacy and celebration. We believe that cycling has a direct impact on the health of our community.


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annual budget $120,000

type of 501c 501(c)(3)

# served annually

founding year 2013

funding Event sponsorship, donations, and grants

service area City of Asheville

Asheville’s road users


Mike Sule Executive Director

y goal is to normalize bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure so that it’s as ubiquitous as a stop sign,” says Mike Sule, executive director of Asheville on Bikes (AoB). “People don’t get overwrought about stop signs; they’re mostly appreciated. Bicycle and pedestrian facilities should be the stuff of the everyday, just like the stop sign.” It’s a mission that straddles the divide of policy and community, bringing the two together to both celebrate and foster the local bicycling community, creating the infrastructure for it to continue to exist and expand. Asheville on Bikes began with a much more humble outlook— and budget. “The opportunity to ride bicycles in the 2006 Asheville Holiday Parade was the initiating event that started the wheels rolling for Asheville on Bikes. We won $250 for best use of theme in that parade, and that became the seed money that started the organization,” says Sule. The other co-founders continued to host bicycling events, but Sule turned his attention early on to issues of bicycle transportation. “When I was just beginning to organize Asheville on Bikes, a person named Jeremy Johnson was killed on his bike at the intersection of New Haw Creek and Highway 70. This was an intersection I frequented, and it chilled me to cross it,” he remembers. “Asheville on Bikes was gaining social recognition for its events, and I felt called to invest that social capital into the hard work of improving transportation. Asheville remains amongst the worst cities in North Carolina for pedestrian and bicyclist’s safety, and I have a deep-rooted passion to see that change.”

Claudia Nix, owner of Liberty Bicycles and founder of Blue Ridge Bicycle Club, encouraged Sule to join the City of Asheville’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Task Force. “There the issues of active transportation were presented to me each month, and so I started working on them through the municipal channel,” he says. “Asheville on Bikes was founded in celebration and over the last decade has evolved into an effective transportation advocacy organization.” Today that looks like spearheading initiatives on the local, state, and even federal levels. Recent accomplishments of Asheville on Bikes’ advocacy include the improvements to Charlotte Street and Coxe Avenue and the new streetscape in the River Arts District, while ongoing projects include the Hendersonville Road corridor study, the launch of their second tactical urbanism project (these programs use low-cost materials to experiment with street design changes), and the Asheville Unpaved initiative, which aims to build natural surface trails as part of the city’s greenway system. “Quite literally, our design recommendations are leaving a mark on the city. Our work is improving Asheville’s mobility options,” Sule adds. But there’s still work to be done, he says: “We need to be more influential in overhauling our city, county, and state land use and transportation policies. Many times, transportation officials and developers can’t build to the community’s needs because of arcane and inadequate policies. I’d like to see AoB influence future policy decisions, especially at the state level.” As he mentioned at the outset, however, he frequently encounters resistance to the kind of transportation amendments he perceives as obvious improvements: “Every project we do is controversial because we’re altering a public utility that has been designed for the convenience of motorists above all else.” While advocacy encompasses a large part of Asheville on Bikes’ work, the nonprofit continues to build a resilient and diverse community of cyclists in the city. AoB operates with a three-pronged approach that, in addition to policy work, also includes education through a youth cycling program hosted in partnership with the Asheville City Schools Foundation and, as at its outset, community events like group rides and New Belgium’s Tour de Fat (proceeds from beer sales at the 2019 Asheville event went to Asheville on Bikes). While it’s passion for transportation advocacy that drives Sule, it’s these other tenets of the organization that sustain him. “I’m intensely extroverted, so I get lots of fulfillment from working directly with people,” he says. “Each infrastructure change AoB influences impacts people’s quality of life directly, which is tremendously fulfilling for me.”

November 2020 | 67


JAHEIM JOHNSON, OPENDOORS senior (left), and Dazya’ Dean, OpenDoors freshman (right), both attend the Gow School, a boarding school in New York for students with dyslexia and similar language-based learning differences, photo courtesy the Gow School

OpenDoors of Asheville mission To break the cycle of poverty through education, one child at a time. annual budget $593,000


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# served annually

type of 501c 501(C)3 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)

funding Individual donations, family foundations, grants, special events, and corporate sponsorships

founding year 2009

Approx. 90

service area Buncombe County

Jen Ramming Executive Director


hen the work of OpenDoors of Asheville started in 2007, its offices were the minivan of founder and current executive director Jen Ramming. “There were many kids at my son’s school, Isaac Dickson Elementary, who weren’t being properly supported, diagnosed, and whose parents didn’t feel comfortable advocating for what their kids needed to succeed,” she remembers. “There was, and still is, a lack of educational equity in Asheville, and though there seems to be abundant resources to fill that need, many kids still fall through the cracks. Our small group of founding volunteers wanted to help support at least the kids right in front of us, which was a matter of using our cultural currency and social capital and making connections and investing in diverse friendships.” And so OpenDoors was born, an organization intended to break the cycle of poverty through education. Ramming agreed to shoulder the title and responsibilities of executive director when the nonprofit was officially formed in 2009, driven more by passion than experience. “I learned how to do most of what we do in real-time with our students, plus thanks to many super kind and smart friends who are educators, psychologists, consultants, social workers, and many more,” says the former advertising executive and fund developer. “I didn’t know how to run an organization from the ground up, and I was determined to learn it all.” Over the past 12 years, she’s adapted to the role, just as the organization has adapted to address the more subtle challenges of its mission. Ramming explains, “OpenDoors started as this grassroots high school graduation program, but that wasn’t

enough to break the cycle of poverty. We started digging in deeper with educational assessments, diagnosing dyslexia, connecting kids with “best-fit schools” that provide better educational outcomes, tutoring, summer academics, travel, arts enrichments, and more. It’s a ‘whatever it takes’ approach that works for any student who wants to succeed.” In order to figure out what “whatever it takes” actually looks like for each student, onboarding begins with an in-depth assessment. “We partner with educational psychologists to assess a student’s potential at whatever age they come to us,” Ramming says, “then we provide enrichment opportunities, advocacy, financial aid, and other critical resources so they can succeed academically and socially. The goal is for kids to go to and through college and on to a career of their choosing.” Because OpenDoors focuses on students and families affected by the race-based achievement gap, all of the students in their program have been students of color. “We believe that equitable access to a best-in-class education is the answer to most of our societal problems, and the local educational outcomes for Black students are inexcusable,” Ramming says of the organization’s community specificity. It’s an approach that presaged and echoes loudly the political climate of 2020—and it’s working: “We have eight students in college now, and 24 in our To & Through college pipeline. We currently serve a total of 90 kids and their families and consult with schools and other partnering businesses to encourage equity and promote inclusion for our students.” While Ramming recognizes the potential impact of OpenDoors’ continued expansion, she’s cognizant of the strategy to do so successfully. “We’re growing by leaps and bounds, but we need to do it wisely. We believe in depth, not breadth, because what we do is very longitudinal. I’d love to continue to grow and serve many more students and families, but we need to continue to be smart about it and not get spread too thin,” she says. “I love seeing kids who I’ve known since kindergarten go off to college, but I hope that some of them will come back from their masters or PhD programs and make Asheville more authentically diverse and wonderful than it is today.” Ramming adds, “I love advocating for underserved kids and helping them discover their gifts. There were key people who shed light in dark places for me when I was young, and my parents taught me that both love and education should be unconditional. In my world, every child is entitled to both.”

November 2020 | 69

Photo by Travis Bordley & SAHC column

On a Mission:


Engaging Your Community with Your Mission


angela shepherd

is the communications director of the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy.


EVERAL YEARS AGO, A GROUP OF SOUTHERN Appalachian Highlands Conservancy’s (SAHC) trustees and staff sat around a circle in a lodge at Cataloochee Ranch on the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and shared what inspires us about SAHC’s conservation work.

“When I first saw these mountains, I felt like I was finally home,” said one person, while another shared, “I grew up in the shadow of these mountains, and I love working to protect them.” This heartfelt outpouring of ideas, an ice breaker for a work retreat, was meant to set the stage for an intensive weekend of strategic planning, performance reviews, and inspiration to carry forward conservation endeavors in the next year. But when we finished going around the circle and sharing, we also realized we had just undergone a cathartic experience—a beautiful expression of love and introspection which exposed the soul of the organization. Our science-based conservation work focuses on detailed analysis of plant and animal habitat, clean water sources, and agricultural soils and strategies for how best to protect these important resources. However, when members talk about this work, we hear them tell stories from a much more

| November 2020

personal level: the places they have hiked, volunteer experiences they have shared with friends, or beautiful vistas that lift their spirits. It is this combination of science and spirit, heart and mind, that creates a winning formula for our organization; it both defines and buoys our mission and has kept the community involved in and excited about conservation work for decades. And it’s a model that’s replicable in other organizations and businesses. SAHC connects our community, including our employees, volunteers, and the broader community, to our mission through on-the-ground experiences, a long-term vision, and commitment to creating authentic partnerships by building trust over time. This is applicable to other organizations because, despite our differences in missions or structure, we all share something in common: a need to establish and grow relationships between people and our work.

A On-the-Ground Experiences You can explain a mission until you’re blue in the face, but a personal experience is worth more than a thousand explanations. I remember when I first began working at SAHC, I was impressed with the history of the organization’s conservation successes, particularly in the Appalachian Trail corridor through the Highlands of Roan. However, during my first field visit to the Roan—a volunteer work day in partnership with Highland Brewing Company for Golden-winged Warbler habitat restoration—I was simply awestruck. With my children in tow, we experienced jaw-dropping, gorgeous views from the open, grassy balds, and I reveled in their excitement as they explored the tall grasses and surrounding landscape with magnifying glasses and binoculars. Camping together with staff and volunteers that night, after a dinner and music which filled our stomachs and souls, we watched a spectacular display of stars emerge in the black velvet sky. While knowledge of the organization’s reputation and history of habitat management filled my mind, this experience filled my heart and continues to anchor my thoughts of the Roan. We dedicate a program initiative to “Connecting People with Land” because nothing compares to the visceral connection people feel when experiencing it firsthand, and the same is

true of any organization looking to engage with their audience; involving your audience in firsthand experiences engages them with your mission. From volunteer groups who manage rare habitat in the Highlands of Roan to introductory hiking experiences with lifelong learning classes or field trips to the SAHC Community Farm with young students, SAHC creates unique opportunities for people to engage with and experience


our conservation work in tangible and meaningful ways. In some cases, people are immediately inspired to become members; in other cases, we hope to plant a seed of knowledge which will grow and mature into action. You can tell someone your nonprofit work is inspirational, but when they learn it for themselves, it becomes integral in their lives.



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November 2020 |



The important thing is getting people into direct contact with your work and continually looking for innovative new ways to make those connections possible. Although SAHC’s volunteer and hiking programs have existed for decades, in recent years we’ve explored new possibilities for “Connecting People with Land” by utilizing other assets. For example, some of our conservation properties have existing cabins on them; these facilities provide means for people to have immersive experiences on the land or even get married there, embedding our conservation work in their memories for a lifetime. This year we’ve had to adjust our outreach program to meet people in their homes via YouTube. In lieu of group hikes, we produced guided video tours and relaxing nature videos of protected streams to help people alleviate stress. Our “Lunch and Learn” programs and farm workshops offer opportunities to learn behind-the-scenes details about our work or gain new skills; this year, we’ve actually broadened our reach by converting these programs into online experiences. SAHC has a reputation for hosting great events, like our farm-to-table dinner with Wicked Weed Brewing at SAHC's Community Farm last year. This exciting new stage of our “For

Katherine C Morosani


Financial Advisor

1185 Charlotte Highway Suite I Fairview, NC 28730 828-628-1546


| November 2020

Love of Beer and Mountains” partnership evolved from years of establishing personal connections throughout the community. We love to combine the seriousness of conserving our natural environment with the camaraderie of a great dinner or social event, creating a sense of team spirit. People relate to our mission because they experience it on the ground, in the woods, and at the table and connect to it on a personal, concrete level.

Long-term Vision, Partnerships, and Trust We know that change doesn’t come in a day. Deep, one-onone conversations foster a sense of trust, and maintaining a long-term focus allows us to take time to listen to the needs of partners and establish meaningful connections. This long-term mindset informs conservation priorities for land protection, and it also creates a strong framework for building relationships with people. From broad multi-agency/organization/state partnerships that manage habitat in the Highlands of Roan, to local, newly budding partnerships for youth education and racial equity in outdoor recreation, this long-term vision helps create strong partnerships and authentic relationships which sustain our mission.

Member SIPC

For example, our farmland conservation program began in 2005 during a time when large family farm tracts throughout the region were being developed and converted to other uses at a rapid rate. Agricultural conservation easements, as a means


to protect farmland, were a fairly new idea in the area and not immediately understood or well-received. SAHC began conversations with local farmers about land protection, but the idea didn’t take off until respected farming families started protecting their land with farmland conservation easements. These landowners became champions of the organization over time, and now we have other landowners or farmers contact

SAHC about protecting their land because they heard about conservation options from neighbors. In turn, SAHC supporters get excited about our farmland conservation programs because of both a sense of nostalgia and because they value local food. When I’m driving through Fairview with someone, I love to point out the sign for Hickory Nut Gap Farm and mention that the farmland there and the productive vegetable and flower fields of Flying Cloud Farm are permanently protected with agricultural conservation easements. Word-of-mouth works, and so does having the foresight to identify what projects are worth the patience it takes to see them through multiple years of trust-building. Sometimes engagement in a mission takes time, and that’s ok—after all, you’re in it for the long haul. Rallying a community around a cause always involves sifting through multiple perspectives—considering what values are important to your supporters, the needs of the community, and which priorities present the greatest possibilities for positive impact. Although folks may come to SAHC because of the science behind conservation, we’ve found that people stay with us because they connect with the organization in deep and meaningful relationships that last over time.

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November 2020 | 73




news briefs


Brighter, Faster Futures

Incentives to Golf



Masked luminaries gathered for the official ribbon-cutting for the ChargePoint DC fast charger at the Circle K in Dobson. The electric vehicle charger was installed and charged in July, but the timing wasn’t right for a grand opening. The charger is made possible through a partnership of Circle K with the Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation (SYEMC) and North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives (NCEC), of which SYEMC is a member. The fast-charging unit is described as “the first of its kind” along a 121-mile stretch of I-77 between Cornelius and Wytheville, Virginia. For about $27, it can charge a typical electric passenger car in about 60 minutes, and local leaders are optimistic about how visitors will use that 60 minutes in Dobson. The charger is now showing up on apps that locate charging stations, and it is reportedly experiencing “heavy” usage. The installation is part of the Brighter Future initiative of NCEC, which has allocated $1 million toward investment in charging stations for electric vehicles in rural areas throughout the state.

The United States Golf Association (USGA) announced it will be moving its equipment-testing facility and innovation hub from its headquarters in Bernards, New Jersey, to the “The Home of American Golf.” The operations will take place in two buildings, yet to be designed, that will conform to existing architecture at the Pinehurst Resort and Country Club. Additionally, some of the exhibits and memorabilia from the USGA museum will be moved from the Bernards’ museum, which is the largest repository of historic golf items in the world. Once complete, the USGA will transfer about 50 of its 300 items to the new facilities, construction of which is expected to cost $25 million. The State of North Carolina is contributing up to $18 million toward the project, which will receive an additional $3.4 million in state and local economic development incentives. As part of the deal, Pinehurst No. 2 will be added to the USGA’s rotation for hosting the U.S. Open, as well as other USGA championships.


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Selling the Farm PITTSBORO M&M Alpaca Farm is up for sale. Owners Marty and Mary Raynor are ready to retire, and they want to sell the whole operation to a single buyer who can take over next year. Expertise in the field will not be as important a consideration in selecting a buyer as a willingness to learn and a love for animals. The package includes a working farm that breeds and raises Suri and Huacaya alpacas for show around the country. Hosting tours has been a large part of the business and, even under pandemic constraints, every weekend on the tour calendar is now booked through the end of the year. While the alpacas have the final say in whether they will accept treats, submit to petting, or participate in photo ops, visitors can at least see what it’s like to feed and clean up after them. The farm is also home to the Fiber Studio and Educational Center, a venue for courses ranging from Alpaca 101 to crocheting, knitting, and weaving, and COO Laina Peck-Bostwick says she’s open to other concepts. M&M also includes a store stocked with an assortment of yarn and unique clothing items. Traditionally, it has honored requests for custom fiber creations, “as long as we have the skill and lead time to accomplish them.”

Success through Conscious Proactivity BURLINGTON B-Corp TS Designs was featured as a company “creating a more resilient and sustainable capitalism” in Forbes. President and CEO Eric Henry says the pandemic served as a second wake-up call to the country to build more “domestic, transparent, and equitable”

supply chains. Henry and his nowretired buddy, Tom Sineath, launched their own screen-printing company while in college in 1978. The business grew to employ 100 while filling orders from Polo, Tommy, GAP, Nike, and Adidas. The business had always been run consciously, paying attention to the triple bottom line through wages and benefits, among other concerns. Then, in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) destroyed the business, and it took two years to recover with an even more intentional focus: Henry founded Cotton of the Carolinas to control the supply chain “from dirt to shirt.” Henry said that only impacted the textile industry, but COVID-19 has caught everybody’s attention. By “cratering” customers one by one, COVID-19 forced his business down to a two-man operation to dye berets for a military contract. So Henry started upcycling his T-shirts for the making of masks. The first 500 sold out in one day, so now he’s expanding into different models, including custom designs, and hiring.

Rebuilding the Economy MOORESVILLE Lowe’s is going to be conducting its own version of Shark Tank to help small businesses harmed by the COVID-19 closures overcome a major hurdle in scale-up. Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison said the large home improvement retailer arrived at the idea after receiving over 800,000 applications for the $55 million in pandemic relief grants the company had offered for small businesses. Corporate leadership felt they weren’t doing enough, so now they’re offering minority entrepreneurs a chance to participate in a new initiative, “Making



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It… With Lowe’s.” In the first round, Lowe’s will sort through entries to select up to 375 products that it will stock based on innovation and need. Then, 75 of the business owners behind the products will advance to the next phase, where they will pitch their products in a five-minute video. Lowe’s will then select five finalists who, with mentoring from Daymond John of ABC’s Shark Tank, will pitch live before a panel of Lowe’s executives for even more small business help. John explained that, unlike the TV “sharks,” the executives won’t be taking a cut from the pot. Instead, they’ll be grateful for getting to play a larger part in supporting the small businesses they know are essential to a thriving macroeconomy.

Personalized Air Drop FAYETTEVILLE Walmart has selected Fayetteville as the site for its next pilot project advancing drone delivery: on-demand fulfillment for online orders of essential items. The retailer is partnering with the Israeli company Flytrex, which is already drone-delivering packages from Walmart and other vendors in Grand Forks, North Dakota. The North Carolina service area will take in a 3.5mile radius surrounding a distribution center, and the flight routine is designed specifically to leave packages in backyards. Customers will use an app to authorize the drone to, upon arrival, lower their packages on a wire from an altitude of 80 feet. The drones can carry payloads of up to 6.6 pounds and fly up to 32 mph at a cruising altitude of 230 feet. Flytrex assures the drones have redundant systems for propulsion and navigation and even an autonomous f light termination system with a parachute. Analysts will be assessing

the old north state

the speed, complexity, and safety of the delivery system, which is already known to be 70 percent less expensive than van delivery. Walmart is also using autonomous vehicles for ground delivery from its main warehouse in Bentonville, Arkansas, to nearby stores.

Action! STATEWIDE Governor Roy Cooper has not only allowed film production to resume in the state, he has authorized the awarding of $27 million from the state treasury toward the filming of five projects. The North Carolina Film and Entertainment grants are contingent upon first spending at least $250,000 in the state, after which a 25% rebate would be issued. Hightown, a series for STARZ, is expected to receive $12 million. The feature-film Parkside was approved for $7 million, and a smaller film, USS Christmas, would get $1.1 million. All three films would be shot in the Wilmington area. A made-fortelevision movie, A Nashville Christmas Carol, receiving $1.1 million, and a Warner Bros. television series, Delilah, eligible for $5.4 million, will be produced in Charlotte. Supporters of the grant program note the money does not just go to actors and film crews, it also supports stage crews, carpenters who make the sets, and concierge services for the celebrities, as well as a boost in business for all kinds of local shops and services.

Unexpected Priority ASHEBORO Fibertex Personal Care Group, based in Denmark, announced it would be expanding its operations in Malaysia and November 2020 | 75

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| November 2020

Asheboro. The $40 million investment will add production lines, which should be operational by the end of 2021. Fibertex is a manufacturer of nonwovens, with a lot of its materials being used in diapers. The Malaysian expansion is intended to satisfy 10% growth in Asian markets attributed to a growing middle class. The Asheboro expansion will not address the shortage of Clorox wipes; instead, it will be dedicated to satisfying increasing demand in the United States for printing on wipes. Using flexographic technology, Fibertex claims no design is too challenging. The company prints hygienically-safe designs in up to eight colors and can even add scents on its printing lines. Fibertex first introduced printed wipes in the United States three years ago, about the same time it underwent its last expansion. Printed wipes are made in partnership with Innowo Print of Germany.

Foot Prints KINSTON Zac Holcomb has been writing code for 3D printing machines for eight years, and about five years ago started using his talents to make sockets for prostheses. He said he had been looking for a scalable niche that could benefit from customization, and people offered him a lot of discouragement. Still, he didn’t see why a lighter-weight product that could be manufactured in the same amount of time at a cost in the same ballpark wouldn’t have a competitive advantage. A couple years later, he connected with Brent Wright of EastPoint Prosthetics and Orthotics on LinkedIn. Wright had been working with a more primitive system of 3D printing than Holcomb’s Hewlett Packard multi-jet f usion machine; when EastPoint’s president, Paul Sugg, purchased the printer and post-processing station, Holcomb followed them to North Carolina and

launched Additive America. He now manufactures, on average, three or four flexible prostheses a week and says customers love how their prosthetic feet feel more like they’re wearing an athletic running shoe than a wooden one.

A Floating Solar System FORT BRAGG The United States Army has entered into a utility contract with Ameresco of Framingham, Massachusetts, and Duke Energy. Nicole Bulgarino, vice president and general manager of Ameresco’s Federal Solutions Group, stressed the importance of energy security for the largest military installation in the world, by population. The project starts with a 1.1-megawatt photovoltaic system that will float on Big Muddy Lake. It will be connected to a two-megawatt battery storage system and supplement power delivered from the grid. Also included in the contract are improvements to the base’s boiler, HVAC, lighting, and water conservation systems. Duke will get third-party financing for the $36 million design-build contract, and the Army will pay it off with calculated energy savings for the term of the contract. Savings in the first year are estimated at $2 million, with energy and water use reduced 7 and 20 percent, respectively. Construction should begin before the end of the year.

Making Dune SURF CITY Work is expected to begin this winter on beach nourishment for Surf City. The United States Army Corps of Engineers will haul 13 million cubic yards of sand from the ocean to the beach and construct a 25-foot wide by 14-foot high dune and a 300-foot wide by 6-foot high berm. The town has been

planning for the project for 20 years, and it started building a fund to pay for it seven years ago with the first of two ten-cent property tax increases. The project will extend from North Topsail Beach, which is paying for 40 percent of the project, through Surf City. After this round of improvements, the beach will be renourished every six years for the next 50 years. The project follows the creation of an emergency berm in May. That project created a dune in between the ocean and the other dunes with 238,000 cubic yards of sand dredged from Topsail Creek. The dunes are intended to not only protect the city from tropical storms but preserve the beach as a tourist attraction.

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FOOD CONNECTION connects extra food from catering events and restaurants, like Wicked Weed, to those who need it, photo by Julia Linholm - Wicked Weed Brewing


| November 2020

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TOGETHER WNC Businesses and Nonprofits Collaborating for the Community written by bill kopp


onprofit organizations are, so to speak, big business in Western North Carolina. Nearly 14 percent of the region’s workers are employed in the nonprofit sector, which, according to the North Carolina Center for Nonprofits, represents at least $15 billion in annual wages. According to a 2017 Capital at Play feature (“Nonprofits in Western North Carolina: A Report”), nonprofits represent a larger share of the economy in WNC than they do nationally.

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SINCE APRIL, WICKED WEED has provided 40,000 meals to those in need through Food Connection, photo by Julia Linholm - Wicked Weed Brewing


| November 2020

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s that same story notes, at that time there were more than 4,500 nonprofit organizations in Western North Carolina; even after removing churches from that calculation, there are still more than 3,900 initiatives with the federal 501(c)3 designation. More than a third of these are in Buncombe County, with the rest centered primarily around Hendersonville, Rutherfordton, Boone, Canton, and Franklin. In an era when governmental decisions at the federal level can mean fewer resources directed toward those in need, nonprofits are increasingly called upon to take up the slack. And while many nonprofits rely upon individual giving and volunteerism, a significant portion of civic-minded involvement is channeled through the region’s businesses. A number of leading companies are making and honoring commitments to be responsible corporate citizens by putting their resources toward good causes. This feature spotlights some—but by no means all— of the most notable ways in which Western North Carolina businesses and nonprofits are working together for a better world.

The Drive to Make a Difference AVL RIDE AND FOOD CONNECTION

AVL Ride (originally known as AVL Taxi) started business about six years ago. The Asheville-based taxi company positions itself as a locally owned and operated business that is “focused on a living wage for our drivers and dispatchers,” says Woodward McKee, the company’s owner.

AVL RIDE SUPPORTS FOOD CONNECTION by serving as a delivery liaison, photo by Anthony Harden

Sensing customer demand, in recent years the major ride service companies got into the food delivery business. UberEats launched in 2014 and Lyft instituted its “Essential Deliveries” program earlier in 2020. AVL Ride has been offering a similar service—but taking it a step farther. Even though it’s not a large company, AVL Ride leverages its infrastructure to support a cause in which McKee believes passionately. “We provide free transportation to Food Connection,” he says, noting that AVL Ride drivers have delivered “untold tens of thousands of meals over the past five years.” Food Connection seeks to feed those in need in and around Asheville by rescuing unused food from local restaurants and catered events. Food recipient partners include Veterans’ Restoration Quarters, MusicWorks! After School Program, Trinity Place shelter for runaway youth, and several other local charities. The nonprofit organization’s website claims that more than 200,000 fresh meals have been delivered since it began. Food Connection was founded in late 2014 by a team of local entrepreneurs led by Flori Pate, co-founder of the Dig Local app. McKee has been part of that team from the start, and Pate credits AVL Ride as a key component in getting Food Connection off to a strong beginning. McKee notes that AVL Ride is ideally poised to help the effort. “We’re in a particularly key position to move people and food around town quickly and inexpensively,” explains McKee. “Because we operate 24/7/365, we nearly always can get a person or delivery accomplished quickly.” He notes that mounting a similar effort with volunteers would pose a serious challenge, “because there’s no way to know exactly when, where, or how November 2020 |


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much is going to be required. It would be difficult to have a volunteer on standby at midnight on a weekend, or to be at a wedding venue within 15 minutes before the staff has to shut down and go home for the night.” In such cases, AVL Ride’s quick response can make all the difference. Lacking that rapid-response component, a volunteer-based program might mean that the food donation would be lost. McKee says that AVL Ride doesn’t have a set budget for its service work. “I make choices intuitively,” he says. “Our projects aren’t very expensive. It’s more

“That’s how a real community is built,” McKee emphasizes. “Not by writing a check.”

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a matter of making [the company’s work with Food Connection] a priority and making sure we are available to help.” McKee u nderst a nd s the tou g h situations faced by persons and families in need. “I lost everything in the last recession,” he admits. “I didn’t have a car for years or even a place to stay for a couple months. It was a difficult time.” Once he got back on his feet, he decided that he wanted to “help other people make it through similar difficult chapters. And it makes me feel good.” AVL Ride actively supports other local nonprofits, too. The local chapter of crisis intervention organization Our VOICE serves victims of sexual violence in Buncombe County. The organization has been at work for 40 years and gained 501(c)3 status in 1983. “I approached

PUBCORPS VOLUNTEERS prepare food donations, photo by JP Kennedy

Our VOICE myself,” explains McKee, “after personally picking up a person in a particularly distressing situation.” McKee explains the motivation for AVL Ride’s civic-minded approach. “I like to use the mountains as a metaphor,” he says. “We live in different places on the hill, and the higher up you go the more you can see. As a smaller community— but one with both incredible wealth and desperate need—we can be more responsive and efficient with resources.” And he says that the connectedness that is a character of a small city like Asheville lends itself to the support of worthy causes. Growing up in Cashiers in the ‘70s, he learned life lessons about dealing with challenges. “You either figured it out yourself, or someone came and helped you because they wanted to, not for money. “That’s how a real community is built,” McKee emphasizes. “Not by writing a check.”

Changing the Way People Volunteer PUBCORPS

Building on the thriving beer scene in Asheville (named “Beer City USA” four times in a national poll), PubCorps launched in 2019. The organization's foundational goal, says managing director John Richardson, is “to fundamentally change the

way people volunteer.” Richardson is also the founder of Black Mountain Ale House (opened 2011) and Black Mountain Brewing (launched 2017). Richardson explains how the idea for PubCorps came about. “Every year, my staff from Black Mountain Ale House would volunteer at Haywood Street [Congregation] serving lunch,” he recalls. “We would often find ourselves sharing a beer afterwards.” Participants dubbed that informal gathering PubCorps. After witnessing up close the devastating effects of depression—he has lost a dozen friends to suicide or overdose— Richardson was moved to do something. “One of the best things to do if a person is feeling depressed is to find a way to give back,” he says. “But as a country, we have not made volunteering easy. In March of 2019, I quit my corporate job to launch PubCorps because I knew we could do better.” With an emphasis on food and beverage employees and patrons, PubCorps seeks to make volunteering simple, accessible, and fun. “We create volunteer opportunities that aim to introduce communities—restaurants, breweries, and pubs—to high-energy meal packing events,” Richardson explains. Those events provide bagged, shelf-stable meals for distribution throughout the community by local food banks. “Then we celebrate by sharing a beer, coffee, or other beverage of your choice.”

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PubCorps made the jump from informal gathering to active nonprofit during the annual ChowChow culinary festival in Asheville. Two local breweries—Richardson’s Black Mountain Brewing and Pisgah Brewing—collaborated in the making of PubCorps Blonde Ale. At the launch of that brew, PubCorps unveiled its plans. “We wanted to highlight that one out of five kids in Buncombe County doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Richardson says. “On the Sunday of ChowChow, PubCorps was able to say that statistically, everyone in Buncombe County had a seat at the table.” Organizers had hoped that at least 200 volunteers would show up for the nonprofit’s inaugural packing party, putting together about 80,000 meals in eight hours, but their estimates were significantly wide of the mark. “We had over 530 volunteers show up.” Richardson says with pride. “And we packed 108,000 meals in just over three hours!” Then volunteers headed to an after party at Wicked Weed’s taproom in downtown Asheville; Wicked Weed bought the first round. Since that launch, PubCorps has expanded its reach to other breweries and restaurants. “Almost everyone we have spoken with has wanted to be involved and provide support,” Richardson says. “Restaurants, breweries, and pubs are about building communities; at our core, the owners of these ventures are social entrepreneurs, and the Asheville community understands this. Strong restaurants and breweries make strong communities.” 84

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Richardson gives credit to the Asheville Investment Club and Symmetry Financial in Swannanoa for their founding sponsorship; along with the enthusiastic volunteers, their help was key in getting PubCorps started. The PubCorps platform

“We wanted to highlight that one out of five kids in Buncombe County doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

a 150,000 meal pack aboard a cruise ship out of Miami,” Richardson says. A representative from the Guinness Book of World Records was scheduled to be in attendance. “We were going to establish the world record for the largest floating meal pack,” he says, with a mild hint of disappointment in his voice. “The next morning we were planning on delivering the meals to a hunger relief nonprofit in Haiti.” The COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that event but not to Richardson’s enthusiasm. “2021 is going to be a great year,” he enthuses.

Creating a Nonprofit Model That Can Be Expanded and Replicated WE GIVE A SHARE

“makes it easy for breweries, restaurants, and pubs to host volunteer events.” The organization, created a webinar that introduces its concept so that other nonprofits or programs can get involved as well. As 2020 began, PubCorps was gearing up for its biggest year yet. “We had four events planned in March and April, including

A new initiative, We Give A Share (WGAS), is focused on the food and nourishment needs of those living in Western North Carolina, too. Based on the community supported agriculture (CSA) model, We Give A Share works in a manner similar, but substantially different, from Food Connection. We Give a Share was launched by a team led by chefs Mark

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JOHN FLEER, AARON GRIER, AND MARK ROSENSTEIN, three of the co-founders of We Give a Share, photo by Will Eccleston, Kinetiscape Media

Rosenstein, Hanan Shabazz, and John Fleer, along with farmers Aaron and Ann Grier. According to another WGAS co-founder, author, and communications consultant Elizabeth Sims, the nonprofit organization’s mission is to “nourish the health and well-being of our community by championing food equity for all, financially sustaining local farms and producers, and incubating economically successful individuals through culinary and entrepreneurial training.” In practice, We Give A Share “completes the circle” between farmers, culinary professionals, on-the-job training recruitment, and the under-served, all through the generosity of the local community. Sims explains that the organization was launched in direct response to “the sudden disruption of food security and local agricultural food systems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.” We Give A Share operates on three levels. First, it gets food to those who need it most. Second, with its Beyond CSA program, it focuses on keeping businesses in business. “We provide a platform for local farms to grow and produce food to be used to feed the under-served,” Sims explains. That allows farmers to know—even before a growing season begins—that a certain percentage of their yield is spoken for. And the community gets in on the plan as well: anyone can participate as a funder. “Funders purchase ‘shares’ of the farm, which are then dedicated to growing specifically for that purpose.” 86

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The Grier's Gaining Ground Farm in Leicester is one of many locally owned agricultural enterprises that is participating in the Beyond CSA program. Shareholders receive weekly updates. Through its work, WGAS also supports the efforts of other nonprofit organizations. Working with Asheville Housing Authority’s Southside Kitchen in the Eddington Center, it created a destination for a sizable portion of the food grown. Sims says that its success with Southside Kitchen is leading WGAS to a new goal of “expanding into other kitchens and neighborhoods.” Those locations would follow Southside Kitchen’s lead as both “a training facility and a nexus for community connection and support,” she says. The nonprofit’s early success has created a wellspring of optimism that Sims hopes will push We Give A Share to new heights. She says that the generosity of the local community is allowing the WGAS team to “think bigger than its original goal of providing the freshest, most nutritious food available to those who need it most,” and job training is a central part of that initiative. “We also want the projected outcome to provide interested residents with a foundation for work in the food and beverage industry,” she says, “as well as the networking and knowledge base that can translate into new business development.” Still, Sims believes that the post-COVID-19 world will present ongoing obstacles. “It will be challenging for the foundation of our economy—our independently owned small businesses, including

restaurants and farms—to rebound and maintain the same level of philanthropic and charitable giving,” she predicts. “Nonprofits will need to build strong reciprocal relationships with our small businesses so we can work together to help one another.” And that’s a fundamental goal of the We Give A Share model. The We Give A Share team is already at work building a “sustainable framework” for its efforts so that the nonprofit’s model will continue long-term. They’re also laying the

enterprise survival, social inequities, and other fallout from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sims says. But even in the face of unprecedented challenges, she looks toward the future with enthusiasm and determination. “Our country is at a turning point on so many levels,” she says. “And it is the sheer goodness of people that will show us the way.”

Nonprofit Activism on Several Fronts WHITE OAK FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT

“Nonprofits will need to build strong reciprocal relationships with our small businesses so we can work together to help one another.” groundwork for the WGAS concept to be scaled and replicated in other communities around the country. “There are many initiatives—nonprofit as well as private and corporately funded efforts—working diligently to address issues of economic distress, community well-being, independent

Some business’ approach to contributing to the goals of nonprofits are more conventional, but in the big picture, they’re no less significant. Launched in 2003 by sisters (and Asheville natives) Laura Cummings McCue and Priestly Cummings Ford, White Oak Financial Management is a fee-based, discretionary investment management firm for individuals and small businesses. White Oak supports its chosen nonprofits “in just about every way possible,” says Ford, the company’s chief financial officer. “Board service and leadership, donations, volunteerism, sponsorships, and advertising.” Like most businesses that provide support to nonprofits, White Oak’s choices reflect their perspectives. “The employees of White Oak Financial choose to support those organizations whose people and work are of special importance to us personally,”

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Ford says. That means that the company supports nonprofits like the WNC Nature Center; White Oak was one of ten sponsors of the center’s (virtual) Brews and Bears event in September. Ford served two terms on the Asheville Humane Society’s board and continues to volunteer there, and White Oak has sponsored several Asheville Humane Society events. Ford points out that in addition to raising needed funds, those events serve to “lift up and support the employees there who do difficult work.” To a large extent, White Oak Financial high-profile support of its chosen nonprofits takes the place of other marketing/PR efforts. “White Oak receives requests and opportunities from our favorite nonprofits,” Ford says. “We feel that our marketing budget is mostly reserved for those opportunities as opposed to traditional forms of marketing.” Other causes that benefit from White Oak Financial’s help include the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and the Boy Scouts of America; CEO McCue also holds a leadership position with the Daniel Boone Council Boy Scouts and serves as a council representative on Eagle Scout Boards of Review. In the end, helping nonprofits is about the good feeling that comes from supporting a worthy cause. “We give back because 88

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it feels good and [because] the results of our efforts are visible for the nonprofit,” Ford says. “We can see that our giving is worthwhile to their missions.”

Doing Their Part to Help Eradicate Polio Worldwide EDWARD JONES Headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, Edward D. Jones & Co., L.P. is a privately held financial services firm that works with serious long-term investors. The firm has more than 14,000 offices across the United States and Canada, including more than a dozen in and around Asheville. Large, nationwide businesses have the financial wherewithal to make a serious impact on the efforts of nonprofits. According to financial advisor Katherine Morosani, Edward Jones is a national sponsor of the Alzheimer’s Association. According to the company’s policy, each Edward Jones financial advisor can support the nonprofits he or she chooses. When making that decision for herself, Morosani says she asks three questions: “Is this nonprofit supporting a cause I

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photos by Marilynn Kay Photography SOUTHERN APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDS CONSERVANCY'S Board of Trustees, including White Oak's Laura McCue (center), photo by Travis Bordley & SAHC

am passionate to support? Does this nonprofit have opportunities to be involved besides just writing checks? Can I make a difference by supporting this cause?” Morosani found that with respect to her choice—the Rotary Club of Asheville—the answer to all three questions is a resounding “yes.” “I am fortunate to be able to give through my time, talent, and resources,” Morosani says. She volunteers her time, participates on the club’s board of directors, and contributes financially. Morosani joined the organization in 2011, with Highland Brewing Company founder and vice president Oscar Wong acting as her sponsor. Morosani is passionate about Rotary Club’s international focus. The club is committed to helping eradicate polio, a disease that’s largely eliminated in the

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United States but still strikes children around the globe. Rotary is a founding partner of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative; that program claims to have reduced polio cases 99.9 percent since 1979, when it launched a project vaccinating children in the Philippines. Morosani has participated in two Rotary friendship exchange programs. She says that her 2019 trip to Lagos, Nigeria, was of particular interest. “I was able to see the Polio Eradication Command Center and hear about their efforts to eradicate polio,” she says. “This August, the World Health Organization designated Nigeria—and therefore Africa—as poliofree.” Ridding the world of the debilitating disease is a huge task, but it’s one that resonates with Morosani. “I can be a part of [protecting] kids from paralysis and creating a healthier world,” she says.

Bringing Technology to LEAF’s New Downtown Asheville Venue TSACHOICE

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With five divisions—information technology, voice, audio/video, security, and cabling—TSAChoice, Inc. helps clients integrate technology into their businesses. Founded in 1982 as Telephone Systems of Asheville, the company also maintains a sales office in Greenville, South Carolina; TSAChoice employs about 60 people in total. As communication technology has evolved, the company has helped its clients keep pace to make the most of those resources. TSAChoice gives back in various ways: Sometimes that help takes the form of financial assistance; other times TSAChoice signs on as sponsor for fundraising events. Other ways of giving back to the community include providing discounts, organizing in-house collections, and making training rooms available for organizations to meet.

TSACHOICE INSTALLS interactive media at LEAF, photo courtesy TSAChoice

More specifically, in October, the Asheville TSAChoice team worked a volunteer shift at MANNA FoodBank; they brought along the company’s annual donation to the nonprofit as well. Other initiatives supported by TSAChoice include Enka Middle School District's annual Christmas drive and Disability Partners’ CyberPals program; the latter puts refurbished computers in the homes of persons with disabilities. The company also supports nonprofits by “explor(ing) various options to reduce costs” for its not-for-profit clients, reports Kate Justus, project manager at Elly Wells Marketing (EWM is profiled below). She also notes that often when a TSAChoice nonprofit client outgrows its current technology and upgrades, “TSAChoice will organize a donation of the outgoing technology, if it is still current, to [another] nonprofit.” “We want our nonprofit clients to know that we appreciate their trust in our company and appreciate the value they bring to our community,” says Lynn Lowdermilk, the company’s marketing coordinator. But the highest-profile cause to recently benefit from TSAChoice’s giving is the LEAF Global Arts Center—what LEAF executive director Jennifer Pickering calls “a brick-and-

mortar experience”—newly opened in downtown Asheville. A centerpiece of the new venue is the set of interactive Go Global World Maps. As Lowdermilk explains, Pickering was committed to sourcing those and related components locally. TSAChoice installed five 55” touch-display monitors along with state-of-the-art directional speakers that allow each individual to “access their preferred area of the world—even though these displays are side-by-side—and hear only the information that pertains to what they have chosen,” Lowdermilk explains. The venue’s Cultural Dive-Ins Wall features three more TSAChoiceinstalled interactive displays with audio soundbars. The company’s partnership with LEAF included a discount on TSAChoice’s standard margins and creation of a video clip that can serve as a public relations tool. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the temporary closure of LEAF’s brick-andmortar facility shortly after its opening, and TSAChoice is still working toward the future. “We’re working on a plan using our digital resources to get the word out to our client base and followers outlining the project and announcing their re-opening,” Lowdermilk says. Lynn Lowdermilk believes that the beauty of Western North Carolina brings with it a certain spirit. “The people in our November 2020 | 91

HAYLEY BENTON, KEELY KNOPP, AND ELLY WELLS of Elly Wells Marketing and Project Management at Great Smoky Mountains National Park


| November 2020

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WNC counties strive to preserve that Southern spirit and hospitality,” she says. “They’re genuine in their efforts to support nonprofits and realize the importance of supporting our local businesses.” For her part, she emphasizes that as a business and a team of community members, TSAChoice “give[s] back to help people, to make our community stronger, and to solidify our standing in our community.”

Leveraging Expertise to Help Local Nonprofits ELLY WELLS MARKETING & PROJECT MANAGEMENT Like TSAChoice, some local businesses take the approach of applying their specific and unique skills in a way that provides important resources to the nonprofit sector; Elly Wells’ firm is another such company. A four-person business started in 1998 and located in Asheville, Elly Wells Marketing and Project Management plans and executes communications strategies for businesses and nonprofit organizations. Wells says that her company has “niche expertise in family-owned and locally held businesses as well as in the nonprofit sector.” Wells’ work with nonprofit clients has been a cornerstone of her business since its inception. “It’s important to point out that the nonprofits first supported me,” she says. “And perhaps

The company also supports nonprofits by “exploring various options to reduce costs” for its not-for-profit clients. more importantly, those in leadership positions—staff and board members of several organizations—were generous in sharing their wisdom and experience with me.” Wells has sought to reciprocate as her business has grown. As part of its business plan, Elly Wells Marketing and Project Management provides services to its nonprofit clients at reduced rates, and Wells and other members of her team have donated time via project hours. The relationships that Wells has forged with nonprofits sometimes go back decades. “Our firm has been the longtime marketing arm of the Diana Wortham Theatre, now the expanded Wortham Center for the Performing Arts,” she says. November 2020 | 93

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Her company worked with the venue as it expanded to three venues under one roof. Elly Wells’s firm has also provided marketing experience to another growing client: Mercy Urgent Care. “Being part of its growth—now an eightcenter network in Western North Carolina—has been incredibly rewarding,” she says. With branding partner Mark Wilson, Wells and her team have

“I believe that only through out-of-the-box changemaking will we make significant progress on the issues our nonprofit organizations are working to address.”

ELLY WELLS at the Wortham Center, photo by Studio Misha


| November 2020

worked on other expansion and rebranding projects for local nonprofits including cultural heavyweight LEAF Global Arts and Rainbow Community School in West Asheville. Wells was a board member at the Y WCA of Asheville, and after several years as a marketing committee member for the Asheville Humane Society, this fall she joined that organization’s board. But she’s careful not to get overextended. “The trick is not spreading too thin what you have available to contribute, whether that’s time or money,” she says. Wells sticks to working on a few key causes that line up with her wider concerns, “rather than trying to give to every deserving organization that asks… and in Asheville, there are many.” Wells’ interest in—and passion for— working with nonprofits is something that she developed and cultivated early. She received a Frank Fellows Program entrepreneur scholarship for her undergraduate degree at Guilford College in Greensboro. That program paired scholarship recipients with CEOs and executive leaders. In her senior year, Wells worked with the marketing head of the British Red Cross in London; that experience

gave her firsthand insight into the workings of a successful nonprofit. “From then on,” she says, “I was hooked on pairing my business acumen with nonprofit work.” Wells believes that Western North Carolina is uniquely blessed with leaders who are radical thinkers. “I believe that only through out-of-the-box change making will we make significant progress on the issues our nonprofit organizations are working to address,” she says. Like the other business professionals profiled in this story, Wells says that the rewards for working with nonprofits are significant but intangible. “Unfortunately for nonprofits, the 2017 tax law got rid of the tax benefit incentive for all but the wealthiest of donors,” she says. “Luckily, that has not dissuaded the vast majority of people—myself included—who give in order to actively invest in their communities and will continue to do so.” A global crisis like the current pandemic has the potential to bring out the worst in people. For understandable reasons— health and safety foremost among them—many people turn inward during times of severe crisis. But as these brief profiles illustrate, a great many people—on their own and through the businesses they own—are applying their resources to the

community and beyond. These and many other businesses in the Western North Carolina region are going above and beyond to make their community a better one, and that’s a hopeful sign as we enter an uncertain future. As Elly Wells is quick to point out, she’s merely one of many business leaders offering support—in dollars, time, and effort— to the region’s nonprofits. “Western North Carolina is still a fairly small pool, so [I haven’t] met a business leader yet who doesn’t also have some involvement in an area nonprofit,” she says. “And that’s the way it should be.”

It’s amazing what we can accomplish when hearts and minds work together. See how leaders from diverse countries, cultures, and occupations are taking action to enhance health, empower youth, promote peace, and improve their communities. Be part of creating positive change. Visit Rotary of Asheville at

November 2020 | 95


updates for



news briefs

Help Your Neighbor’s Boat to Shore… DALLAS, TEXAS It’s been on-again, off-again for Howdy Homemade Ice Cream. It made the local news circuit when Tom Landis opened it in 2015. To fulfill his dream of empowering special-needs adults with dignified employment, he mortgaged his home and got a loan from Chase Bank. In March, though, Landis shut his business immediately, noting a lot of special-needs people are also immunocompromised. Then, in May, after getting funding from the second round of Personal Paycheck Protection loans, he reopened with the intention of being the “safest, cleanest” place to visit. Unfortunately, there wasn’t


enough business to continue operating, so Howdy closed. Within two weeks of that, however, Landis had received over $100,000 in community donations to reopen. Landis was able to use the funds to set up in another location and hire back all 11 employees while operating at 75 percent capacity. The donations keep coming; one employee, who is now Landis’ shop manager, insisted on contributing $3,000 as thanks for all Landis had done for him.

The First Flavian Amphitheater ROME, ITALY Bloomberg reports Rome, the Eternal

City, is seeking corporate sponsorships for its wealth of historic monuments and architecture. Perhaps worse than most cities, Rome’s municipal budget was devastated by the pandemic, and, definitely unlike other cities, Rome is the site of 3,530 hectares of United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites. So the city is partnering with the General Confederation of Italian Industry, more popularly known as Confindustria, which serves as the nation’s chamber of commerce, for patronage and sponsorship of badly needed repairs to fountains, statues, plazas, and historic buildings. A sampling of projects includes the restoration of the Fountain of Neptune, with an estimate of $270,000, ancient walls for $83 million, and public parks for $238 million. Of particular interest was the first-century gladiatorial school which is in such disrepair, it cannot accept visitors. In exchange for remediating crumbling and black “rust,” corporate sponsors will get to display their logos on-site. Reporter Peter Yeung, alluding to his history lessons, recalled the city is no stranger to innovative financing.

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If you love something, set it free, and that’s what biotech giant Illumina did with Grail in 2016. Whereas Illumina develops general technologies for genetic sequencing, Grail was developing a particular system that combined the latest techniques with data analytics to detect early stages of cancer from blood samples. The spinoff was made possible largely with $100 million from Illumina and funding from Google executive Jeff Huber. Later investments approaching $2 billion came from big names like ARCH and Hillhouse Capital. Now, Illumina is working on reacquiring Grail in an $8 billion deal, which is more like $7 billion if the parent company’s 14.5 percent ownership of outstanding shares is discounted. As terms of the deal, Grail would receive $3.5 billion in cash and another $4.5 billion in Illumina stock. Both parties have agreed to close by December 20, Grail to receive $35 million per month in cash for any delays. The deal also includes a $315 million merger termination fee and remains subject to regulatory approval.

General Electric (GE) announced it will no longer build coal-fired power plants. It will, however, continue to provide maintenance to the plants for which it has continuing obligations, with the longer-term goal of transitioning away from coal power. GE’s Senior Vice President Russell Stokes explained the decision was an economic one, since renewables were showing more potential for profit and growth. It came five years after GE’s largest acquisition ever, the $9.5 billion purchase of the energy division of the French conglomerate Alstom. The ambitious deal backfired, however, and was cited as a major cause of GE’s power division’s $22 billion write-down in 2018, for which it is being investigated. In order to turn around the company, whose decline industry analysts have been straining to frame in a positive light, Larry Culp, GE’s third CEO since the acquisition, has spun off the company’s distributed power business, sold part of its stake in an oil services company, and restructured the former GE Power business twice.

national & world news

Culp unsuccessfully tried to sell off GE’s steam power business, the market proving as uninterested as GE’s investors are anxious to get rid of carbon fuel technology.

The Path of Least Resistance SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA I n a c o nt e x t o f u n c e r t a i nt y surrounding the viability of the United States Postal Service, eBay has entered into a partnership to facilitate shipping orders via the United Parcel Service (UPS). While sellers have always had the option of shipping with UPS, they would have to visit the UPS website to generate shipping labels. Now, buyers can decide if they want to receive their packages via UPS Ground, UPS 2nd Day Air, UPS Next Day Air Saver, or UPS Next Day Air, and the eBay website will serve as a one-stop shop for collecting order details and billing and shipping information, label printing, and shipment tracking. In addition, sellers will enjoy savings of up to 48 percent off UPS Ground orders and 62 percent off 2nd Day Air. Surcharges will also be discounted. The savings will be

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November 2020 | 97

national & world

applied automatically when printing UPS labels with either a desktop or mobile device. Sellers can then deliver packages to over 85,000 drop-off locations, some of which are accessible 24-7. The move is part of an initiative UPS announced last year for capturing more business from small-to-midsized merchants.

Just Don’t Leak VIENNA, VIRGINIA The I nt er nat iona l C on sor t iu m of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), composed of over 400 journalists from 108 media outlets around the world, collaborated on a 16-month project they concluded showed their headliner stories were doing nothing to combat the laxity of large banks toward transactions that work around government sanctions. Their report published findings from “leaked” Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) documents, representing only 0.02 percent of 12 mil lion suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed between 2011 and 2017. While several banks transacted billions of dollars in suspicious activity, Deutsche Bank was the runaway leader, racking up SARs for over $1.3 trillion in business. Much of the activity involved Russian oligarchs laundering rubles through networks of shell companies around sanctions and into Western denominations. Other laundering was perpetrated by and on behalf of leaders and associates of drug cartels, human trafficking rings, mafia organizations, high-dollar embezzlers, and terrorist organizations. Deutsche Bank, for example, assured it had enough in reserves to satisfy anticipated regulatory penalties. FinCEN, a bureau of the United States Treasury, has labeled the ICIJ’s work “criminal” and referred it to the Department of Justice.


| November 2020

Brilliant MCFARLAND, WISCONSIN The Domack family launched Little Foxx Co.. The company makes stands for iPads, and it was launched because the Domack children, like so many other students, were struggling to maintain their school-issued devices at a functional angle. Fortunately their father, Adam, was a construction worker, so he designed some stands for iPads and laptops, and he put his fiancée and four children to work building them. Adam and his brother set up the home workshop with a drill press, belt sander, circular saw, and more so the kids could learn woodworking skills. After assembly, the children paint custom designs on the stands and stamp them with a company label. The kids also brainstorm for research and development, handle marketing, track orders, and schedule pickups. When stands are completed, they set up a table in the driveway for contactless pay and pickup. The stands retail for $10 each, and each kid gets to put 10% of profits toward the goals they’ve posted pictorially on the family dream board.

REI Keeps Distributed Headquarters BELLEVUE, WASHINGTON Facebook has purchased a new 400,000-sq.-ft. business campus from Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) for $367.6 million. What would have been R EI’s new headquarters was custom-designed with an outdoorsy feel, incor porating cour tyards of native species, outdoor staircases and bridges, and skylights that opened for fresh air. The move would have been completed had the pandemic not struck. That not only forced REI into the financial position of needing to sell

the complex, it showed the company could operate with “a more distributed” headquarters. Facebook, on the other hand, like other tech giants, fared well through the pandemic. It already had plans to lease 850,000-sq.-ft. in three small offices in the same block as the REI headquarters. Buying the whole complex makes sense for Facebook, which is not only advertising for 400 positions in the Seattle area, it must now provide employees with six-foot safety radii. Seattle is second only to Menlo Park, California, as an engineering hub for Facebook.

Another Trade War Battle WASHINGTON, D.C. Overall downloads increased 12 percent for TikTok, and daily downloads increased 150 percent for WeChat the Friday prior to their United States’ bans. TikTok is a social app popular among teenagers, and WeChat has proven valuable for real-time collaboration in trans-Pacific corporations: WeChat’s 30-minute turnaround times for design suggestions, with photos and technical details, beats the typical two-day delay for email. President Trump signed an emergency executive order last month alleging the Chinese were mining data through the apps for malicious purposes, a charge both apps’ parent companies, ByteDance and Tencent, deny. Presumably, users will be able to continue using the apps once downloads are banned, the Chinese having fewer, if any, suitable replacement apps. Unlike WeChat, though, TikTok opted to take advantage of a loophole offered, and sell its United States’ operations to an American-owned company before November 12. Trump has since given his approval for Oracle to buy a 12.5 percent interest in TikTok Global with Walmart assuming control of another

7.5 percent, provided the partnership invests $5 billion in teaching children “real” U.S. history. TikTok is, however, suing the United States government over the vagueness of the order and its chilling effect on freedom of expression and due process.

Vroom MARANELLO, ITALY Ferrari unveiled its $200,000-plus Portofino M in an online-only event. The modifications, for which the M stands, to last year’s entry-level grand touring (GT) car, are described as few but significant. Cosmetically, the grill and gills have been redesigned, while much of the body of the retractable hardtop convertible remains the same. Characteristically keeping dials and knobs to a minimum, the new Ferrari displays data on two screens located on either side of a huge tachometer, as well as a 10.3-inch entertainment screen. In addition, the eight-speed gear system includes a new “race” drive mode, which is accessible from Ferrari’s signature manettino dial on the steering wheel. The new model’s 612-horsepower, V8 engine is slightly more robust than last year’s; the car can go from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds. Even so, consideration has been given to improving the muscle car’s fuel economy, not so much out of concern for prices at the pump as positioning for future regulations that will likely penalize horsepower. Future plans for Ferrari include the release of its first SUV, as well as an all-electric luxury sports car.

Data-Driven Decision-Making NEWPORT BEACH, CALIFORNIA Chipotle Mexican Grill has taken a

scientific approach to the pandemic, evaluating how its business model responds under stress and adapting. Pre -pandemic, CEO Br ian Niccol thought the company could migrate 30 to 40 percent of its business to online ordering within a few years—then it was doing 80 percent of its business online. That number has since subsided and stabilized around 40 to 50 percent, and management thinks that’s going to be the new normal. The chain is now slowly adding drive-thru lanes for picking up online orders. To cover overhead costs for increasing delivery requests, the restaurant is experimenting and seeing how raising prices on their delivery menu from 7 to 17 percent compares to charging their traditional $3 delivery fee in high-volume markets. The chain has also implemented portion control. Whereas in face-to-face order preparation, employees would cave in to the body language and puppy-dog eyes of customers and pile on more of this or that, now customers get a set amount and have to pay more if they want more. The company has also added online options for group ordering and donations to local charities Chipotle associates have deemed impactful.

Right Smart, Those Earrings SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

All are intended to share the cultural joy of their crafters, who are single mothers living in the Colombian rainforest. Angela’s favorite flair for the mixedmedia fashion items are embroidery and glass pearls. She also has a selection of gold-plated earrings. The large and loud designs are tasteful and professional; the bright attention-grabbers work well on a casual date, aren’t too much for the office, and are nice and unique enough for a high-profile gala. Pria now sells all over the world from their website, and they also sell wholesale and are looking for more retailers interested in taking on their lines.




Enterprise Free Spirit OF


Angela Solano went into business because she couldn’t sit still. Her sister, who is a mother of three, quit her job to spend more time with one of her children who needs special medical attention. Shortly thereafter, the sister was divorced. Angela suggested her sibling start making artisan jewelry from home to help pay the bills, and Pria Accessories was born. Pria makes earrings, headbands, and sombreros, all with a colorful flair reminiscent of pre-Columbian motifs.


Oby Morgan


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November 2020 | 99



EVENTS Due to frequently changing schedules, it is advisable to confirm dates and times with the venues before attending the following events. NOVEMBER 4

Digital Drop-In

Visiting Writers Series: Alex Kotlowitz 7PM | Online Host: Lenoir-Rhyne University

For 40 years, the multi-award-winning Kotlowitz has been exploring through writing the lives of victims and perpetrators of violence and how they rise from the ashes. Registration is required.

> FREE > 828-328-7077 >

It’s the first Wednesday again, and Justin Belleme and Sarah Benoit will be sharing their marketing expertise on a timely topic. Registration is required.

Christmas at Biltmore

9AM–9PM | The Biltmore Estate One Lodge Street, Asheville

In its annual tradition, the chateau is decorated in period embellishments, like pine bough, ribbons, and garlands. At night, it’s lit with only candles.

> Pricing varies by day and package. > 800-411-3812 >

Wolf Howl

6–8PM | WNC Nature Center 75 Gashes Creek Road, Asheville

Listen to This

7:30PM | Online Host: Asheville Community Theatre Usually first Thursdays, local actor and comedian Tom Chalmers emcees storytelling by local characters about real events on a last-minute topic. For the time being, these events are held via Zoom.

> Tickets: $15 > 828-254-1320 >




12–1PM | Online Host: JB Media Group

> FREE > 828-242-0277 >


The program includes both an indoor educational segment and a nocturnal hike to the wolf habitats on premises. Appropriate dress is encouraged, and the program is not suitable for children three and under.

> Tickets: Adult $30, Child $20 > 828-259-8080 >

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Starry Night Story Time

5PM | PARI 1 PARI Drive, Rosman

PARI astronomers will guide socially distanced guests through the night sky, sharing legends and lore. The event will occur in the planetarium in the event the weather is not cooperative.

> Tickets: Adult $40, Child (6-11) $13, Infant FREE > 828-862-5554 >

NOVEMBER 7, 14, 21, 28

Naturalist Niche: Fall Ridge Hike

9:30AM–1PM | Chimney Rock Park 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock

Weizenblatt Gallery, Mars Hill University

79 Cascade Street, Mars Hill

The spring show was shut down, but now artists are looking forward to finally sharing their work. Creations include paintings, ceramics, graphic arts, and mixed media.

> FREE > 828-273-6476 > NOVEMBER 12-16

The Fall Virtual Craft Fair of the Southern Highlands 24 hours | Online Host: Southern Highland Craft Guild

Keeping a 73-year tradition going, the guild is now hosting its second virtual craft fair. Viewers will be able to visit and purchase directly from the virtual booths of over 80 exhibitors, chat with artisans in their studios, and watch craft demo videos.


Wheels through Time Annual Raffle

9AM–5PM | Wheels through Time 62 Vintage Lane, Maggie Valley The raffle will be held live in the museum, which houses over 350 rare motorcycles and automobiles. Raffle tickets start at $10 and may be purchased online; ticket bearers need not be present to win. The grand prize is a 1939 Harley Davidson Knucklehead.

> Tickets: Senior $12, Adult (15-64) $15, Child $7, Infant (0-5) FREE > 828-926-6266 > NOVEMBER 14

Conversations with Raphaella

A downtown shopping desnaon for more than 50 years where the amazing selecon of footwear for men, women, and children is only outdone by the Storytelling Saturday at Navigating Your Small Mystery Hill Business through award-winning customer service. Financial Uncertainty Naturalists will guide a moderatelystrenuous tour off the beaten path through the fall foliage. Space is limited.

> Tickets: Adult $25, Youth $15 > 828-625-9611 >


2–4PM | Dougherty House at Mystery Hill 129 Mystery Hill Lane, Blowing Rock

Once in the house, guests can linger, socially distanced, for as much or as little of “Jack Tales & Such” as they like.

> Admission: $18.50 > 828-264-2792 > NOVEMBER 10-20

2020 Senior Art Exhibition

10AM-4PM (Mon-Wed), 10AM-12PM (Fri)

> FREE > 828-298-7928 >


10AM–5PM | Heartful Art Riverview Station #104, 191 Lyman Street, Asheville

During the River Arts District studio stroll, Raphaella Vaisseau will be hosting an open house to talk about anything from technique to la vie de l’artiste. All her matted prints will be 25% off, and guests can even try matting their own.

> FREE > 941-993-7001 >

1–2PM | Online Host: SCORE

B u si ne s s p ower-h it t er s A m a nd a Brinkman and Morris Jackson II will help customers forecast, evaluate margins, and triage priorities, among many other salient considerations. Registration is required.

> FREE >


Mostly Mosaics

12–4PM | Leene’s Glassworks Pink Dog Creative, Suite #125, 348 Depot Street, Asheville At another stop on the RAD stroll, Leene Hermann will talk about her unique creations while sharing light refreshments.

> FREE > 248-855-4999 > November 2020 | 101

DHG is pleased to announce that Christina Sanders and Ben Walters were promoted to Tax Senior Manager effective September 2020. Christina and Ben are based in the DHG’s Asheville office. DHG is a leading professional services firm offering assurance, tax and advisory services to clients


nationwide and internationally. Our strength lies in our technical knowledge, industry intelligence and future focused approach combined with our drive to help our clients achieve their goals, both today and tomorrow.

Assurance / Tax / Advisory / Š 2020 Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. All rights reserved. DHG is registered | November 2020 102 in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP.

BEN WALTERS 828.236.5738



Asheville Art Museum Annual Gala

Consult website for itinerary | Online Host: Asheville Art Museum Socially distancing this great event for hobnobbing around the city took some imagination: The main event will be virtual, auction previews will have carry-out hors d’ouvres, dinner service will be staggered, and the auction will be livestreamed.

> Consult website for levels of support. > 828-253-3227 >


Appalachian Ski Mountain – Scheduled Opening Day 9AM–sometimes midnight Appalachian Ski Mountain 940 Ski Mountain Road via 1423 Edmisten Road, Blowing Rock

Weather permitting, it’s all systems go to open the ski season at App Ski. But to ensure the safety of all guests, tickets will have to be purchased online, in advance, and for a specified time slot.

> Consult website for pricing. > 828-295-7828 >

7:30–10:30AM | Hendersonville City Hall 5th Avenue East and King Street, Hendersonville Lots of changes have been made to make the 5K safe and compliant. Physically present participants may start any time from 7:30-8:30AM, but registrants may complete the course anywhere on the globe, any time.

> Registration: $12 > 828-233-3204 > NOVEMBER 27–DECEMBER 23

Peppermint Bear Scavenger Hunt


10AM–5PM | Hendersonville Visitor Center 201 South Main Street

1PM | Online Host: SCORE

7:30PM (Fri, Sat) & 3PM (Sun) | Online Host: Asheville Chamber Music

In this live webinar, Mo Hossain provides guidance in how to use Google Analytics to better tune services for potential customers. Registration is required.

The award-winning quartet will share “Schubert in Bohemia,” featuring works by Schubert, Janáček, and Dvořák

Ac c ord i n g to t he u rba n le gend , Peppermint Bear sent her children unaccompanied to find Christmas decorations, and now they’re hiding in various stores, waiting for families to take them back to Mama. For cub rescue creds, stop by the Visitor Center.


Google Analytics 101


“Waiting for the Host: An Online Play”

7PM | Online Host: Appalachian State Theatre and Dance The play, set in New York in April 2020, depicts a church congregation trying to figure out Zoom for the annual Easter passion play. Questions of isolation, public health, videoconferencing, and human connection are explored.

> FREE > 828-262-3028 >

Calidore String Quartet

> Donations appreciated > 828-575-7427 >

> FREE > 828-693-9708 >


Winter Lights

5:30–10:30-PM | North Carolina Arboretum 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville Rather than strolling, guests will cruise in their own vehicles through a mile of the arboretum’s landscaped grounds made festive with thousands of decorative lights in artistic creations.

> Tickets: $25 per vehicle > 828-665-2492 >


Thanksgiving Weekend Family Animal Encounters 2PM | Chimney Rock Park 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock

Naturalists will let kids see animals up close while teaching them about their role in the park’s ecosystem. Price is covered in admission.

> Tickets: Adult $17, Youth $8 > 828-625-9611 >


8th Annual Turkey Trot November 2020 | 103



Motocross Racing

6:30PM | WNC Ag Center 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher The indoor series for two- and threewheel machines is in its 28th season. Doors open for the main event at 5PM.

> Admission: Adult $15, Child $10 > 423-323-5497 > DECEMBER 3

GROW Agribusiness Summit

8AM–5PM | TEDC Blue Ridge Conference Hall, Room 186 Blue Ridge Community College, Hendersonville Content is geared toward entrepreneurs interested in starting an agriculturerelated business, as well as current

agribusiness owners pursuing growth. Registration is required.

> FREE > 828-694-1658 > DECEMBER 4

Hayes School of Music: Holiday Scholarship Concert

8-9:30PM | Online Host: Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts

Dr. Stephen Hopkins, director of choral studies, is curating a diverse collection of past performances of holiday songs by the school’s ensembles. Registration is required.

> FREE > 800-841-2787 >


23rd Annual Santa on the Chimney

11AM–2PM | Chimney Rock Park 431 Main Street, Chimney Rock Santa goes down the chimney, except in the 23rd annual, he rappels down the rock. Music, cocoa, cookies, and animal ambassadors contribute to the festivities.

> Tickets: Adult $17, Youth $8 > 828-625-9611 >

If your organization has any local press releases for our briefs section or events that you would like to see here, feel free to email us at Please submit your event at least six weeks in advance.

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Looking Back, Moving Forward by anne chesky smith , executive director of the western north carolina historical association

At the beginning of January 2020, I walked into Asheville’s oldest surviving home—the Smith-McDowell House, now the headquarters of the nonprofit Western North Carolina Historical Association (WNCHA)—to begin my first day as WNCHA’s executive director. WNCHA had just wrapped up a successful exhibit on the history of tea a few months prior but, having been without a director since the spring, did not have an exhibit planned for their gallery rooms in 2020. Thankfully, we have a tight-knit and supportive museum community here in Western North Carolina. The Western Regional Archives loaned us a traveling exhibit entitled “North Carolina in the Great War.” The Mountain Heritage Center at Western Carolina University brought over several additional panels, as well as a number of World War I-era advertisements to display, my favorite of which reads, “Can Vegetables Fruit and the Kaiser, too.” We designed a few more supplementary panels of our own, which were printed on short notice by our friends at the Mountain Gateway Museum in Old Fort. The exhibit opened on February 13. Just as other local historical organizations helped us pull together a compelling exhibit—a portion of which, coincidentally, focuses directly on the 1918 flu pandemic and seems especially timely as we all contend with COVID-19—people living across Western North Carolina continue to come together to create, maintain, and grow charitable organizations to meet specific community needs. Certainly the spirit driving our local nonprofits existed long before the turn of the 20th century. We often see these ideals exhibited in histories of our early schools and churches, but also in stories of barns raised and fires fought. Incidentally, the WWI exhibit, originally designed to celebrate the contributions North Carolinians made to the war effort as we approached the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, also provides historical details which highlight the beginnings of charitable organizations as we know them today. It was during the 1910s, as Americans at home united to provide supplies for the war effort, to care for wounded soldiers, and to fight a global flu epidemic, 106

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that the United States government began to incentivize this support in order to help fund U.S. participation in the war. The Revenue Act of 1917 for the first time established individual income tax deductions (income tax had only been reinstituted four years prior) for contributions made to charitable organizations. But beyond the financial incentives of giving to charitable organizations, the United States government also touted volunteerism as a patriotic duty. Propaganda encouraging Americans to do their part to “Can the Kaiser,” for instance, proliferated magazines, newspapers, and window displays. Men enlisted in the military, many joining up with British forces before the U.S. entered the war. Women went to work in factories and trained as nurses with the Red Cross. Children joined scouting organizations or 4-H clubs. By the end of the war, nearly one-third of the U.S. population had become either a donor to the Red Cross or served as a volunteer. Volunteerism and charitable donation numbers have ebbed and flowed over the more than 100 years since the end of WWI—a reflection of not only economic and political changes, but societal changes, too. Nonprofits are constantly adjusting and readjusting the way we operate in order to best serve our communities. Despite our adaptability, 2020 has been a challenge. A month after opening the W WI exhibit, as the pandemic began moving across the country, the Smith-McDowell House Museum, along with our exhibit galleries, closed to the public. With stay home, stay safe orders, we were no longer able to generate earned income from in-person programming, and our volunteer base dropped considerably. But at the same time, 2020 became a year of innovation—not only for us, but for nonprofits across Western North Carolina. There’s no more “business” as usual. In WNCHA’s case, we’ve created virtual programming. We’ve digitized exhibits and collections, making more of our resources freely accessible to more people. We’ve found new ways to fulfill our mission. And now that we are (hopefully) through the worst of the pandemic, we will resume limited in-person visitation while continuing our new digital programs, allowing us to reach a much wider audience than ever before.

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Dollhouse View from a 3D Matterport Scanner