Building Carbon-Negative Housing for a Sustainable Future

According to the presenter of this TED talk—Vishaan Chakrabarti—we currently have the technology we need to build carbon-negative housing reasonably affordably and at scale.

The keys is building 3-story multi-family dwellings with their own renewable, sustainable systems as well as walkable neighborhoods with resources and amenities, linked by robust public transportation.

I believe Asheville can do this.

Shiloh Community Concerns, B&C Working Group Report

In the open discussion portion of yesterday’s City Council meeting, I reported on Shiloh Community concerns about pedestrian access to the proposed redeveloped Ingles at South Forest plaza. I also gave Council and the City Manager heads up about the community’s urgent request for a traffic light at Jeffress and Hendersonville Ave.

I also updated them on the progress being made by the Boards & Commissions ‘Realignment’ Working Group.

Black Wall St. AVL Candidate Forum

I was honored to participate in a Forum at Black Wall St. AVL, just for City Council candidates. Five of us in the City Council race were present, Councilmember Shaneika Smith did not attend.

This post includes videos of my responses to the questions posed to every candidate. You’ll notice we had some challenges with a balky microphone, so the audio less than optimal. (There was also a backlighting challenge that became more noticeable as the evening went on.)

At the beginning, each of us was asked to introduce ourselves and talk about our previous involvement in politics.

A technical snafu prevented the recording of one of my answers, the rest are available below.

Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods Candidate Forum

The Coalition of Asheville Neighborhoods (CAN) held a forum at the East Asheville Public Library, in the evening. It included candidates for Mayor, City Council, County Commission, and Sheriff, and it ran from 7pm to after 10pm.

Four of us in the City Council race were present, the two incumbents did not attend.

I’ll update this post with a link to the full video, as recorded by CAN. In the meantime, here are videos of just my responses to the questions posed to Council candidates (or at-large to all).

At the beginning, each of us was asked to introduce ourselves and explain what we understood the concept of neighborhood resilience to be.

Honestly, I don’t remember off the top of my head what the order of these topics were, so I’ll just let you browse through the remaining five segments. They have the virtue of being short!

Recommended Reading

Today, I’m adding a new topic to the list (at the right of this page, click on one to see all the posts on that topic!).

In the course of the campaign, I’m coming across all sorts of interesting, enlightening, and though-provoking material. I’d like to share two of them in this first “Recommended Reading” post.

The first is an article from Strong Towns: There Are Three Different Kinds of Developers. I find Strong Towns usually has something interesting to say, even when I don’t agree with it. In this case, it’s a helpful overview that basically says “not all developers.” Hey, I get it if that makes you not want to read it. But still, I think it’s useful to understand that there really are different categories of developer, with different relationships to our community, and different priorities.

The second is a piece about how the visibility of poverty makes people feel unsafe — even if crime levels haven’t changed much. Have a look at People “Feel Unsafe” Because Visible Poverty Is Everywhere, written by Adam Johnson (The Column, on Substack). I found this analysis very persuasive, and it’s just as true for Asheville as it is for cities all around the country. I recommend reading the whole thing (some excerpts below).

“…[A] consistent theme in dozens of articles on the subject of “crime”: the current situation, more than anything, just *feels* unsafe.

Dismissing the Vibes isn’t tactically smart and can be perceived as glib, denialist, or detached. People are seeing more visible evidence of widespread poverty. And this trend, echoed and replayed nonstop by local media and viral Facebook posts, contributes to a broad perception that our society is falling apart. The Vibes, therefore, are thrown into the catch-all category of “safety.”

And with this sleight-of-hand, with this conflation, all social ills fall under the purview of policing and prisons. Vibes, by their very nature, become the purview of our carceral state.… So it’s police and longer sentences we get. Virtually no national conversation about tens of billions for free public housing and mental health, much less housing as a human right.…The victims are not those suffering from poverty and mental health issues, but the “homeowners” and “business leaders” who have to witness their slow, preventable deaths.…

Words cannot convey how depraved this is, how warped our priorities are, how deeply cynical and mean and nasty our media culture is.…What, in an otherwise rational world, would be perceived as a systemic failure of the “richest country on Earth” to care for its poor has been moralized, compartmentalized, and reduced to millions of individual moral failings and Bad Life Choices.”

Both of these articles address national trends, but they’re matters of great urgency for us here in Asheville. Let me know what you think about them!