Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center Helps Businesses Face Pandemic With Design Solutions

Asheville Design Center volunteers paint traffic barriers for Asheville’s first Shared Streets installation on Eagle and Market Streets, also known as “The Block,” on June 18.

June 29, 2020

As more and more Asheville businesses reopen, the COVID-19 pandemic has required them to need more breathing room literally. To help businesses adapt to indoor capacity limits and social distancing guidelines, the City of Asheville has contracted with MountainTrue’s Asheville Design Center (ADC) to create design solutions that allow businesses to use more public outdoor space.

The first of these solutions, temporary parklets, provides overflow space for businesses by sectioning off adjacent parking spots. The City’s new temporary parklets program allows businesses to use up to three on-street public parking spaces on roads with speed limits of less than 25mph. ADC has designed these to be used for outdoor dining, selling merchandise, and additional space to allow for social distancing. 

ADC is also taking leadership on the City’s new Shared Streets program, which extends the parklet design concept by prioritizing entire streets for pedestrians. “Wall Street provides a good model for what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Chris Joyell, Director of the Asheville Design Center. “The moment you step onto it, there are several design cues that make pedestrians feel comfortable walking in the street and cause cars to slow down and know they have second priority to pedestrians. We want more streets in Asheville to feel that way.” 

True to ADC’s mission, staff and volunteers are designing signs and elements of the temporary parklets and Shared Streets by working hand in hand with community members. In the case of the first Shared Street area launched on June 18 on Eagle and Market Streets, or “The Block”, downtown this meant working with individual business owners, the Block Community Collaborative Business Group, and community elders to use culturally relevant signage and colors. “We went to the YMI Cultural Center with community elder Roy Harris to look at historical documents and art that represented Asheville’s historically Black community,” Chris says. “The community led the vision, and with their guidance, our graphic design intern used fonts, colors and patterns that would all say ‘The Block’ to the people who grew up there.”

Describing this effort, ADC intern Helen Kemper says, “I especially felt connected when walking through the streets with the business owners, gaining their perspective and connectedness to these public spaces. We hope these efforts will help them transform their spaces so that they may feel supported by the community and find success during such trying times.”

MountainTrue Co-Director Julie Mayfield carries a traffic barrier at the Shared Streets installation on Buxton and Banks Streets on the South Slope of Asheville. 


The latest Shared Street installation happened at Banks and Buxton Streets last week, where ADC worked with City staff to redirect vehicles to narrow, slower lanes, and added signs to identify the space as a Pedestrian Priority Zone. Over the coming weeks, ADC staff and volunteers will help implement more Shared Street design elements on Wall Street, Church Street and portions of College Street downtown.

The temporary parklets and Shared Streets will be active until at least October 31. Chris anticipates that the effort will expand outside of downtown, and that it can help more businesses see the value of using shared space design concepts for the long term. “Since we’re providing the temporary design and engineering expertise, businesses can experiment with these parklets and other design concepts now with more support than they’d have if they were going it alone,” Chris says.  “And if they work well, business owners are one step closer to making these innovations permanent. He cites Sovereign Remedies as one Asheville business using the parklet concept year-round for outdoor seating, with great success. 

ADC volunteers are also working on a guide book to make implementation of the parklets as easy as possible for business owners, creating clear blueprints and lists of materials needed for construction. To get started on the process, register for your parklets here.

“The heart of the design process,” Chris says, “is to identify a problem, come up with a solution, design it, prototype it and get feedback. And by creating these concepts in conversation with the broader community, we can make sure they meet the needs of our local businesses and are a sustainable design concept for Asheville’s future.”


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

Call on Asheville City Council: Fund Climate and Affordability Initiatives in Next Year’s Budget!

3/13/20

Today, Asheville City Council will decide budget priorities for the next year at their annual retreat. Will you call on City Council to provide funding for renewable energy, public transit, affordability initiatives and protecting our urban forest in next year’s budget?

Contact Your City Councilmembers Now

This time of year, you’re probably used to us asking you to advocate for something in the city budget. This year our advocacy is a little more complex – and we want to explain why.

As you may know, Asheville residents have called for major progress regarding environmental sustainability in recent years. But the ways Asheville can raise funds for these efforts are extremely limited due to state law – options like a food and beverage tax, city-wide sales tax, and local control of our hotel occupancy tax are restricted by the legislature in Raleigh, and are not available funding sources for Asheville in this year’s budget. This makes it hard for the city to prioritize funding for the things MountainTrue fights for – renewable energy, better public transit, a more livable urban community, and so much more. This is also made harder by the fact that as soon as next year, the City’s expenses are set to outpace its revenue.

Here’s what we do know: For such an environmentally-minded community, Asheville is behind the curve on things like renewable energy, public transit, and protecting our urban tree canopy. Year after year, Asheville residents have called for progress on these issues. We cannot wait several more years to take significant action on climate change, or to take further steps to address our affordability crisis – especially when our federal and state governments aren’t acting on these issues in ways that match the extent of the problems.

That’s why we are supporting a shift in what the City of Asheville can control: a modest 3-cent property tax increase in this year’s budget. Called 3 Cents For Our Future, this increase would fill the gap between our values and our revenue, generating $4.5 million per year to fund renewable energy, better public transit, affordability initiatives and protecting our urban forest canopy. We are also calling on the city to pair this initiative with a property tax assistance program for low-income homeowners, so that our city’s response to the climate crisis doesn’t displace people who call Asheville home.

 

To learn more details about the plan, click here.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

For Immediate Release

Duke Energy Rate Increase Hearing Comes to Asheville Feb. 20

Media Contact:
Eliza Stokes, Advocacy & Communications Associate, MountainTrue
E: eliza@mountaintrue.org P: 410-493-7284

February 14, 2020

Asheville, NC On Thursday, Feb. 20, the North Carolina Utilities Commission will hold its Asheville hearing on the latest proposal by Duke Energy to increase electricity rates. 

Duke Energy Progress, a subsidiary of Duke Energy with territory in Buncombe County and many other counties across North Carolina, seeks approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission for a $463.6 million increase in the amount the company collects from ratepayers each year. This would result in an average 14.3% increase in residential electric bills, or approximately $17.29 more per month for residential customers.

This issue hits close to home in Asheville, as the rate hike includes a request for Duke customers to pay for the $820 million new gas plant at Lake Julian. Also included are plans to recover $402 million for capital investments at coal plants and $530 million for customers to clean up Duke’s coal ash across the state.

“Every couple years, Duke comes back with another proposal to increase customers’ rates,” says Eliza Stokes, an organizer at the environmental non-profit MountainTrue and a customer of Duke Energy Progress. “Duke’s energy plans lack the serious, significant investment in renewable energy that North Carolina needs to face the climate crisis. Because Duke has a monopoly, customers like me don’t have the option to choose another energy company that better aligns with our values.” 

Stokes says Duke’s shareholders should be paying their fair share for these costs. In 2018, Duke made $3.03 billion in net income, while paying $0 in federal taxes. According to a MountainTrue investigation of Duke’s financials, the company has paid their Board over $24.5 million and issued $16.707 billion in dividend payments to their shareholders since 2013. 

“It is unconscionable for a company making this level of profit to call on customers many of whom are on low or fixed incomes to foot the bill for Duke’s coal ash mismanagement and continued reliance on fossil fuels.”

The hearing in Asheville will be held in Courtroom 1A of the Buncombe County Courthouse at 60 Court Plaza at 7pm. Those who wish to speak should arrive by 6:30pm to sign up. 

MountainTrue works in 26 counties to champion resilient forests, clean waters and healthy communities in our region. With offices in Boone, Murphy, Asheville and Hendersonville, MountainTrue engages in policy advocacy at all levels of government and on-the-ground environmental restoration projects. Primary program areas include public lands, water quality, clean energy, land use/transportation, and community engagement.

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Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Tell Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners: Thanks for Voting for the Solar RFP. Now, Make Solar Energy a Reality.

Tell Buncombe County’s Board of Commissioners: Thanks for Voting for the Solar RFP. Now, Make Solar Energy a Reality.


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

You’re Invited to MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering on October 23!

You’re Invited to MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering on October 23!

You’re Invited to MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering on October 23!

Join MountainTrue for our biggest party of the year.

MountainTrue members from all over our region gather every October to celebrate outstanding volunteers and advocates, vote on new board members, and connect with others who are passionate about protecting our region’s forests and rivers and creating healthier communities. This October 23, we hope you’ll join our Annual Gathering at New Belgium Brewing to celebrate another great year of protecting the places we share and our recent merger with the Hiwassee River Watershed Coalition.

Stronger Together: MountainTrue’s Annual Gathering
October 23, 6-9 pm
New Belgium Brewing Company

21 Craven St., Asheville, NC 28806
RSVP through the ticket form below.

This year’s Annual Gathering is made possible with the help of the law firm of Davis & Whitlock Environmental Law. Together with New Belgium, their generous support helps us keep the costs of the Annual Gathering low – we just ask that your membership is current in order to attend. (Not sure if your membership is current? Check for your name here.) 


Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.

Call on Asheville City Council to Fund Transit Route Improvements for Historically Disenfranchised Communities!

Call on Asheville City Council to Fund Transit Route Improvements for Historically Disenfranchised Communities!

 

Western North Carolina is blessed with more than 1.5 million acres of public land, including Nantahala-Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Blue Ridge Parkway and several state-owned parks, forests and natural areas. These public lands support the headwaters of our rivers, beautiful mountain vistas, one of the most diverse temperate forests on the planet, and a thriving economy in tourism, crafts and recreation.
During its 30-year history, WNCA (now MountainTrue) has twice prevented logging in the Asheville Watershed, first in 1990 and again in 2004. Eventually the City of Asheville placed a conservation easement over 17,356 acres of the watershed.