What started as a small group of like-minded people helping each other deal with aftermath of Election Day has now morphed into a progressive political action team with more than 400 supporters.
Land conservation groups across the region found something to celebrate this month when the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced an $8 million allocation for farmland conservation in Western North Carolina — a gargantuan number that the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy calls “unprecedented.”
This type of funding, allocated through the Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Regional Conservation Partnership Plan under the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program, has been available in the past. But never before has the amount been so large or so specifically targeted to Western North Carolina.
“Care more, judge less,” “Love trumps hate” and “Rise up” were just a few of the battle cries heard in downtown Asheville last Saturday as an estimated 10,000 people marched to protect women’s rights.
They are the bridge.
In the bluegrass world these days, it seems there are two camps of thought and performance — neo-traditional and progressive. On one side, you have the “old school” of Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson and those who truly adhere to the likes of Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs. On the other, are those who stretch out a little bit, where the lines between bluegrass, Americana and soul are blurred, acts likes The Steep Canyon Rangers, Greensky Bluegrass and Yonder Mountain String Band.
Each year, we here at The Smoky Mountain News showcase our “Spoof Awards.” Sometimes they’re meant in good tongue-and-cheek fun, but mostly they’re special events, people and places that we throw the spotlight onto one more time in reflection as another long and bountiful year comes to a close, a new year ready to begin.
The tidal wave of negative political news in 2016 was staggering in its magnitude and emotionally overwhelming. Thankfully all that is behind us. But we can’t say adios to the year’s local news until our writers and editors sift through those events and mold them into our annual tongue-in-cheek spoof awards. With apologies in advance to those who can’t take a joke, here’s our tribute to the people and events that left an indelible mark on 2016.
In keeping with the theme of The Smoky Mountain News spoof awards in this week’s edition, I thought now might be a good time to talk to you about fake news.
Christmas is a time of year when communities band together to help others in need, and there’s definitely no shortage of the giving spirit in Western North Carolina.
• Church delivers warmth of meals and companionship on Christmas Day
• Meeting a need
• WOW helps pay off Christmas layaway purchases
• Bryson City bar donates to family resource center
• Community helps fulfill a boy’s birthday wish
• Crabtree General brings Christmas to Franklin
Dowdy Bradley is 68 years old, and for nearly all of those years he’s been involved in some kind of farming, staying with the land through drought and flood, surplus and scarcity. The drought of 2016, however, has been the worst, hands-down — for him and for growers throughout the region.
“This has been some of the hottest, driest weather I’ve seen, “ Bradley said. “I was worried about the water because it was already getting low. A couple pastures just dried up.”