Oral History for Social Change
Before New Belgium Brewery transformed an Asheville, NC brownfield site into their second distribution hub, this plot of land hosted the Buncombe Co. African American Agricultural Fair (1916 - 1947), Penland's Auction House (1955 - 2012), WNC Livestock Market (for 40+ years), and a bustling residential hood. Spring 2013 semester students enrolled in a creative nonfiction writing workshop conducted original oral histories with West Asheville residents and produced a collection of profile pieces related to this place along the river where Emma Road meets Craven Street, at what was once called Pearson Park.
Karen Loughmiller of West Asheville Library compiled a list of interviewees who could speak knowledgeably about the periods of transition West Asheville had experienced over the past fifty years. Students spent multiple hours with interview participants (most in their 80s) in order to produce thoughtful profile pieces representing the diverse histories of West Asheville. This project was developed in collaboration with Asheville Design Center and New Belgium Brewery.
Photos from UNC Asheville Special Collections and Amanda Wray