9 Reasons Why Asheville Is the Strangest Place You Will Ever Visit

9 Reasons Why Asheville Is the Strangest Place You Will Ever Visit

Why we love it anyway
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There is absolutely no question as to why Asheville has been named the #1 quirkiest town in America. We are strange, but the locals love it that way, sporting t-shirts with slogans like “Keep Asheville Weird” and “If you’re too weird for Asheville…you’re too weird.” Behind the hippies, the local food movements, and the topless protests, there is Asheville—a stunning little town set on the cusp of the Blue Ridge Mountains with amazing food, beer, and, undoubtedly, people watching.

So what makes Asheville so weird?

1. We have a drum circle.

Yes, you heard me. Asheville has a drum circle every Friday night at 6 pm. In case you do not know what a drum circle is, allow me to enlighten you. Basically, it consists of three elements: a giant circle of drums (or inanimate objects used as drums), a group of hippies, tourists, and locals banging on said drums, and free-spirited people dancing to the beat of the music. It is weird. It is fun. It is so undeniably Asheville.

2. We have all of the beer.

Ashevillians have a strange habit of drinking beers that you never even knew existed. Ever since 2009, Asheville has been Beer City USA, sporting around 100 types of local beer. Not only do we have all of this local beer, but also we have pretty sick places to drink it. The Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is tucked away on the outskirts of Asheville, serving upscale bar food and beer that was created on site. The view from the balcony is stunning, and you can sip your strange Ashevillian beer overlooking their local garden. If you’re looking for something more laid back, there is always "The Wedge," set among old railroad tracks in the heart of the River Arts District. Whether you are eating your weight in shelled peanuts or playing corn-hole with a bunch of hippies, "The Wedge" is always sure to be a good time.

3. We have a bicycling nun.

One majestic human being that enjoys gracing the streets with his presence is the bicycling nun. This bearded man rides around Asheville (quite frequently, I may add) on a twenty foot bicycle wearing a nun’s habit and playing folk music. If this isn’t weird as hell, I have no idea what is.

4. We only eat food that is grown within a 75 mile radius.

Ashevillians are big foodies—that is no surprise. Whether you are buying grass-fed meat from Hickory Nut Gap Farms or eating a five-star meal at a dive called "The Admiral," your food is sure to be locally raised with no hormones or antibiotics. Of course, we have a permanent structure for our farmer’s market that houses local produce, meats, and crafts for your viewing and munching pleasure. Our little city is one of butchers, creameries, farms, gardens, chocolate factories, and bakeries, ensuring that most everything consumed in Asheville is also grown right near Asheville.

5. We have topless protestors.

We’re allowed, it’s legal. A few years back, some Asheville women decided that they felt oppressed by the idea that it was socially acceptable for men to walk about topless and for women not to have the same right. And thus, the topless women protests started. It is not uncommon to see a topless woman walking through the Asheville streets with her chest puffed out and her head held high. I know, it may seem weird… but, like I said, totally legal.

6. We have the Biltmore Estate.

In the midst of all of the weirdness that is Asheville, we have something historical! Enter, the Biltmore Estate—an eleven square mile property that includes a winery, a farm, flower gardens, a cattle ranch, and dozens of hiking trails. Nestled in the middle of the estate is the Biltmore house itself, featuring, 35 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms, and 65 fireplaces. This piece of history is the largest privately owned house in the United States and was built by George Washington Vanderbilt II in 1889. Vanderbilt, in case you didn’t know, was the United State’s first mountain-loving hippie.

7. We have a population that is stuck in the 60’s.

Let’s be honest—at least half of Asheville’s population consists of trust-fund babies and hippies. They lead political protests, go to yoga classes, and hang out like bums in the middle of the street. They are flower children and they typically sport homemade clothes, dreadlocks down to their ankles, and a lingering scent of patchouli and body odor.

8. We have strange hippie festivals.

From Shindig on the Green to Asheville Wine & Food Festival, Asheville is sure to have a constant flow of entertainment. One of the most well know festivals is LEAF, a conglomeration of food trucks, live music, and artisan vendors. We also have the Highland Games, the Cherokee Powwow, and live musicians constantly. Long story short: you will never run out of things to do.

9. We just have the weirdest people in the country.

Asheville has an eclectic mix of hippies, doctors, and southerners. We are smack dab in the middle of the Bible Belt, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and one of the biggest medical centers in the U.S. I consistently see a man with a purple mowhawk hula-hooping in the middle of Pack Square in a tutu. When you go to the local grocery store, you are confronted with hippies, suburban housewives, doctors in scrubs, real life cowboys, and a vast array of other eclectic Ashevillians. I truly do not think that there will ever be a city more diverse than Asheville.

We may be weird, but those who live in Asheville love this quirky little town.

Yes, we are strange. Yes, we are proud. Yes, we are Asheville.

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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Extreme Partisan Gerrymandering Is How We Got Extremist Abortion Bans

This is a pressing issue that is often swept under the rug.

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Several states have recently passed legislation restricting a mother's access to abortion, and several others are projected to do the same. Alabama has passed the most severe legislation by banning the majority of abortions, including cases of rape and incest, and abortion providers now face up to 99 years in prison for noncompliance. Georgia's governor has signed legislation banning most abortions after six weeks, with mother's facing prosecution for terminating their pregnancies after this date. A few other states, including Missouri and Louisiana, are in the process of approving similar legislation.

Nationwide outrage over this legislation has taken over many social media platforms, prompting political discourse across the aisle. Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator well-known for her outspoken nature, even tweeted her disdain for the legislation:

"I will be attacked by fellow conservatives for saying this but so be it, this Alabama abortion ban is too restrictive. It doesn't save life, it simply forces women into more dangerous methods, other states or countries. You don't encourage life via blanket government mandate!" — Tomi Lahren

I side with the many men and women who are horrified at this decision for many reasons. Apart from Governor Kay Ivey's blurred understanding of what separation of church and state really mean when invoking God as a reason for her approval of the country's most restrictive abortion legislation, there are many reasons states have successfully passed such controversial legislation. One such reason is gerrymandering.

As someone who has grown up in the most gerrymandered state in the country, North Carolina, I have witnessed through much of my life the effects gerrymandering has on legislation. Gerrymandering describes the act of redrawing district lines to establish a political advantage for a party. This is a practice done by both Democrats and Republicans and through two primary methods, packing and cracking.

Packing attempts to condense members of an opposing party into few districts in order for the opposing party to dominate in the remaining districts. On the other end, cracking attempts to break apart an opposing party amongst districts in order to dilute the vote of their members by becoming outnumbered by members of the governing party.

Georgia's district lines are a perfect example of packing. Following the 2010 census, Republicans were able to redraw district lines and packed Democrats into as few districts as possible. This decision has led to extremely uncompetitive elections, with many candidates running unopposed because of the district's voter makeup. The impacts of gerrymandering in Georgia were evident during the last gubernatorial election between Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D).

Kemp won barely the election by around 55,000, at 50.8% of the popular vote, yet Republicans hold over sixty percent of the state's legislative seats. This demonstrates how districts can be determined to favor a political party in terms of representation, though not reflect the constituency of the state. This has allowed Republicans to hold the majority of state seats, which contributed to the approval of the abortion bill.

Voter suppression is a serious issue that is often swept under the rug because it allows those who have been in power to remain in power. While it is unfortunate it took this long for many to understand its implications, it is important that the same energy aimed at fighting this legislation is aimed at remedying the long-standing problem of gerrymandering that allows such unsavory legislation to pass.

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