Reluctant rain drops nudge a disposable mask past the Lexington bridge, to be sucked underground silently. The evening before, kitchen tools clashed together on the street underneath a hotel, bouncing off the silhouettes of its occupants. The headlines will be the protest, an account of the chants, with the polite summary of the grievances that brought bundled up folks, yielding double masks and pots and pans together.
Before the rain came the snow, genty wrapping the city in stillness for a day. A car passes underneath the Lexington bridge, notices something they consider off putting, and submits a tip to the city with their phone. The report of the 7-10 person homeless encampment makes its way to the Department of Transportation, who with the help of the Asheville Police shorten a required 7 day notice to vacate into a few hours, destroying tents and clearing cardboard. Wind would scour the city that night, reaching up to 50 miles an hour, dragging the temperature down into single digits.
COVID19 took the worst homelessness rate in 20 years and exacerbated it exponentially. A 2020 point in time count for Buncombe county recorded at least 547 persons who identified as homeless. What good is a stay at home order if you don’t have one? COVID19 didn’t challenge the human right to housing, it serves as a grim reminder why it is a human right. In a city where officials gaze at potential new skylines and skim over the streets below, survival in a pandemic requires more than appalled statements and sympathetic headlines.
I have to remind myself to distribute my energy and resources away from the expectation of resignations and removals, and into things like mutual aid and collective action. The sadness I felt silently reading the headline from Lexington bridge parallelled with the love for my community, one that wields wooden spoons and steel pots.
Bow Rudolph is a senior Political Science major and Spanish minor at UNC Asheville. Bow is a founding member of Dignity and serves as the section editor for Photography.