The skies were clear and warm this particular Forest Friday when I was scooped up by Nicole Townsend and her charming beagle, Roscoe.
I hopped into her car after having consumed copious amounts of coffee, and we headed to The Arboretum.
The Arboretum is one of my favorite places in Asheville. There’s something about how happy the folks who work there seem to be, and I love the clearly marked signs along the trails that describe, not just the plants themselves, but how they came to be at the Arboretum.
Nicole is one of the hardest working people I have ever met.
She works a full-time position at Dogwood Alliance and then volunteers an additional 30 hours in her “free” time. Nicole is on the 100 Days Coalition and also belongs to the NC Black Lives Matter cohort. She is also on the board of Green Opportunities and Bountiful Cities and a part of Kresge Freshlo. This points to the fact that all of Nicole’s work is about enriching her community by meeting people where they’re at to help them achieve their highest goals.
Nicole explains why she and her community members work so hard:
There is always something that needs to be done, and I think people just want to see things progress. That’s why you’ll see leaders on 5 or 6 boards and members of a billion and one committees because they’re just really dedicated. I also think people get burnt out, and so there’s only a select few who are really the foundation in the Black community in Asheville.
Nicole says, “One good thing about Dogwood Alliance is that they are building capacity through hiring organizers and paying them as well as building relationships in communities of color and asking the questions. ‘What do you need from us?’ and ‘How can we support you?’”
Nicole appreciates that “Dogwood Alliance doesn’t try to make it about Dogwood when working with frontline communities directly impacted by the injustices of environmental racism.”
We spent an hour and half walking around in the sun at the arboretum. By the time we left, Roscoe was moving a lot slower and seemed ready for a little nap.