Nowhere to go but forward into 2021

This year has prompted a reckoning unlike any in memory, so we’re all looking to put a bow on 2020 and call it done, right? 

Keep hope alive in the new year

In February 2020, I was in New York City attending a children’s book writing conference. My boyfriend attended the conference with me. We both remember watching CNN while in New York as the journalists talked about a new mysterious virus attacking China but also making its way into other parts of the world. The feeling we had was ominous. It’s no secret that we’re all globally connected. We knew the germ would infiltrate America. We just didn’t know what that would mean. 

Public rhetoric should prompt removal

By Jesse Lee Dunlap • Guest Columnist | As someone whose politics are centered on bodily autonomy, I sympathize with folks who are against forced vaccinations. I bristle at anything that encroaches on a person’s individual freedoms — restrictions on abortions, prohibition, gun laws, etc. — any mandate, especially any mandate from the government, especially from the American government, which has a long history of using “medicine” to harm black, indigenous, and poor people. We all have ample reason to be cynical and skeptical of the American healthcare system, and no one should be ridiculed for questioning what is in a vaccine. This stuff is going right into your body. It is normal and prudent to question what goes in your body.    

Cawthorn shows ignorance on current issues

By Erick Mendez • Guest Columnist | According to the U.S. House records, at 25 years old, Madison Cawthorn — who will represent the 11th District and Western North Carolina — will become the youngest elected member of Congress in history. Cawthorn has styled himself as a leader of a new generation of conservatives, unafraid to criticize the Republican Party; however, Cawthorn has adopted President Trump’s tactics, particularly in basing his candidacy on a foundation of lies, only further confirming Cawthorn’s intentions as a sycophant to Trump’s agenda. As a native Western North Carolinian and a member of Generation Z, I felt compelled to voice my concerns against the elected congressman representing my hometown nestled in the heart of these Blue Ridge Mountains.

You only get to do this once

 “… one of the most significant facts about us may finally be that we all begin with the natural equipment to live a thousand kinds of life but end in the end having lived only one.” — The Interpretation of Cultures, by Clifford Geertz

How do we get from here to there, from youthful idealism, optimism and boundless energy where the whole world is your oyster to a rewarding life? Some people  know right from the start where they want to go and what they want to be, but for lot of others, me included, it was a process, a step forward and one backward, but always moving. Do you adventure or buckle down, go back to school or learn life lessons? Stay in a relationship or move on?

The human component makes the difference

Apple was once a small business that was started in a garage by two college dropouts. It was the pipe dream of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak to make computers small enough to fit in people’s homes or offices. We all know how the story ended, but it’s important to remember how it began. 

Local government-run broadband a bad idea

By Patrick Gleason • Guest Columnist | In times like these, with public resources scarce and taxpayer dollars facing tremendous strain, it’s imperative for state and local officials to focus on core functions of government, of which competing with the likes of Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T is definitely not one. Yet Franklin Mayor Bob Scott penned a guest column in the Asheville Citizen-Times recently arguing for just that, urging the North Carolina General Assembly to permit “local government to compete with big-boy providers” for internet access.  Whether Mayor Scott’s advice can become a reality now depends on the two Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoff elections taking place in Georgia. 

I like calling North Carolina home

When the Lyft driver asked where we were from, our answer was, “outside Asheville, in the mountains.”

His reply: “Wow, the mountains and the coast. You’re getting the best of both worlds.”

Thank you, pandemic, for slowing me down

The pandemic forced me to slow down. I’ve always been a busy body, planning trips or parties, purchasing tickets for concerts or making reservations at a favorite restaurant. But with events canceled and social distancing a must, 2020 has been a very different year. 

We are Americans first

Diann Catlin • Guest Columnist | Every American should want and demand evidence as to the integrity of the recent 2020 election. Every American should be able to trust the integrity of a record that their own vote actually counted. If there is any way a foreign adversary or a homegrown activist manipulated any pathway so that the will of American people voting their choice is erased and outvoted by dead people or compromising machinery, every American should want to see the proof.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.