The story of one family among thousands

In response to the news of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GSMNP) proposing fees for parking, now is an opportunity to flip the script. While other groups are finally being recognized after too long being ignored, marginalized and even intimidated, the GSMNP has an opportunity to bring to light those who lost their livelihoods, homes and communities to make way for the Park.

Democracy in danger

You don’t need an invading army to destroy a democracy, as Russia is attempting to do to Ukraine.

Can’t believe what’s happening to my hometown

Change is difficult for most people. Watching my humble hometown turn into an unrecognizable place is a hard pill to swallow. 

Family relationships are the ties that bind

All of my childhood memories include my older sister, Savannah. She and I did some pretty weird and funny things when we were little girls, but because we were together, it all seemed like one big exciting shared adventure. 

Paying to play may be the new reality

The proposed parking fee for visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park has users — especially locals in the gateway communities whose family histories are intertwined with the Smokies — understandably upset. The identity of the Smokies and those who live near it are more closely aligned than at other national parks. Locals have roamed freely (save for some camping fees) for several generations on land that was taken with the promise that there would never be a charge for visiting.

I’ll always remember Aunt Lillie’s eyes

My Aunt Lillie fed raccoons at her house as long as I can remember, generations of them. When I was at her house a couple of months ago to visit, my brother called and I had to step outside to get a better signal. As we were talking, three raccoons appeared from around the corner of the house no more than 10 feet away and walked upright into the garage as slowly and deliberately as plump, little senators reporting to congress. Lunch time. 

Maggie Valley taxpayers deserve better

It may sound like some kind of bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo, but trust me it’s not: the processes by which elected boards operate more often than not is a reflection of the wisdom of the decisions that emanate from that public body.

Walking side by side with Freud and Jung

One of my bachelor’s degrees is in psychology. I wanted to be a therapist or psychologist to help others. I’ve always been intrigued with human development and the vastness of the mind. For a while, I worked as a school psychologist, but that role is more about testing and shuffling paperwork than working one-on-one with individuals, so I moved on to other avenues. Nonetheless, I’ll be forever grateful for the knowledge I gained in those undergraduate years.

Knee-jerk patriotism, sadly, is gaining ground

Gag orders regarding what can be taught in schools are becoming all the rage in many conservative states. Like the “don’t say gay” measure in Florida, these laws try to eliminate or sometimes guide discussions — mostly about about race and sexuality, but also politics — to the point that they are just bad for our schools and students.

Managing growth has never been easy

Zoning. It’s one of those words— and concepts — that’s been cussed, spat upon and kicked unkindly to the curb for decades in the mountains. “Don’t anyone tell me what I can do with my own land, by God.”

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