Asheville Homes and LAND!- The Keep In Touch Blog


Native Traditions-Contemporary Life, Part III. Sustainable Community

native traditions sustainable community ashevilleIf you are following this three-part series you might recall that I suggested that we might choose to weave threads of Native wisdom and traditions into a contemporary tapestry. Then our lives and times could by seen in the larger context.

Referring to traditional Native governing techniques, for example, we would note that villages were governed democratically. Adults gathered to discuss matters of import in the council house; members of a community sat with and learned from the Elders. Effective remedies for life in the region were introduced and applied.

And this is the subject of Part III , this post -- the key elements of a sustainable community from the perspective of the first citizens of this Land.

A Sustainable Community and Native Traditions.

It was not long ago that the voices of tribal council were heard in gathering places, perhaps along the very river you see in the photo above. Back then, the citizens of this Land  

•·         Held those in power accountable

•·         Reached out to protect the hills, streams, wildlife, the mountains and the people who share Earth

•·         Spoke kindly but firmly at council meetings, even if they did go late into the night

•·         Listened, learned, and stayed informed

•·         Sent out messages to those they loved and those they wished not to do harm.

In that regard, I sometimes wonder how are we doing today. . .even in our on-line social networking places.

Here in Asheville, North Carolina, a vocal contingent continues the above model of stewardship in the community. That's one reason why so many of my clients indicate they choose to   relocate to our area. But, let's face it... some members of the community  (regretfully) seem to have misplaced the model. Maybe we could spend more evenings by fireside under the stars, enjoy  relaxed conversation with family and visitors, come face-to face with our "green roots, delight in  "hearing" the voices  of nature-of rivers, streams, waterfalls, of valleys, hills, mountains, of wide expanses and deep-deep green forests, and even, if we are lucky, the twinkling sound of falling stars above the land?  

An impetus for stewardship naturally unfolds from such moments as these.

 Stewardship calls us to clarify our values. Questions arise. Skeptics and lobbyists come forward with words to attract an audience.  Some say the majestic mountains are at risk. Others say this is untrue. Some say pollution (sewage dumping into pristine streams, and toxic chemicals off-gassing into the air we breathe) risks lives in North Carolina and Georgia. Others deny those risks. Some see the land they tend running down the mountainside and cry out, loudly in protest... Others say, "That's just the price of progress."

Native Peoples remind us of the intention to preserve and protect the environment, the natural beauty, and the abundant resources for the many generations to come. Seeking a path of balance in a fast-paced world, we look to the cultural heritage of our area. We note that both Native American and European traditions admonish walking a path of well-considered consensus. "Passing the talking stick," we can encourage responsible development. We can make conscientious choices about what is in the best interest of all concerned... for today's. . . and for future generations.

IF you are relocating to Asheville or already live here and would like to know more about how native traditions can come to bear in contemporary life, here are some Community Resources that may interest you: 

Save Treasured Rivers

From the French Broad River to the rushing rapids and meandering streams that touch Georgia's rivers and serve as sources for clean drinking water and pleasant sites for fishing, camping and hiking a call comes for help.. You can help them thrive.


  RiverLink's Muddy Water Watch trains citizens to recognize erosion control violations and how to report those violations. First trainings begin in November. Contact: 

  The Green Building Council

The WNC Green Building Council is proud to announce that the nation's first locally based carbon offset program, Appalachian Offsets,  Whether you are a business, individual or part of a group such as a church, homeowner's association or employees of a business, you can do your part to combat global climate change TODAY!

Green Walk-about

One of the best times imaginable can be arranged for "free." Learn about Warren Wilson College's sustainable campus practices. On my walk-about, I visited the EcoDorm, the LEED-designed Orr Cottage, and edible gardens. I got better acquainted with the farm and why it received the county's "River-Friendly Farm Award."  Master Gardener's, State's Park Scholars, REALTORS® working toward their ECO designation, and community leaders all recommend this adventure.

copyright© greenolina 2007




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janeAnne- A very thought provoking post. I admire the natives of our lands as they revered mother earth and all that is on the earth. It does not matter if the polluting of rivers with toxins is dangerous or not, the point is that is a disrespectful thing to do the earth and therefor should not be done, period! It is called responsibility! Katerina
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) over 11 years ago
The Green walk about sounds fantastic, I hope you write more about that.
Posted by Dena Stevens Coriz, Putting The Real Into Realtor Since 2004 (Rocky Mountain Realty ) over 11 years ago

Some see the land they tend running down the mountainside and cry out, loudly in protest... Others say, "That's just the price of progress.".

JaneAnne - The sentence above says so much. What is the TRUE price of progress? If those in TRUE progression would seek to ask, "how can I make my environmental impact less" maybe there would be less issues. As I come to learn about LEED in its various forms - development, existing buildings, new homes, etc. I find LEED standards truly make sense.

I was at an open house coordinated with USGBC-West Michigan Chapter meeting last week. The numbers are astounding. This particular company spent an additional $96,000 (round numbers, don't quote me) and will save an additional$476,000 per year (again, don't quote me but it's darn close ! Email me for the powerpoint!)

Over 15 years their savings will total over 7 BILLION!! Lets talk about the price of progress....

Thank you JaneAnne! I am curious to hear more about how our democratic system varies from the tribal system! 


Posted by Mary McGraw, 2015: Solar Energy Is Still A Simple Machine! (GLREA) over 11 years ago

janeAnne,  I could write an entire post on thought that your post brings up.  But...

"...delight in  "hearing" the voices  of nature-of rivers, streams, waterfalls, of valleys, hills, mountains..."

My husband and I do this every evening.  Right about this time of night we go outside and talk about nature and observe the stars and whatnot.  If only more people took in to perspective how grand Mother Nature and the Universe could make a world of difference.

Your statement..  'Held those in power accountable...'  Also caught my eye.  :)

Posted by Stephanie Edwards-Musa, knitwit at thred UP ( over 11 years ago


This seems to be the time of year that brings out the pensive-poet in me...maybe it is the sound of rustling leaves, all orange and red and umber...maybe the harvest...maybe bringing the harvest many of us these days are looking at the trend toward sustainable communities, and can reflect back on the lessons of those who took care of the land long before we did.

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 11 years ago


As part of our ECO certification, we had the opportunity to participate in the Green Walk-About. It was fantastic, Dena...I think I did a post on it last year...I will see if I can find it...and will email you

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 11 years ago


I am sure we could sit around the kitchen table and have a lengthy discussion about "progress" and ingenuity...and how the tow compete depending-on what the heart dictates. Maybe that's just human nature...because I could also see myself sitting by the fire on an Autumn day in 1752 ...and having much the same discussion... 

I really want to see the powerpoint you mentioned, please.

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 11 years ago


I imagined just now that you and your husband were standing beneath the HUGE Harvest Moon...appreciating what it means to be alive in this amazing world...along the same line of thought...One day while on a field trip, one of my students suggested that I ask permission of the woods to walk there...and wait to "hear" the response...that student turned out to be my teacher =)..try it some time...

Posted by . 4Terra Land Brokers .. 828-776-0779 Asheville NC, What's Most Important to YOU? Call(828)-776-0779 ( REAL ESTATE RESOURCES & NETWORK ) over 11 years ago

janeAnne, it's unfortunate that we have become a WIFM society,and miss the big picture.

We are going through a taste of this currently as our neighbor behind us cut about 15 deep into a designated conservation area which buffers our backyard... for what? To put up a glorified shed building and swing set..he never got a permit.

The planning board is working on this... We want plantings restored...but he seems to have hoodwinked a deal with the developer who technically own the conseravtion zone into deeding him the land may not pass Zoning, but I am furious about this... BTW, the culprit is a real estate appraiser and holds a NC RE License 

Posted by Ginger Sala, Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~ (Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC) over 11 years ago

Jane Anne:

I think you are dead on in trying to bring forward some of the ancient knowledge that the natives had regarding walking in balance with Mother Earth.

Posted by Bill Westel, ECO (Eco-Steward Realty) over 11 years ago

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