Conditions in the places where people live, learn, work, and play affect a wide range of health risks and outcomes. These conditions are known as social determinants of health. They include the stresses and emotional trauma produced by poverty and racism and so disproportionately impact the poor and communities of color. For African-Americans in particular, structural factors underlie the causes of health disparities between them and whites in the USA. These disparities are especially acute in Asheville compared to other African-American cohorts in North Carolina, specifically.

The Real Asheville Initiative is led by two grassroots organizations, United Community Development of N.C., Inc. (UCD) and Asheville Black Lives Matter, Inc.. The project seeks to advance one of UCD’s purposes: to collect/curate and update demographic information about low income people in Asheville, NC to that they, and particularly African-Americans can use data to inform and become educated so that they can inform others, and act to formulate, direct, and control policies which positively impact their quality of life. A core tenet of the initiative is that it is critical that the community be engaged, educated, supported, and “own” the data by being trained to understand what the data means and taught to use the data to lead their communities for their own benefit.

Some areas of opportunity in which the community is asked to lend assistance are: community engagement and skills transfer; data collection and analysis; media management and messaging; fundraising and sponsorships; logistics and workshop/summit development; and Social Determinants of Health work groups in economics, housing, education, and criminal justice reform/mass incarceration.

Our FIRST meeting will take place July 26 at 5:30pm at the Stephens-Lee Recreation Center in the usual Code for Asheville first-floor meeting space.

If you are interested in helping out, join the Real AVL email list, join the #real-avl channel in the Code for Asheville Slack, or email Alyx Perry.