Our First News Letter
Executive Director Introduction
Today we reflect on a significant milestone for the Asheville-Buncombe Community Land Trust (ABCLT) – the six-month anniversary of hiring our first Executive Director! We welcomed Anna Zuevskaya to our team on January 27th and despite all the challenges that this year has brought, we have a lot of accomplishments to celebrate. Since Anna hasn’t had the opportunity to meet many of you in person, we’d like to introduce her virtually.
A Letter from Our Executive Director:
I am humbled to serve as ABCLT’s first Executive Director and I feel like this is exactly where I am meant to be right now. Born and raised in the Ukraine, growing up poor shaped me to have a relentless determination to make the world a better place. When I was nine, my parents and I came to the United States with three duffel bags and endless uncertainty ahead of us. My life was forever changed.
While I wasn’t aware of it at the time, I later realized that the support we received from others was a significant factor in us being able to achieve economic stability and later become homeowners. Because we were refugees, a local nonprofit set us up with an apartment and helped us acclimate. I now know that the neighborhood where we were placed contributed greatly to our quality of life. There was a shopping center with a grocery store and pharmacy within walking distance and my parents could walk to a nearby bus stop for transportation to work. We lived near other immigrant families and I could go there after school until my parents came home from work. All of this impacted who and where I am today.
After receiving a Master’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Urban Planning from the University of Michigan, I moved back to Charlotte and started as an AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity. Through this role and my future position with a Corridor-wide neighborhood coalition, I was able to work side by side with community residents who had been pushing to improve their neighborhoods for decades. I was fortunate enough to learn from these leaders and I’m forever grateful to them for allowing me to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes so that I myself could become a better leader. Without failure, there is no success.
Today, I’m a fierce advocate for community wealth building because of the grassroots work that I did with West Charlotte residents. I’m a firm believer that we have to be bold and try innovative approaches like Community Land Trusts so that we can achieve an equitable and just society. Creating community ownership and keeping resources within communities, especially communities of color that have been disproportionately affected by racist policies and practices, is one of the ways in which we can redistribute power and wealth. I am committed to getting ABCLT fully operational and partnering with you to create an Asheville that honors everyone’s culture and heritage; to create an Asheville where housing is attainable and Black communities are thriving for generations to come.
Board of Directors Introduction
We are blessed with a diverse Board of Directors who have an incredible amount of experience and connections in the City of Asheville and Buncombe County. You’ve probably seen many of our Board members on the ground in the community or heard about the great work that they do behind the scenes to create a thriving City and County. If you haven’t had a chance to meet or work with these remarkable individuals, click here to visit our website and get acquainted with our team!
Update on the Last 12 Months
Since officially receiving our 501c3 status in May of 2019, we have been really busy working behind the scenes to solidify our internal organization structure. While non-profit organizations are already complex, a Community Land Trust has additional layers that are important to finalize before the organization can begin to acquire properties. It has been a long and rewarding process to get to where we are now and we want to share some of what we’ve been doing with you:
- Updated our by-laws (July 2019)
- Partnered with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville to host a fundraising event that brought in approximately $3,000 in donations (October 2019)
- Hosted a membership event (October 2019)
- Hosted our first annual membership meeting where the membership voted to elect new Board Members (December 2019)
- Finalized policies such as the ground lease, homeowner selection policy, and fair housing policy (December 2019)
- Hired our first Executive Director (January 2020)
- Created a strategic plan for the organization (March 2020)
- Established a framework for organizational committees (June 2020)
- Created a logo and started working on marketing materials (June 2020)
- Compiled contact information, which is how you’re receiving this newsletter! (July 2020)
Outlook for the Next 6 Months
Although we’ve accomplished so much, we know that the real work is just beginning and we’re eager to get started making a difference in our communities. Here are a few of the exciting things we hope to accomplish in the next six months:
- Host a series of virtual community events around housing justice, permanently affordable housing, and community wealth building.
- Train community residents on the Community Land Trust model and compensate those residents for facilitating discussions at our community events.
- Acquire our first home and host orientation sessions for those interested in becoming homeowners, members, and/or volunteers. We plan to start accepting applications for homeownership on September 1st so be on the lookout for more information soon!
- Update our mission and vision to reflect our commitment to wealth building, community ownership, and collective action.
- Finalize marketing materials and revamp our website.
- Research other Community Land Trust models and bring innovative solutions to ABCLT.
- Host a fundraising event to help sustain the organization for years to come!
Ways to Get Involved
We know many of you paved the way for where ABCLT is today and we want to thank you for all your effort and dedication. We also know that you probably haven’t heard from us recently and we want to offer each and every one of you opportunities to get reconnected:
- Become a Member.
- Join a Committee.
- Like us on Facebook and Follow us on Instagram!
- Attend our Upcoming Board Meetings. Meetings are held at 6pm on the second Monday of every month. Currently, meetings are virtual via Zoom, but members of the public are still welcome to join. We will email the meeting link three days prior to the board meeting.
- Save the Date for Our Next Event. We will be hosting our first virtual event on August 17th at 6pm so pencil us in for an evening of education and conversations. We will send more information in early August!
- Become a Community Ambassador. We cannot do this work without community members. As we continue on this journey, we will train community residents to be ABCLT ambassadors and work side-by-side with our staff and board to fulfill our mission and vision. In the coming months, we will share more information on how to join us so stay tuned!