Today was the actual first day of our trip, after our long journey yesterday. I was the coordinator for today’s activities and it was very exciting to get started this morning.

We slept in until about 10 a.m., which I planned for, because I assumed that people would be tired from yesterday. After a nice community breakfast of eggs and toast we went out to ┬áthe Asheville Urban Trail, and explored the city. It was very cold, rainy, and windy, so we tried to go inside as much as possible, but we got to see a lot of the historic buildings from the “Gilded Age.” After walking and driving through most of downtown, we came home and had lunch together before heading out to the Botanical Gardens. Fortunately it stopped raining, and we got to enjoy the beginnings of Spring, as the periwinkle was beginning to bloom. The gardens were a wonderful way for our group to get outside, experience some nature, and get to know each other.

After the gardens we came back into Asheville, where we visited the Woolworth Walk. The Woolworth Walk is home to artist booths, where they rent out the space. This was a very great way to really get a feel for the people of Asheville. The art was very unique, and modern. We got to speak with one of the artists, who uses beeswax to paint, and she was very friendly. I hope this is simply a preview of the rest of the Asheville community and their Southern friendliness!

After the Woolworth Walk, there was free time until dinner! We took this as a further opportunity to explore our surroundings, and check out the local shops. We went out to dinner at the Lexington Avenue Brewery, which is right underneath our hostel. It was very cute, and homey and the food had this great rustic taste. Everyone had a lovely dinner, and it was great to be out and about in the city.

After dinner we returned to our hostel, and we had our first reflection meeting. This was a time for us all to share how we hope the trip goes, and what our first impressions of Asheville are. Everyone is very excited to see the difference between this part of the city, and the disadvantaged part where the pollution of our concern is occurring. Generally we had a great first day of bonding and exposure to the city, and we’re really excited to get started with our work tomorrow!