Defend W Asheville Harm Reduction

$6,258 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 107 people in 3 months
Created August 30, 2018
THE STEADY COLLECTIVE is a three year old harm reduction organization that began operating a syringe access program in 2016, following the statewide legalization of such programs. Steady distributes clean syringes, naloxone (used to reverse opioid overdose), fentanyl test kits, educational materials, and referrals to treatment upon request. This work is now being threatened by the City of Asheville. We need your support to resist gentrification, protecting harm reduction services and the spaces that support them!

On August 8th, The Steady Collective and Firestorm, a bookstore co-operative that hosts Steady’s weekly outreach event on Haywood Road, were both given thirty days to stop distributing syringes and naloxone in West Asheville, a neighborhood undergoing rapid gentrification. This action was accompanied by a parallel move against Kairos West Community Center, a neighboring institution that hosts free meals in collaboration with the Asheville Poverty Initiative. Taken together, we understand this as a shameful attack on our community’s most vulnerable members.


Southern Appalachia has been one of the regions hardest hit by the national “opioid crisis,” a biomedically produced, policy-driven phenomenon of opioid overprescribing followed by irresponsible stoppage of pain medication prescriptions, leading to an increase in heroin use. More people in Appalachia suffer and die from opioid-related substance use disorders, with less access to treatment options, than anywhere else in the country. Last year, Steady distributed 73,000 new syringes and 1,762 naloxone kits. The organization received 258 overdose reversal reports from folks using their kits (66% of all street reversal reports in our county). These reports are increasing dramatically in 2018.

Within this deadly context, attempts by the City of Asheville to impose additional regulatory burden on activists and health care workers doing harm reduction is unconscionable. If the City is successful, it will set a disastrous precedent for North Carolina and cost lives throughout our community.


The Steady Collective and Firestorm are grassroots organizations with limited staffing and financial resources. Over the last month, both have been unable to maintain normal operations due to the intense time requirements of responding to this action by the City of Asheville. Additionally, Steady lost a $15k grant as a result of City action. This is a gentrification resistance and survival fund. Money raised may be used to cover the costs of contesting the City’s notice of violation (including an initial $1,662 in appeals fees), increased staff time, and the loss of other funding sources.

We also ask that you support Firestorm, which has expended countless staff hours and thousands of dollars in lost sales while defending Steady’s harm reduction event. Please help the co-operative continue its work -- including the provision of space and resources to dozens of other grassroots organizations -- by joining their Community Sustainer Program at www.firestorm.coop/sustainers.html.



The Steady Collective

“Needles on Haywood Road!” An introduction to harm reduction in West Asheville

"West Asheville groups appeal 'unconstitutional' city violations"

We've also received support from local and national organizations concerned with public health, including Human Rights Watch, AIDS United , and physicians at Mission Hospital .

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Match Grant Announcement!!!

From now until October 31st, First Congregational United Church of Christ of Asheville will be matching gifts to this gentrification resistance survival fund up to $1,000!

We continue to need additional resources as we await a board of adjustment hearing. Give in the next 20 days and your support will be doubled!

Though this time has been difficult, both Steady and Firestorm have received incredible community support. This support includes financial backing from people of all walks of life, in WNC and beyond, who understand the importance of the space Firestorm has created and the work Steady Collective does.

We appreciate you all so much!

(Haven't seen Firestorm's Patreon page? Check it out! https://www.patreon.com/firestormcoop )
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On Tuesday night, please join us for a community organized fundraiser in Downtown Asheville! It's going to be a multi-venue night of music and dancing to celebrate the work of The Steady Collective and boost the #resistance. We'll begin at Tressa's at 8pm and move to Asheville City Music Hall. Attendees can write checks or give cash at the door (note that there will be a small cover charge of $3 at Tressa's).

Meanwhile, we've gotten some solid press coverage in the last week. Check it out!
• "West Asheville groups appeal 'unconstitutional' city violations"
https://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2018/09/18/west-asheville-nonprofits-appeal-unconstitutional-city-violations/1254572002/ (Asheville Citizen Times);
• "Physicians: Why we're supporting Narcan, needle exchange program in Asheville"
• "West Asheville needle exchange fights city zoning violations"
https://mountainx.com/news/west-asheville-needle-exchange-fights-city-zoning-violations/ (Mountain Xpress)
• "Firestorm Books, Steady Collective appeal violation notices"
https://wlos.com/news/local/firestorm-bookstore-steady-collective-appeal-violation-notices (WLOS ABC 13)
• "West Asheville Bookstore Will Appeal Violation Notice Over Weekly Needle Exchange Event "
http://www.bpr.org/post/west-asheville-bookstore-will-appeal-violation-notice-over-weekly-needle-exchange-event (Blue Ridge Public Radio)
• "Groups Appeal Crackdown on Bookstore's Needle Exchange"
https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/north-carolina/articles/2018-09-19/groups-appeal-crackdown-on-bookstores-needle-exchange (Associated Press)
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On August 17th Asheville's zoning enforcement department issued a notice of zoning violation for our weekly outreach at Firestorm Books . Today Shannon Tuch, Asheville's principal planner, informed us that she would not be revoking the notices for Firestorm or Steady. We will be forced to appeal and go before the board of adjustment.
We are deeply saddened that city employees have decided to double down on a an ill-informed, dangerous decision. Syringe exchange does not most closely resemble a "shelter" as defined by the UDO (their assertion). We are in violation of nothing and we plan to fight these notices. People's lives literally depend on it.

In the 30 days since we received the NOV, Steady distributed 12,160 new syringes, 189 naloxone kits, and received 13 reversal reports. Ten of those reversals were reported at our Firestorm location (bringing the total reversal reports for the year at that site to 62).
Thank you so much for calling city officials over the past few weeks. Thank you for buying shirts (we have just a handful left) and giving to our resistance fund and Firestorm's sustainer program. We will continue to need you in the coming months.
Thanks for believing in Steady and the raddest bookstore around.
We love our participants and they deserve access to harm reduction and non-judgemental care.
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Friends, the City of Asheville has just one day left to revoke the notices of violation (NOVs) issued to The Steady Collective and Firestorm Books & Coffee. Please call Interim City Manager Cathy Ball (828-259-5604 | cball@ashevillenc.gov), Interim Assistant City Manager Scott Burnett (828-259-5604 | stburnette@ashevillenc.gov), and Director of Urban Planning and Design Todd Okolichany (828-259-5840 | tokolichany@ashevillenc.gov) before the week is over. These are the folks who have the power to pull the plug. Please also continue to reach out to City Council ( www.ashevillemegaphone.com). They can't revoke the NOVs but they'll be involved in whatever comes next, be that litigation or new attempts to regulate and restrict harm reduction.

When you call, be polite (we want these folks on our side) but let officials know that it is an embarrassment for a progressive municipality to be using public resources to shut down harm reduction work in the midst of a public health crisis. Affirm that Firestorm is *not* operating an illegal shelter and that Steady's work should be classified as an instructional, clinical, or pharmacy service (all of which are permitted on Haywood Road). Please read the short post "Needles on Haywood Road!" and other sources linked below for talking points.

It would be especially valuable to have parents, teachers, and West Asheville business owners call the city today, because these are the groups on whose behalf the city is claiming to act. It wouldn't hurt to have people outside WNC call, because Asheville needs to know that this situation could attract negative national publicity for the city.

__Talking Point Sources__

"Needles on Haywood Road!"

Harm Reduction Coalition

NC Harm Reduction Coalition

Drug Policy Alliance
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$6,258 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 107 people in 3 months
Created August 30, 2018
Funds raised will benefit:
The Steady Collective
Certified Charity
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Asheville, NC
EIN: 812667872
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