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NPR event comes to Asheville to talk about 'When Your Hometown Gets Hot'

NPR is coming to Asheville, teaming up with WCQS to present "Going There: When Your Hometown Gets Hot," a live event centered on discussion of what happens when the place you live suddenly becomes fashionable.

NPR's Michel Martin, weekend host of "All Things Considered," will be at Diana Wortham Theatre at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7 to host the event, part of the national touring series "NPR Presents Michel Martin: Going There."

This live event features storytelling and performance.

People flock to WNC for everything from outdoor activities to climate and culture. But who benefits from this boom, and who gets left behind? Michel Martin and a panel of guests from all sides of the conversation take a closer look.

Chefs, brewers, artists and outdoor enthusiasts are flocking to Asheville, putting our city on the map as a food and craft-beer paradise. Affluent retirees are drawn by the state's low taxes and rich amenities: deep-rooted Appalachian culture, abundant recreation and mild climate.

But "hotness" can have a downside: affordable housing becomes scarcer, especially for workers in the growing tourism industry. Longtime residents have begun to fear being displaced or priced out as more newcomers arrive.

"In all of our events we try to find a local community that's in the middle of a national story, and Asheville certainly is that," said Martin. "Western North Carolina is a great place to live for a lot of people, and having your hometown get 'hot' can be beneficial. New people can mean new friends, new ideas, new businesses and new market opportunities. But is it great for everybody?"

Martin will be joined onstage by award-winning author Ron Rash; Chris Cooper, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University; Oscar Wong and his daughter Leah Wong Ashburn of Highland Brewing Co.; Julie Mayfield, co-firector of Mountain True; Scott Dedman, Mountain Housing Opportunities executive director; and Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, writer and English teacher at Swain County High School, and enrolled member of Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

The evening's program includes a musical performance by Asheville's own River Whyless.

"We're very pleased to introduce Michel and her NPR colleagues to Asheville and Western North Carolina to engage in a community conversation about the future of Asheville and its surrounding areas, as the region experiences unprecedented popularity and growth," said David Feingold, WCQS' General Manager.

The event will be streamed live and recorded for a featured segment on a weekend broadcast of All Things Considered.

Tickets ($15) are sold out, but people can join the waitlist here.

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