Welcome to our review of TBob’s First Year! While we will normally have shorter blog posts than this one, we felt it was important to update you on the past few months, as we have been active since well before our opening! (Also, be sure to check out our Photo Gallery to view images from the past year’s events.)
As you may (hopefully!) know, THE BLOCK off biltmore (TBob) opened in November 2015, and our first month was jam-packed with events supporting our mission of creating a compassionate, community/unity living room, “Where Your Drink Makes a Difference!” (One example of how your drink makes a difference is the Service Ale we carry — it’s brewed by veterans for veterans in Savannah, Ga, and by the way, they have one of the coolest tap handles you’ll ever see!)
Here is a look back at some of the 2015 highlights that help tell the TBob story:
Months Before Our Opening
Even before we officially opened our doors in November, TBob was actively supporting our community. In June, we collected forty-four soccer balls to send to Syrian children living in refugee camps. (Read more here…). In August, we partnered with People Demanding Action and hosted a Social Security 80th birthday celebration at Battery Park Senior Apartments. (Bean Vegan Cuisine made a delicious vegan strawberry cake to celebrate.) (Read more about these events here…) We had a great time outreaching to folks at Asheville’s first and very successful VeganFest and at Organicfest‘s 14th annual extravaganza.
In September, we popped an outreach tent beside Veganized at the Bee Happy Vintage Market (run by the Emily White Growden, great, great granddaughter of Richard Sharp Smith, the architect of the YMI building) and took part in Urban Odyssey’s Inaugural Scavenger Hunt – providing the clue to guide participants to the iconic YMI building. Local activists and community organizers dropped in for impromptu meetings — which was especially powerful for us! We were thrilled to welcome to TBob NAACP leaders Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II — architect of the Moral Monday/Forward Together Movement — and Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, the new president of the Asheville/Buncombe branch during the “Americans Who Tell the Truth” exhibit at the YMI. What an honor!
November was THE big month at THE BLOCK off biltmore. On Friday, November 13th, we obtained our Certificate of Occupancy and our ABC permit just in time to host a fundraiser for Green Party presidential candidate, Dr. Jill Stein on the 15th! We officially opened on November 23. (Read more about our opening here and more about TBob in general here…) A few days later, we celebrated our first-ever Vegan Soul Food Thanksgiving Benefit Buffet with food by vegan food artist Eboné Graham (and Harvey Diamond on piano). The holiday filled TBob to capacity & thanks to matching funds on GoFundMe, we were able to raise more than $1,600 for Full Circle Farm Sanctuary! (Read more here…)
We enjoyed live music by Chelsea La Bate and Poetry-on-Demand by Eddie Cabbage. Eddie jammed again on his typewriter – used as a percussion instrument – with Stevie Lee Combs who played his funky version of Americana, Junkband, New Orleans blues.
A regular Jazz-n-Justice Tuesday Trio with Harvey Diamond, drummer Sonny Thornton, and visiting bassists has people buzzing that TBob is a “listening room” for live music — now, that’s a compliment! The Jazz-n-Justice night is designed to partner with area nonprofits — so let us know if you have ideas for local organizations to be considered. Thus far, we have supported Youthful Hand After School Program, Planned Parenthood, and Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy‘s Land Protection Programs. We are also hosting a regular Teacher Appreciation Friday starting at 4:30 pm with draft beer specials. A portion of the proceeds go to Children First/Communities in Schools. We had a blast dancing to the Motown melodies of WestSound – a fabulous local band and such fun! Thanks to Randy Weston for making it happen — can’t wait for them to return to TBob!
New Belgium Brewery took over our taps on the heels of their Asheville brewery launch and NBB beer reps from all over the country descended on TBob — great time! Also, on the same night we partnered with our friends at the Asheville Salt Cave who hosted a lovely “Open House” — treat yourself sometime soon to the incredible therapeutic benefits of the beautiful, relaxing Salt Cave. Jodi and her staff will take good care of you!
Thanks to the Asheville Vegan Society for their regularly scheduled Meet Up (alternating Thursday & Friday nights) and to Ponderers’ Cafe on Tuesdays from 5:30-7:30pm. Look for Death Café to be a regularly scheduled monthly event as well.
TBob serves as a gallery space so please drop by and see Said Osio’s powerful street stained glass, works from Open Hearts Art Center (that will maintain designated wall space so that we can continue to support their special artists), and Bruce Kennedy’s gorgeous images of downtown Asheville.
TBob kept the momentum going in December, too. Highlights of the month include a Green Party ballot access organizing gathering, more Jazz-n-Justice, a packed Christmas plant-based potluck (read more here…) that benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters, a gift exchange and cocktail party for the Asheville Vegan Society, and an Asheville Animal Advocate Holiday Meet-and-Greet with the NC State Director of The Humane Society of the U.S. Thanks to Said Ohio, we had our first Death Café (to be a regularly occurring event) – celebrating the sacred art of living and dying to support those grieving the loss of loved ones during the holiday season. The room was full – what an important grief support service for people hurting.
Winemaker Jean-Philippe Bourgeois hosted a vegan wine tasting featuring some of his most delicious wines served at TBob accompanied by Rhabb Seymour’s amazing vegan cheeses and the talented Mark Guest on jazz guitar. Highland Brewing Company, Asheville’s first craft brewery, came over for a Pint Night and gave away their famous Highland pint glasses.
Starting next week, “Open Mic Nights” will be on Thursdays — we enjoyed our first one so much last week — and marveled at Asheville’s talented musicians/singer songwriters. (This week, it’s New Year’s Night Open Mic on Friday due to NYE.)
Singer/songwriter (and vegan) Christy Snow, came over from Charlotte and played Friday and Saturday nights. (If you missed her, she’ll be back on January 15 for her Asheville CD Release party. It’s guaranteed to get you smiling and clapping along — and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of her CDs will benefit Linda Loveless’ battle to beat cancer.) We are always collecting books for prisoners in NC, SC, GA, and TN — and will gladly accept non-perishable vegan food items for Food Not Bombs and Manna Food Bank.
We are so grateful for your support and look forward to an exciting 2016! Help us kick things off at our Reggae New Year’s Eve celebration! (Read more here…) Friday is New Year’s Night Open Mic; Saturday, we hold our regularly scheduled Spoken Word Celebration and later music with singer/songwriter Jordan Okrend; and Sunday, a blues dance band party and light show with “The Remedy.”
Be sure to refer to our January calendar on our website for a sneak peek at some of the events, performers, and programs heading to TBob — PlantPure Nation meeting on January 12th, a commemoration of Dr. King’s birthday on the 18th, beer from our friends at Sanctuary Brewing Co. on a date TBA!!, Brother Wolf hosting a Volunteer Appreciation gathering on the 29th, the Wild Goose Festival to offer gatherings on what we are calling “Soulful Sundays,” and our Grand Opening later in January.
Thanks for reading through this information-packed post! Please share it with others who may be interested in learning more about the goings-on at TBob.
We at THE BLOCK off biltmore extend our warmest wishes to you, the animals, and the planet for a peaceful, loving, and compassionate New Year!
The TBob Team