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Blue Ridge Craft Trails Are Open and Online
The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area has launched the Blue Ridge Craft Trails website. You can view the first 75 sites across 25 counties of Western North Carolina at www.blueridgecrafttrails.com.
 
 “Our region is celebrated for its authentic craft traditions, one of the heritage assets recognized by Congress in forming the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area in 2003,” said Angie Chandler, BRNHA Executive Director. “With our new Blue Ridge Craft Trails, we want to connect more visitors with our local makers.”
 
Visitors will enjoy new opportunities to visit small towns, travel back roads, meet artists, and purchase handmade crafts directly from the studio. By promoting craft businesses, coordinating the marketing of crafts on a region-wide level, and branding Western North Carolina as a leading craft destination, the Blue Ridge Craft Trails will strengthen the creative industries within our small towns and help revitalize these local economies with new sources of visitor spending.
 
Our team is polishing a marketing plan for grassroots promotion of the Craft Trails, and we have printed a promotional rack card for distribution at visitor centers and craft destinations across the region.
 
In our next pilot phase, we are focusing on Clay and Cherokee counties, profiling 30 craft artists and studios, thanks to a $9,000 grant from the Resourceful Communities Conservation Fund. Our team is developing three itineraries for seeing the best of Hayesville, Brasstown and Murphy with a map brochure soon to come. Stay tuned. 
 
Sweetgrass weaving at John C. Campbell Folk School.
New Grants Awarded for Craft Trails
We would like to thank the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina, which awarded us a $25,000 grant for Phase 2 of the Blue Ridge Craft Trails.
 
The Craft Trails aims to increase income for craft artists and businesses, enhance cultural tourism and improve economic opportunity in Western North Carolina. Phase 2 will expand the trail with the addition of 100 craft sites (primarily galleries and artist studios) and events. We will create curated itineraries to guide visitors, promoting the depth and distinctiveness of Western North Carolina as a crafts destination.
 
The CFWNC previously supported the first phase of the Craft Trails with a $25,000 grant.
 
The Community Foundation of Henderson County awarded BRNHA a $10,000 grant for a pilot project to focus on craft artists in Henderson County. We will profile must-see studios and artists, and create a map brochure to be distributed at area visitor centers.
Our Visitor Center Volunteers Honored
Thanks to our volunteers who staff the information desk at the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center. For their dedication, the BRNHA volunteers have been awarded the Parkway’s Enduring Service Award.
 
For the past 11 years, volunteers have assisted Heritage Area and National Park Service staff in welcoming over 1 million visitors. When the Blue Ridge Parkway Visitor Center opened, there was no other NPS visitor center in the nation working in partnership with a National Heritage Area to serve visitors. In many ways, this was a pilot project that required communication and cooperation to achieve the goal of welcoming and meeting the needs of visitors. 
 
We appreciate our amazingly dedicated Blue Ridge National Heritage Area volunteers!
Marion Named as Small Town of the Year
The town of Marion was honored as the 2018 Small Town of the Year at this year's North Carolina Rural Assembly, held in Raleigh on November 15 and 16. Hosted annually by the NC Rural Center, the Rural Assembly is the state's premier event focused on the big issues facing North Carolina's rural communities.
 
The award recognizes a town that embraces citizen engagement, values diversity, and fosters strong partnerships. Each year, it is awarded to a town that promotes innovative economic development initiatives as well as an entrepreneur-friendly environment.
Calling All Young Innovators and Risk Takers
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation wants to invest directly in young innovators, change makers, visionaries, entrepreneurs and risk takers between the ages of 21 and 35 with bold ideas for how to make a difference in North Carolina and its communities. The new All For NC Fellowship is a 12-month program designed to provide funding, coaching and mentoring to young people who have a vision and plan that could contribute to a better life for North Carolina’s people and communities.

Fellows will receive a $75,000 stipend as well as one-on-one coaching and shared educational opportunities with peers, coaches and community leaders.
 
ZSR expects to fund three cohorts of Fellows over the course of five years. Fellowships will begin in Summer/Fall 2019 and end in Summer/Fall 2020. Up to five Fellows will be selected for each cohort. For details and to register for a webinar, click here.
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Blue Ridge National Heritage Area  •  195 Hemphill Knob Road  •  Asheville, NC 28803

http://www.blueridgeheritage.com

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