Natural and Cultural Resources

Our goal is to preserve and cultivate WNC’s sense of place by investing in cultural and environmental projects and programs that protect or enhance the quality of life in the region.

A $49,742 grant is supporting Local Cloth’s Blue Ridge Blankets and, thereby, developing the region’s fiber-arts economy. Rooted in local resources and talent, Local Cloth will develop a supply network that links fiber farmers, processors, dyers, and weavers to produce Blue Ridge Blankets. Proceeds from sales of blankets will be reinvested in the project. The Mingowin Fund partnered with CFWNC to fund this grant.

Broadening Opportunity through the Arts and the Environment

People have always been drawn to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Today, our mountains are home to a growing and diversifying network of cities, small towns and rural communities.

WNC continues to depend on its natural areas to thrive economically. The natural and cultural resources of this region distinguish it from any other place in North Carolina or, for that matter, the rest of the world. Both are essential to the region’s economy. Both also define our sense of place.

WNC must continue to be a place where talented people—and their businesses—want to be. But economic growth must be balanced, and CFWNC is working to ensure those economic forces continue to support our environment and the creative cultures that thrive here.

EcoForesters was awarded $30,000 to seed its Invasive Species Stewardship Fund that will protect forests in Buncombe, Burke, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Polk, Rutherford, and Transylvania Counties. Photo courtesy of Eco Foresters.

How We are Making a Difference

Goals and Objectives

The arts, the economy, and the natural environment are inextricably linked. The creative spirit and natural assets of the area continue to attract people and businesses.

We will make grants to:

  • Protect and enhance the health of the region's natural systems
  • Support and develop the region's art-based economy

Signature grants have supported a reconciliation process that resulted in the development of the Nikwasi Initiative and Cherokee Cultural Corridor, efforts to reduce energy consumption thorough the Green Built Alliance's Blue Horizons Project, the Center for Craft's study on affordable housing for the creative sector and support for established and grass roots arts projects across the region.

The childhood home of Simone, born Eunice Waymon, is a 3-room, 660 square foot clapboard house where the prodigious young piano talent experienced both the sting of racial discrimination and the generosity of white benefactors. It’s also where the artist’s intense work ethic, mastery of her art form, activist spirit and brash honesty took shape. Photo courtesy of CFWNC.

Strengthening the Region

Restoring Nina Simone's Childhood Home

The National Trust for Historic Preservation was awarded $35,000 to engage key stakeholders– especially African American churches and organizations, local residents, artists and young people – in envisioning the future of Nina Simone’s Childhood Home in Tryon, NC. A six to eight-month community outreach and engagement process, led by Trust staff working in collaboration with local organizations, will take place.

Through its National Treasures program, the Trust brings unrivaled preservation expertise to communities across the country and designs customized campaigns that integrate its expertise in historic sites, law, policy, media, community outreach and fundraising to help local partners. While her legacy lives on, Simone’s childhood home has not fared as well. Its future was in question when it entered foreclosure in 2017. Fortunately, a group of four NY-based, African American contemporary artists purchased the structure. With guidance from the four artists, the Trust is working to preserve the home in partnership with the Nina Simone Project, World Monuments Fund, Preservation North Carolina, UNC-Asheville and the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission.

To learn more about our Natural and Cultural Resources focus area, contact Senior Program Officer Tara Scholtz at 828-367-9913.