Many stories lurk throughout Asheville, whether they are behind the Vaudevillian jazz-folk played by buskers around Pritchard Park, the colorful businesses decorated with funky, hand-made crafts or the laughter echoing from a patio as locals and tourists alike enjoy delicious beer.
Andrew Davidson Dwyer, 26, social worker, originally from Germantown, Maryland
What would you say you like and dislike about social work?
“In Buddhism, there’s light guiding the way and I suppose, it boils down to that concept where you’re doing something that basically works for, at least, what you’re trying for is good.”
“If you end up there, it varies, but at least you attempted.”
At least you’re aiming for it.
So, what would you say has been the most heartwarming story and most heartbreaking story you’ve witnessed while working in social work?
“I mean, heartbreaking stories happen all the time.”
“Just the daily grind with people that have no resources and no way to access resources.”
“Just going about their lives. The best stories have been not huge successes. People who are really bad hoarders, I’ve helped them out. It just feels the best because I could look at their home before where it was unliveable and they were unable to get just around their homes to cook and then, I’d leave and they’re able to do everything and they’re able to go out and everything and feel good for the first time in 10 years.”
“It’s a very visceral success in social work and you don’t get a lot of those.”
Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. So, do you have a life motto that you live by?
What might it be?
“Living well and living calmly, taking the time for oneself to think so that one can then do better for others.”
Do you have anything that inspires you creatively?
“Many things. I’m an amateur comic maker.”
Oh OK, that’s awesome.
“It’s a totally separate thing in some ways. I would say out of what inspires me the most is probably the work of the Romantic poets. It’s a little silly.”
No. Why is that?
“Well, for instance, Wordsworth talks about the sublime, the concept of something. It’s not beautiful in nature. It’s just so expansive and beyond what one can comprehend. It overwhelms you and I find that in social work and in everything else I tend to go through with all these intellectual exercises and it’s a whole lot of thought. But, to be able to just be overwhelmed by nature is inspiring.”
Yeah, yeah, especially living in a place like here.
So what’s one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville?
“There are lots of things I like about Asheville. When I was walking over here, I remember thinking, I really like that when it snows, the Thomas Wolfe house over there, I can go and sit on the porch and just watch the snow in the middle of the night. I also just like that it’s becoming more walkable and the breweries coming in and I don’t like the basic lack of transportation. I think that it’s just an infrastructure that can equalize some situations for people if they’re able to walk, if they’re able to take the bus and I feel like it’s not there and one basic, basic way they could do it is just have buses go to these more rural areas more than three times a day, more than just at 7 o’clock in the morning, at noon and at 9 because that is an impossible schedule for anyone who’s working.”
Right, that’s very true. So, how would you describe yourself in three words?
“I’d have a lot of difficulty. Yeah, I don’t think I could right now.”
OK, that’s fair enough, yeah. How would you describe your style?
“I get dapper a lot.”
Dapper, yeah. This is unusual for Asheville.
“I’ve got a date tonight.”
Noah Proudfoot Stockdale, 28, musician, originally from Asheville
If you were to describe a creative influence in your life in terms of your music, what would you say it would be?
“That’s a big question because there’s really nothing that doesn’t become tied up in the music because the songs that I write are pulled from life and life consists of everything. Is there something a little more specific?”
Yeah, who do you draw from when you’re creating songs?
“Like another artist?”
Yeah, artists, movements, et cetera.
“Yeah, Van Morrison is a big, big idol of mine. I’d also have to say Nick Drake and Stevie Wonder, my top three.”
OK, yeah, good choices. So how would you describe your music?
“Soulful, from the heart.”
OK, that’s awesome. Do you have a life motto that you live by day-to-day?
Yeah, that’s important. How would you describe your style?
“We play funk and soul music, so when I’m performing, I like to dress funky and express myself. My other motto is ‘dress to express.’”
‘Dress to express,’ that’s good. What’s one thing you like about Asheville and dislike about Asheville?
“Something I love about Asheville is the abundance of creative minds and individuals and the support that the artist community has. I think pursuing art would be difficult in a lot of other cities and I’ve been able to pursue music full-time without having to pay exorbitant rent or work too many day jobs. I know that’s a struggle for some artists but I’ve been able to make it work ever since I’ve been here.”
That’s awesome. So, what would you say in terms of describing yourself in three words, what words would you use?
“Never stop going.”
‘Never stop going.’ If you were to describe the public reception toward buskers in Asheville, what would you say it would be?
“Very positive, supportive. We usually leave with a sense of appreciation from tourists and also locals that still appreciate having downtown invigorated by the buskers and spontaneous music scene.”