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Sep 22, 2020

Meet a Maker Monday: AVL Today

"Remember that when people say you’re weird, it’s always a compliment – even if they don’t mean it that way."

Two women dressed in bright colors and sunglasses smiling and posing in front of a mural

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Meet a Maker Monday—our monthly feature highlighting Coworkers in our space—is back! This month we spoke with Ali McGhee & Brook Bolen of AVL Today, a daily newsletter and website that aggregates the most positive, impactful news + events in Asheville. AVL Today currently holds an office space in Cowork at Center for Craft.

Brook Bolen is WNC born + bred and country as all get-out. She is obsessed with Asheville, WNC, her family, newborn baby-sized burritos, dogs, 90s hip hop, classic country music, and all things Appalachia. She's an Editor at AVLtoday.

Ali McGhee, PhD, is a creative writer, Editor of AVLtoday, and Director of 6AM's City's Mentorship Program. She lives in the countryside with her partner, visual artist Justin Noah Wells, their adventurous pup Yeti, and two surly and sleepy cats. She teaches the enneagram through the Enneagram School of Awakening.

What inspires you?

Brook: It sounds cliche, but it’s true: my daughter inspires me because her mind is still so fresh + limber + untarnished by the world. I’m also endlessly inspired by nature.
Ali: I’m naturally very curious and have always jumped headfirst into most things that pique my interest. My dream life is a well of creativity, insight, and possibility. I go deep with art, be it visual, aural, literary, or otherwise. And I draw so much inspiration from the land – locally and in my travels.

How does creativity play into your work?

Brook: To me, creativity means giving myself permission to do things and worry about them after the fact. It’s a kind of freedom to deal with things later (like through editing), but gives me the opportunity to get them done without criticizing myself to the point of stopping before I even begin.
Ali: Creativity is basically the heart center of my life. With AVLtoday, I get to come in fresh every day and see what’s out there lighting people up in Asheville. I’m a fiction writer as well, and also teach and coach the Enneagram through the Enneagram School of Awakening, and to me it’s an inherently creative lens for viewing life and relationships.

What is your ideal creative space?

Brook: As a parent whose wonderful child shares my space, it’s hard to remember what an ideal creative space looks like. For me, it’s a place where I can get enough quiet to focus and do things I want or need to do. It doesn’t hurt if there’s a pitbull or two around, either (fortunately, I have two!)
Ali: As a writer, I’ve had to get out of the rut of thinking that my space has to be ideal in order for me to do good work. But a sunlit nook with an antique desk and a funky chair (and some cats lounging around) fits the bill.

What song, author, YouTuber, podcast, activity, etc. gets you out of a creative funk?

Brook: Earth, Wind, and Fire always works. Bjork is also a good one. Activity-wise, a good jog or some time spent beating a heavy bag in kickboxing also works wonders for ye olde creativity. I also used to find a good hot shower really helpful for opening my mind (before I had a small friend follow me everywhere, including the bathroom).
Ali: Workshops with two of my favorite local teachers – Mary Ellen Lough and Alli Marshall; I love the nourishing ways they prompt me to access my creativity. On the day-to-day, taking a few minutes to meditate, going for a walk in nature, or making a really good cup of tea.

What advice would you give your 16 year old self?

Brook: Trust + believe in yourself and your abilities. Try not to worry about making ends meet, because one day you, your skills, and your work ethic will take you where you want to go.
Ali: Remember that when people say you’re weird, it’s always a compliment – even if they don’t mean it that way.

Tell us about your latest project.

Brook: My latest project is maintaining my sanity while working from home and also essentially homeschooling my child. On top of that, there’s my memoir, which I aim to finish before I die.
Ali: With AVLtoday, I’m working to grow our Mentorship Program for new hires – one of my favorite parts of my job! I’m also finishing a post-apocalyptic speculative fiction novel about a virus that turns people into trees, and I just started teaching a new yearlong enneagram training.

Follow Cowork at Center for Craft on Instagram @cowork_centerforcraft to see which maker we meet next! To learn more about Cowork at Center for Craft, visit centerforcraft.org/cowork.