We can build equity through transparency.

State of Black Asheville – or SOBA – is a tool for community analysis of racial disparities. Our goal is promoting grass-roots advocacy efforts that are strengthened through the use of public data.

We feel that public data is something that should be accessible to everyone, so we work with local government to make it that way.

We believe that transparency can transform government, and empower communities to make real change.

Project creator Dr. Dwight Mullen on the history and impact of the State of Black Asheville.

The State of Black Asheville has 100 total visualizations. With 19 dynamic, interactive visualizations. We have published 31 Student Papers. Community members have helped us index 9 of them.

Welcome to the new State of Black Asheville website!

We are building the new State of Black Asheville website as part of the Code for America Community Fellowship, which runs through December 2018. This is a preview of the new site – we’ll be adding new resources and functionality over the next few months.


Making past research digitally accessible

Dr. Mullen has facilitated undegrate research on the “State of Black Asheville” since 2007, but there has never been a comprehensive online resource to share this library of work.

The SoBA team is working with UNCA Special Collections and the City of Asheville to archive, digitize and share all student papers and other resources in an accessible manner.

Many of the visualizations you see on the site are derived from student research, converted into a dynamic chart and table format. This allows us to share this important work, while allowing us to update data over time to provide up to date information.

Want to us with this effort? Contact us to learn more!


Integration with City of Asheville Open Data Resources

The new State of Black Asheville website utilizes a number of modern web technologies to make it easier for community members to analyze and interact with Open Data from the City of Asheville.



State of Black Asheville features interactive datasets to help you better understand the facts and figures that we have compiled.

Try it out with the visualization in this section!



The City of Asheville passed an Open Data Policy in October 2015, based on a set of recommendations provided by Code for Asheville. While Open Data is a valuable resource, it has typically only been accessible to those with a technical skillset.

Our team is working with the City of Asheville IT Department to develop a custom GraphQL server (GitHub) that provides statistical analyze of public datasets in an easy to use format.


Community Workshops

As part of our Community Fellowship, we are exploring ways to engage the community around the information on the new State of Black Asheville website, including leading community focused workshops on how to access and analyze public data.

In August we partnered with Code for Asheville during their annual “National Day of Civic Hacking” to present a preliminary introduction to Open Data, public records, and tools.

Check out what we did here:

This year’s event was the perfect opportunity to present the first in a series of workshops designed to build confidence and engagement among Asheville’s community members to perform their own data analysis for the purpose of policy advocacy.

We hope to provide attendees with knowledge and skills on how to find public data in Asheville – whether that’s through the City’s official resources, or by making a public data request.

Would you be interested in having us present a workshop to your group?


Stay up to Date!

We are constantly publishing new and exciting content and analysis to the State of Black Asheville. Join our mailing list and stay up to date on all of the latest updates.

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