Ruth Snow Vann (M.Div., Th.M.) is an educator, speaker, and storyteller and the director/founder of Poetic 828, an Asheville-based non-profit that gathers artists to love their city through generous and generative work. Ruth also co-hosts the podcast Neighbor Union, which explores topics related to art, faith, and culture.

As an educator and curriculum developer, Ruth has taught students ranging from middle school through college seniors. She enjoys connecting people through meaningful, life-shaping ideas. Her workshops for faith-based communities seek to draw people into cross-cultural and civic engagement, facilitating dialogue about social justice, spirituality, and the common good. She is passionate about grassroots community building, inter-faith dialogue, and cultural renewal through the arts.

Ruth is a longtime resident of Asheville, NC, where she enjoys shepherding her rabbit Bullwinkle, hiking, reading, and eating cheeseburgers.

Listen to Neighbor Union on iTunes


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Michael Austin Diaz is an interdisciplinary artist and designer from the United States. His practice explores the relationships between place, cultural identity, and empathic design.

Diaz holds graduate degrees in Interdisciplinary Art and Theological Aesthetics and has taught in contexts ranging from research universities to federal prisons. His individual and collaborative projects have been exhibited at the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art, Fountain Art Fair Miami, Bailey Contemporary Arts, and the Museum of Fine Arts at Florida State University. 

Diaz lives in West Asheville with his wife and two young sons. He finds deep nourishment in connection to the natural and human community, and you can regularly find him exploring the backcountry, playing bluegrass music, and sharing meals with friends.



Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Pete Candler studied at Wake Forest University and The University of Cambridge, and taught theology and literature at Baylor University.

His written work has appeared in Modern TheologyCommunioThe Other JournalNew BlackfriarsFirst ThingsLos Angeles Review of BooksCommonwealThe Bitter SouthernerThe Chicago TribuneThe Washington Post, and elsewhere.

He is the inaugural fellow of the Fujimura Institute and a regular collaborator with the International Arts Movement. An “archaeologist of memory,” Pete’s work involves digging up forgotten stories and retelling them through still photography, film, and the written word.