Rev. Dr. Gene S. Carnell and his wife Bobbie portray Uncle Sam and Aunt Samantha at the Pints 4 Patriots event.

Veterans Helping Veterans of WNC raise funds, awareness

Veterans Helping Veterans of Western North Carolina is a new organization created to help local veterans successfully reintegrate into civilian life. Matt Shepley said he founded the group because he recognized the need to prevent veterans’ homelessness and address issues with post-traumatic stress disorder, rather than waiting for veterans who require care to become homeless.

EDUCATION THROUGH ART: The MemoryCare Plays is a compilation of one-act plays that seek to educate people about dementia through theater.

A little bit of understanding

There is no shortage of facts and figures about dementia. In North Carolina, there are more than 170,000 adults with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. In Western North Carolina, over 20 percent of the population is 65 or older, compared with 13 percent in the rest of the state. But statistics rarely touch a person the way art can. This is why MemoryCare, a local nonprofit that provides care for families affected by dementia, seeks to educate people about progressive cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease not solely through lectures and pamphlets — but through theater.


Uniting for seed sovereignty

Groundswell, an international nonprofit with a coordination office based in Asheville, is dedicated to “strengthening rural communities by building healthy farming and food systems from the ground up,” says Cristina Hall, the organization’s communications outreach coordinator.

Groundswell’s Asheville and U.S. Program, thus far, focuses on advocacy, education and awareness about the importance of sovereign seed systems. Locally, Groundswell has partnered with Sow True Seed, a supplier of open-pollenated, non-hybrid and non-GMO seed, to encourage heirloom seed cultivation.

A man runs in traditional Tarahumara clothing. Photo courtesy of Will Harlan

Beyond running

Twin events aim to help Mexico’s Tarahumara people What do a Harvard professor, the editor of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine, an Asheville expatriate living in a canyon in Mexico and a local film director all have in common? They’re all fascinated by the Tarahumara, the indigenous people of Mexico’s Copper Canyon. While their interests in […]

Families gather to drum at the Friday night drum circle in Pritchard Park. File photo

Keeping the beat

On a Friday night in early spring, a low rumbling can be heard throughout downtown Asheville. The contagious rhythm grows louder as people are drawn into the vortex of reverberating beats in Pritchard Park. The Friday night drum circle has emerged from winter hibernation, becoming once again the heartbeat of Asheville. For some, the weekly event is simply another one of Asheville’s quirks. For others, the drumming provides a source of therapy and healing.

Randy Shaw teaches drumming to children as part of a therepeutic program. Photo courtesy of City of Asheville Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department

Drum therapy

Therapeutic recreation program wins state award Randy Shaw, director of therapeutic recreation at the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department, was not a drummer. Even so, he believed that drumming had the potential to help people with disabilities. “A light bulb turned on for me when … I started to facilitate drum groups and I saw […]

Executive director of the American Herbalists Guild, Mimi Hernandez, says the guild moved to Asheville last year in part due to its uniquely vibrant herbal culture. Photo by Tim Robison

The people’s medicine

If it sometimes seems as if everyone and her sister in Asheville is an aspiring herbalist, there’s a reason for that. Mimi Hernandez, executive director of the American Herbalists Guild, says that the nonprofit’s relocation to Asheville from Boston last year was largely due to the region’s resources and unusually high interest in herbalism. “This is definitely a hub for herbalism around the country,” says Hernandez. “I think No. 1 is the diversity of native plants that are in the wild here. And then we also have a lot of herbal educators in the area and mentors and herbal schools.”

An interfaith program will educate attendees on end-of-life planning on Monday, May 5.

In the end

Kristin Scott’s mother had strong preferences about her own medical care as she neared the end of her life. She was able to make those wishes clear in an advance care directive, sometimes called a living will. When she passed away two years ago, Scott, facilitator for the WNC Health Network, says, “It was so much easier for us knowing what she wanted.”

Photo by Sarah Shoen

The feast in the fast

It was the first day of spring. I packed away the last of my sweaters and scarves in the boxes labeled, “stuff to wear when it’s too cold to do anything.” Cleaning my apartment, I noticed dust in the corners of my kitchen floor and piles of stuff I hadn’t bothered to look at in months. When I opened my refrigerator, empty containers and a carton of expired milk stared back at me. It was time to dig deeper and continue my spring cleaning beyond my floors and countertops. It was time to cleanse my body.

TRUST ISSUES: Lyle Mitchell, left, balances on a slackline as Ryan Earls and Lillian Jacobs strike an AcroYoga pose in front of 7 Juice Bar on Wall St. Photo by Micah Wilkins

All fun and games

Ryan Earls lies on the ground with his legs up in the air to support his partner, Lillian Jacobs. As she attempts to distribute the weight of her body on his feet, she gasps, lets out a few screams, a few laughs, and eventually becomes still. It takes a lot of trust to allow someone else to hold you several feet off the ground. But that’s the goal of Urban Ashram Studio: to build trust and a stronger sense of community.

Photo by Taylor Johnson

Watch and learn: Playback Theatre creates community healing

“Let’s watch.” These words commence the evening’s performance at Playback Theatre. Actors come forward, improvising as they go to illustrate a story. Audience members will likely resonate with the unfolding tale because it is, after all, their story. Within this theatrical environment, actors and audience participate in a night of theater and storytelling that can […]

Kristin Luna Ray will offer a workshop on mantra at Asheville Community Yoga.

For your health: Upcoming wellness events

  INTIMACY SKILLS PRACTICE GROUP AT CO-LUMINATE Helping individuals and couples refuel romance and get relationships back on track, Steve Torma leads an intimacy skills practice group on Friday, April 11, 8 – 10 p.m. at co-luminate in downtown Asheville. Through presentation, demonstration, discussions and group activities, participants can brush up on their nonviolent communication […]


Herb party

The American Herbalist Guild may be celebrating its 25th anniversary with its Silver Jubilee event, but the nonprofit moved its headquarters to Asheville from Boston just over a year ago. The organization is a hub for educational resources for herb enthusiasts, from providing herb school listings to offering training webinars to promoting professionalism through a […]

New numbers reveal more about Asheville’s homeless issue

Asheville’s homeless population declined in what city officials are dubbing “a good year,” according to an annual count conducted in late January. However, while local programs may be having an impact, one of the officials in charge of administering them says that economic pressures and a lack of affordable housing continue to create a difficult situation.

INTO THE WILD: In a wilderness setting, students have fewer distractions and the opportunity to detach from technology, says Shawn Farrell, executive director of SUWS of the Carolinas. “The result,” he says, “is that they are able to sit with themselves and begin to ask themselves who they are, what they want to be, and what they want to do differently.”

Wilderness works

Wilderness therapy “gave me my son back — and better,” says Stephen Mace. His son, Christian, age 15, participated in the wilderness program at SUWS of the Carolinas in Old Fort last year. SUWS is one of several local and regional organizations that use wilderness therapy. Sarah “Salli” Lewis, an Asheville-based clinical scientist, has conducted several […]