Around town: Story Medicine Worldwide founder passes the torch

TEACHER OF HEALING: After launching Story Medicine Worldwide in 2011, founder Meta Commerse is stepping away from some of her leadership roles as the organization transitions into its next phase. Photo courtesy of Heidi Wood

Meta Commerse, founder and CEO of Story Medicine Worldwide, is stepping away from some of her leadership roles and passing them on to the next generation of healers.

Commerse established Story Medicine in Asheville 13 years ago, though she has been a student of healing practices since the 1970s. The online platform blends healing rituals with the power of writing to recall one’s own story and the stories of ancestors, prompting internal reflection on the community and the surrounding world.

“We talk to people and with people about what it means to speak truly in their authentic voice, and openly. And we treat this space in such a way that it’s conducive to that,” Commerse says.

The modality’s newest teacher is Heidi Wood, an online teacher from Atlanta who became involved with Story Medicine in 2019. She says Story Medicine is unique in its exploration of deep, spiritually rooted issues through a combination of approaches.

In the upcoming year, Wood will be conducting workshops and classes on racial healing, a focus of Story Medicine Worldwide since 2016. She will host a Racial Healing Introductory Workshop on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 6:30 p.m., and another racial healing workshop on Saturday, Sept. 28, to help parents navigate the topic of race with their children in terms of today’s world and social climate. She will also offer a Staying Safe in America workshop on Wednesday, April 24, which she says will focus on the racial implications of gun access and violence.

While a variety of Story Medicine Worldwide’s workshops are offered to everyone, these select workshops are geared toward white people. The teachings, Wood says, are intended to build healthier relationships.

“We are doing our workshops and our classes in white space with white people, doing that healing amongst ourselves without burdening and retraumatizing Black folks. And so that when we go out into the world, and we have relationships, meaningful loving relationships with people of color, we can get better at having those relationships authentically from a place of healing and hopefully cause less damage.”

Commerse recalls an expression from one of her past teachers that inspires the mission of her practice. He taught from an Ayurvedic perspective, an old healing science whose Sanskrit name translates to “knowledge of life.”

“He used to say, ‘I’m not in the river, the river is in me. I’m not in the world, the world is in me.’ I’ve lived long enough, and as an elder, I finally understand what he was talking about — that we live our lives from the inside out,” Commerse says. “That’s what Story Medicine is all about. Helping people to access their inner resources based on what they’ve lived through, what they’ve learned through life, what their gifts are.”

The classes are virtual. Learn more at

Casting call for Asheville Musical Theatre

After a sold-out inaugural season, Asheville Musical Theatre is kicking off its second year. Video audition submissions for the 2024 season are now being accepted through Friday, March 1.

This year’s lineup includes three musicals, “all focused on highlighting the local vibrant artistic community,” according to a press release. In July, the theater will present Songs for a New World, a musical examining life and love from Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, and Daddy Long Legs, based on the classic novel about an orphan with a mysterious benefactor, which inspired a 1955 movie. The third musical, Spring Awakening, a winner of eight Tony Awards, explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood; it is set to run in September.

All shows will take place at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts, 18 Biltmore Ave. To learn more about casting and to purchase tickets, visit

Pan Harmonia features bassoon music

Pan Harmonia, an Asheville chamber music company, presents To the Bassooniverse and Beyond on Sunday, Feb. 25, 3 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church. The show features a bassoon trio, Rosalind Buda, Jennifer Anderson and Will Peebles, along with Barbara Weiss on harpsichord.

“It’s just a hoot to go and listen to good bassoon players,” says artistic director Kate Steinbeck. “It’s a gorgeous instrument. And I think it’s one of those transporting things, because we identify that sound with being little kids and hearing cartoon music, and it just makes you happy to hear bassoons.”

Steinbeck says that listening to the live instrumentals brings audiences into the moment and gives the mind a rest from “thinking about all the other junk out in the world.”

First Presbyterian Church is at 40 Church St. The performance is donation based, pay-as-you-can. Register in advance at

Survey seeks input on creative spaces

ArtsAVL has opened a creative spaces survey until Monday, March 11, for artists and art organizations in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson and Madison counties to share feedback about local creative spaces and how space-related issues impact growth and development.

The survey, along with additional data on cost of living and space accessibility, will be collected and shared via a report and town hall on Friday, May 10, that aims to identify and support sustainable solutions.

Survey results will be anonymized, but respondent contact information will be gathered in case additional outreach is needed. Businesses will also have the opportunity to share their names as contributors to the final report.

For more information and to take the survey, visit

Performance features sonic sounds 

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center will present musical artists Wind Cults and Beautifulish on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 7 p.m., for a night of sonic sound.

Sam Scranton (percussion and electronics) and Katherine Young (bassoon and electronics), who was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2021, combine improvisation with composed material to make music together as Beautifulish.  Wind Cults is an Asheville-based improvisational trio composed of Brett Naucke on electronics, Thom Nguyen on drums and Adam Lion on vibraphone.

“[The sonic sound] ends up expanding the instrumental possibilities of acoustic instruments with electronics, through extended techniques,” says Jeff Arnal, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center executive director. “Melody, harmonies and rhythms are playing together or working together at a point where they actually then create something else.”

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is at 120 College St. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $8 for members and students with ID. They can be purchased at

Map out your passions

Yoga teacher and life coach Vinny Vignette will teach Passion Roadmapping on Thursday, Feb. 22, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Art Garden.

The night will begin with pranayama breathwork, a yoga practice intended to stimulate glands, like the pineal gland known as the “third eye,” and get energy flowing. Breathwork will be followed by asana yoga postures.

The yoga postures are meant to help people “get embodied and really create this space for people to feel comfortable to express themselves,” Vignette explains.

These practices will culminate in passion road mapping. Participants will write their passions down and then choose the passion that brings them the most joy. They will then expand on that passion and write down how they can make it come through in their everyday lives.

“We work on getting all those things on the page. And then there’s a couple of bonuses of timelining and putting in how often we’re going to do it, or what date we want to do it by — really making it attainable and approachable,” Vignette says.

Vignette says to bring a yoga mat, a 2024 paper planner/journal and your passions to the event. Or reserve a borrowed yoga mat by emailing

The Canopy at Art Garden AVL is at 191 Lyman St. #320. Tickets are $30 at

Grateful Dead tribute at Salvage Station

Salvage Station will host two concerts this weekend on its indoor stage. Grateful Dub and Roots of Creation will play a reggae Grateful Dead tribute on Friday, Feb. 23.

Thurston Howell – A Premier Yacht Rock Spectacular will be returning to Salvage Station on Saturday, Feb. 24. The group performs soft rock songs of the ’70s and ’80s with a modern twist.

Attendees must be 18 or older. Both shows start at 8 p.m., with doors open at 7 p.m. The Root Down food truck will be serving food at the venue.

Salvage Station is at 466 Riverside Drive. Tickets ($20 in advance, $25 at the door) can be purchased at


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