Good timing: Conferences converge

About six months from now, Asheville will be humming with a force to be reckoned with. For starters, more than a thousand women bent on changing the world will descend upon the city for the first Southeastern Women’s Conference, titled Time for Our Power! Meanwhile, creative transformation will be taking place throughout the city as part of the first annual Ashevillage Building Convergence.


Scheduled for June 20 through 22, the women’s conference is being organized by Xpress staffers Patty Levesque and Lisa Watters, as well as conference planner Maureen McDonnell. “The excitement is building,” says Levesque. “Registration has begun, and women from West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Florida are in on the buzz to come to Asheville this June.” The keynote speaker will be Jane Fonda, who will speak on “Women Leading the Way.”

The Ashevillage Building Convergence, another event aimed at positive change, will be held on the same dates. Initiated by Asheville resident Janell Kapoor of nonprofit Kleiwerks International, in collaboration with other local organizations, the convergence will feature a flurry of activities including presentations, public forums, celebrations and projects such as earthen building, organic-garden work and stream cleanups. Members of City Repair, a Portland, Ore.-based nonprofit specializing in sustainable design, will lead workshops during the convergence.

A couple of earth-minded luminaries have signed on to share their wisdom at both events. Starhawk, a well-known global-justice activist and the author of 10 books, will speak on “Using the Insights of Feminism to Change the World” at Time for Our Power! She’ll also give presentations and lead a “spiral dance” during the Ashevillage Building Convergence, says Kapoor.

Julia Butterfly Hill

And Julia Butterfly Hill, an environmental activist most famous for living in a 180-foot redwood named Luna for two years in an effort to preserve old-growth forests in the Pacific Northwest, has also agreed to take part in the events.

“Janell, from the Ashevilleage Building Convergence, got us in touch with Julia—who’d always been on our wish list,” explains Watters. With Hill’s participation, a panel was organized featuring her, Starhawk and Kapoor. “To say that we’re very excited is an understatement!” Watters adds.

Kapoor, who has worked with Starhawk before and was able to contact Hill through a mutual friend, says she learned about the women’s conference randomly through McDonnell. “As we were developing these different events,” she explains, “we began talking about how they could support one another.”

Visit for more on the Southeastern Women’s Conference. For more on the Ashevillage Building Convergence, visit or e-mail


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