So you wanna be a lawmaker?

It’s no secret that politics is a complicated, often messy business — which probably discourages many capable community residents from seeking public office. But for anyone who’s interested in getting more politically involved, the Asheville Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Political Institute, which will focus on local government and the nuts-and-bolts of running a political campaign.

Beginning Thursday, Jan. 21, and running nine consecutive weeks, the classes will encourage and educate local businesspeople who are interested in running for public office, or becoming involved in political campaigns. The program will consider every aspect of campaigns, from demographic voter profiles to campaign ethics; sessions will be led by recognized members of the local community, including current and former elected officials. Participants will gain the knowledge and resources they need before entering the political arena. And who knows? Maybe you can change the world for the better.

The program runs from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at UNCA’s Owen Conference Center. The cost is $295 for Chamber members (including all materials and a light meal at each session), or $395 for non-Chamber members. Anyone may enroll, but space restrictions limit the class size to 25 participants.

A star is born

Does your child dream of showing the world his or her talent onstage? The Asheville Kids Foundation is putting on its annual Asheville Kids Show in March, and they’re looking for young dancers, musicians, actors and performers of every stripe.

“The idea is to give these kids an opportunity to do something that has previously only been a dream,” says producer Matt Fuller. “After [they have] done something like this, the performing arts will be more of a reality for them.”

It’s also a great way to expose local audiences to this city’s prodigious supply of young talent. “It’s really a professional show,” proclaims Fuller, “very high quality. Asheville is a very arts-friendly city, and there is some extraordinary talent here. We’re auditioning a lot of people, just to come up with a handful of actual performers.”

In addition to the artists, the foundation is also seeking financial backing — both through ticket sales ($15 each) and through corporate co-sponsorship. If you don’t want to go yourself, a special program enables you to buy a ticket and donate it to a child, who then gets to attend one of the performances. Any resources left over after the shows will fund various scholarships, workshops, classes, art supplies and musical instruments for talented kids. Adult volunteers with stage experience are also encouraged to contact the foundation.

“There’s sort of a shift that happens for a kid who has a dream,” Fuller says. “Their parents think a dream [of performing] is neat, but it lives only as a fantasy. For a child to actually participate in a show like this shows them there is a possibility. It changes their expectations about themselves, and their expectations about the world.”

For more information, call 255-8911, or write the Asheville Kids Foundation at P.O. Box 2761, Asheville, NC 28802.

Ashes to ashes, sticks to sticks

Andrew Jacksons and Alexander Hamiltons aren’t the only kind of green that’s likely to have vanished by the time January arrives: What do you do with that dry, bristly fire hazard that used to be your Christmas tree?

If you live in Buncombe, you have a number of options: You can drop off your tree (until Jan. 22) at one of several locations, where it will be chipped into a fragrant pile of wood chips; or you can simply place the unbagged tree at your curb for pickup, according to the regular yard-waste collection schedule. The drop-off locations include the Memorial Stadium lot (behind McCormick Field), the WNC Nature Center, the Buncombe County landfill, and Lake Julian Park. Live trees can be donated for planting by calling Asheville Parks and Rec at 255-5467.

If you live near Hendersonville, Henderson County’s annual Christmas Tree Recycling Project is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 9, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Jackson Park. But if you can’t wait for the January date, trees may be dropped off ahead of time at a designated site in front of the administration building in Jackson Park. All trees will be chipped on the 9th, rain or shine.

No wreaths or greenery with wire inside will be accepted in either county.

For more information, call 259-5935 (in Buncombe); in Henderson, call the ECO office at 692-0385.

And the nominees are …

Do you know somebody who hasn’t gotten the recognition they deserve for their tireless community leadership? If so, the Land-of-Sky Regional Council wants to hear about it: They’re soliciting award nominations from the region’s local governments, organizations and private citizens.

The Regional Leadership Awards, now in their 11th year, were established to recognize and publicize regional accomplishments and service. The awards honor volunteer contributions, as well as innovation by governmental units and organizations, in Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania counties.

An independent task force representing all four counties will evaluate nominees’ accomplishments and choose winners for most of the awards, which include the Land-of-Sky Regional Council Citizenship Award, the Charles H. Campbell Regional Leadership Award and the Kathleen Godwin Cole Award, among others.

For more information, or to request a nomination form, call Jean Sluder at 251-6622.

A star is born

If you’re a musician, dancer, comedian, magician or other performer, the organizers of Bele Chere may be looking for you. The largest free, outdoor party in the Southeast — held in late July, right here in our fair city — serves up a ton of entertainment, and the festival is now accepting applications from interested musicians and other artists (local and regional performers are particularly encouraged to apply). Don’t miss this chance to have your act seen by thousands of people.

For more information, or an application, call the festival office at 259-5800. Applications must be postmarked no later than Saturday, Jan. 16.

Beatrix Potter’s world

Potterheads everywhere will rejoice when they get a chance to see what The Health Adventure has in store for them this winter: a larger-than-life-sized exhibit that makes the world of this famed children’s book illustrator and writer come alive.

Who hasn’t wanted to explore Peter’s quaint and cozy home beneath the roots of the big fir tree? Or to slink among the cabbage rows of Mr. McGregor’s garden? Now, you can. “The World of Peter Rabbit: The Art & Science of Beatrix Potter” will transform the museum’s second floor into an English country garden, circa 1910, complete with 5-foot-tall cabbages and 9-foot-tall carrot tops. Potter herself will also be represented — in the Victorian Gallery, where authentic historical materials (prints, letters, photographs and scientific illustrations) will highlight the author’s scientific and conservationist background.

That’s not all: On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3:30 p.m., the museum will host “Bunny Tales,” giving children a chance to hear some of Potter’s most delightful stories; and at 2 p.m. every Wednesday and Friday, museum guests will be able to enjoy live rabbits from the “Bunny Time” exhibit. A series of related events is also scheduled, including classes for kids in book writing and illustrating, animal-care exhibits, a mother/daughter Victorian tea at the Smith-McDowell House, and lectures on Potter’s scientific illustrations. The exhibit begins Saturday, Jan. 30 and runs through Saturday, May 8.

Call 254-6373 for ticket prices and other information.

— Cacophonously compiled by Paul Schattel

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