A two-way street

If you think our fair city has escaped the ravages of racism, think again: While Asheville has a well-deserved reputation for tolerance and open-mindedness, it is still living down the legacy of the American South (not to mention the rest of the world).

But the folks at Building Bridges have an eight-week curriculum that addresses the problem of racism where it really counts — in community members’ hearts and minds. The seminar challenges each participant to confront his or her own fears and ignorance through education, consciousness raising, nurturing and ongoing support.

The program also features locally relevant information and takes a clear-eyed look at the social, economic, educational and political injustices that have brought the various cultures in our society to the present place of misinformation and mutual suspicion. To date, more than 1000 people, hailing from nearly every corner of western North Carolina, have taken part in the four-year-old program.

The workshop, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 26, is open to people of all faiths, races, ages and walks of life — in short, you. Registration costs $12 and is limited to 90 people, so you’d better hurry.

To learn more, contact Tyrone Greenlee at New Mount Olive Baptist Church (253-0749).

Vote now for a better Buncombe

Voting is one of the most significant ways we can affect the world around us. And, during the week of Jan. 10-17, Asheville/Buncombe residents will have a chance to cast a vote that could help shape our community’s future.

“Let’s Talk! Dialogues for the Future,” is a series of countywide dialogues slated to begin this spring. About 500 people in 50 locations throughout the area will be discussing one topic — and your vote can help determine what that topic is. “Let’s Talk” is a project of VISION, a broad-based community group seeking to create a common vision of our region’s future.

“Five questions are being posed to our community,” says Dialogue Coordinator Valerie Taylor, adding, “Now’s the time for our citizens to identify what’s most important to them.”

The questions are: 1) How can we be good neighbors and keep our different traditions intact? 2) How can we protect our neighborhoods and environment while encouraging business development? 3) How can we all work together to make good decisions for our whole community? 4) How can we raise our citizens’ standard of living? 5) How can we use our property the way we want and respect our neighbors’ rights, at the same time?

To cast your vote, call 257-2900, and enter category number 1901. Or write down the number of your preferred question and send it to: VISION, P.O. Box 7435, Asheville, NC 28802. You may also fax your vote to 252-8898, or even vote on-line, at

County supermodel wanted

Buncombe County needs a “cover kid” to grace the cover of its spring 1999 Recreation Services tabloid — and it could be you (or your child). The county is sponsoring an essay contest, whose four winners will have their work printed and their smiling faces displayed for more than 100,000 readers to see.

In about 100 words, explain what you like best about any of the county’s programs (the Asheville-Buncombe County Youth Council, Youth Soccer, Special Olympics, Junior Golf and the like) or facilities (the Aston Park Tennis Center, the Hominy Valley Park Pool, Lake Julian Park, the Skyland Recreation Center, the Buncombe County Golf Course, the Erwin Community Pool, the WNC Nature Center).

Mail all entries to: Essay Contest, Buncombe County Recreation Services, 205 College St., Asheville, NC 28801. The deadline to enter is Friday, Jan. 15.

For additional info, call Rhett Langston at 250-4260.

And they said it couldn’t be done

It seems that even high-tech frontiers have high-tech frontiers. As a case in point, Asheville-based ISP NewEraCom has successfully deployed a solar-powered transmission unit to drive its growing high-speed, wireless Internet network, SKYRunner.

Perched on the roof of the Vanderbilt Apartments in downtown Asheville, the unit powers four transmitters in the network, providing wireless Internet access to businesses and institutions at 1.5 megabits per second — 25 times faster than the best phone-modem speeds, according to a NewEraCom press release. Two 75-watt photovoltaic panels generate electricity, which is then stored in batteries; when fully charged, the batteries can store enough energy to power the transmitters for almost a week.

One of the important benefits of this technology is that it can operate under disaster and emergency conditions, when the regular power supply may not be available. It’s also particularly handy for areas that don’t have ready access to electricity, such as some Third World countries and rural areas in the U.S. NewEraCom, in fact, is also developing an international program in such developing countries as Ghana and Poland.

To learn more, call NewEraCom’s CEO, Jane Hatley, at 258-8562.

Privacy or protection?

Some people see drug testing as an invasion of privacy; to others, it’s simply a way to keep employees and customers safe. Either way, it may be helpful to learn the ins and outs of a much-misunderstood, oft-maligned, modern-day practice that shows no signs of abating anytime soon. That’s why the WNC Drug-Free Workplace Alliance and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce are offering a workshop called “Legal Issues: Drug Testing and the Americans with Disabilities Act,” on Thursday, Jan. 21.

The workshop will help participants gain a greater understanding of the legal issues relating to employee drug testing, with an emphasis on developing a good policy and gaining a clear understanding of drug-testing mechanics. The program will also explore the relationship between addiction and disability, as addressed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Speakers will include attorney Wade Ballard and Keystone Laboratories’ John Sams.

The workshop will be held at the Chamber, from 2 to 4:30 p.m.; the cost is $5 for Chamber members, $10 for everyone else.

For more info, call Barbara Zimmerman at 252-3240.

Fun in the Carolinas

Many Carolina natives have a strong sense of place and local culture; one of the benefits of living here is the chance to explore the worlds of our wonderful and richly traditional surroundings. But the deadline for one such opportunity — a three-month N.C. Arts Folklife Internship — is Feb. 1, so you’d better hurry.

The internship, which will run between April and August 1999, is aimed at people with a strong interest in a career in “professional folklife programming.” The intern will be introduced to a range of issues and activities, including: planning and implementing public programs; organizing original field research in support of folklife projects; grantsmanship; financial planning and administration; advising local organizations and arts agencies on folklife projects; and more. Applicants must have completed at least one year of graduate study in folklife or related fields (ethnomusicology, anthropology, history, etc.) or have experience with traditional arts and culture, and demonstrate strong organizational and research skills.

The intern will receive a $4,000 stipend for the three-month period. New applicants should be prepared to submit work samples and an “application narrative” that addresses the stated evaluation criteria.

To request an application form, or to find out more about the program, contact Katherine Reynolds at (919) 733-7897, ext. 21.

Confidence, for the sensitive pet

Christine Nilsson knows that one gentle touch is worth a thousand words — and that applies to animals as well as people. This winter, she’ll present a class on the Tellington Touch (a.k.a. TTouch) method of animal care and education, as part of A-B Tech’s continuing-education program.

Emphasizing cooperation rather than dominance, Nilsson will discuss gentle methods of correcting behavioral problems such as chewing, leash pulling, shyness, aggression, fear of going to the veterinarian, and so on. Students will learn how to communicate focus, balance, self-confidence and obedience to their animals, using a series of touches, training aids and the “confidence obstacle course” (I’d love to see my fat cat Henry tackle that). According to a TTouch press release, the method also boosts animals’ general health and well-being.

For details on class scheduling, consult the A-B Tech continuing-education bulletin; to learn more about the TTouch class, call Christine at 298-5007.

— caconymically compiled by Paul Schattel

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