Buzzworm news briefs

Healthy house, healthy planet

An arts-and-crafts bungalow in Black Mountain is the first house to be certified under the North Carolina HealthyBuilt Homes Program. Launched in 2003 by the North Carolina Solar Center (located on N.C. State University’s campus) in collaboration with the State Energy Office and the N.C. Department of Administration, the program’s purpose is to provide visibility and certification for residential builders who use sustainable “green” building practices.

The Black Mountain project was built by local builder Rob Moody and his company, The EcoBuilders, both as a home for himself and his wife, Lindsay, and as a model that showcases lots of environmentally friendly practices.

“We were in the right place at the right time to be the first [certified] house,” says Moody, noting that there will be many others to follow.

To qualify as a certified N.C. HealthyBuilt home, Moody’s house had to score at least 150 points (it scored more than 200) from a checklist covering nine different categories called “opportunities.”

For example, under “site opportunities” Moody scored points for preserving as many trees as he could on the lot (and utilizing the trees he did fell), protecting the topsoil, using drought-resistant native plants in the landscaping and even locating the house near a bus stop.

He received more points under “water opportunities” for low-flow faucets and a rainwater catchment system; and points under “energy opportunities” for Energy Star-rated appliances (which use less energy than standard models), a natural gas furnace and water heater, control of air infiltration through “tight” construction, and framing the house in such a way that “you get the most insulation over the most area,” explains Moody.

Some of the other environmentally friendly features the house incorporates include recycled building materials, nontoxic paint, timber not treated with arsenic, an efficient formaldehyde-free insulation, and a highly reflective roof to keep cooling bills down in the summer.

But Moody’s house is not only Earth-friendly; it’s well-crafted too, grabbing both a 2004 Parade of Homes Gold Award in the Affordability Price Range category and a Special Features Award for its concrete floors and salvaged stained-glass windows.

To learn more about the North Carolina HealthyBuilt Homes program, visit www.ncsc.ncsu.edu. For more information about The EcoBuilders, call 337-0623 or visit www.theecobuilders.com (where you can also see photos of Moody’s house during different phases of construction).

— Lisa Watters

What should the next UNCA chancellor be like?

A series of public meetings on Wednesday, Jan. 26, marks one of the first steps in choosing a new UNCA chancellor.

A 15-member chancellor search committee was established earlier this month to seek a successor to Chancellor Jim Mullen, who announced in December that he will step down from that office in May to become president of Elms College in Massachusetts.

The committee is made up of representatives from the UNCA faculty, staff, students, board of trustees, alumni and community. One of the committee’s initial tasks will be to establish candidate criteria and qualifications.

The process will include four public meetings held to collect comments from UNCA students, faculty, staff, alumni and the community on the qualities and characteristics they think should be considered in the selection of the next chancellor. Each public meeting will be geared to a different constituency, but participants are invited to attend any session that is most convenient.

The first meeting, for students, was scheduled for Jan. 25. On Wednesday, Jan. 26, a staff meeting will be held at 10:30 a.m., followed by a faculty meeting at 3:45 p.m. and an alumni and community meeting at 5:15 p.m. All the meetings will be held in Laurel Forum at Karpen Hall on the UNCA campus.

Those who are unable to attend the public meetings can send their written comments to: chancellor_search@unca.edu. For more information, call UNCA’s Public Information Office at 251-6526.

— Lisa Watters

Emma as you’ve never seen it

When UNCA graduate student Naomi Johnson handed out cameras to children at the Woodridge Apartments in Emma as part of a year-long community documentary project, she discovered a world she hadn’t seen before.

The public housing project had always appeared “very generic, very grim-looking from my perspective,” she explains, but “from [the children’s] perspective I saw it in a whole new light. It just looked very lively, full of people, full of activity, full of action and even kind of magical.”

Johnson recruited a core group of about 14 elementary school children (ages 7 to 11) from an after-school program to participate in the project. The children were asked to take photos of specific subjects as well as given more open-ended assignments such as to “take a picture of something wonderful … or horrible … or scary,” she explains.

Many of the residents at Woodridge are immigrants, notes Johnson, originating for the most part from Eastern Europe (especially the Ukraine) and Latin America.

The children would often come back with images of family members, “which gave some really interesting insight to the different cultures that are happening there at Woodridge,” says Johnson. “Many of these parents really do not speak English at all. So the kids are these kind of ambassadors between the two worlds.”

Many of the children’s photos will be featured in “Seeing Community,” a photography exhibit running through Tuesday, Feb. 8, at UNCA’s new Highsmith Gallery. The free exhibit, made possible by a grant from the UNCA Office of Undergraduate Research, also features photographs from year-long community documentary projects by three other UNCA students. Marcela Ashburn worked with Johnson as well as on her own project at Woodridge, while Jamie Simons and John Burdett both worked with residents of Life House, an independent living facility in south Asheville for people with spinal cord injuries.

The projects were inspired by “Documentary in Community,” a class taught by UNCA professor Ken Betsalel that explored “using documentary photography as a tool for community building,” explains Johnson.

The gallery, located on the ground floor of UNCA’s Highsmith University Union, is open to the public 8 a.m.-midnight Monday-Friday and 10 a.m.-midnight Saturday and Sunday.

— Lisa Watters

Acting locally for tsunami relief

With the death toll from last month’s tsunami in the Indian Ocean topping 225,000, WNC residents are continuing efforts to raise money to help. Here’s a rundown:

• “The Lion’s Share” dinner takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 26, in Mars Hill College’s Pittman Dining Hall. Attendees can dine on foods unique to the areas hit by the tsunami, learn more about the cultures of the people who live there, and donate money or health kits to be distributed by the Church World Service. Tickets ($10) are available at Accent on Books in Asheville, the Mars Hill College Bookstore in Mars Hill, the Well-Bred Bakery & Cafe in Weaverville and Zuma Coffee in Marshall. Info: 689-1583 or 689-1298.

• Capital Bank has established an account to benefit the family of one of its Asheville employees, Manori Wijewickrema, a teller at the bank’s Merrimon Avenue branch. Wijewickrema’s grandmother’s house in Sri Lanka was destroyed during the disaster, leaving 10 of her relatives struggling and without a permanent home. All of the proceeds donated to The Lorensuhewa Relief Fund will be used to help the family. Contributions can be made at any Capital Bank branch. Info: 277-4506.

• On Tuesday, Feb. 1, Doc Chey’s Noodle House (37 Biltmore Ave., Asheville) and co-sponsor Highland Brewing Co. will participate in Dine-out for Tsunami Relief. Twenty percent of Doc Chey’s net sales and 100 percent of sales of Highland Brewing Co.’s beers sold at Doc Chey’s on Feb. 1 will be donated to CARE USA, says the restaurant’s co-founder, Brook Messina. (Mountain Xpress is a sponsor of this event.) For more info, visit www.dineoutfortsunamirelief.com.

• Eldorado Salvage and Modern (504 Haywood Road, Asheville) is donating 75 percent of the proceeds of a 10-day eBay auction to the Red Cross’ tsunami relief fund, says co-owner Christi Whiteley. Items to be auctioned come from a booth the Eldorado is closing out at Needful Things antique mall (10 Francis Road, Hendersonville). The auction starts Feb. 1; the seller on eBay is listed as Eldosalvage. For more info, call Whitely at 252-2505.

• RBC Centura is accepting monetary donations at all of its banking centers across the Southeast for the American Red Cross International Response Fund. For a list of branch locations, call (800) 236-8872; for more info on the Red Cross and the International Response Fund, see www.redcross.org.

— Tracy Rose

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