Death race 2000

Next time you cross Patton Avenue, make sure you look left, right, then left again; then repeat the process: “Mean Streets 1998,” a report released recently by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, ranks North Carolina as the seventh-most-dangerous state for child pedestrians, based on data covering 1992-96. The report pegs the state’s sprawling metropolitan areas as the most dangerous places, citing speeding traffic and a lack of adequate sidewalks, greenways and other facilities as key factors making suburban areas less inviting and more dangerous for walkers.

The report also offers some suggestions on how communities can make their streets safer: Identify and focus resources on major problem areas (particularly areas where children walk); ensure that all new streets include sidewalks; use “traffic-calming” techniques to slow down neighborhood traffic and reclaim the public rights of way for all users; adopt flexible design standards that allow communities to build businesses and residential districts without the car-oriented setback and parking requirements found in most local zoning codes.

Over the past year, the N.C. Department of Transportation has sponsored three “Walkable Communities” workshops, including one here in Asheville. And with increased funding available through the federal transportation bill TEA-21, it’s clearly time to take back the streets.

The “Mean Streets ’98” report is available on-line at:

Millennial apocalypse, vol. I

To some folks, the Y2K crisis is a bad joke, just another example of humankind’s overreliance on technology, with its inevitable limitations. To others, though, this is a real crisis — and, as such, it provokes successive stages of denial, grief and eventual acceptance in those going through it.

Perhaps that’s why the folks at PAAR Enterprises have put together a Y2K workshop, to help people sort out the various interpersonal issues involved, and empower dedicated individuals to assist each other in the kinds of personal, organizational and social transformation that can not only avert disaster, but also build a better future. Brenda Jones-Rafferty and Jim Rafferty, the team behind PAAR Enterprises, believe the crisis is an opportunity to access something more transcendent, “a co-creative response which will require people being deeply in touch with their authentic self, their deep sense of life purpose and meaning, their highest values, their inner and outer worlds … .”

The workshop, called “Y2K Workshop for People Who Want to Make a Difference,” will cover such topics as: becoming informed, making a contribution, moving beyond fear and panic, shifting to a creative response, making a contribution, and connecting and networking in your community. The facilitators are particularly seeking individuals with the “skills, perspectives, vision and leadership capabilities” to come forward and make a difference in the impact Y2K has on our fair city.

The first workshop will be held on Saturday, Jan. 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Jubilee (46 Wall St.) in Asheville. Space is limited, and the suggested donation is $25.

To learn more, or to register, call 253-5961.

A small-business success story

Sadly, not everyone gets to experience the satisfaction of a job well done. Many in our community never get a chance to feel the pride and gratification that come when the hard work is over, and it’s time to sit back and survey what’s been done.

So, recently, the Blue Ridge Center held an invitation-only luncheon in honor of the city’s newest successful start-up business: Sparkling Clean Janitorial Service Inc., run by and for individuals with a serious mental illness. And while Sparkling Clean is the first business incorporated in our state that’s run by mental-health “consumers,” there are many other vocational-activity programs that seek to improve the skills, the incomes and the self-esteem of the clients they serve. Simply put, “consumer-run” businesses can empower people with mental illness by letting them help design and run their own businesses.

The luncheon, which was attended by state Rep. Lanier Cansler, along with other city, county and state officials, also honored the state legislature and the Division of Mental Health, for supporting the project and helping its workers achieve greater independence.

For more information, call 258-3500.

Millennial apocalypse, vol. II

Forget that New Year’s Eve sailing trip — the one where everybody parties like it’s 1999, while furiously outracing time zones to prolong the final moments of the dying year. Instead, consider this way-cool, end-of-the-millennium gathering, aimed at viewing the 20th century’s last total solar eclipse.

Dr. Donald and Vicki Collins of Warren Wilson College have put together a study trip for college students, Aug. 1-15, including 10 days in Romania, where the chances of viewing the eclipse are the best in all of Europe (about 70 percent). As a bonus, students will also be able to view the Perseid meteor shower from a dark-sky location, where up to 100 meteors an hour can be seen.

To accommodate tight student budgets, the Collinses are planning the cheapest trip possible — under $2,000, including round-trip air fare and accommodations in Romania and London. Equipment for studying the flash spectrum of the solar chromosphere will also be available, as well as telescopes for safe viewing.

To learn more, call Dr. Ronald Collins at 298-3325, ext. 367, or email:

Animals are people, too

It’s sad but true: animal lovers have to avert their eyes, every time they drive past an animal shelter. There are simply too many dogs and cats in the world for the limited number of potential owners, and more and more animals are being put to sleep each year.

Enter the N.C. Veterinary Medicine Association, which recently announced that many of its members will participate in a statewide program offering discounted spay/neutering during the month of February.

The benefits of spaying/neutering go beyond population control, though. Such surgery significantly lowers the risk of uterine and mammary cancer in female cats and dogs, and the risk of certain tumors, hernias and prostate problems in male animals. It can also help calm aggressive animals and keep wander-prone pets closer to home — perhaps even prolonging their lives.

“Even if you own just one pet,” said NCVMA President Dr. Danny T. Allen in a recent press release, “you can take this important step to help end pet overpopulation by having them spayed or neutered.” The program, said Allen, also seeks to get more pet owners involved in helping end North Carolina’s serious pet-overpopulation problem.

For more information, call (919) 557-9385. To find out which local veterinary offices are participating, call your vet.

Yearbooks — the essential school experience

Just because you’re home-schooled doesn’t mean you can’t have a yearbook. The WNC Homeschool Journalism Club is accepting pages for its third annual Homeschool Yearbook. All home-schoolers in the region are invited to submit a page (or pages) that express who they are, including photos, poetry, writing, art or whatever else best describes them and their homeschool experience.

Pages should be 8-1/2 x 11 inches, with a quarter-inch border at the top and bottom and a 3/8-inch margin on the sides, for binding purposes. The cost is $5 per page (if received before March 31), and $7.50 per page from then until May 1 (the final deadline). Advertising support is also welcomed.

For more information, call Katrina Caskey at 649-3491, or Django or Robin at 251-2304.

— cajolingly compiled by Paul Schattel

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