Walking for all of us

by Lisa Watters

“I want to go for a walk to clear my head. I hope that 2,157 miles will be long enough,” said Karen Grosskreutz in a letter to Mountain Xpress a few days before she began hiking the Appalachian Trail on March 20.

Grosskreutz is undertaking this trek — from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Mount Katahdin, Maine — in memory of her mother, Lynn Grosskreutz, an elementary-school guidance counselor in Milton, Wisc., who died of brain cancer last summer at age 50.

Karen had actually planned to walk the trail after graduating from Warren Wilson College in December but instead returned home to Wisconsin to care for her mother. Now, she says, “I’m walking the trail to help others and heal myself.”

She’s hoping her walk will heighten awareness and raise funds for Pathways — Life After Cancer, an Asheville-based nonprofit that provides directive counseling services for cancer patients and their families.

“I don’t regret that there is no cure for brain cancer,” Grosskreutz reveals. “When I think about Mom, I regret that she probably felt alone even amidst her friends and family. I regret that she didn’t have the emotional support of other people experiencing the same hopes and fears — of the radiation mask, losing her hair, and ultimately of dying.”

As to her own purpose, Grosskreutz explains: “I don’t think that my walking 2,000 miles can cure cancer. But I do believe that by walking 2,000 miles, with [the] help [of supporters], we can affect a community of cancer patients and survivors.”

During her six-month trek, Grosskreutz — an outdoor educator and free-lance writer — will carry everything she needs on her back, camping and cooking on the trail. Just the uphill portions of her estimated 5-million-step journey will be the equivalent of climbing from sea level to the top of Mount Everest 16 times. Grosskreutz will report from the trail every two weeks with stories and pictures available on the Internet at

Grosskreutz’s walk is sponsored by Pathways, the Key Center for Service-Learning at UNCA, Warren Wilson College, Diamond Brand Outdoors and local individuals. The expenses for Grosskreutz’s journey have already been covered by donations; all additional proceeds will go to Pathways. Suggested pledges are a penny per mile ($21.57) or a dime per mile ($215.70), but any amount is welcomed.

Donations are tax-deductible. Checks can be sent to Pathways — Life After Cancer (Attention: “AT”) at 121 Sherwood Road, Asheville, NC 28803. Grosskreutz can be reached c/o Key Center for Service — Learning, UNCA CPO#2421 Rhoades Hall 116, Asheville, NC 28804-8511 or at

Horse sense

When he was 13 years old, Monty Roberts — a horseman’s son who had already demonstrated an exceptional talent with horses — traveled to Nevada to track wild mustangs and observe their behavior. He detected a nonverbal language among these wild animals, which he would later call ‘Equus’ and incorporate into his nonviolent approach to training.

Now, more than 50 years later, Roberts is an internationally renowned horse gentler and the best-selling author of The Man Who Listens to Horses and Shy Boy. He has created Join-Up, a program for “starting” young or wild horses that incorporates nonviolent methods of gaining a horse’s trust and confidence as an alternative to more abusive, conventional training procedures.

Roberts has said: “For centuries, humans have said to horses, ‘You do what I tell you or I’ll hurt you.’ … I’m saying that no one has the right to say ‘you must’ to an animal or another human. Violence is never the answer.”

In 1989, by invitation of Queen Elizabeth II, Roberts started 16 horses of various breeds at Windsor Castle. The queen continues to start all her mounts using his method.

Mountain-area residents interested in seeing Roberts in action will get a chance on Thursday, April 12 when he gives a live demonstration at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher, starting at 7:30 p.m. During the demonstration, Roberts will nonviolently persuade a “raw” horse to accept saddle, bridle and rider in 30 minutes — a process that can take traditional horsemen more than three weeks to accomplish. He’ll also work with two or more “remedial” horses, such as buckers, kickers, biters or bad loaders.

In addition, Roberts will apply his trust-based philosophy to broader questions of life and society, using the horse as a metaphor to provide insight into how we, as human beings, can improve the ways we interact with one another.

General admission is $26; a $78 VIP ticket includes supper, a meeting with Roberts, and seating directly on the perimeter of the pen. The program will benefit the Mars Hill-based Mountin’ Hopes Riding Program for children. a nonprofit that helps emotionally and physically challenged children gain self-respect and self-esteem through grooming and riding horses.

For Monty Roberts tickets or information about Mountin’ Hopes, call 649-9226.

The stories we could tell

Everyone has a story to tell, a tale that’s woven into the fabric of memory, pulled through time, and awaiting discovery. Telling Life Stories, an upcoming series of workshops offered by the Southland Institute, aims to help participants mine these rich veins of memory and bring forth their own unique stories.

Using memoir, fiction-writing techniques and contemporary images in print, writing teacher Maudy Benz will conduct four workshops: “Mining Life Stories” (April 7), “Exposing Life Stories” (May 19), “Telling Life Stories” (Sept. 22), and “Gathering Life Stories” (Nov. 10).

Benz, a former fiction editor at b. magazine, teaches writing in the short-courses program at Duke University. Her latest novel, Oh, Jackie, has received numerous awards and was named a noteworthy paperback in 1999 by the New York Times Book Review.

The workshops will be held at the Kellogg Conference Center near Asheville. The $135 fee for each full-day-and-evening workshop includes lunch and dinner provided by Laurey’s Catering. Workshops can be attended individually or as a series.

Benz is also one of the women featured in the recent anthology The Long Way Around: How 34 Women Found the Lives They Love. The North Carolina women in this and another anthology, The Secret To Their Success: How 33 Women Made Their Dreams Come True, were brought together by the Carolina Women’s Partnership. Both anthologies include interviews and essays in which women share their secrets, fears, dreams and advice in hopes of inspiring the women who read them.

For more information about the series, contact the Southlands Institute by writing to PO Box 702, Valle Crucis, NC 28691, calling (828) 433-6818 or e-mailing

Not just black and white

Last spring, a film crew from UNC-TV came to Asheville to visit Asheville High School, Asheville Middle School and Haw Creek Elementary. They were researching how students learn from and interact with the diversity that is increasingly reflected in our schools.

North Carolina, for example, is home to the largest Native American population east of the Mississippi River. And in the last decade, the state has seen its Hispanic population grow by 129 percent and its Asian population double. North Carolina is now home to Hmong and Moslem people, Iranians and Ukrainians. Among the 1.3 million children in the state’s public-school system today, more than 170 languages and dialects are spoken.

Surveys also suggest that 1 in 10 of all students are questioning their sexual orientation and that 14 percent of youth have been physically assaulted because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

How are students doing as they struggle daily with varying beliefs about religion, interracial relationships, sexual orientation and more? What steps are public schools taking to deal with diversity issues?

UNC-TV attempts to answer these questions in the documentary Something in Common, which premieres Wednesday, April 4 at 9 p.m. The hourlong program is a result of interviews done with teachers and students in nine public schools across the state.

Women taking care of themselves

When Self magazine polled thousands of its women readers, only 3 percent identified “taking time for themselves” as their number-one priority, whereas 70 percent said their jobs come first. So Self decided to designate April 17 as Self Day, when women take time for themselves.

To encourage women to take good care of themselves, Planned Parenthood of NC-West in Asheville is offering free Pap smears on Self Day. In addition, full gynecological exams will be available for only $25. Appointments are limited, so call soon.

To schedule an appointment , call 252-7928. For more information about Self Day, visit

Scottish and proud

Did you know that North Carolina has more citizens of Scottish ancestry than any other state or country — including Scotland? In 1997, to recognize this heritage, then-Gov. Jim Hunt designated April 6 as a new state holiday — Tartan Day.

On that date in 1320, Scottish nobles signed the Treaty of Arbroath, the Scottish Declaration of Independence, which they sent to the pope, asserting that Robert the Bruce was now their king. Though Scotland’s attempts to remain independent were challenged by England and the two nations eventually combined under James VI of Scotland (who became James I of England in 1585), Scotland continued to periodically rebel until 1746.

Area residents wishing to celebrate North Carolina’s Scottish heritage might consider a visit to Franklin, N.C., on April 6. The festivities begin at noon with a Scottish-pipe band leading a parade around the town’s business district. Visitors may carry tartan banners (available from the Franklin branch of the Scottish Tartans Museum of Scotland) and walk behind the kilted honor guard.

The museum will be open free of charge, and after the parade, folks can sample Scottish foods (such as Scotch broth, trifle, raisin squares and scones); enjoy Scottish dancing, storytelling and songs; and learn more about the Scots at historical talks.

The museum — the only American extension of the Scottish Tartans Society in Pitlochry, Scotland — contains the world’s oldest known kilt, a Scottish cottage, a diorama of Scottish traders, and pictures of the Scots’ immigration to the New World. The museum’s tartan room displays all known clan, district and university tartans.

For more information, call the museum at (828) 524-7472 or visit them at

Sharing the light

A near-death experience in 1965 prompted the Rev. Carol E. Parrish to embark on an intense spiritual quest. In 1981, she founded the Sparrow Hawk Village intentional community, the Light of Christ Community Church and its seminary, Santa Sophia, all located in Tahlequah, Okla. Offering graduate degrees in theology and philosophy, the school emphasizes the hermetic philosophy “know thyself.”

Parrish, who has lectured and led workshops throughout the world, organized the 1996-97 international conference for the World Network of Religious Futurists in India, the United States and England???. Her books include The New Dictionary of Spiritual Thought, The Book of Rituals and Personal and Planetary Transformation and the three-volume Adventures in Meditation and Spirituality for the 21st Century.

Parrish will share some of what she’s learned along the way when she speaks on “The Soul’s Evolution: Standing Together and Standing Apart at Jubilee Community Church on Wednesday, April 4, starting at 7 p.m. A $10 donation is suggested. Parrish will also lead a retreat on “Humans, Angels and Others” April 5-7 at Christmount.

For more information, call 252-8346



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