Notepad

Frazier at UNCA

By now, Charles Frazier must be one of the most famous novelists in the South. As the author of the universally acclaimed Cold Mountain, Frazier became, with a single book, one of the literary world’s most closely watched writers. You’d think that with all the attention — and the fact that he’s waist deep in the follow-up to his first novel — Frazier would be too busy to give time to anything but the prestigious and the ultra chic. Refreshingly, that’s not the case: Frazier will give a reading of his work and answer questions at UNCA at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 13.

Set in North Carolina, Cold Mountain tells — in graceful, time-worn language — the story of Inman, a wounded Confederate soldier who deserts a Raleigh hospital and treks across the state to his home at Cold Mountain. On his way, he dodges bounty hunters and daydreams about his beloved Ada, who is back home, alone, struggling to keep the farm going. Not surprisingly, the story is rooted in fact, being loosely based on Frazier’s own great-great uncle, whose Civil War odyssey became the core of the novel.

The author — who earned a bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill, a master’s from Appalachian State and a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina — was named UNCA’s P.B. Parris Visiting Writer this year, a position that honors P.B. Parris, a recently retired creative-writing professor and the author of “Waltzing in the Attic.”

For more information about Frazier, call the UNCA Literature Department at 251-6411.

Take Back the Night

The next day, on Friday, April 14, UNCA will host a Take Back the Night rally, an event promoting education and awareness about violence against women and covering various associated issues, ranging from the empowerment of women of color, ecofeminism, domestic violence and sexual abuse.

The featured speaker will be noted author and gender-warrior Daphne Scholinski, author of The Last Time I Wore a Dress, the story of her experience of rape, abuse and harassment while institutionalized from 1981 to 1984 for a so-called “gender identity disorder,” because of her sexual orientation and traditionally “unfeminine” appearance. While hospitalized, Scholinski was subjected to isolation, varied medications and programs to make her properly “feminine.”

Other Take Back the Night speakers will include Carrie Gerstmann, LaRhonda Carlton, Dr. Sarah Judson, Sandy Rice and Rosa Verdeja. The rally will conclude with a candle-lit march across campus, followed by an informal open-mic session and drum circle; the event will be catered by Max & Rosie’s Cafe, Old Europe Bakery, Bruegger’s Bagel Bakery and other establishments.

To learn more about Take Back the Night, or to volunteer, call 255-7127.

Last chance to sign up for cannabis

If you think the only people who turn up for pro-cannabis rallies are befuddled slackers who’ve just said “Yes,” you’ve never been to one. Believe it or not, there are strong-willed professionals and politicians who support the legalization of medical marijuana and industrial-hemp use, and they’re not afraid to speak out.

As a case in point, Barbara Howe — the Libertarian candidate for governor of North Carolina — will be the keynote speaker at the Cannabis Campaign Rally this Sunday, April 16, from 7-10 p.m. in A-B Tech’s Laurel Auditorium.

Joining Howe will be Michael Morgan, the Democratic candidate for the N.C. House of Representatives’ 51st district. Morgan is a vocal opponent of what he describes as civil-rights abuses and police corruption spawned by the War on Drugs.

Sponsored by the Asheville-based Community of Compassion, the rally marks the culmination of the group’s drive to gather signatures on a petition calling for the Asheville Police Department to make marijuana and hemp offenses its lowest law-enforcement priority. At the rally, Community of Compassion members will “unroll” petitions bearing thousands of signatures gathered from concerned citizens in Asheville, as well as signatures of support from Western North Carolina — and even as far away as Hiroshima, Japan.

Asheville voters who wish to sign the group’s petition calling for a citywide referendum have until April 20. Petitions are currently available at High Mountain Hemporium (30 Wall St.) and at Earth Fare in Westgate Shopping Center. The last chance to sign will be at the rally.

For more information, call 251-0343 or 258-8432, or visit http://onward.to/herbmercy. Barbara Howe’s campaign platform is detailed at http://www.votehowe.org.

Census undercounts, millions lost

To most people, the Census 2000 is just a simple nuisance: You fill it out (perhaps grumbling), you mail it, and you forget about it. But according to two state experts, for thousands of North Carolina children, the census may represent a gigantic missed opportunity: More than 70,000 children were overlooked in the 1990 census, causing policymakers to miscalculate the number of children in school districts and kids eligible for Head Start and other child-care programs, resulting in millions of dollars of forfeited funding and opportunities.

The two experts, Nolo Martinez, director of the Governor’s Office for Hispanic/Latino Affairs, and Kirsta Millar, director of the N.C. Child Advocacy Institute’s Knowledge Exchange, have released a report citing some of the estimated miscounts and the reasons for the errors. Children, say Martinez and Millar, were missed more than twice as often as adults.

“Each year,” their report reads, “census numbers are used to distribute $180 billion in federal funds to state and local governments for education, health care, child-care assistance, housing and transportation. The amount of money available and where it will go in North Carolina depends largely on the number of children in a given community.”

Sadly, the children most apt to be missed are disproportionately African-American and Hispanic — and many of them are poor and live in communities with the greatest need for extra funds.

The reasons for this are many: Children, more than adults, split their time between two homes, live in temporary arrangements such as foster care, or live with other relatives or adults — and, therefore, may be missed because no one counts them as members of their household. Some parents who receive the census form do not read English; others may not be aware of who they should include on the census form. Or they may not return their form at all: Busy parents sometimes disregard the survey as just another piece of “junk mail.”

And — despite provisions for census workers to make follow-up visits to households that don’t return their forms — statistically, the people who respond by mail provide the most accurate, comprehensive numbers.

Additionally, some parents don’t return census forms because they mistakenly fear that the information they give may be used against them.

“North Carolina stands to lose at least $131 million in federal funding between 2002 and 2012 if the undercount rate in the 2000 Census is similar to the one in 1990,” conclude Martinez and Millar. “In the wake of the financial devastation caused by Hurricane Floyd, we cannot afford to lose $131 million. Our state needs all the resources it can get.”

To contact the authors of the study, call Martinez at (919) 733-5631, or Millar at (919) 834-6623, ext. 233. If you need a census form, you may obtain one at the nearest public library.

Grant-seekers’ heaven

Professional grant writers know that scoring that big donation in the sky is not as easy as it seems. For starters, there’s a great deal of competition, not to mention a plethora of procedural hoops to jump through … and that’s after you’ve managed to locate the foundations willing to give out money in the first place. Recently, however, GrantSmart, an informational and interactive nonprofit resource center, has created a Web site that not only allows you to see who’s giving, but how much and to whom.

Created in cooperation with the IRS, GrantSmart uses tax records to catalog private-foundation activities that should be of interest to grant-seekers, philanthropic organizations and even individual donors wanting to get in on the grant activity.

The organization’s Web site (grantsmart.org) claims that the combined assets held by all private foundations exceeded $290 billion (“billion with a B,” the site exclaims) in 1998, with more than $15 billion available in grants in that year alone.

“We designed GrantSmart to be the informational and interactive resource center for and about the nonprofit community,” says John Downing, president of Canyon Research, the San Diego-based foundation that operates GrantSmart on a nonprofit basis. “In the past, someone who wanted financial information had to formally request it or travel to the nonprofit’s office. These organizations then went through the cumbersome process of photocopying and mailing out [their] returns. It was a slow and tedious process for everyone involved.”

Now, a foundation can meet IRS disclosure requirements by linking its Web site to GrantSmart, thereby allowing anyone requesting the foundation’s tax forms to access them with the click of a mouse. Under the new federal disclosure requirements — which took effect March 13 — the 60,000 private foundations that file Form 990-PFs must make them available to the public. By visiting GrantSmart on-line, anyone can access these documents at no charge.

To learn more, go to www.grantsmart,org, or call Jamie Sue Winkelman, director of communications, at (619) 615-9733.

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