Speaking our peace

What happens when two local poets feel moved to speak out for world peace? If the bards in question are Asheville poets Mendy Knott and David Schenck, they organize a grassroots event and invite all of WNC to speak out too! “Let the Mountains Ring: Voices for Peace” happens Friday May 10, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. in Asheville’s City/County Plaza.

A press release urges area residents to “tell us what peace means to you. Bring your words, your poems, songs, letters, essays. Bring lawn chairs. Bring signs to wave, a hearty voice, and a peaceful heart. Be ready to laugh, listen and love each other. Bring your family and a picnic.”

A keynote speaker will kick off every hour; the remainder will be open-mic time, giving everyday citizens a chance to join poets, storytellers, musicians and spiritual leaders in sharing what peace means to them.

Among the featured speakers will be the Rev. Howard Hanger of Jubilee Community, the Rev. Cheryl Garrison, and Khalid Fattah Griggs-Imam of the Community Mosque of Winston-Salem. Featured authors and storytellers will include Cecil Bothwell and Angelyn DeBord and poets Annabeth Watts, Damion Bailey and Laura Hope-Gill, among many others. Also on hand will be puppeteer Anna Stanley, poet/musician Carrie Gerstmann, Billy Jonas and Common Ground.

For more information, contact Knott at or Schenck at

Noted journalist to speak

Linda Fasulo knows her stuff. A United Nations correspondent for NBC News, MSNBC and U.S. News and World Report, Fasulo can also be heard on National Public Radio (WCQS in Asheville). The author of the book Representing America: Experiences of the U.S. Diplomats at the U.N., she covered the attack on the World Trade Center and is well-versed in such matters as the U.S./U.N. relationship, U.S. foreign policy, Iraq, Afghanistan, peacekeeping and the role of the media in today’s world.

On Monday May 13, Fasulo will speak on “The United Nations and the United States, Post-September 11” in UNCA’s Owen Conference Center. This is the last presentation in this year’s lecture series hosted by the World Affairs Council of Western North Carolina. Admission is $5; the talk begins at 7:30 p.m. Affairs Council members, students with a valid ID, and members of sponsoring organizations will be admitted free.

For more information, call 250-3828.

Where science and fun meet

Wouldn’t you love it if your child could have fun and learn something new at the same time? That’s the idea behind The Health Adventure’s Discover Science Summer Camp, aimed at children in grades three through six. Three different weeklong camps are being offered; participants can choose either full-day or half-day sessions.

“Ooey-Gooey Camp” helps kids learn about the sense of touch and texture via such substances as slime, bubbles, expanding marshmallows, etc.; “Electric Avenue” teaches kids how electricity and magnets are related and how to build an electric motor; and “Surfin’ Safari, an Ocean Expedition” involves creating a minisubmarine and an edible aquarium and discovering why salt water is so salty. Two camps will be offered during each of three weeklong sessions: June 10-14 (Surfin’ Safari/Ooey-Gooey), June 24-28 (Surfin’ Safari/Electric Avenue) and July 8-12 (Ooey-Gooey/Electric Avenue).

All sessions will be held at Pack Place in Asheville. Preregistration is required; weekly fees are $80 for half-day sessions (plus an extra $15 per week for lunches), $175 for full-day sessions (lunch included).

Call 254-6373 to register or for more information.

Calling all techies

The Western Alliance — a community-based center serving people with disabilities — needs computer-savvy volunteers for its CyberPal program. The three-year-old program, explains Site Coordinator Mechelle Holt, needs volunteers to help refurbish donated computers, provide tech support and place computers in homes.

This successful program also provides Internet service, to help participants connect with others and become more independent. “One unique aspect of the program is that it meets the needs of the consumer,” stresses Holt, providing “services they want, rather than services that we think they want.”

More computers are also needed to keep up with the increasing number of clients. All donations are tax-deductible; computers must have a Pentium processor, a modem and licensed software such as Windows 95 or Windows 98.

For more information, contact Holt at 274-0444.

Building the natural way

A few years ago, local artist Troy Amastar took a natural-building workshop taught by Janell Kapoor and Molly Curry of Kleiwerks. After that, Amastar explains, “I knew I wanted to incorporate clay, earth and straw into [the construction of] my studio.”

Besides the obvious benefits of a slipstraw-and-cob structure (such as being more earth-friendly, more energy-efficient, less toxic, virtually fireproof and less expensive), Amastar says she discovered “the wonderful energy vibration such a building acquires. The cob-and-straw walls not only breathe, allowing air circulation and filtration, but the building also breathes with life.”

Some of that feeling, notes Amastar, also comes from the community of people who helped her and her daughter Rose build the studio. After the frame and roof had been raised, a number of workshops and workdays were held to mix cob (very much like adobe), clay slipstraw and, later, earth plaster to construct the walls. “As the walls went up, people placed special objects into [them] to represent their prayers … a special stone, a German coin, a piece of jewelry or a pocket angel from Mexico,” says Amastar.

“Communities used to come together to raise a family’s home or a barn. Some countries still operate that way, but [this approach] has been largely lost here. As our society goes more and more high-tech and gets more isolating … how refreshing, with natural building, to go back to a community work base. Children can get in on the fun of building with mud; friendships are formed. … It’s a totally different atmosphere compared to a work crew banging out a home with power tools and machinery. I felt like I was going back to something old and familiar.”

If you’d like to get in on the action (while helping the Amastars finish their studio), Kapoor will teach a two-day, hands-on workshop May 11 & 12 on making and using earthen plasters and paints. The workshop fee — $125 for adults ($100 if you register with a friend), $50 for children — includes camping, three organic vegetarian meals and tuition.

The Asheville-based Kleiworks teaches people of all ages and backgrounds the joys of natural building — both complete structures and hybrid structures incorporating such natural elements as stone, timber framing, cob, slipstraw, bamboo, earth plasters, living roofs, built-in fireplaces, ceramic tiles and other fine details.

For more information or to register, call 683-3405 or visit the Kleiwerks Web site (

Open Access

Acclaimed anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”

In that spirit, the grassroots group Access Independent Living is committed to changing the lives of Buncombe County residents with disabilities. Access was founded in April 1999 by a group of like-minded local people, many of whom live with disabilites. The volunteer-based group’s goal is to help bridge gaps in the services available to a broad spectrum of people with disabilities — from lawyers and business owners to folks trying to survive on fixed incomes. Besides providing peer support, advocacy, resources and skills training, Access encourages disabled people to become politically active.

Accordingly, the group is urging local people with disabilities to attend an upcoming forum on low-income-housing and help educate community leaders about the many gaps in the services provided. The free forum, sponsored by the Asheville Citizen-Times, happens Monday May 13 in the Diana Wortham Theatre, starting at 7 p.m.

For more information about Access, visit or call 259-9929.

Down by the river

A major planning effort hosted by the nonprofit RiverLink could help shape the future of Asheville’s River District. A pair of upcoming events will help develop specific strategies for making the French Broad riverfront a better place to live, work and play.

Last month, design teams hired by RiverLink and led by Pittsburgh-based architectural firm Urban Design Associates, visited Asheville to meet with local focus groups and the public to hear suggestions for enlivening the urban river corridor. The focus groups considered such issues as economic development, recreation, the environment and the arts and sciences.

Based on that input, the design teams are creating detailed plans for multiple-use development along the urban riverfront, such as artists’ studios, housing, parks and recreational sites, sports venues, restaurants, retail outlets, offices and industrial sites. The teams are also designing a Riverfront Parkway, a 14-mile thoroughfare, lined with biking and walking trails, that would connect the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers.

In the latest phase of the design process, a public open house will be held on Wednesday May 15 from 4-7 p.m. at the Haywood Street United Methodist Church (297 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville, at the intersection of Haywood Street and Clingman Avenue). And on Thursday May 16 from 6 to 8 p.m., the teams’ initial design concepts will be presented to the public, also at the Haywood Street United Methodist Church.

The design teams will be back in Asheville in September to present the final plans to the public.

For more info, call RiverLink at 252-8474 or visit

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