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Media workshops typically available only to journalists in big metropolitan areas are now being offered locally by the Fund for Investigative Reporting (FIRE), thanks to funding by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation and the New Leaf Fund. The workshops will teach computer skills that make it easier to investigate, research and report on community issues.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has taught [such a] class in our region,” notes FIRE President C.B. Squire. “This is a rare opportunity for our area reporters, free-lancers and editors, who need these skills but lack the resources to attend distant trainings and conferences.”

Five workshops will be offered between now and August, including “mobile workshops” that will be scheduled to suit participants’ needs. “FIRE and its collaborators recognize how important it is to support locally based journalists,” explains Executive Director Mark Goldstein. “That’s why we will bring these workshops right to those who need them (using a mobile computer lab), as long as there are at least five people who will benefit.” The organization serves the Appalachian parts of Georgia, North and South Carolina and Tennessee.

The first scheduled workshop happens Friday, May 17, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. in Asheville. The grants, says Goldstein, will enable FIRE to offer the workshops for $50 per person (normally, such a course would cost more than $350 per person). In addition, editors may bring along a reporter at no extra charge. A limited number of scholarships are also available for active free-lancers and journalists with demonstrated financial need.

For more information or a registration form, visit FIRE’s Web site (www.ncpress.net/seminars.html) or contact FIRE at 259-9179 or fire@ncpress.net.

Tee off for Children’s Home

Since its debut six years ago, the annual Cardinal Open Golf Tournament has raised more than $125,000 for the Black Mountain-based Presbyterian Home for Children. This year’s event happens Friday, June 7 at the Black Mountain Golf Course. Check-in time runs from 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m.; the shotgun start is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. An awards ceremony at the 19th hole will feature awards, prizes, an auction and a barbecue cookout. The registration fee ($125 per person) covers green fees and cart, lunch, a logo golf shirt and the cookout.

For the fifth year, former Owen High School graduate and NBA All Star Brad Daugherty will co-host and play in the tournament. While growing up in the area, Daugherty spent countless hours at the Children’s Home playing basketball with friends who lived there.

The venerable institution, established in 1904, tries to provide a loving, nurturing environment for children ages 5-18. The 90 acres of land contain a gymnasium, new recreational facilities (including an exercise room and an art studio), a library and computers in every living space. The staff includes social workers, education experts and married house-parent couples. The children at the community-based facility attend public schools, work summer and after-school jobs in the area and attend the Black Mountain Presbyterian Church.

For more information or to register for the tournament, visit the Home’s Web site (www.presbyterianhomeforchildren.org/cardinal) or call 686-3451.

Young professionals serving their community

Three years ago, a few committed young professionals who wanted to make a difference organized AFFILIATES, a peer group that supports fund-raising events benefiting local nonprofits. “This will be our third season of fund-raisers in the Asheville area,” says board member Rebecca Bagwell. “As of today, we have 950 addresses on our mailing list.”

The first event of the season — scheduled for Thursday, May 16 — will raise money for the Hospitality House of Asheville. The party starts at 6:30 p.m., and directions can be found on the AFFILIATES Web site. The fund-raiser (which is open to everyone, not just group members) costs $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

“We have set the [ticket price] very low, so folks our age can afford to go — not many of us can afford $200-a-head dinner fund-raisers,” Bagwell explains. Other events this season will benefit Pisgah Legal Services, the Arboretum and the Mimi Paige Foundation.

“The clever beauty of our group is that everything is donated for these gatherings — from the paper the invitations are printed on to the food and the beer and wine to the entertainment. … Every single dollar raised at the door goes directly to the nonprofit we are supporting. We have gotten amazing and tremendous support from the Asheville business community in donations.”

In addition, notes Bagwell, “We encourage those that attend to consider … volunteering for the organization if it piques their interest.”

For more information, visit the AFFILIATES Web site (www.ashevilleaffiliates.com). RSVPs for the May 16 event can be phoned in to 225-0500. To join AFFILIATES, send an e-mail to alikarn@hotmail.com.

Rain-forest activists visit Asheville

Australians John Seed and Ruth Rosenhek — longtime leaders in the fight to save the world’s rain forests — will be in Asheville May 16-19. The two are co-directors of the Rainforest Information Center, born out of the successful struggle to save the subtropical rain forests of New South Wales in the early 1980s. Since then, the RIC has been involved in campaigns to protect rain forests in such diverse locales as in Ecuador, Papua New Guinea and India while recognizing the legitimate development aspirations of indigenous rain-forest peoples.

Seed and Rosenhek will take part in three events: a public talk titled “Spiritually Based Earth Activism” (Thursday, May 16, 7-9 p.m. at Jubilee!; $5-$10 suggested donation); a benefit performance (Friday, May 17, 7:30 p.m. at Fletcher School of Dance; $15); and a weekend workshop titled “Wild Earth, Wild Heart, Wild Mind: A Journey in Ecopsychology” (Saturday and Sunday, May 18-19 at the Spirit Haven Retreat Center).

Seed has traveled the globe lecturing and showing films to raise awareness about the plight of rain forests worldwide; in 1984, he helped initiate the U.S. Rainforest Action Network. Seed has also launched many projects to help protect rain forests in South America, Asia and the Pacific by giving the indigenous inhabitants opportunities for benign, sustainable development that’s compatible with rain-forest preservation. The co-author of Thinking Like a Mountain — Towards a Council of All Beings, Seed has written and lectured extensively on “deep ecology.” The Christian Science Monitor dubbed him “the town crier of the global village,” and the Australian Government awarded him the Order of Australia Medal in 1996 for his environmental-conservation work.

Rosenhek campaigns both at home and abroad on behalf of forest protection and against toxic mining projects. She is the founder of the GoldBusters campaign, which seeks to end ecologically and socially devastating gold-mining practices. Rosenhek also tours the U.S., Canada and abroad leading deep-ecology workshops and rain-forest road shows to raise funds for Earth projects. Together, she and Seed created the Timeline of Light Workshop, a series of rituals and ceremonies designed to reawaken our sense of belonging to “the great epic of evolution.” Rosenhek also teaches courses on ecopsychology and compassionate activism.

For more information, call Amy Kohler at 253-0990, ext. 305. To find out more about Seed and Rosenhek, visit the RIC Web site (www.rainforestinfo.org.au).

Shalom, salaam, peace

The St. Matthias Episcopal Church in Asheville invites the community to join them on Pentecost (Sunday, May 19, 3 p.m.) for a special Service for Justice, Peace and Healing in the Middle East.

According to the invitation sent out by the church, the service is an attempt “to unite us in prayer for the peace and welfare of an area of the world which is dear to many of us — even Holy — and crucial for the peace and welfare of the rest of the world. In a situation which seems at times to be almost totally intractable, we believe that praying together is one of the most important things we can do; for God, we believe, can ‘make a way out of no way,’ especially if we will but listen and let God lead the way.”

The service will include a homily by the Rev. Mason Wilson, former executive director of the North American Committee for St. George’s College, an Anglican institution in east Jerusalem; music by the St. Matthias choir; prayers from around the world; the lighting of candles for peace; and the planting of a “Peace Pole” on the church grounds.

St. Matthias Episcopal Church is at 1 Dundee St., overlooking South Charlotte Street midway between College and Biltmore. Turn east onto Max Street at the light on South Charlotte, then right onto Dundee. For more information, call 285-0033.

Celebrating the new Drovers Road Scenic Byway

In the spring of 1997, a group of concerned citizens from Reynolds, Fairview and Gerton assembled to talk about the potential impacts of the planned widening of U.S. 74A/Old Charlotte Highway from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Cane Creek. Thanks to their efforts, the state Department of Transportation designated this section as the Drovers Road Scenic Byway in recognition of the corridor’s beauty and rich history. The name refers to the route’s use in years past to bring turkeys, hogs and produce to market in Asheville.

Now that the construction has been completed, a celebration and dedication of the Drivers Road Scenic Byway has been scheduled for Thursday, May 16, 11 a.m. in the Ingles Shopping Center parking lot on U.S. 74A. Alan Thornburg, who represents the district on the NCDOT board, will serve as master of ceremonies; the keynote speaker will be state Secretary of Transportation Lyndo Tippett. The Reynolds High School band and chorale will provide entertainment; refreshments will also be served. In case of rain, the event will move to the Reynolds Volunteer Fire Department building next door.

For more information, call Mary Jane Hunter at 628-2399 or John Ager at 628-2616.

All hail Urban Trail

A special “Grand Finale” celebration this week will dedicate the final installation in Asheville’s Urban Trail, marking the official completion of the long-running project.

The stainless-steel sculpture, titled “On the Move,” honors Buncombe County’s transportation history, notes local engineer William Wescott, who served as project manager for the installation. Kenn Kotara designed the piece, which was fabricated by Ed Anderson of the Arden-based company Hasco Mold Base. The kinetic sculpture also features audio elements.

“It’s really kind of the crowning piece” in the Trail, declares Wescott.

Asheville’s 1.7-mile Urban Trail — which highlights the city’s heritage and history — was conceived a decade ago as a downtown-redevelopment tool, Asheville Area Arts Council President/CEO Steve Steinert told Xpress back in February. The Urban Trail Committee raised a mix of private and public dollars to pay for the art that adorns each trail “station.” Federal transportation money funded “On the Move,” says Wescott.

The dedication happens Thursday, May 16 at 4 p.m. at the corner of Walnut and North Market streets downtown. (The finale is grand indeed — even the state transportation secretary is slated to show up.)

The celebration is one of a cluster of events taking place this week as part of the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County’s annual Preservation Week. It also represents the swan song for Grace Pless, who has faithfully shepherded the Urban Trail effort.

For more info on the Urban Trail, contact the Arts Council at 258-0710.

Alternatives to the streets

Homeless kids and adults in Asheville need a place to congregate, other than the streets. That was the consensus at a recent informal meeting of downtown business owners, who cited resultant problems such as panhandling and blocked access to businesses. To that end, a meeting to discuss possible options and solutions will be held on Monday, May 20, at 7 p.m. at The Body (70 N. Lexington Ave.) Downtown business owners and employees, property owners and tenants are urged to attend.

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