Is our Constitution at risk?

“Some of the things that have happened [since 9/11] … in the name of fighting terrorism may compromise some constitutional rights,” warns League of Women Voters board member Nelda Holder.

League members, she explains, “had these discussions, and we decided it would be a good idea to bring in somebody who could offer a true, scholarly approach to the kinds of things that we just kind of talk about around the coffee cup.”

So they recruited Gene Nichol, dean of the UNC Law School, as guest speaker at the League’s annual luncheon (Saturday, May 31, 11:30 a.m. at the Top of the Plaza in the Renaissance Asheville Hotel). He’ll speak on “Civil Liberties, the Constitution and the War on Terrorism: Can They Co-exist?” Tickets are $15 for League members, $20 for the general public.

“We’re really excited that he’s going to come, and we made it open to the public because we would like people who are interested in the subject to be able to come too,” notes Holder.

Concerns about constitutional rights, she believes, have also been triggered by recent local events — such as the arrest of more than 20 peace demonstrators on March 20 (the day the war started in Iraq) and the subsequent closure of Pack Square to public demonstrations.

“Our local League,” says Holder, “is very concerned about what seems to be possible infringement on the civil rights of demonstrators … the closing of … Vance Monument, and the infringement on the rights of the public in general by doing that. The board has unanimously supported action on those two things. So we feel this is just an extremely timely matter to have [Nichol] discuss with us.”

Dean Nichol is also the UNC Law School’s Burton Craige professor, teaching courses in constitutional law and civil rights.

A former political columnist for the Rocky Mountain News and the Colorado Daily, Nichol is a regular op-ed writer for The News & Observer of Raleigh. He won the American Bar Association’s 2003 Edward R. Finch Award for delivering the nation’s best Law Day address. The co-author of Federal Courts (West Publishing, 2002), Nichol has published articles on civil liberties and federal judicial power in the Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, University of Chicago Law Review and many other journals.

Nichol served on the Colorado Reapportionment Commission in 1991 and was named special master by a federal court to resolve a dispute between the governor and the legislature over the redrawing of congressional districts.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan political organization, encourages the informed and active participation of citizens in government and seeks to influence public policy through education and advocacy. Membership is open to all citizens of voting age, male or female, who subscribe to the League’s purpose and policies.

For more information or reservations, call 658-2141. To find out more about the League, visit their Web site (

Kaleidoscope crazy

Expect to see a whole lot of light-throwing, refracting, color-bending and bouncing going on over the next several days. First off, the Brewster Society (an international organization for kaleidoscope buffs) is holding its annual convention in Asheville. Meanwhile, some local galleries are hosting special kaleidoscope exhibits.

The Brewster Society convention happens Friday, May 23 through Sunday, May 25 at the Great Smokies Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort (1 Holiday Inn Drive) in Asheville. Up to 250 Society members are expected to gather for the event, including collectors, dealers and artists from around the world. A sizable Japanese delegation, reflecting a recent surge in interest in kaleidoscopes there, will include Japanese scientists who are using kaleidoscopes in their work on controlling aging.

Although the convention itself is open only to Brewster Society members, a kaleidoscope exhibit and sale at SunSpree will be open to the public on Sunday, May 25, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

For those who can’t wait, however, Blue Spiral I gallery (38 Biltmore Ave.) is currently exhibiting 10 contemporary kaleidoscopes designed by award-winning local scope artists Marc Tickle and Susan Lundgren. The exhibit runs through Sunday, June 22 and there will be an artists’ reception on Thursday, May 22, 6-7:30 p.m.

Over at Grovewood Gallery (111 Grovewood Road), a scope exhibit showcasing work by many American designers runs through Sunday, June 15. An artists’ reception, planned to coincide with the convention, will be held on Saturday, May 24, 4-6 p.m.

But that’s not all. New Morning Gallery (7 Boston Way in Biltmore Village) has displayed some of the world’s most innovative kaleidoscopes over the years. Collectors often visit the gallery to scope out the latest in scopes.

And across the river in West Asheville, stained-glass studio A Touch of Glass, (421 Haywood Road) was an early pioneer of both kaleidoscope kits and one-of-a-kind scopes. Owner Gary Newlin, in fact, has published two books on the subject: Cheap Thrills (self-published, 1995) tells how to make kaleidoscopes out of low-cost or even free common, everyday items, and Simple Kaleidoscopes: 24 Spectacular Scopes to Make (Sterling-Lark Books, 1996).

Shake, rattle and think

WAYNESVILLE — When the Philosophy, Phun and Phellowship (Ph3) group tackles a subject, they do it in their own special way, “blending thinking (philosophy) with entertainment (‘phun’),” founder David Guerin explains. “When you bring together entertainment and a message, you bring people [to the event] who might not otherwise have come — and they get the message.”

“‘Phellowship’ is a natural byproduct,” he adds. “Entertainment mellows the whole event, so that people relate to one another better. They’re showing their fun side and they’re using their minds at the same time. … Everybody tends to have a party … and then they don’t want to go home!”

The group’s ongoing series has used this formula to consider the roles of art, newspapers and businesses, respectively, in building community. The next edition, “The Role of Education in Helping the Community be a Community,” will happen Tuesday, May 27, 7-9:30 p.m. at the SocoMoon Teahouse (319 N. Haywood St.) in Waynesville ($5 suggested donation).

An intentionally diverse guest panel, says Guerin, will define the term “education” broadly. They include: Greg Rutherford, dean of workforce development and continuing education at Haywood Community College; David Rice, administrator at Haywood Regional Medical Center; Richard Reeves, principal of Central Haywood High School; Jennifer Pratt, director of the Haywood County Library; and Jack Fobes, former deputy director of UNESCO (who, notes Guerin “will take the topic on out to the world community”).

Special guest Richard Barrett, an internationally known educator who is the author of Liberating the Corporate Soul, will give a live demonstration of the method he’s developed for teaching values — with the cooperation of the entire Ingles family (including their three kids).

Barrett’s method grew out of the management training he does with corporations, teaching them how to relate to employees and clients as human beings, Guerin explains. “He has to teach values to them; he has to take up the whole subject of values. … Somewhere along the way, he got the idea that he could apply the teaching of values to the … middle and high schools.

“I myself don’t know much about his method,” Guerin admits, adding, “I’ll be learning it myself.”

The ‘phun’ part of the evening will include the Celtic Knot ensemble, Irish harpist Karin Lyle, stand-up comedian Barbara Elswick (who’ll dish out the wit and wisdom of kids, including a reading from All I Really Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten) and the Tuscola High School Chamber Choir led by Fritzie Wise and accompanied by Mary Ann Cooper.

For more information, call Guerin at 452-6211 or SocoMoon at 456-5133.


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