Notepad

How cute were baby dinosaurs?

Were dinosaurs social animals? Did they care for their young? What was life like for the babies? A visit to Hatching the Past: Dinosaur Eggs, Nests and Babies will provide the answers to these and many other intriguing questions. The exhibit runs through Oct. 3 at the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum in Pack Place.

Once upon a time, paleontologists had only dinosaur bones and footprints to work with in studying these long-extinct creatures. Those clues yielded a good bit of information about what dinosaurs might have looked like but didn’t reveal much about their behavior.

Now, however — thanks to the relatively recent discoveries of fossil dinosaur eggs, nests and even embryos — paleontologists are learning more about dinosaurs as living beings, their family life and biological relationships.

Hatching the Past features an impressive collection of authentic, fossilized eggs from both plant- and meat-eating dinosaurs. It also presents lifelike models of embryos and hatchlings, paintings interpreting dinosaur life, photographs of the world’s most renowned dinosaur experts and their discoveries, hands-on exploration stations, and even real fossils visitors can handle. Together, these components can help you launch a multimillion-year journey back through time.

The exhibit was created by professional fossil hunters Charles and Florence Magovern, who gained prominence in May of 1996 when their collection made the cover of National Geographic.

Hatching the Past has been in some of the nation’s most prominent natural-science and history museums … such as the Harvard and Fort Worth museums of natural-science and history,” notes Colburn Executive Director Debbie Mowrey. “I encourage our community to take advantage of these beautiful specimens and pieces of art while they are here.”

But that’s only part of the excitement at Colburn these days. The museum is also sponsoring the seventh annual Asheville Gem Fest, which happens Friday through Sunday, June 13-15. More than 30 dealers from all around the country will offer jewelry, mineral specimens, fossils, gems, beads, lapidary supplies, crystals, books and more. Children can search for minerals in an outdoor flume, pan for gold, and use a geode-cracker to discover crystal surprises.

As part of the festivities, eminent mineral photographer Jeff Scovil will present a pair of lectures on Saturday, June 14: “Ramblings Through Europe” (1:30 p.m.) and “Great Mineral Collections” (3 p.m.). Well-known in gem circles, Scovil has been published in many leading mineral magazines.

An ongoing silent auction will give visitors a chance to bid on jewelry, gems, minerals and a selection of offerings from local businesses and restaurants at bargain prices. All auction proceeds will benefit the museum.

The festival runs from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, and noon-5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission to the museum is free during the festival.

The Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors and youth. For more information, call 254-7162 or visit the museum’s Web site (www.main.nc.us/colburn).

— Lisa Watters

Full-out fun at the YWCA

A whole lot has happened at the YWCA during the past year — beginning with the expansion and updating of its building at 185 S. French Broad Ave.

Open since last October, the new and improved facility has enabled the group to expand its services, reports Marketing Director Ami Worthen. That, she explains, includes “doubling the number of children we serve in our child-care center, opening our Health & Fitness Center, improving the class space for our after-school program — and both our after-school program and child-care center became Star-licensed [by the state of North Carolina] this year.”

To celebrate these and other achievements — and to give the public a chance to enjoy the new facility — the YW is presenting “A World of Color” on Saturday, June 14 (1-3 p.m.). The free activities will include kids’ games, a raffle, an open swim in the pool, face painting, sidewalk drawing, health screenings, smoothies, massage, personal-training tips, nutritional counseling and more. There’s also a special membership rate for anyone who joins the YWCA’s Health & Fitness Center that day.

In addition, the YW’s various programs will present brief annual updates. There’ll also be a surprise announcement of the winner of the second annual Community Weaver Award.

“As part of our mission and our culture here at YWCA, we value collaboration,” Worthen explains. “We think it’s an excellent way for nonprofits to get more done with less — so every year, we honor an agency that we have collaborated well with over the past year … [and that] has been a model of what is possible when nonprofits work together.”

But the emphasis, stresses Worthen, will be on enjoyment. “It’s a fun event. We are a community center, so we want to be sure that the community is familiar with us and that they utilize all the wonderful things we have here.”

At the same time, however, there is a deeper theme underlying the group’s work. The YWCA’s mission, notes Worthen, “is the empowerment of women and families and the elimination of racism. We’re a social-change organization working to create more social justice, more equity in our community.”

Other YWCA programs include a summer camp, an adolescent-pregnancy prevention program, a mentoring program for teen moms, a breast-health outreach program directed toward the African-American community, and a program called New Choices. The latter program, aimed at women struggling to achieve economic self-sufficiency, provides both one-on-one and group support, transportation, child care and access to resources such as A-B Tech’s GED classes (held on the premises).

For more information, call the YWCA at 254-7206 or visit their Web site (www.main.nc.us/ywca/).

— Lisa Watters

Dining Out for Life a tasty success

They came, they ate — they raised more than 25 grand.

As the final accounting is wrapped up for the Western North Carolina AIDS Project’s inaugural Dining Out For Life fund-raiser, the official label for the event is shaping up to be “success.”

Dining Out For Life, a fund-raiser held in more than 20 cities across the United States and Canada, licenses its name and provides organizational support to HIV/AIDS service organizations like the Asheville-based WNCAP.

The benefit is meant to work on two levels, raising money for a worthy casue while boosting public awareness of participating restaurants by enticing diners in on a day when business is typically a little slower.

The 27 local eateries that signed on — most of them members of the relatively new Asheville Independent Restaurant Association — contributed 20 percent of their take for Wednesday, April 30 to WNCAP.

But because this was the event’s first year in Asheville, WNCAP didn’t have any clear expectations of how well the fund-raiser would do, explains Executive Director Ron Curran.

“From the beginning, we were happy with anything,” he notes.

But Harry Brown, WNCAP’s fund-raising chairman, admits that he was secretly kicking around a figure — $15,000.

Turns out he undersold the day by nearly 10 grand.

Now, with checks in hand from all eateries (though a few last-minute donations are still rolling in), the total stands at $25,622.15, Brown reveals.

“Asheville is a very giving city,” he gushes.

“This was a very rewarding event for me,” admits Brown, who introduced the concept to Asheville. He’d seen Dining Out For Life’s potential firsthand in Atlanta, his former hometown, where the international fund-raiser supports Project Open Hand (an HIV/AIDS service organization on whose board Brown still sits.)

The rewards were definitely twofold, says Curran.

“Most of the restaurants definitely saw an increase in business,” he reports.

The Early Girl Eatery had one of its busiest weekday breakfasts ever, reveals co-owner John Stehling. “A lot of our regulars were very supportive and came in specifically because of the event,” he notes, adding,”We were glad to be a part of it.”

And though the Asheville-based event principally targeted the collection of independent eateries downtown, the restaurant with the biggest draw turned out to be the Trillium Bistro — out in Fairview.

Trillium wrote WNCAP a check for about $1,100, reports owner Jenna Harrison.

Much of the credit for the Fairview cafe’s success that day, Harrison adds, goes to Trillium regular Steve Fisher, who served as the evening’s principal ambassador. (Each participating restaurant had a WNCAP representative on hand to greet people and answer questions; it was also up to that “ambassador” to drum up business on the designated day.)

“He was really a big help in filling the restaurant,” Harrison reveals. “He would come in two weeks prior to the event and start looking at our reservation book, and he would go home and start making calls.”

“[People] were perfectly willing to come out to dinner to be with friends and support a good cause,” says Fisher. “The restaurant was packed; they kept grinding out meals all evening.”

The staff, he adds, “was amazing.” And only a few people couldn’t be seated because they hadn’t made reservations.

At several restaurants, notes Brown, patrons didn’t want to end their day.

“It turned out to be a citywide kind of party,” Curran observes.

So much so that many diners wanted it all to happen again soon.

“I had two different people say, ‘You should do this every month,'” Fisher reports. “We all crossed our eyes and thought: That isn’t going to happen!”

Most participating restaurants, in fact, have already signed on for next year. And several that weren’t members of the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association have approached the group about joining, Curran notes.

“It was just a win-win event,” he concludes.

— Frank Rabey

Asheville makes short list of vegetarian-friendly cities

For years, Asheville diners have been flocking to restaurants like Cafe Max & Rosie’s, the Laughing Seed, Rosetta’s Kitchen and others. Now, these popular eateries have helped Asheville make the grade as the ninth most vegetarian-friendly city in the United States.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has released the results of its first national dining survey. To allow for population differences, PETA determined the number of vegetarian restaurants per capita in each city. The group also polled popular dining spots by phone to gauge their range of vegetarian selections and their willingness to cater to vegetarian needs.

“Asheville is a great example of a city that is younger, hipper and better educated, where vegetarianism has graduated to the mainstream,” says PETA Campaign Coordinator Joe Haptas. “We were consistently blown away … to see just how many restaurants were ready to accommodate vegetarian needs in Asheville.”

The survey also took into account the number of health-food supermarkets and stores, as well as the volume of sales of vegetarian and vegan products (based on data from eight major distributors). Cities received bonus points for having vegetarian organizations and food fairs.

San Francisco ranked first in the survey, followed by Seattle; New York; Portland, Ore; Honolulu; Atlanta; Minneapolis; Orlando, Fla.; Asheville and Houston. The survey also produced a list of the most vegetarian-unfriendly cities: Sioux Falls, S.D.; Green Bay, Wis.; Wichita, Kan; Birmingham, Ala; and Jackson, Miss.

To learn more about the survey, visit www.GoVeg.com.

— Lisa Watters

Awards honor leading manufacturers

Amid the fitful winds of the global economy, things haven’t been easy for some local manufacturing plants. But what better time to highlight a bit of good news?

The Manufacturer’s Executive Association is sponsoring its Manufacturing Leadership Awards to showcase “best practices” in Buncombe, Haywood, Henderson, Madison, McDowell and Transylvania counties. Association members include the chief executives of more than 50 manufacturing industries in the region.

Nominations for this year’s awards are being accepted until Monday, June 16. The awards will be handed out at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce’s industry-appreciation event in October.

Nomination forms and instructions can be downloaded from A-B Tech’s Web site (www.abtech.edu/business) or the Chamber’s Web site (www.ashevillechamber.org).

For more info, contact Sharon Willen at the Chamber of Commerce (258-6134 or swillen@ashevillechamber.org).

— Tracy Rose

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