Young, beautiful and gifted

Talent is a precious commodity, and it can use all the acknowledgment, attention and nurturing it can get. To that end, the Arts Alliance — a local nonprofit that knows a thing or two about recognizing talent — recently awarded fine-arts scholarships to three Asheville-area graduating seniors.

Ben Betsalel and Michelle Crabtree, both of Asheville High, received $1,000 scholarships for their excellence in the visual and performance arts, respectively. Craig Bryant, from A.C. Reynolds High, received a $500 scholarship for his excellence in music. All three plan to enroll in universities in the fall to pursue their various callings: Betsalel will study painting and drawing at Savannah College of Art and Design, Crabtree will attend Brevard College to pursue a performing-arts degree, and Bryant plans to seek a music-performance degree at Indiana University.

The applicants were chosen by the Arts Alliance’s Scholarship Committee, made up of leading local artists; Deborah Austin, artistic director of the Asheville Community Theatre, presented the awards at ACT’s opening-night performance of Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The scholarships were funded entirely by $1 donations collected at local arts events and galleries.

To learn more, call the Arts Alliance at 258-0710.

Take me out to the blood drive

Baseball is an acknowledged American classic; and line drives and blood drives, it seems, make great partners. Accordingly, the Asheville-Mountain Area Chapter of the American Red Cross has teamed up with the Asheville Tourists, to encourage local donors to help boost the chapter’s blood supply.

On Saturday, June 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., members of the Asheville Tourists will be on hand at the Red Cross Blood Center (100 Edgewood Road) to sign autographs and photographs. “The Red Cross and the Asheville Tourists share traditions of community service,” noted Ken Roberson, manager of the local Red Cross chapter, in a recent press release. “We’re privileged to be working with the Asheville Tourist players, coaches and management to encourage individuals to donate blood.” Each donor will receive a pair of free tickets for the next day’s game with the Hickory Crawdads. Play ball!

Donors must be over 17 years old, weigh at least 110 pounds, and be in good general health.

To learn more, call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.

Blue Ridge blues

The Appalachian Trail is rich in places to immerse oneself in natural beauty. But just outside the narrow AT corridor, the U.S. Forest Service has opened up many wild areas to timber production and related road-building. Now, the Forest Service is preparing new plans for the Chattahoochie, Nantahala, Pisgah, Cherokee and Jefferson national forests, and is seeking public comment this fall on the “preferred alternatives” for these plans. Among the alternatives is possible protection of roadless areas and other scenic or backcountry sites. Next year, the agency plans to issue more detailed draft plans for review.

What does all this have to do with you? The 1999 Southern Appalachian Wilderness Walk has been organized to build support for protecting the wild lands along the Appalachian Trail, and to promote citizen participation in forest planning. Led by Peter Kirby of the Wilderness Society, the hike will explore more than 20 roadless areas and many other wild lands whose future will be decided in the upcoming months. Small groups will hike in to discover the beauty and other values of these areas up close; along the way, there will also be discussion of the proposals for protection. The project is sponsored by a coalition of regional environmental groups, including the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, the Western North Carolina Alliance, Appalachian Voices and the Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition.

The Wilderness Walk will consist of a series of hikes scheduled throughout the summer and fall; the Franklin, N.C., hike, for instance, will take place July 8, while the Asheville hike is planned for Sept. 2. Call (888) 340-HIKE for the complete schedule. Want to get even more involved? Write a letter expressing how you feel about protecting wild lands along the Appalachian Trail, and send it to: Elizabeth Estill, Regional Forester, U.S. Forest Service, 1720 Peachtree Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30367.

To learn more, call (888) 340-HIKE, or e-mail Peter Kirby at

Telling tales

Storytelling is one of the most primal activities in any culture, and these days, this vital craft is flourishing. This summer, the Asheville-Buncombe Library System is setting out to prove that by launching its “Rounds and Rounds of Stories at the Library” series. Named for 93-years-young author/storyteller Glen Rounds of Southern Pines, the programs will celebrate both the written and the spoken word.

More than 100 kids’ activities are planned, from one end of the county to another — story times, sing-a-longs, arts and crafts projects and even puppet shows. Among the scheduled programs are:

• “Snakes Alive” (11 a.m., June 29, Black Mountain Branch Library), meet Penelope the 200-pound python and other reptiles;

• “Once Upon a Time” (11 a.m., June 30, East Asheville Branch Library), fairy tales old and new;

• Mimi Cole (2:30 p.m., June 22, Enka-Candler Branch Library), favorite tales;

• “All Around Grandpa’s Farm” (11 a..m., June 30, North Asheville Branch Library), visit Grandpa’s farm with Susan Ward and her Imagination Puppet Company;

• “The Healing Force” (3 p.m., Pack Memorial Library), experience “The Rhythm of the Drum,” a fun-filled journey to Africa through music, storytelling and dance.

For more information, call your local library, or Deborah Compton at 250-4718.

Autumn in June

Stereotypes notwithstanding, the majority of older adults enjoy good health and an active life. But some physical and mental-health problems do become evident as a person ages. In 1997, the Family Services Center initiated the Later Years COMPASS program, which provides support services for older adults, empowering them to maintain social, emotional and mental well-being. Now, to kick off its new year, the COMPASS program is planning a Gala Arts Festival for Tuesday, June 22 at Reid Memorial Center on Livingston Street.

Running from 10 a.m. till noon, the event will feature local storytellers, participatory groups led by local artists, and even short plays staged by the Asheville Community Theatre’s Autumn Players. Elders are invited to come and make pots or figures out of clay, laugh with volunteers, and purchase a $1.50 box lunch.

Program Coordinator Michele Hiestand of COMPASS, a gerontologist, uses the arts to establish contact with older adults. She designs activities that involve participants on a personal level, encouraging them to share their thoughts and feelings. “Because the arts have been shown to be therapeutic in and of themselves, we decided to link art opportunities with aging adults who are searching for improved life satisfaction and self-esteem,” Hiestand says. “We have fun and support each other’s sharing of their life experiences.”

To learn more about COMPASS, call Hiestand at 253-9314. To order a lunch for the Gala Arts Festival, call 258-8027.

— covalently compiled by Paul Schattel

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