Buzzworm news briefs

Make that a Shirley Temple

“Parents might tell their kids, ‘If you need a ride, call me,’ and that’s a great message,” says Leslie Kimball of the Century Council. But as far as the not-for-profit organization created to combat drunk driving and underage drinking is concerned, a safe ride for partying teens isn’t enough. “What the parents really should say is, ‘Don’t drink,'” Kimball asserts.

The organization, which is based in Washington, D.C., and funded by the distilled-spirits industry, teamed up with the Asheville ABC Board on June 24 to bring their campaign to fight underage drinking to Western North Carolina. A press conference, led by Rep. Bruce Goforth, the ABC Board’s law-enforcement chief Don Guge and others, was held to present the council’s mission.

The basis for the barnstorming is a recently commissioned survey revealing some chilling statistics, such as one indicating that 65 percent of underage drinkers get their alcohol from family and friends. This of course doesn’t mean that family members are opening their liquor cabinets to teens – some kids simply help themselves. But it does mean that with summer holidays upon us, it’s a good time for parents to be aware of this fact and to talk to their kids about drinking.

The Century Council has both kids and adults covered on this front. One of their Web sites,, offers a checklist of tips for parents that can easily be translated into day-to-day family situations. “Many parents don’t know how to start the conversation about alcohol,” Kimball notes.

Though prom season and other heavy-drinking holidays such as the Fourth of July come and go, the Century Council promotes its mission year round. Besides going from town to town holding press conferences to inform the public of their findings — like the fact that last year’s traffic fatalities in North Carolina included 78 alcohol-related deaths among youth under age 21 — the group’s Web site continually posts helpful facts and tips. In addition to “Alcohol 101 for High School Seniors,” there’s “Alcohol 101 Plus” (aimed at college students), (which includes a blood-alcohol educator) and information on the National Hardcore Drunk Driver Project.

To learn more, visit

— Alli Marshall

How the other half lived

@text: Up to now, visitors to Biltmore House have been able to see how the Vanderbilts — as well as their many illustrious guests, including the likes of novelists Henry James and Edith Wharton, and presidents William McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson — lived at the turn of the 19th century. Thanks to some recent renovations, visitors can now glimpse into the lives of the household’s servants during the same time period.

A series of newly restored rooms on the fourth floor of the mansion open to the viewing public this month. Along with the observatory and an architectural model room, they include three maids’ bedrooms, the servant’s hall, the linen closet, a closet that stored the maids’ freshly laundered uniforms, the housemaid’s closet and a servant’s bathroom (which had hot and cold running water, a luxury for anyone in the early 1900s).

“[While] it’s always exciting for us to research and restore rooms in Biltmore Hose,” says Director of Museum Services Ellen Rickman, “the opening of the fourth floor rooms is particularly interesting since it will give us an opportunity to show visitors how our research and oral histories tell us servants lived in the house at the turn of the 19th century.”

This research reveals that most of the maids at Biltmore House slept in a group of 21 assigned rooms on the fourth floor. Some of the rooms have fireplaces, while all of them contain windows providing views of the property. The rooms feature built-in spaces for storing clothing, with brass hooks and oak shelves, along with iron beds and washstands, oak chests of drawers, wardrobes and dressers with mirrors.

Beyond the bedrooms, at the end of the hall and down a short flight of steps, is the servants’ hall. Maids gathered there to mend household textiles and uniforms. They also socialized and relaxed in rocking chairs in front of the fireplace while they waited to be called to work. A wooden call box on the wall (an annunciator) was part of an elaborate system that allowed family, guests and servants to communicate with one another within Biltmore House.

The linen closet was the domain of the housekeeper who supervised most of the female servants. She would have overseen the sorting, laundering and distribution of the fine bed, bath and table linens that were stored here. One inventory of Biltmore’s collection listed 1,139 handmade linen napkins and 111 linen tablecloths in 62 patterns.

The uniform closet would have held gingham or calico dresses, which the maids typically wore during the day, and more formal black dresses for the evening. Large white aprons and small caps would have completed the outfits.

And, finally, the tile-lined housemaid’s closet is where the maids would have washed such items as mops and chamber pots.

To learn more about the Biltmore House, visit or call 225-6776.

— Lisa Watters

Awake in the deep

John Seed, the nearly legendary proselytizer for deep ecology, will return to Western North Carolina to present “Earth Spirit Action! A Journey in Deep Ecology.” The event will be held at the Hawk’s Cry Retreat in Sandy Mush, July 15 to 17.

Deep ecology is a belief system that combines spiritual practice with environmental science. Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, defines it as “a philosophy marked by a new interpretation of ‘self’ which deemphasizes the rationalistic duality between the human organism and its environment, thus allowing emphasis to be placed on the intrinsic value of other species, systems and processes in nature.”

Seed, an Australian by birth, is founder of the Rainforest Information Centre and co-creator of the Council for All Beings. One focal point of his current work is the Arunachala reforestation project in southern India. The RIC also has ongoing projects in Ecuador and Papua New Guinea.

Cost for the weekend workshop is $125, which includes vegetarian meals from Friday dinner through Sunday lunch. Partial scholarships are available. Seventy-five percent of the net proceeds from the weekend will be used for work in India, and the remainder will be contributed to Mountain Justice Summer (, which is working to end mountaintop-removal mining practices in the Appalachians.

Registration information is available through Amy Kohler at or 712-7124. For more about Seed’s work, visit

— Cecil Bothwell

Mending the leaking bucket

New teachers often start their careers full of enthusiasm and a desire to make a difference, but about one-third of them leave the profession after just three years, and less than 60 percent stick it out for more than five, according to the National Center for Education.

Western Carolina University recently established the Center for the Support of Beginning Teachers to help Western North Carolina school systems in their efforts to prevent beginning teachers from experiencing what Michael Dougherty, dean of WCU’s College of Education and Allied Professions, calls “career burnout.”

“A large part of the teacher shortage in North Carolina is due to issues we’re facing in retaining qualified teachers in the classroom,” Dougherty says. “This new center is part of an effort to help keep beginning teachers in the classroom and provide them support to persist and be successful in the teaching profession — something that we often call ‘mending the leaking bucket.'”

Through the center, WCU faculty will collaborate with beginning teachers, mentors, central-office personnel, principals, researchers and policymakers to develop programs to help new teachers successfully make the transition into the profession. The center will also provide resources and professional-development activities intended to result in highly qualified teachers who have the skills to promote high standards of student performance.

Two existing WCU programs — the Teacher Support Program and Project SPACE — are examples of the kind of activities the center might sponsor, Dougherty says.

The Teacher Support Program offers an array of direct support services to educators who serve students with disabilities, and Project SPACE (Supporting Pedagogical and Content Expertise) works to broaden the knowledge and skills of the mentors who work with beginning teachers.

For more information about the center, call Janice Holt at 227-7311.

— Lisa Watters


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