Buzzworm news briefs

Media Rubric’s Kubey

Robert Kubey, director and founder of the Center for Media Studies at Rutgers University, will deliver a free presentation for parents, teachers and public-health advocates at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2. “Teaching Media Literacy in the K-12 Classroom” will be offered at the Asheville Middle School on South French Broad Avenue.

Kubey is one of the nation’s leading advocates of teaching critical thinking about media and advertising to young students. He believes that parents need to monitor what children watch, but since the goal is for kids to become autonomous, he advocates media education to help children (and adults) become more critical of the things they watch and understand how media can affect our thinking.

Kubey is co-author, with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, of Television and Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience, and editor of the journal Media Literacy in the Information Age. For more than 15 years, he has conducted in-depth investigation of television, the people who created it and the decisions that have made it what it is today.

Kubey’s talk is sponsored by the Asheville-based nonprofit, Citizens for Media Literacy.

For more information, call 231-1603.

— Cecil Bothwell

Tailgate party

As the 2005 harvest moves into high summer, WNC’s local farmers’ tailgate markets will host their Summer Celebration. The annual event features live music, farm animals, fun for kids and cooking demonstrations using fresh foods found at the markets that day. Sample tastings of local farm products will include raspberries, heirloom tomatoes, farmstead cheeses, brick oven-baked breads and more. Organizers expect attendance at the 10 events that comprise the celebration to exceed 4,000 people.

Summer Celebration is organized by the Mountain Tailgate Market Association, which is composed of the local-producers-only markets of Buncombe and Madison counties. Formed in 2002, the organization works collaboratively to promote the local markets. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is cosponsoring.

The celebration will be held at participating markets at their regular locations on the days and times they are normally open:

Wednesday, August 3

• Downtown Tailgate Market, 3-6 p.m., French Broad Food Co-op and Bio Wheels lot, Asheville

• Greenlife Tailgate Market, 3-6 p.m., 70 Merrimon Ave., just north of I-240, Asheville

• West Asheville Tailgate Market, 3:30-6:30 p.m., Haywood Road, beside West End Bakery

Thursday, August 4

• Weaverville Farmers’ Market, 2-6 p.m., on Main Street in the United Methodist Church parking lot

Saturday, August 6

• Black Mountain Tailgate Market, 9 a.m.-noon, Vance Avenue, behind Suntrust Bank

• French Broad Food Co-op Tailgate Market, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Biltmore Avenue, Asheville

• Open Air Market at Greenlife Grocery, 8 a.m.-noon, 70 Merrimon Ave., Asheville

• Madison County Farmers’ and Artisans’ Market, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., Mars Hill College campus

• North Asheville Tailgate Market, 7 a.m.-noon, behind Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

Sunday, August 7

• Greenlife Tailgate Market, 1-5 p.m., 70 Merrimon Ave., Asheville

Visit www.appalachiangrown.org for more information.

— Cecil Bothwell

Where are Mulder and Scully when we need them?

According to cropcircleconnector.com, thus far in 2005, 35 “confirmed” crop circles have appeared worldwide – a handful of them in North Carolina. In May, a mysterious shape was discovered in a field in Catawba County, but the owner of the land quickly dismissed it as wind damage. Then, on June 12, a circle 176 feet in diameter was reported at Green Mountain in Yancey County.”

“Generally you don’t hear about them in the mountains, period,” says Nancy Talbott of BLT Research Team Inc., a group of crop-circle buffs based in Cambridge, Mass., who investigated the occurrence. “In all the other countries I work in, [I] mostly find them in flat or gently undulating land.”

Two days after the Green Mountain circle appeared, another one was reported just a mile away, this one a classic dumbbell shape with two small circles connected by a pathway. The third report came from an unusual, and perhaps suspect, source: eBay. Talbott decided against inspecting that formation, primarily because the property owners were all too eager to sell plant samples from the compressed hay. But the researcher isn’t chalking the others up to foul play.

“The evidence in the plants and soils does not reflect any flattening,” she insists. “So, as they say in England, ‘pranks with planks’ is not the answer.” (Many crop circles, which some ascribe to extraterretrials, have been revealed as pranks played by people dragging boards through fields to make shapes.)

At about the same time the eBay crop circle appeared, a fourth incident was reported – this one in Weaverville. The site boasted a simple circle of elliptically swirled hay about 53 feet in diameter. Oh, and some nearby four-wheeler tracks.

So, will more circles form near Asheville? Talbott thinks it’s likely. “As the public has become more aware of it, people [who discover crop circles] have started looking for people like us who study [them],” she notes. “It’s conceivable that there are more circles found than are reported.”

And as for theories, the researcher looks neither to extraterrestrials nor pranksters, but to weather. “One hypothesis we’ve offered is upper atmospheric – in the ionosphere – plasmas which descend.

“If you pay attention to the phenomena,” Talbott advises, “it’s likely to reoccur.”

For more information, visit www.bltresearch.com.

— Alli Marshall

It’s your right; here’s how to use it

The first time I hit a voting booth, I was shocked to discover that behind the secret curtain there were scores of candidates running for dozens of political offices – hardly just the two presidential choices I’d been expecting. For many voters exercising that suffrage right – whether it was gained by Amendment 15 (African-Americans’ right to vote), 19 (women’s right to vote) or 26 (18-year-olds’ right to vote) – there’s a lot more to the election process than showing up at a poling station.

And that’s where the League of Women Voters comes in. The organization, now in its 85th year, is a nonpartisan group that, according to its mission statement, “takes action on governmental issues and policies … educates people on issues important to them and offers volunteer opportunities for those who are interested in making our democracy work.”

Which is why the North Carolina branch plans to hold a statewide program called Affecting Decisions on Public Issues. “This is a new program to reach out to the public to let them know who we are,” explains Charlotte-based organizer Mary Klenz. “New and potential leaders will learn something about the League of Women Voters, participate in a workshop that will show what the League does and network with others.”

The program will provide instruction on how citizens can make their voices better heard by politicians and information for those who might wish to run for office.

“Neighborhood associations, civic groups or individuals might have an issue they want to bring to an elected official,” says Klenz. “We’ll tell you how to talk about [that issue] or arrange a meeting with your elected official.”

“One person, 10 people, can make a difference in public decisions by local and state governments, but knowing the process is a must,” insists a LWV press release.

The Western North Carolina meeting is slated for Saturday, August 6 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Waynesville. Sign-in for the event is at 9 a.m., with workshops running from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch and networking. The event is free, but those who are interested should register by Monday, August 1.

For more information, contact Kathleen Balough at kbalough@buncombe.main.nc.us or 251-6169.

— Alli Marshall

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