Buzzworm news briefs

It ain’t over till it’s over

Under North Carolina law, if no candidate in a primary receives more than 40 percent of the vote, the second-place candidate can request a runoff against the leader.

That’s what happened with the July 20 Democratic primary for the office of superintendent of public instruction. Marshall Stewart barely edged out June S. Atkinson (they had 35 percent and 34 percent of the vote respectively), and Atkinson has requested a runoff.

It will be held Tuesday, Aug. 17, 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at all precinct locations.

For more information on the runoff, call your local board of elections. To learn more about the candidates, visit their official Web sites: www.stewartforstudents.org and www.june4schools.com.

— Lisa Watters

Get on (a city) board

If you’re a city resident who’d like to get more involved with local government, there’s still time to apply for a seat on one of several boards and commissions that have vacancies. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 12.

Seats are available on the Americans With Disabilities Act Compliance Committee, the Fair Housing Commission, the Planning and Zoning Commission, the River District Design Review Committee and the Tourism Development Authority.

To apply or get more information, call the city clerk’s office (259-5601) or visit www.ci.asheville.nc.us and click on “board vacancies.”

— Lisa Watters

Where to stick it

If there was ever an appropriately named piece of art, it would have to be Conversation Piece #4C by Ida Kohlmeyer. The abstract sculpture has inspired a good amount of discussion, some of it quite heated, ever since the city bought it last year using $18,000 of taxpayer money (the rest of the piece’s $55,000 price tag was provided by private donors and the late artist’s namesake foundation.)

Now that we have it, folks are invited to make suggestions for the permanent location of CP4C, which is on display in the promenade at the Pack Place Education, Arts & Science Center in downtown Asheville.

Suggestions will be accepted through Tuesday, Sept. 21; they can be made via the suggestion box located next to the statue, online at www.ashevilleparks.org, or by calling Asheville Parks and Recreation’s cultural-arts hot line (259-5774). The Public Art Board will review all suggestions before making a final recommendation to the Asheville City Council.

— Lisa Watters

Miami: the movie

The aggressive handling of last November’s anti-globalization protests in Miami has been sharply criticized by activists concerned about the future of free speech under the USA PATRIOT Act; a new phrase, “the Miami model,” was coined to describe the police tactics.

A documentary about these events, titled The Miami Model, shows police attacking protesters with rubber bullets, pepper spray, electric tazer guns and shock batons. The film also showcases the issues that drew protesters to Miami, as well as alternative models of grassroots resistance.

Mountain Eye Media, Indymedia and the ftaaimc.org video collective (which produced the film) will present a screening of The Miami Model at Tribes (237 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville) on Tuesday, Aug. 17, starting at 7 p.m. The sliding-scale admission charge ($5 to $15) is based on ability to pay. Proceeds from the event will underwrite Mountain Eye’s reporting of the Republican National Convention in New York City in September, with nightly cablecasts on Free Speech TV.

Thousands of protesters — including union members, environmentalists, feminists, anarchists, students, farm workers, media activists and human-rights activists — gathered in Miami to express their opposition to a meeting of trade ministers from 34 countries who were there to negotiate the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Some have also questioned the use of media embedded with local law enforcement. The American Journalism Review quoted Lt. Bill Schwartz, a spokesman for the Miami Police Department spokesman, as follows: “I believe that every reporter I have spoken to that was embedded said that they were able to see things from our point of view. I think during the event, and you go back and look at coverage — particularly television coverage — you will find it very positive and pro-police.”

The law-enforcement effort was coordinated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and paid for by an $8.5 million line item within the $87 billion appropriation for the Iraq war, according to both Alternet and the Associated Press.

For more information, including online segments from the movie, visit www.mountaineyemedia.org, e-mail info@mountaineye.org, or phone 254-5580.

— Cecil Bothwell

Nicaragua bound

Weaverville resident Melissa Fridlin will soon fly to Managua, Nicaragua, to begin a two-year stint as an International Team volunteer with the nonprofit group Witness for Peace.

“I suddenly find my life wide open, headed full-speed towards fulfilling a dream I have been nursing for six years,” she explained in a recent letter to friends and family.

In 1998, Fridlin, then a student at Warren Wilson College, spent two months in Guatemala and Mexico as part of the college’s cross-cultural-education program.

The experience, she says, transformed her — especially the week she and her classmates spent with International Team volunteers when they first arrived in Guatemala. To experience what everyday life is like for citizens of that country, they lived with a Guatemalan family and met with community leaders.

The volunteers, she notes, “took overwhelming issues like poverty and globalization and corporate power and made them clear and accessible to me and my classmates. They led us gently through a startling, life-changing, devastating week.”

During that time, says Fridlin, “a voice began to rise in me with strong feeling and passion. I felt excited and driven; I knew that this was the work I wanted to do.”

That passion has led her to work extensively with Witness in the United States as a delegate, a regional organizer and a delegation coordinator. But though her work has been fulfilling, she reveals, “I always come back to my desire to be in Latin America with the International Team.”

Sometimes, notes Fridlin, it’s been easy “to lose sight of this calling when there seems to be no concrete victory in sight, when the suffering and violence in the world is so overwhelming that I feel tiny and powerless.”

But what has kept her focused during those times, she explains, are her memories of the people she met in Latin America.

Once there, says Fridlin, her main work “will be planning and facilitating participatory experiential-educational programs that allow visiting groups of U.S. citizens to witness firsthand how global economic and military policies affect the people of Latin America and the Caribbean. During their time in Nicaragua, we also challenge our delegates to use their travel experience — and Witness for Peace’s extensive grassroots network — to become engaged in the struggle for justice and peace.”

Although Fridlin’s living expenses will be covered once she’s in Nicaragua, she needs help covering travel and other expenses, including the care of her two cats while she’s abroad. Fridlin hopes to raise $2,000 before her Sept. 1 departure.

“Any amount [people] can contribute — 10, $25, $50 — will go a long way in helping me do this important work of transforming lives — my own as well as many others,” she declares.

For more information, contact Fridlin at 777-3968, 645-6286 or mfridlin@main.nc.us. Checks can be mailed to: Melissa Fridlin, 369 Ox Creek Road, Weaverville, NC 28787. To learn more about Witness for Peace, visit www.witnessforpeace.org.

— Lisa Watters

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