Buzzworm news briefs

The bus stops here

For bus drivers working for the Asheville Transit System, the Shiloh route can be a bit confusing of late. It’s not that the streets are narrow or poorly marked — it’s that some folks are hanging out at the bus stop even when they don’t want a ride.

According to Barbara Verni-Howe, that phenomenon is the result of the Shiloh community’s new bus-stop shelter, which is so “wonderful” that locals have begun using the space to congregate.

The shelter, which was completed in early August, is the result of a multifaceted community program that came together over the course of the past year. For Verni-Howe, the community outreach coordinator for Neighborhood Housing Services (one of several community groups that helped develop the bus stop), the transit stop in Shiloh is more than just a stylish blend of form and function.

“This is a one-of-a-kind design that the community helped put together,” she says. “The people of Shiloh had a say in where it went and how it looked. But it’s much more than a bus stop. It also serves as an entry to a community park and the community center. It’s become a source of pride.”

The bus stop was constructed with help from Design Corps, a Raleigh-based organization that brought together eight architecture students from colleges across the country to help Shiloh residents turn a vision into reality. With additional assistance from A-B Tech, the Community Foundation of Western North Carolina and other groups, the shelter, which sits beside a small stream and a mature tree, quickly went from drawings to models to a popular focal point for Shiloh residents.

“The best part about it,” notes Norma Baynes, a Shiloh community leader, “is that the children got to be part of this.” She explains that the community’s youngest residents spent time with the architectural students learning about the art of building design. They also got to put their own touch on the final product by contributing handmade cement tiles that are now part of the bus shelter’s floor.

“Years from now, these kids will be able to go there and say, ‘I was involved with this,'” she adds. “They helped make history.”

— Brian Sarzynski

Full(er) immersion

Imagine yourself at the center of the universe — literally. What would it all look like from there?

The answer to this long-running imponderable may be on the horizon, thanks to advances in technology and some creative efforts by the likes of West Asheville multimedia luminary David McConville, who turns intricately lit domes into whole new ways of seeing what’s surrounding us.

McConville will put his endeavors in contemporary and historical perspective at 8 p.m. this Thursday, Aug. 18, when he makes a presentation on “Immersive Media Environments” at the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in downtown Asheville. The talk is part of “Ideas + Inventions,” an exhibition and series of events exploring the work and legacy of the visionary thinker Buckminster Fuller.

McConville’s presentation is not just a marriage of convenience stemming from McConville’s proximity to the late Black Mountain College, the avant-garde institution where Fuller taught for two summers in the 1940s. McConville says that Fuller’s ever-expanding vision of how to see and interpret the world left real lessons about how immersive environments — especially the geodesic kind, a Fuller specialty — can teach what have heretofore been tricky topics to relate.

“The purpose of these immersive environments, to me, is experiential learning,” he says, noting their advantage as a teaching tool over more traditional approaches.

“What I’ll be discussing is the ways in which, especially within dome displays, a lot of what Fuller had prophesized, and the directions he was pointing in, are finally being manifested.”

Using cutting-edge computer and projection technology, for example, McConville, working in conjunction with visual artists, will give planetarium-style tours of the cosmos, “starting from the surface of the Earth, looking up at the stars, and then zooming up into the sky and scaling — on 10 orders of magnitude — out to the background radiation of the Big Bang. That’s the farthest thing that radio telescopes can detect.”

Talk about seeing for miles and miles. “It’s difficult to explain how that expands your concept of where you are in the universe,” McConville says. Perhaps you’ve just got to see it for yourself.

McConville will make his presentation at the BMCM+AC (56 Broadway), and the cost is $5. For more information, call 350-8484.

— Jon Elliston

Campaign Calendar to announce events

The municipal election season is upon us, and Xpress will be publishing a weekly calendar of local campaign events leading up to the Oct. 11 primary and the Nov. 8 general election.

Candidates and organizations are invited to notify us of public forums or events, for inclusion in our weekly calendar. Information must be received no later than the Wednesday before publication date (Xpress publishes on Wednesdays only).

Send information by fax to 251-1311 or by mail to
Campaign Calendar
Mountain Xpress
P.O. Box 144
Asheville, NC 28802.

If you have questions, call 251-1333, Ext. 107.

Absentee ballot and other election information is available at the Buncombe County Board of Elections Web site: www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Election.

— Nelda Holder

Power shopping

Care to help out a local nonprofit? How about if you got to a do a little shopping at the same time?

Spiritex, one of Lexington Avenue’s newest merchants, will be hosting its inaugural Purchase Power Fundraising Drive from Aug. 19 to Sept. 2. During the sale, the clothing store will be offering merchandise from several of local nonprofit groups, including the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, Blue Ridge Biofuel, RiverLink, the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project and the Southern Highlands Conservancy. All of the proceeds from the sale of that merchandise will go directly to the groups.

“This is a way for us to do something that will bring out the best of our local non-profits — and help put us on the map,” notes Spiritex owner Marylou Sanders. “We hope to strengthen bonds within the community while educating consumers about sustainable and environmentally responsible products.”

Spiritex, she explains, supports the “ultimate fashion statement: conscious consumerism.” To promote that ideal, the store offers a wide range of knitted organic cotton fabrics and boasts of being Asheville’s first clothing warehouse to offer both high- and low-end garments produced under the “sustainable umbrella.” Among the fashion lines offered is Ecosport, a company founded by Sanders and her husband, Daniel Sanders.

During “Purchase Power,” Spiritex will also offer a 20 percent discount off any of their merchandise with the purchase of any of the items offered by the nonprofits.

For more information, visit Spiritex at 61-1/2 Lexington Ave., or check out the store’s Web site at www.spiritex.net.

— Brian Sarzynski

Take a deep breath

“All people have the right to breathe clean air,” declares Avram Friedman, executive director of the Canary Coalition, a nonprofit organization of citizens concerned about air quality in the Smoky Mountains.

According to Friedman, that right is being violated by industrial polluters (who don’t utilize available emission-control systems), government agencies (that fail to fully enforce existing regulations), and lawmakers (who don’t institute needed policies to address current pollution problems).

Folks will get a chance to help secure their right to clean air during the upcoming Relay for Clean Air, a 24-hour, 100-mile “civil rights march” along the Blue Ridge Parkway that starts at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25 and ends at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26.

The relay, which will travel from Newfound Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to downtown Asheville, will be divided into 40 segments, alternating between walkers, runners and bicycle riders. All participants are encouraged to join the event during its last leg by marching up Biltmore Avenue from Mission Hospital to the Orange Peel from 6:10-6:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 26, in a show of strength.

The event will culminate with AirAid, a benefit concert for the Canary Coalition at 9 p.m. that evening at the Orange Peel. AirAid performers include Steve Earle, Larry and Jenny Keel, and Steve “Big Daddy” McMurray. The event will also include the following speakers: Dr. Anthony Deluccia, former chairman of the American Lung Association; Leni Sitnick, former mayor of Asheville; N.C. Rep. Susan Fisher; Marjorie Mulhall of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy; Asheville City Council member Brownie Newman; and Friedman. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for Relay participants.

For more information, visit www.canarycoalition.org or www.airaid.info, or call 1-866-4CANARY toll free.

— Lisa Watters

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