Buzzworm news briefs

From the whirlwind

Charlie Castex has been busy. Over the last eight years, this Asheville-based psychic consultant and spiritual teacher has done readings for more than 7,000 clients. Consistently voted best psychic in Western North Carolina by Mountain Xpress readers, Castex also gives periodic lectures (which he calls “An Evening of Spirit”) in Asheville and around the county. Additionally, he just finished wrapping up Soul Purpose with Charlie Castex, a television pilot. Phew!

“It’s really been a whirlwind,” he admits. “I’m trying to keep up with the nature of this work, because people are becoming more interested in being in touch with their source and more interested in how they can manage to balance their lives against all that craziness [in the world].”

His personal vision for everything he does, explains Castex, “is being able to guide souls toward their own individual empowerment by awakening them to their unique qualities, talents, strengths and weak points, too. Perhaps, most importantly, I can gently remind every individual that this life is the greatest gift one could ever hope to have. It’s a simple teaching but an increasingly necessary one in these perplexing times. All too easily, we lose ourselves in striving … ending up as human doings.”

Castex will present his next “An Evening of Spirit” on Thursday, Aug. 21, 7 p.m. at Essential Arts Bookstore (18 Wall St.) in downtown Asheville. A $7 donation is requested, and reservations are recommended.

The evening, says Castex, “is geared towards people’s soul purpose — and not just in the career sense or in the sense of our function in the world, but having more of a view towards being rather than doing. That’s what we’re looking at.”

To reserve a space at the Essential Arts Bookstore event, call 281-2464.

— Lisa Watters

Spreading trees

There’s nothing like having white-flowering dogwood trees in your back yard: an excellent show of white blossoms in the spring, scarlet foliage in the fall, and red berries that attract songbirds all winter. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Well, actually, it does. As part of their Trees for America campaign, The National Arbor Day Foundation will give 10 free white-flowering dogwood trees to everyone who joins the organization before Sept. 1.

The trees will be shipped postpaid at the right time for planting (between Oct. 15 and Dec. 10) with instructions included. The six- to 12-inch trees are guaranteed to grow or they’ll be replaced free of charge.

Members also receive a subscription to the foundation’s colorful, bimonthly publication, Arbor Day, and a copy of The Tree Book, which gives information about planting and care.

To receive the free trees, send a $10 membership contribution by Aug. 31 to: TEN DOGWOODS, National Arbor Day Foundation, 100 Arbor Ave., Nebraska City, NE 68410.

— Lisa Watters

This is news?

It will probably come as no surprise to anyone who’s lived in Asheville for more than 10 minutes to learn that Outside magazine has named Warren Wilson College the fourth-best college in the country for outdoors-oriented students. Touting not only WNC’s multiplicity of sports opportunities (whitewater paddling, climbing, on- and off-road biking, hiking) but also the beauty of downtown Asheville’s art-deco buildings and the greenery of both the college campus and the curriculum, the magazine had nothing but good to say about the little school in the Swannanoa Valley.

And considering the number of license plates spotted hereabouts from California (U.C. Santa Cruz was No. 1 on the magazine’s list), Colorado (U.C. Boulder, No. 2), and Vermont (Middlebury College, No. 3), is it possible these folks know something that the people at Outside simply missed?

To view the complete list, visit

— Cecil Bothwell

Support for families of the mentally ill

If you have a family member or friend with a severe mental illness, you might be facing a number of questions. What can I do if there’s a crisis? With mental-health reform on the horizon, what services are available? What are all those medications for? What is the best treatment? And, just as crucial, how do I take care of myself?

NAMI Family-to-Family Education, a free series of 12 weekly classes for families and friends of people with a severe mental illness, strives to answer those questions by offering up-to-date facts as well as support and coping skills.

A NAMI Family-to-Family class will be offered in Asheville from 6:30-9 p.m. on Thursdays, beginning Sept. 4. All materials are provided.

NAMI Western Carolina (an affiliate of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) sponsors the class, which is taught by trained volunteers. Offered in 44 states, the classes cover the illnesses of schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorders.

Pre-registration is required, and class size is limited.

For more info, call 299-9596.

— Tracy Rose


Memory of trees

Say goodbye to the pear and sweet-gum trees that line the Asheville Savings Bank parking lot on Patton Avenue between Church Street and Lexington. They’re history, in more ways than simple slang — though they may indeed be falling by the time you read these words.

The Bradford pears, in particular, date back 20 or so years to a time when they were seen as ideal urban trees. According to local landscape architect John Broadbooks, the Bradford “was very popular; it has some nice characteristics. Unfortunately it also tends to splinter and lose limbs in ice and snow.” Broadbooks, who serves as a consultant to Fisher Architects (which is overseeing the remodeling and restoration of both the historic bank building and the parking area), told Xpress that the replacement trees slated for the lot will be trident maple and kousa dogwood. Both species have a good track record as street trees. (The Asian kousa is gaining popularity because it’s resistant to anthracnose, which is killing native dogwoods across the U.S.)

While the Unified Development Ordinance requires that replacement trees be at least 2 inches in diameter, Asheville Savings expects to go with 3-inch trees (depending on availability) to speed the recovery of its shaded lot. “This client,” notes Broadbooks, “certainly has the city’s best interests in mind. They are doing a commendable job on this project.”

Susan Roderick, executive director of the nonprofit Quality Forward, agrees. “What they’re doing is replacing Bradford pears with more substantial trees. It is definitely a change for the better.”

Meanwhile, the Drhumor Building Condominium Association, which owns the adjoining parking lot, plans to do extensive pruning of the sweet-gum trees, replacing some of them with trident maples.

The revamped bank lot will include a walk-up ATM in a new building that will replace the existing wood-frame attendant’s booth. The work is slated for completion by the end of September.

Initial restoration work on the bank’s nearby headquarters has already begun and should be completed by autumn of 2004, according to Executive Vice President Steve Young. The bank, he said, had considered constructing a new downtown building, “but we made a decision last year that restoration could provide a dual sense of success. We are going to return the building to the way it looked at the end of the 1920s.” When the project is finished, the bank will have reclaimed 12,000 square feet of space for its own use while reclaiming about 6,000 square feet of rental office space that had been rendered inaccessible by piecemeal additions over the years.

— Cecil Bothwell

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