Bridging the racial divide

This month, Building Bridges — a seminar aimed at confronting and overcoming racism in our community — gears up for its 19th program since 1993.

But after all this time, is a program still necessary?

“I’m afraid so,” replies Building Bridges co-chairKathey Avery-Hoover. “This is one of the few ways that the racism between blacks and whites in the county can be talked about openly to build a bridge between the two cultures.”

The nine-week cultural-diversity seminar is designed to bring together people of all faiths, races, ages and walks of life to listen to presentations and then talk in small groups. The program seeks to overcome racism by “changing attitudes and hearts through education, consciousness-raising, nurturing and ongoing support,” according to the group’s mission statement.

Check-in and registration for the first program starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19 at the Baha’i Faith Center (5 Ravenscroft Drive in downtown Asheville). The cost is $12; the seminar is limited to 90 people.

Nearly 1,000 people have taken part in the seminars. And many of the connections forged there have continued long after the last session, says Avery-Hoover.

“It makes a whole lot friendlier town,” she suggests.

For more info or to register, call Tyrone Greenlee at New Mount Olive Baptist Church (253-0749).

Caped crusaders ride to the rescue

All the way from Eugene, Ore., a band of 20-something cyclists have been riding cross-country volunteering their time in community projects nationwide. Sleeping in tents and touring the county on bikes, the group — known as the Haul of Justice — has been “rescuing towns and cities” by planting apple trees, sharing meals with the homeless, and sprucing up community parks. Toronto Star columnist Michelle Landsberg described their positive antics as “the flip side of Bush-ism, the side we rarely hear about anymore.”

On Saturday, Sept. 7, group leader, Blazing Echidna and his crew will roll into Asheville and roll up their sleeves, announcing, “We’re Superheroes; we’re here to help. Need anything?” The Haul of Justice will join forces with RiverLink for a weekend of heroic fun, community service and a major cleanup project along the French Broad River.

RiverLink Volunteer Coordinator Linda Siegall encourages folks to come out and join in the fun on both Saturday and Sunday. The group will meet at Day’s Storage and Tobacco Warehouse on Lyman St. from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday and 12-5 p.m. on Sunday. RiverLink will provide gloves, bags and refreshments. Volunteers are encouraged to bring hand tools, trucks, lawn mowers, gardening equipment and extra paint.

For more information, call Linda Siegall at 252-8474, ext. 115 or visit

Living simply

Does your life feel too hectic? Are you surrounded by too much clutter? Does your daily routine seem out of sync with your faith and your values? The conference “Simpler Living as Spiritual Practice” slated for Friday, Sept. 13 (2-8 p.m.) and Saturday, Sept. 14 (9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.) at First Baptist Church (5 Oak St. in Asheville) is designed to inspire reflection on these and other issues as well as on the concept of conscious, mindful living.

Sponsored by the feminist retreat ministry Holy Ground, the two-day conference will invite participants to share and learn through presentations, small-group discussions, and seven mini workshops on a variety of topics, such as “A New Perspective on Money,” “Parenting in a Consumer Culture,” “Simplicity and Food,” “Simplifying in the Home,” “Sabbath Keeping,” “Our Ecological Footprint” and “Time as a Resource; Time as Sacred.” Consultants will also be available to discuss insurance needs and socially just financial investing.

The $75 conference fee includes workshop materials, handouts, Friday dinner & Saturday lunch (both vegetarian meals featuring locally-grown organic produce.) Child care is available, as are some scholarships. Registration deadline is Sept. 7.

For more information or to register, call Holy Ground at 236-0222.

Educator/priest shares vision for Israel & Palestine

Abuna Elias Chacour was born to a Palestinian Christian family in the village of Biram in 1939. At the age of 8, he experienced the tragedy of his people when his family — along with their whole village — was evicted by force and became refugees in their own homeland.

But instead of becoming embittered by this experience and seeking revenge, Chacour chose the path of peace. Now an ordained Melkite Catholic priest and president of Mar Elias Educational Institutions, he has dedicated himself, during the last 40 years, to efforts to achieve reconciliation between Jews and Arabs in Israel.

The author of several books, including Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land, Chacour recently recieved of the 18th Niwano Peace Prize from the Niwano Peace Foundation in Japan.

Chacour will be in Asheville to speak on “A Vision for Peace & Justice in Israel and Palestine” on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 12:15-1:30 p.m. in UNCA’s Owen Conference Center.

For more information, call Elmoiz Abunura of Amnesty International — UNCA Chapter at 232-5024.

UNCA kicks off philosophy lecture series

It’s been said that the study of philosophy is for people who want not just to live, but to live well. And living well in this day and age can seem more of a challenge than ever.

“Applying Philosophy,” the 2002-03 UNCA Philosophy Lecture Series is designed to foster discussion on philosophically significant issues of our day. Duane Davis, UNCA assistant professor of philosophy will kick off this nine-part series, sponsored by UNCA’s Philosophy Department, and the Institute for Applied Philosophy, with a talk on “What is Life’s Meaning?” on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 7:30 p.m. in UNCA’s Kellogg Center (11 Broyles Road) in Hendersonville. An open discussion will follow the talk. All talks are open to the public with a $5 suggested donation at the door.

The schedule for the rest of the series is as follows:

On Oct. 2, Keya Maitra, UNCA assistant professor of philosophy, and Sara Worth, Furman University assistant professor of philosophy, will address “What is Happiness and How Do We Achieve It?”

On Nov. 6, Joe Young, UNCA Master of Liberal Arts degree candidate will speak on “Money and Virtue.”

On Dec. 4, Melissa Burchard, UNCA assistant professor of philosophy, will address “What is Love and Why is It Important?”

On Jan. 15, Gordon Wilson, UNCA Philosophy Dept. chairman and professor will address “What is Evil and Why is There Evil?”

On Feb. 5, Wilson will speak on “Morals and How We Learn to Make Moral Choices.”

On March 5, Don Emon, president of the Hendersonville Hemlock Society, will address “How Does One Become a Mature Human?”

On April 2, Brian Butler, UNCA assistant professor of philosophy, will address “What is Liberty?”

And finally, on May 7, John Fishwick, field geologist and research chemist, and Burchard will ponder “And If We Are Not Alone in the Universe — Philosophical Implications.”

For directions, call the Kellogg Center at 890-2821. For more information about the series, call the Institute for Applied Philosophy at 891-5068.

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