Buzzworm news briefs

The other 9/11

A half-decade after hijacked planes plowed into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon and the Pennsylvania countryside, the mention of Sept. 11 still has the power to evoke strong feelings. It spurs recollections of images seared into the mind: plumes of smoke from the collapsed towers or news clips of victims’ family members huddled in grief. Or perhaps it’s the post-9/11 flurry of flag-waving, accompanied by the start of the still ongoing war against terrorism, that comes to mind.

A coalition of local peace, justice and environmental organizations, led by Caring for Creation: Interfaith Partners of Western North Carolina, will rally together in Asheville this Monday, Sept. 11, to commemorate not the terrorist attacks, but the 100-year anniversary of a very different moment in history: Mahatma Gandhi’s first call to action against oppression in South Africa.

On Sept. 11, 1906, Gandhi convened a meeting of 3,000 Indian workers in South Africa to urge them to disobey a newly passed, racist ordinance called the Black Act. Despite the risks of imprisonment and physical injury, they vowed to resist nonviolently, and their battle wore on until 1914, when the law was finally repealed. Monday’s rally will celebrate this first spark of Gandhi’s movement, as well as his guiding principal of satyagraha, defined simply as acting with truth, love and nonviolence toward all of humanity — enemies or otherwise.

“Since September 11, our government has fostered a culture of fear, violence and revenge,” says Kim Carlyle, one of the event coordinators and a member of Caring for Creation. “We think it would be nice to have a different association on that date, one that is positive, uplifting and hopeful. Unless we can all come together and be successful and free the world from military adventures, I don’t think there’s any hope for us.” The event, says Carlyle, is not about being anti-anything, but rather about celebrating the idea of unity.

A major focus will be the intersection between social-justice and environmental issues. “Obviously oil is becoming scarce, water is becoming scarce, and we will have wars over oil and water unless we come to terms with our consumption habits and reduce our numbers,” says Carlyle. “That’s a different aspect of peace that’s often overlooked: Our consumer culture has to be reformed and transformed.”

At the request of Carlyle and Richard Fireman, also of Caring for Creation, Mayor Terry Bellamy has signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 11, 2006, to be “Peace on Earth, Peace with Earth Day” in Asheville, encouraging citizens to “reflect on the meaning of justice, peace and nonviolent conflict resolution … by acting in a compassionate, nonharming manner within human society, towards other-than-human life, and [toward] the Earth itself.”

The event will be begin in downtown Asheville’s Pritchard Park at 5:30 p.m. and will feature drumming, comments from Bellamy and a ritual led by Rev. Howard Hanger. At approximately 7 p.m., participants will proceed to the First Presbyterian Church, located at 40 Church St., for a potluck supper.

— Rebecca Bowe

Free-range festival

Strap on those Birks and don your finest hemp duds — the 2006 Organicfest is coming to downtown Asheville on Saturday, Sept. 9, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Battery Park Avenue.

Organizer Debi Athos says this year’s fifth-annual event will include many of the things that have made the festival a success in the past, but will add a few new wrinkles to the city’s celebration of all things organic.

Visitors will be able to check out the latest examples of green-building products and green technologies, including a bus that runs on vegetable oil. Plus, says Athos, the Organic Growers School will hold workshops that include a basic primer on organics, and more targeted workshops on such things as the art of tea-making, a hands-on class on how to make and use “soil blocks” for transplanting and plant starters, and the basics of “vermiculture,” a fancy term for worm composting.

“I like to say it’s a funtastic festival,” says Athos, “and a good family event — especially good for those people new to organics, featuring everything from food to flowers to fibers.”

A number of merchants are signed up for the event, including several food vendors who will ply their green goodness — everything from herbs and fruits to “the world’s best carrot cake.”

Children are a big part of the event, and the kiddies will have the opportunity to dress as their favorite “beneficial bug” (think butterfly, bee, nematode and the like) or create a bug shaker for the Beneficial Bug Parade, which is scheduled to take place at 1 p.m.

For the adults, there will be hourly gift-basket drawings featuring an array of organic products.

And, of course, no Asheville festival would be complete without music. This year’s eclectic lineup includes: Jen Greer (a.k.a. Jenny Juice of the band Jen and the Juice), Chris Rosser, The Muses, Sherry Lynn and the Mountain Friends Band, GreenWay, Kimberly Summer, Peace Jones, Dawn Humphrey, Montford Park, Wind, High Light, Jeff Michaels and Good Intentions.

For more information, visit www.organicfest.org.

— Hal Millard

Boundless optimism

The Center holds: A scene from the jubilant opening last Friday of the Center of Unlimited Possibilities. photo by Jonathan Welch

Over the years, Asheville has acquired, or perhaps nurtured, a reputation as a place for self-expression and personal fulfillment. The city’s mixed political loyalties date at least as far back as the Civil War, and ambiguity in matters of gender found a gilded-age home at George Vanderbilt’s orgiastic art parties. Anti-gummint types have brewed moonshine or grown pot in our mountains for decades, while saucerites and chemtrail sleuths scan the skies above. Christians, Nazis, Ku Kluxers, pagans, Jubilants, organicists, Unitarians, antidefamationists, Eleanor Roosevelt-types and members of the Council of Independent Business Owners have all set up soapboxes, drum circles or nonprofits through the years. What we seem to have here is a center for unlimited possibilities.

And now we in fact have a Center of Unlimited Possibilities, located adjacent to Earth Fare in the Westgate Shopping Center. Touted as a gathering place for “the cultural creative community of Western North Carolina,” CUP includes a Chamber of Consciousness that, according to its literature, will “blend components of an office park, retail center, trade show, health and wellness facility, consignment shop and entertainment venue — all wrapped up in a 32,000-square-foot space.”

Organizers Mary Silva and Will Najger tell Xpress that the center will host motivational presentations, author appearances, art shows, live performances promote creative business-building workshops. Rental-office space with shared amenities will be available to nonprofits, and treatment rooms for counseling or massage will rent by the hour.

Najger explains that the center will be something like a permanent job fair for alternative businesses, coupled with a library, Internet cafe and theater space. He plans to host a weekly variety program on URTV that will be “like a local Johnny Carson show.”

Following a grand-opening event on Sept. 1, CUP is up and running.

For more information, visit www.centerofunlimitedpossibilities.com.

— Cecil Bothwell

Campaign Calendar

Thursday, Sept. 7: Community meeting with Van Duncan, Democratic candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff, at the Skyland Fire Department, 7 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 12: Local candidates for the N.C. Senate and House will appear at a public forum on economic issues, 7 to 9 p.m. at Triedstone Missionary Baptist Church (100 Carroll Ave., downtown Asheville). Co-sponsors of the event are Children First, Working Families Win, Christians for a United Community, the Baptist Ministers Union and the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance.

Wednesday, Sept. 13: Van Duncan, Democratic candidate for sheriff, hosts a community meeting at the Black Mountain Library at 7 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 18: Candidates’ Forum on Health Issues from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center (236 Charlotte St. in Asheville). The forum, co-sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Social Justice Committee of Congregation Beth Ha Tephila, will include candidates for the 11th District congressional race, for N.C. House Districts 114, 115, and 116, and for N.C. Senate District 49. The event is free and open to the public.

Monday, Sept. 18: Mail-in absentee ballots will be available from the Buncombe County Board of Elections and may be obtained by calling Rachel Brown at 250-4218.

Wednesday, Sept. 20: Congressional candidate Heath Shuler will appear at the monthly lunch meeting of the Asheville Leadership Forum at the Country Club of Asheville, at 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome; reservations are required (contact Terry Wooten at woot683@bellsouth.net or 683-0910). A $16 cost covers lunch — and there is a request for “no jeans, please.”

Thursday, Oct. 5: Van Duncan, Democratic candidate for Buncombe County Sheriff, is holding a community meeting at the Weaverville Town Hall, 7 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 13: Last day to register to be eligible to vote on Nov. 7; also, last day to change party status before the general election. Contact the Board of Elections at 250-4200 for further information.

Wednesday, Oct. 18: The two candidates for Buncombe sheriff, incumbent Bobby Medford and challenger Van Duncan, will be the guests at the 11:30 a.m. Asheville Leadership Forum. The event takes place at the Country Club of Asheville and is open to the public. Reservations are required; contact Terry Wooten at woot683@bellsouth.net or 683-0910. There is a $16 fee (covers lunch) — and no jeans, please.

Thursday, Oct. 19: One-stop absentee voting begins for the general election. Locations will be announced by the Buncombe County Board of Elections (250-4200).

Candidates, organizations and citizens: Send your campaign-event news — as far in advance as possible — by e-mail to nholder@mountainx.com; 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.<$>

Eracism

For 13 years, Building Bridges has worked to break down barriers between races throughout Western North Carolina. To date, more than 1,000 participants from Asheville, Hendersonville, Black Mountain, Lake Junaluska, Franklin, Cherokee, Waynesville, Madison County and Rutherfordton have attended the program, which is a nine-week series hosted at venues throughout the region.

Employing video as well as selected readings, the sessions consist of large-group presentations followed by small-group discussions. Building Bridges aims to deconstruct racial stereotypes and forge new community ties. The course’s reading material is specifically geared to local conditions, and continuing education credits are awarded for participation in all of the programs.

Community activist and Building Bridges board member Elaine Robinson says that she is “particularly excited about the fact that it really creates a forum to dialogue and sincerely build relationships.” Robinson sees her role as recruiting business and institutional leaders to support the program. “A lot of the racism in Asheville is ingrained in institutions here,” Robinson said. “We don’t know what the barriers are until we sit down and talk about them.”

Building Bridges’ next session will be held at Isaac Dickson School (125 Hill St. in Asheville), and runs from 7 to 9 p.m. each Tuesday from Sept. 12 through Nov. 7. Subsequent sessions will be held at MAHEC beginning in late January 2007, and in Black Mountain beginning in April. Registration is limited to 90 people; a fee of $20 per person covers materials.

For more information, call 253-0749 or e-mail info@buildingbridges-asheville.org. Information and online registration is also available at www.buildingbridges-asheville.org.

— Cecil Bothwell

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