Buzzworm news briefs

Spotlight: minority entrepreneurs

Before you can move a mountain, you first need a dose of inspiration.

Inspiring minority business owners — and future entrepreneurs — is one of the goals of Minority Enterprise Development Week, a national celebration that’s now in its 21st year locally.

The local MED Week also seeks to highlight the vital role of minority-owned businesses in our local economy, notes Marvin Vierra of the Asheville Business Development Center.

The week’s activities will include these events:

• Minority Business Trade Show (showcasing 50 exhibitors), 2-5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25 (free);

• Minority Business Awards Banquet, 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25 ($30/person, advance registration advised); and

• “Customer Relations and the Law” seminar, presented by Le Von Wilson of Western Carolina University, 9-11:30 a.m., Friday, Sept. 26 ($20/person including breakfast; advance registration advised).

All events take place at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort, just off I-240 in west Asheville.

For more info, call Marvin Vierra at 252-2516.

— Tracy Rose

Asheville City Council candidate forum

Listen up. Like we told you last week, local matters matter. If you don’t vote in local elections, you are giving away your biggest vote — the one that counts the most. And how can you choose if you don’t know who you’re voting for and what they want to do with your life and taxes?

The League of Women Voters will hold a candidate forum Monday, Sept. 29, 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel.

— Cecil Bothwell

Beyond the yellow brick road

Now through Oct. 31, Asheville’s Smith-McDowell House Museum will host an exhibit of artifacts and photographs reflecting the past, present and future of farming in the Southern Appalachians, particularly Western North Carolina. Developed by the N.C. Farm Bureau and the Mountain Heritage Center, the traveling exhibit, titled “Working the Land: Farm Life in Western North Carolina,” explores both older farming trends and contemporary issues in local agriculture. The subjects range from tobacco to hogs, as the show considers their significance to the region’s agricultural heritage and history. The Smith-McDowell House Museum is at 283 Victoria Road on the A-B Tech campus. For more information, call (828) 253-9231.

— Stuart Gaines

A shocking experience

I grew up in a rural area and still remember vividly my time spent on farms — the snorting pigs rushing toward me; the jarring, numbing sensation of the electric fence; and the utter darkness of a corn silo when someone outside unexpectedly shuts the door.

But for those not so blessed, local nonprofit Handmade in America is now offering farm tours, so you can experience a bit of that good life. The first tour, slated for Saturday, Sept. 27, will offer city folk a chance to sample the variety of agricultural livelihoods in WNC.

“The farms you’ll see on this tour are really fabulous,” exclaims Tourism Director Carol Kline of Handmade. “They were chosen because they are fun and unique.”

The minibus provided for the tour will stop at the Mars Hill Farmers Market, Nowhere Angora Goat Farm, a Japanese garden (complete with bonsai trees and koi in lotus-lined ponds) and the annual Molasses Festival at Mackey Farms (which will give visitors a firsthand look at molasses-making). The festival will also feature barbecue and bluegrass.

The tour runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; only 25 seats are available. The $85 cost includes transportation, lunch and dinner, and a copy of Handmade’s book The Farms, Gardens & Countryside Trails of Western North Carolina.

The tour, Kline explains, reflects a national nostalgia for a side of life most no longer get to see. “People really want to reconnect with their roots, and they want to see where their food comes from,” she says.

Watch where you step — and don’t touch those innocuous-looking fences.

For reservations, call Handmade in America at (800) 331-4154 (e-mail: carolkline@handmadeinamerica.org).

— Rebecca DeRosa

Sayles redux

The North Carolina Division of Waste Management is holding a public-information meeting about the upcoming ground-water cleanup at the Sayles-Biltmore Bleacheries site. The meeting will address only the remediation plan, and any comments from attendees must be limited to that issue.

The meeting will take place Thursday, Sept. 25, 6-10 p.m. in the gymnasium of Oakley Elementary School, 753 Fairview Road, Asheville.

— Cecil Bothwell

A reason to Belize

When Dr. Bruce Minkin isn’t performing surgery on local hands, he heads for the caves of Belize, driven by his fascination with Mayan archaeology. On Saturday, Sept. 27, Minkin will lead Ashevilleans “Into the Heart of Darkness” as part of the “Eyes Upon the Earth” series at the Colburn Gem and Mineral Museum at Pack Place. The presentation begins at 7 p.m.; a reception will follow. Admission is $5 (free to museum members). Additonal info: 254-7162.

— Cecil Bothwell

Truthout comes to Asheville

A year ago, a little-known writer published his first book, a small volume titled War on Iraq, which rapidly became a New York Times best seller. William Rivers Pitt had delivered a remarkably accessible and insightful look at the looming invasion — made all the more cogent for its accurate forecast of most of what has happened in Iraq in the ensuing 12 months.

Pitt’s second book, The Greatest Sedition is Silence: Four Years in America has since been released, and a third volume, Our Flag Too: The Paradox of Patriotism is due out soon.

Following his literary success, Pitt left his high-school teaching job to become editor of the online journal Truthout.org and launch a nationwide speaking tour. Raves from friends who caught his presentation in Seattle this summer have ensured that I’ll be on hand for Pitt’s Asheville appearance this Sunday — arranged by the WNC Peace Coalition.

Free and open to the public. Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville, corner of Charlotte Street and Edwin Place, Sunday, Sept. 28, 11:15 a.m. Info: 298-0566 or 299-1242 (www.truthout.org). Pitt’s latest book is available at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe.

— Cecil Bothwell

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