Meet the candidates

North Carolina’s recent redistricting has altered the local electoral landscape: Former Senate District 28 has become Districts 48 and 49, and former House District 51 is now Districts 114, 115 and 116. To help citizens learn more about how the redistricting has affected their vote — and give them a chance to meet the candidates vying for seats in these new districts — the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County is sponsoring Mondays at the Renaissance: Election 2002 Candidate Forums.

The forums are free and open to the public; they begin at 7 p.m. at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel (31 Woodfin St.) Written questions will be taken from the audience. The schedule is as follows:

On Oct. 7, Trena Parker, director of Buncombe County Board of Elections, will speak on “Redistricting and How it Impacts Your Vote.” At 7:45 p.m., there will be a forum featuring the candidates for Buncombe County sheriff.

On Oct. 21, the forum will feature candidates for N.C. Senate Districts 48 and 49.

On Oct. 28, the forum will feature candidates for N.C. House Districts 114, 115 and 116.

For more information, call 258-8223 or visit the League’s Web site ( To find out more about state and local candidates, visit the League of Women Voters’ DemocracyNet Web site (

Peace Coalition sponsors free film festival

The tragic events of last Sept. 11, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the possibility of war in Iraq have kept questions of peace and justice in the forefront of many people’s minds. And if you missed the beginning of the Peace & Justice Film Festival last week, the series still has a slew of films planned that explore these vital issues.

The festival, sponsored by the WNC Peace Coalition, runs Thursday evenings through Oct. 31, starting at 6:30 p.m. downstairs at Jubilee! Community Church (101 Patton Ave.) in Asheville. A discussion of the issues follows each film (except for the last film, which will be followed by a Halloween party). All films are free, and the schedule is as follows:

On Oct. 3, there’s a double feature: War is Not a Game documents the devastating effects of war on the lives of children, and The Good War and Those Who Refuse to Fight It tells the stories and explores the legacies of World War II’s conscientious objectors.

On Oct. 10, Slam uses cinema verite to follow Raymond Joshua (played by U.S. poet Saul Williams) from the rough neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. to jail on a drugs charge, where he realizes the potential of his poetic talent.

On Oct. 17, Deadly Currents documents the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (Arabic and Hebrew with English voice-over and subtitles).

On Oct. 24, Marriage of the Blessed, one of the most controversial works of Iranian cinema, depicts the struggles a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War has in adjusting to civilian life (Farsi with English subtitles).

And finally, on Oct. 31, King of Hearts, set in France during World War I, offers an offbeat look at the lunacy of war (French, German and English with subtitles). The film will be followed by a Halloween party/masquerade.

For more information, call 277-0758.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

As recently as 1970, there was no such thing as a battered-women’s shelter in the U.S. Today there are more than 2,000 such shelters and service programs across the country, the foundation of a national movement based on the belief that women and their children are entitled to a safe environment free from violence and the threat of violence. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 85 percent of intimate-partner crimes are committed against women.

Helpmate Inc., our local domestic-violence agency, is joining forces with shelters and service agencies nationwide to recognize October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A number of activities have been planned to honor the victims and survivors of domestic violence:

On Thursday, Oct. 3, Helpmate will hold a tree-planting ceremony at 6 p.m. at the YWCA (50 S. French Broad Ave.) in Asheville. Guest speakers will include Buncombe County Commissioner David Gantt and Asheville City Council member Holly Jones.

Oct. 21-28, the “Silent Witness Project,” an art exhibit honoring North Carolina women who died at the hands of their abusers, will be on display at the YMI Historic Drug Store Gallery (on the corner of Eagle and South Market streets) in Asheville. A reception will be held on Thursday, Oct. 24 from 5:30-7:30; Helpmate staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Friday and Saturday, Oct. 25-26, “Mountain Moving Day” will take place at 8 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church (1 Edwin Place) in Asheville. The show will feature poetry (set to original music) that explores women’s victimization and celebrates their victory over violence. The Crooked Thumb Theatre, an ensemble cast of singers, instrumentalists and dancers, will also perform. Tickets ($10) are available in advance at Malaprop’s. Proceeds will benefit Helpmate.

On Sunday, Oct. 27, “Mountain Moving Day” (see above) will be performed at 3 p.m. in Mars Hill College’s Broyhill Chapel.

The next day (Monday, Oct. 28), regional author Connie May Fowler will sign copies of her novel When Katie Wakes, a story about domestic violence, at Jubilee! Community Church (46 Wall St.) in Asheville. Tickets are available at the door. A portion of the ticket and book sales will benefit Helpmate and Interlace, a program providing affordable housing to victims of domestic violence and their children.

And finally, throughout the month of October, “The Clothesline Project,” a display of T-shirts created by victims and survivors of gender-based violence, will be on display at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe (55 Haywood St.) in Asheville.

For more information, call Helpmate at 254-2968.

Pet spaying/neutering for low-income residents

Buncombe County suffers from a severe pet-overpopulation crisis. Each year, thousands of cats and dogs end up in shelters. And though the Asheville Humane Society finds homes for more than 2,000 of the animals they take in each year, thousands more must be euthanized.

Spaying and neutering pets provides a simple, effective solution to this problem. But some pet owners can’t afford to have their pets sterilized.

Thanks to a $10,000 grant from the DJ & T Foundation, however, the Humane Society is now offering spay/neuter-assistance vouchers to low-income residents on a sliding-scale basis. This will enable about 400 animals to be spayed or neutered.

For more information, call the Asheville Humane Society at 253-6807 or 236-3885.

Artists Resource Center stages fund-raiser

If you haven’t already heard about the Artists Resource Center, you don’t know what you’ve been missing. This is a performance venue that’s unlike any other in town. Open since June at 45 Wall St. in Asheville (underneath the Wall Street parking deck), the ARC offers artists of all disciplines performance space at no cost.

The new facility houses the Area 45 Theatre (an intimate, 49-seat performance space that presents plays each Thursday through Sunday) and the Jester Cafe (open six days a week from 11 a.m. until that evening’s performance ends; on Sundays, the cafe opens around 5 p.m.).

The ARC is also committed to offering the community free entertainment while giving local artists a chance to strut their stuff in a variety of ways. Although admission to the weekly plays is $10 (split between the artists and resource center), the performances on all other nights are free.

The current schedule of free events includes The Poetry People on Monday nights (presenting performance poetry for the whole family); in-house improv troupe The Oxy Morons performing two different shows per night on Tuesdays and alternate Sundays; open-mic nights on Wednesdays (except the first Wednesday of each month, which is reserved for a Poetry Shoot Out); and poetry slams on alternating Sundays.

The ARC also aims to serve as a meeting place where artists can come together to collaborate, learn and support one another. In addition, it’s home to the Asheville Youth Ensemble, which gets young people involved in artistic activities and productions.

To help support the ARC and its programs, there will be a barbecue fund-raiser at the theater on Saturday, Oct. 5 (4-7 p.m.). The event will include a buffet dinner, door prizes and entertainment by AREA 45 Theatre artists and local musicians. Tickets are $30 each, $15 for children under 12, and $50 for couples. Donor packages are also available for $100 (2 gala tickets, 2 show tickets), $250 (4 gala tickets, 4 show tickets), $500 (4 gala tickets, 6 show tickets), $650 (4 gala tickets, 8 show tickets) and $800 (4 gala tickets, 10 show tickets.) All donors will be listed in playbills. Show tickets can be used for any show (reservations are required).

The ARC was founded by the Asheville Performing Arts Alliance, a newly formed cooperative of independent theater professionals who share a common desire to contribute to this city’s vibrant arts community.

For more information, call 252-8806.

Talkin’ about our health needs

It’s not every day that more than 100 Buncombe County residents have a chance to come together with community leaders, elected officials, health-care professionals and other citizens to talk about how to meet local health needs. But that’s exactly what will happen during the Asheville-Buncombe VISION Community Dialogues Summit to be held on Thursday, Oct. 10, 7-9 p.m. at Isaac Dickson Elementary School (125 Hill St.) in Asheville. The free event is open to the public.

Residents from every corner of the county have been meeting in VISION sessions throughout the month of September to wrestle with the question, “How will we respond to the health needs in our county?” Rising health-care costs, environmental issues, disparities in access, and budget cuts are all hot topics that have come up during these discussions.

Besides sharing and discussing the recommendations generated by 11 different neighborhood-based Community Dialogue groups, participants will also have a chance to form action groups.

Asheville-Buncombe VISION is a private, nonprofit organization funded roughly equally by local governments and the private sector. The VISION process grew out of a finding by consultants to the Buncombe County Economic Development Commission that Asheville and Buncombe County lacked a coherent and unified vision for the future. Since the group’s inception in 1995, more than 1,200 volunteers have worked to make the VISION a reality, and more than 50 local businesses and organizations have adopted and are endorsing the organization’s work. Last year’s VISION Community Dialogues invited county residents to address the question, “How can our community create and support good jobs with good wages?”

For more information, call Asheville-Buncombe VISION at 254-0333, or visit their Web site (

YWCA celebrates new digs

After 40 years of community wear and tear, the YWCA of Asheville’s South French Broad Avenue facility needed help. So in 1999, the nonprofit organization’s board undertook a feasibility study, deciding to raise $3.4 million to renovate and expand its headquarters — and stay in the neighborhood it both served and called home.

Two years later — with help from more than 850 contributors — the YWCA actually exceeded its goal, raising $3.9 million to refurbish its existing facility and build a 33,500-square-foot addition.

On Saturday, Oct. 5 (from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the YWCA will welcome the public to the grand opening of its new wing at 185 S. French Broad Ave. The celebration will feature tours, a ribbon-tying, kids’ activities, food and entertainment by Kat Williams, Glenis Redmond and The Hula Cats.

The retooling has provided a new child-care center, health-and-fitness center and youth center, as well as more space for women’s programs. New offices, expanded parking, elevator access, renovation of a multipurpose room and kitchen expansion are also part of the project.

“The YWCA is deeply committed to serving the diverse South French Broad neighborhood,” says Executive Director Holly Jones. “The area and the youth and families we serve deserve a top-notch facility in which to learn, play and build community. Due to this community’s tremendous support, we are now accomplishing that goal.”

The YWCA of Asheville is a United Way agency dedicated to the empowerment of women and their families and the elimination of racism. For more info, call the YWCA at 254-7206.

Rallying for recovery

Unless you’re a celebrity, this society doesn’t really encourage people to talk publicly about recovering from drug or alcohol addictions. But Doug Michaels doesn’t see that as a particularly fruitful approach.

Michaels serves as president of Voices For Addiction Recovery, a state organization based in Asheville that advocates for recovery and treatment services for all people who have an addiction disease.

“We realize that in our silence we’ve kept other people from even finding out that we don’t have to be terminal,” notes Michaels, himself a recovering alcoholic who’s also a local businessman. “We are people recovering from the disease and it is the only … terminal disease in the world which can be arrested.”

As part of the nonprofit group’s plan to celebrate, support and advocate for recovery, Voices for Addiction Recovery is sponsoring an upcoming “recovery rally.” The free event takes place from 1 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5, at the Montford Community Center, 34 Pearson Drive in Asheville.

The rally, which is open to anyone, will feature speakers talking about their own recoveries from addiction. Music — including performers Womansong and Jimmy Landry — also will be featured, along with food and recovery literature.

This is the third year for the event, though it went by the name of Soberfest in the past. The name change reflects a desire to be more inclusive, notes Michaels.

“It’s a public statement that not only is recovery possible, it’s everyone’s right,” says Michaels. “I don’t think a lot of people realize they’re entitled to a better life. It’s a such a shame-based secret disease … People need to know what recovery looks like, what it works like, what it lives like. This is just to raise consciousness.”

For more info, call 252-9022.


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