Buzzworm news briefs

Shopping for a solution

Most animal shelters are easily identified by the disheartening din of caged dogs and cats. Not so Animal Haven, a 10-acre farm in east Asheville where abandoned, abused and homeless critters wait for new homes in a setting that’s more sanctuary than lockdown.

And it’s not just felines and canines that inhabit Animal Haven, which was founded in 1999. Along with founders Barbara Bellows and Trina Hudson, the country environment is also home to chickens, ducks, goats and pigs. “We had 71 potbellied pigs a couple years ago,” says Hudson. “We worked with [animal] sanctuaries all over the country and placed 69.”

Two dogs — siblings named Black and Blue — live in spacious fences beside the pig barn. While waiting to find permanent homes, Black and Blue completed obedience training as part of the “New Leash on Life” program with the Black Mountain Correctional Center for Women. “The dogs go to the facility for eight weeks and learn basic obedience,” Hudson explains. “Then the women involved with the program come out here three days a week and work on the farm.”

Black, Blue and the three other dogs up for adoption do not face the gloomy fate awaiting many animals at the pound. Here’s a sobering statistic: According to Asheville’s Humane Alliance Spay/Neuter Clinic, a homeless animal is put down every 6.5 seconds in a conventional shelter in the U.S., because there’s not enough room for them all. And while pet overpopulation is a serious problem, places like Animal Haven offer a happier alternative for the animals they foster. The no-kill farm takes in a relatively small number of critters at a time, but each one is eventually adopted by an approved family, and all of them — even the pigs and goats — are available as pets only. No one is made into bacon.

So how does such a place support itself? In part through the efforts of volunteers, service projects by local colleges and civic groups, and donations. Animal Haven also runs a full-fledged thrift shop whose proceeds go directly to the farm.

The shop recently moved from its Long Shoals Road location to the Animal Haven property (65 Lower Grassy Branch; call the number below for directions). “We thought it would be great for people who are donating to be able to see the animals,” says Hudson. “They get a visual on exactly who they’re helping and what we need.” The four-room shop carries clothing, kitchen utensils, furnishings, toys, books, jewelry and some pet supplies. Friday is senior citizens’ discount day, Tuesday shoppers can fill a bag with clothes for $5 day.

“Everything in the thrift shop is donated by the public. It’s run by volunteers, so we have no overhead,” notes Hudson. So every penny of that $3 pair of jeans goes toward food and veterinary care for a kitten, duck or potbellied pig — all available for visiting during your shopping trip.

For more information, call Animal Haven at 299-1635 or visit the Web site (www.animalhaven.org).

— Alli Marshall

Campaign calendar

Oct. 20 reception: Sky People Gallery will host an open reception Thursday for citizens to meet and talk with Asheville City Council candidates Robin Cape, Bryan Freeborn and Holly Jones. The event takes place from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. at 51 N. Lexington Ave.

Oct. 24 Woodfin forum: A forum featuring candidates for the Woodfin Board of Aldermen and board of the Sanitary Water and Sewer District will be held at the Woodfin Community Center from 7 to 9 p.m. The event is sponsored and moderated by the League of Women Voters.

Oct. 27 Black Mountain forum: Candidates for alderman and mayor in the town of Black Mountain will appear in a forum co-sponsored by the Black Mountain News and the League of Women Voters at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 7 to 9 p.m.

General election deadlines: The last day to register in order to vote in the Nov. 8 general election has passed. Voters with current registration have the following options for voting:

Vote by mail. Nov. 1 is the last day to request an absentee ballot by mail, and absentee ballots must be returned by Monday, Nov. 7.

One-stop absentee voting (“early” voting). Begins Thursday, Oct. 20, and will take place only at the Board of Elections office (189 College St.). Open weekedays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., plus the last Saturday before the election, Nov. 5, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

General election. Tuesday, Nov. 8, polls will be open in all county precincts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.

For additional information, contact the Buncombe County Board of Elections at 250-4200 or visit www.buncombecounty.org/governing/depts/Election.

Candidates, organizations and citizens: Send your campaign-event news — as far in advance as possible — to (fax) 251-1311, or “Campaign Calendar,” Mountain Xpress, P.O. Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802.<$>

Older and wiser

The Land-of-Sky Regional Council wants to enlist older adults with leadership skills and an interest in the environment for the new Champions of Environmental Progress program. The environmental-leadership initiative was established to help people ages 50 and up become environmental stewards in their Western North Carolina communities, organizers say.

Interested WNC residents are invited to attend a free workshop to learn about some of the most pressing environmental concerns facing the Southern Appalachian region, including air and water quality, transportation options, land conservation and solid waste issues. The workshop will feature Our Sense of Place, a video that explores what it means to be a part of the mountains, as well as presentations on environmental topics and training by environmental specialists.

At the end of the daylong event, participants will be invited to volunteer for one of several self-managed “E-Teams,” each of which will develop a specific project focusing on a chosen environmental issue. Team members will receive ongoing project-related training, as well as coaching and mentoring to support self-management.

The Champions of Environmental Progress workshop will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the North Carolina Arboretum. Lunch will be provided.

Space is limited, and participants are urged to contact the Land-of-Sky Regional Council ASAP to secure a place in the program.

For information or to register, call Linda Herrera at 251-6622, ext. 119 (e-mail: linda_h@landofsky.org).

— Cecil Bothwell

Adventurous women

Whether they’re scaling a rock face, churning through white water, tromping in a forest with packs on backs or ripping downhill on bikes, they forsake competition and do their best to forget about fear — which just might be the point.

They are Women in the Woods, an Asheville Parks and Recreation Department program that helps participants enjoy the outdoors while building self-confidence.

“These days, outdoor activities match up to extreme sports,” says program coordinator Christen McNamara. “That’s usually more of a male thing.”

But some women, she explains, are more comfortable engaging in such activities in the company of other women with similar abilities and styles. In rock climbing, for example, women may have an advantage, because they tend to have more lower-body strength than men. Climbing focuses on using the feet rather than relying on brute, upper-body strength. “Men a lot of times can muscle their way through it, whereas women need to finesse it,” McNamara notes.

Women in the Woods did a rock-climbing outing earlier this year. The next scheduled activity — white-water rafting on the Ocoee River in Tennessee — happens Saturday, Oct. 22. As with most trips, participants will meet at the Montford Community Center (34 Pearson Drive).

Some folks tremble at the prospect of climbing; some are scared to raft. “New people feel a little vulnerable the first time” with an unfamiliar activity, says McNamara. But “trying it with this group of people is incredibly supportive. Everybody has stepped out of their comfort level, even if it’s a baby step.”

Most of the instructors are women, and any woman 18 or older is invited to participate in the activities, which are geared to beginners. Costs range from about $5 to $50 per person; pre-registration is required. Past events have drawn women in their 20s as well as retirees.

Other upcoming activities include caving at Bluff Hill, Tenn., on Nov. 5 and a Dec. 4 hike on a trail with waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, south of Asheville. In January and February, participants will conquer cold slopes with Wednesday skiing and snowboarding outings at the Cataloochee Ski Area in Maggie Valley. A backpacking trip is tentatively planned for next March.

“Everybody challenges themselves, for sure. I want you to set your own goals; everybody is going to walk away having challenged themselves,” promises McNamara, who’s been a wilderness instructor and Outward Bound leader.

For more information, call 251-4029.

— Jess Clarke

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