Help with winter energy expenses

If you don’t make much money and you’re wondering how you’re going to cover the seasonal increase in energy bills this winter, you might want to apply for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program. The state program gives qualifying low-income residents a one-time supplement to help cover winter energy expenses. The supplements will be paid in February; participants must meet income and asset guidelines.

Buncombe County residents wishing to apply for the program must do so in person at the Department of Social Services (40 Coxe Ave. in Asheville) by Friday, Nov. 15. No appointments can be made, and all applicants will be seen on a first-come, first-served basis. Please note that the DSS office will be closed on Monday, Nov. 11 (Veterans Day).

People who received DSS food assistance in both September and October have already been automatically evaluated for the energy program. They may either be notified that they’ll receive a payment in February or advised to apply for the energy program at the DSS office.

The Department of Social Services is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call 250-5500.

Awards banquet to raise funds for children’s programs

Three Buncombe County residents who have dedicated their lives to making a difference for others — Nancy Blanks-Bisson, Charles Wykle and Reginald Rogers — are the recipients of this year’s Beloved Community Award, presented by the Southeast Area Office of Save the Children. In various ways, each of these three has advocated for people in need, extended a helping hand, and served as an exceptional role model.

The agency inaugurated the award last year, honoring a group of teenagers in Marks, Miss., who were so moved by the tragic events of 9/11 that they went out to roadsides with buckets and signs asking motorists to donate money to send to NYC. They raised $2,000. What is especially noteworthy about this effort is that these kids live in Quitman County, one of the poorest counties in the U.S. (median income: $6,500).

Blanks-Bisson, Wykle and Rogers will be honored at the Beloved Community Award Banquet on Thursday, Nov. 14, 7-10:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort (1 Holiday Inn Drive) in Asheville. The evening will include a three-course dinner, R&B and jazz by Hidden Agenda, dancing, a silent auction and guest speaker Dr. Olsen Huff speaking on “The State of the Child.” Huff, an expert in developmental pediatrics, is the founding medical director of the Graham Children’s Health Center in Asheville.

The event costs $25 per person. All proceeds will support local youth programs being developed by partner organizations in the greater Asheville area, including a youth-leadership program and new after-school sites.

Save the Children is a nonprofit organization that works to make lasting positive change in the lives of children worldwide. The Southeast Area Office’s goal is to partner with local organizations providing direct services in order to improve children’s education, health and self-esteem.

For more information, contact Save the Children at 299-1166 or

Wind power

Nearly $2 billion worth of nonpolluting wind-energy systems were installed in the U.S. last year. Worldwide, annual growth rates have averaged better than 25 percent over the last decade. And it hasn’t all been large-scale installations, either: More than 60,000 small wind turbines have been sold over the last 20 years.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, small wind-energy systems could lower household electric bills by 50-80 percent, while helping consumers avoid the high costs of having utility lines extended to remote locations and preventing power interruptions.

To help mountain residents get in on the action, Appalachian State University’s technology department is sponsoring a Home Wind Power Workshop on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15-16 in Kerr Scott Hall (397 Rivers St. in Boone). The two-day workshop will be led by Mick Sagrillo, one of the world’s leading authorities on small-scale wind-energy systems. Examples of home-scale wind turbines will be on display during the workshop.

Participants will be introduced to all aspects of designing and building wind-energy systems. Topics will include: an overview of wind systems, utility-intertie and off-grid systems, characteristics of currently available home-scale wind turbines, assessing wind resources, improving wind sites, examples of good and bad siting, estimating power and energy output, tower technology and economics, legal aspects and utility concerns, wind/PV hybrids, proper system sizing, and how to install various types of systems.

The $225 fee covers the two-day workshop, two lunches, coffee breaks, a notebook, an interactive CD wind map for North Carolina (which allows the viewer to get comprehensive wind data for any location in the state), product literature from small manufacturers, and the DOE publication Small Wind Electric Systems.

For more information, contact the ASU technology department at (828) 262-6358, (828) 262-6361 or — or visit

The business of art

Making a living as an artist is rarely easy; compounding the problem is the fact that business savvy entails a separate set of skills from the ones needed to create art.

To help bridge the gap, the Asheville Area Arts Council has put together “The Artists’ Seminar Series: Professional Development for Artists” on three consecutive Thursdays this month. The series, aimed at both emerging and well-established artists, will feature professionals sharing their expertise on a variety of topics important to the business of art.

On Nov. 7, 4-7 p.m., “Seminar A: Public Relations and Marketing” will be presented at the YMI Cultural Center (39 S. Market St.) in Asheville. Ian Craven of the Craven Gallery will lead a talk on marketing, and editors from the Asheville Citizen-Times, Mountain Xpress, Rapid River and WLOS-TV will discuss press releases and more.

On Nov. 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., “Seminar B: The Business of Art” will be presented at Candy’s Cafe and Courtyard (12 Biltmore Ave.) in Asheville. Representatives from Asheville Savings Bank, SCORE, NC Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, A-B Tech, the Mountain Microenterprise Fund and Handmade in America will speak on assorted business-related topics.

On Nov. 21, 4-7 p.m., “Seminar C: The Local Artists’ Environment” will be presented at the YMI Cultural Center. This program will cover: local opportunities for artists, what grant panelists are looking for, networking techniques, good deals for artists, and more.

For more information or to register, contact Dana Davis of the Asheville Area Arts Council at 258-0710 or

Learning more about Latin America

The World Affairs Council’s 2002-03 lecture series focuses on Latin America. The first two lectures provided background information; the remaining four will address democratization and development in specific Latin American countries. Held Mondays at 7:30 p.m. in UNCA’s Owen Conference Center, these programs feature leading professors, researchers and other authorities on Latin American issues and cultures. Admission is $5 for adults, free to students and World Affairs Council members.

On Nov. 11, Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Mexico Project, will speak on “Mexico’s Transition from Single-Party Rule to Divided Government.”

Peschard-Sverdrup has served as a research fellow for the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. A regular lecturer at the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute and at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., his recent publications include New Horizons in U.S.-Mexico Relations and (with George Grayson) Vicente Fox’s Cabinet, a comprehensive guide to the Mexican president’s administration.

On Dec. 9, Professor Carol Wise of the School of International Relations will speak about Argentina.

The remaining two programs are scheduled for next spring: an April 14 lecture on Brazil and a May 12 lecture focusing on either Colombia or Venezuela (speakers to be announced).

The World Affairs Council of WNC, an independent organization based at UNCA, promotes international understanding by helping area residents become more aware of the relationship between local concerns and global issues.

For more information, call the World Affairs Council at 250-3828 or visit their Web site:

Love, not fear

“There are only two procedures, love and fear,
There are only two motives, love and fear,
There are only two actions, love and fear.”

— Michael Lenig

“We live in a time and a nation focused on fear. How does faith guide us in these uncertain times? How do our various faith perspectives provide us the wisdom to move towards love?” asks Sandra Smith, director of the feminist retreat ministry Holy Ground.

The YWCA and Holy Ground are joining forces to host a Women’s Interfaith Sharing on Saturday, Nov. 9, 1-5 p.m. at the YWCA (185 S. French Broad Ave.) in Asheville. Participants will hear the personal stories of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan and Christian (both Catholic and Protestant) women. These speakers will share how their faith guides them toward love and away from fear. The event will include stories, small-group discussions, music and celebrating the Holy. The cost is $15; women of all faiths are invited.

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

Curbing corporate influence

A growing chorus of voices holds that lobbying efforts and political-campaign contributions have given corporations an undue influence on legislation affecting all Americans.

Hope Taylor-Guevara, executive director of Clean Water for North Carolina, will address these concerns when she presents “Putting the Brakes on Corporate Influence to Save Our Environment” on Monday, Nov. 11, 11 a.m. at UNCA’s Owen Conference Center. The free event is hosted by the Jane Bingham Chapter of Common Cause; light refreshments will be served.

Taylor-Guevara will detail the ways she believes human rights and democratic decision-making have been subverted by corporate activism, both legislative and judicial. She’ll also discuss ways individuals and interest groups can work together across ideological lines to create a more representative and just government.

Common Cause, founded by the late John Gardner, is a grassroots, nonpartisan citizens’ group whose goal is to restore ethics to government, curb the undue influence of money in politics, and lobby for election reform.

The nonprofit Clean Water for North Carolina works with communities statewide, providing technical assistance, environmental education and public-policy advocacy. The group also sponsors the People’s Enforcement Campaign, which works with citizens for swift, fair enforcement of environmental laws.

For more information on the Nov. 11 event, call Tom Coulson at 683-9354.

Workshop presents Christian/Buddhist perspectives on nonviolence

“And they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

— Isaiah 2:2-4

“Reconciliation is to understand both sides; to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side.”

— Thich Nhat Hahn

All too often (especially lately), religion seems to be a source of conflict rather than an inspiration to work for peace. A pair of leading proponents of the latter vision — Achan Sulak Sivaraksa of Thailand and the Rev. Ken Sehested — will present “Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution from a Christian and Buddhist Perspective” on Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. in Warren Wilson College’s Cannon Lounge (701 Warren Wilson Road in Swannanoa). Admission is $20 (free to the Warren Wilson College community).

A major exponent of socially engaged Buddhism, Sulak Sivaraksa is one of Thailand’s most prominent social critics and activists. For the last 40 years, he has combined proactive and innovative intellectual work with grassroots organizing. A lawyer, teacher, scholar and founding member of the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, Sivaraksa has written more than 60 books and monographs in both Thai and English.

Sehested is executive director of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America and co-pastor of Circle of Mercy, a new congregation in Asheville. Believing that “transforming conflict is a synonym for Christian discipleship,” he lectures, teaches and conducts mediation projects throughout North America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

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


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