“The times, they are a-changin’ “

As we enter the new millennium, it seems the world is changing at an ever-increasing pace. Globalization is one of the words used to describe this shifting landscape — but what exactly does that mean for the United States? How should our public-policy decisions be influenced by our relationship with the rest of the world? These questions and others will be addressed during Choices for the 21st Century: Defining Our Role in a Changing World, a public-policy discussion series to be presented at Pack Memorial Library on four consecutive Sunday afternoons (Nov. 19 & 26 and Dec. 3 & 10), from 3-5 p.m.

This program is part of a national project seeking to involve citizens throughout the country in discussions about vital issues facing America today. Participants will consider changes taking place in the world, weigh national priorities, and decide for themselves the direction they believe the U.S. should take.

Each two-hour session will build upon the previous ones; for this reason, says Asheville-Buncombe Library Systems Promotion and Publications Director Deborah Compton, “We really encourage people to attend all four. It’s the nature of the program.”

Participants will be asked to prepare for each session by reading a particular section of Defining Our Role in a Changing World, a guide developed specially for this series (free copies are available at the library when registering). Subsequent sessions will address the following topics: Defining Our Role in a Changing World: Considering Four Perspectives; Challenges Facing the United States (two sessions); and Charting Our Future: Balancing Priorities.

“It’s not a lecture series,” stresses Compton, although Dr. Gael Graham of Western Carolina University will lead the discussion. Instead, participants will be encouraged to explore their own thinking in the company of others.

This series, which originated at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, was partly funded by a major grant from the National Institute for the Humanities.

To preregister or for more information, contact Laura Gaskin or Deborah Compton at 255-5203. To find out about the national project, log onto

An author of note

Since 1952, the WNC Historical Association has presented the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award to works that celebrate the history and culture of Western North Carolina or were produced by local authors. This year’s winner is In the Family Way by Tommy Hays (Random House, 1999).

“The entries for this year’s award were all excellent,” said Award Committee Chair David Holcombe. “However, [Hays’ book] has a truth about it that spoke to the entire committee. We are pleased and honored to include this novel as a recipient of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award.”

In the Family Way is Hays’ second novel (the first one, Sam’s Crossing, was published in 1992). Set in Greenville, S.C., in 1963, Family Way is a memoir told by 10-year old Jeru Lamb, whose family is coming to terms with his brother’s death. “I wanted to portray what it was like growing up in the South in the early ’60s,” Hays explained. “I wanted to recapture the innocence as well as the tensions. But more than anything, I wanted to write about family life in this time and place. I wanted to write a book that went against Southern stereotypes, but rather reflected the intelligence, the depth and the complexity of the people.”

Hays grew up in Greenville; a graduate of Furman University, he earned an M.F.A. at Warren Wilson College. The director of the Great Smokies Writing Program, Hays also teaches creative writing at UNCA and at the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities. He lives in Asheville with his wife, Connie, and their two children, Max and Ruth.

Hays received a 30-inch silver loving cup engraved with the names of previous award recipients (including such notables as Wilma Dykeman, John Ehle, Charles Frazier, Gail Godwin and John Parris), plus a $500 cash award provided by Mr. and Mrs. E. Frank Edwinn, honoring the friendship between Mrs. Edwinn’s father, Louis Lipinsky, and Thomas Wolfe.

To learn more about the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, contact the WNC Historical Association (253-9231).

A holiday tradition

Traditions are the heart and soul of holiday celebrations. And the 54th edition of a venerable local one — the Asheville Merchants Holiday Parade — will take place Saturday, Nov.18, beginning at 3 p.m. in downtown Asheville.

The parade theme, “Angels in Our Midst,” pays tribute to local volunteerism and personal acts of kindness. Many of this year’s participants (there are more than 100 entries) are nonprofit groups whose members make a big difference in the Asheville community. And Grand Marshal Adelaide Daniels Key, who owns the Mountaineer Publishing Company in Waynesville, is a longtime community volunteer who is well-known throughout the region for her philanthropic and humanitarian efforts.

The whole assemblage (including giant helium balloons, bands, floats, the Snow Queen with her court, and the ever-popular dancing reindeer) will parade down Patton Avenue, beginning at Anderson Nissan-Mercury and ending at South Charlotte Street. This year, the judging and filming area will be at Pack Square. WLOS will broadcast edited parade footage on Thanksgiving morning.

Two other holiday events in downtown Asheville that same day will help ensure that the holiday spirit is in full swing. The Junior League of Asheville will hold its fourth annual Holiday Market fund-raiser to benefit the group’s community projects, including Angels Watch. The market, featuring more than 40 merchants from across the country, will be held in the Renaissance Hotel from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

And to top off the evening, the 18th annual Light Up Your Holidays Premiere Celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. in City/County Plaza. Besides enlivening the area with holiday lights, the event will feature community caroling, performances by the Smoky Mountain Brass Band, the Jazz Alive Choir, the Montford Park Players and others, as well as a grand fireworks finale.

For more information about the parade, call Tara Scholtz at 251-4147.

League hosts post-election forum

On the heels of perhaps the most bizarre election in history, the League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County will host the first local post-election forum, featuring newly elected representatives from the 51st District (state House) and 28th District (state Senate). The breakfast and roundtable forum will be held at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church (789 Merrimon Ave.) on Thursday, Nov. 16, at 7:30 a.m. Tables will be set up reflecting five areas of interest: the environment, education, women’s issues, campaign-finance reform and health care. Legislators will be available at each table to answer questions and discuss issues. For more information about the breakfast forum, call League president Nelda Holder at 252-8569.

Royal Pines playground, part 2

Two weeks ago, we gave you the heads-up on a great volunteer opportunity: the Royal Pines Playground Building Blitz. Well, the Asheville Parks and Recreation Department needs still more volunteers to help build the second in a series of large wooden playgrounds planned for Asheville. The old-fashioned “barn-raising” at the Royal Pines site in South Asheville (the playground will eventually be called Jake Rusher Park, in honor of the former owner of the property, who donated it to the city) is still in full swing, running Nov. 14-19. Volunteers are need to help with everything from actual construction to child care and food service. The playground is billed as a community effort to give kids and families a safe and wholesome place to hang out and play. Volunteers are needed for three shifts each day: 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m., 12:30-5 p.m. and 5:30-9 p.m. Flexible shifts are also available. The project will end on Nov. 19, complete with live music and a potluck supper. Call 259-5800 to sign up for a shift, or simply show up at the site (on Sycamore and Peachtree streets between Sweeten Creek Road and Hendersonville Road) ready to work and have fun.

Nouveau Night

The Asheville Downtown Association is proud to report another big success story. The people who bring you the popular summertime Downtown After Five series (and generally do good works, mostly on a volunteer basis, for the city) announce that their annual Nouveau Night gala has sold out early, with veritably no press, for the second year in a row (sorry to torture you folks who don’t already have your tickets). The gala is a celebration of the annual release of the Beaujolais Nouveau of the current year (the release happens on the third Thursday in November) from casks in Southern France. Many years ago, the casks were simply shuttled from the Beaujolais region to Paris in time for the celebration; now the wine is flown all over the word for the happy occasion.

Asked about the success of Nouveau Night here in Asheville, the ADA’s Rick Ramsey enthused, “I think people are ready to start the holidays and just have fun. The release of the Beaujolais is really festive and great. And the best thing of all is that people of all types come together for the celebration.” This year, the gala — cosponsored by the Asheville Wine Market — will happen at Pack Place on Friday, Nov. 17, 7-9 p.m. The event includes a scrumptious selection of goodies from the finest local restaurants, as well. And for all those who missed out this time around: Remember to get those tickets early next year.

Call the Asheville Wine Market at 253-0060 for more information on Nouveau Night in Asheville.

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