Buzzworm news briefs

What price violence?

Despite the brilliant sunshine on Oct. 30, the mood at Pritchard Park could not have been more somber. About 30 people — including a half-dozen law-enforcement officers — gathered for the first Domestic Violence Victim Memorial Walk in memory of those who’ve died over the past 10 years due to family violence.

Led by Janet Harvey, facilitator for the Asheville-Buncombe Coalition for Prevention of Family Violence, group members silently circled the park three times as Harvey beat a drum once every 15 seconds — emphasizing that a domestic-violence victim is murdered every 15 seconds in the United States.

The coalition, which organized the event, plans ongoing efforts to commemorate victims — whether family members or law-enforcement officers. Walks will occur at 5:15 p.m. on the first Thursday after a local murder takes place, with anyone touched by the crime invited to attend.

For more info, call 251-6089.

— Tracy Rose

Ooh-la-la

“It’s dressy; it’s cocktail attire. People love coming out and dressing up and seeing everybody. It’s always been kind of a who’s who,” says Amy Parker, co-chair of the ninth annual Nouveau Night.

The local party is part of a worldwide celebration of the release of this year’s Beaujolais nouveau, a young, fresh wine made from the gamay grape. Under French law, it cannot be opened until midnight on the third Thursday of November each year. It’s also the biggest fund-raiser of the year for the Asheville Downtown Association.

This year’s event happens Friday, Nov. 21, 7-9 p.m. at The Orange Peel (101 Biltmore Ave.) in Asheville. Ten wine stations will feature various Beaujolais wines, and 16 tables will offer food from as many local restaurants. To help set the mood, French music and silent, black-and-white French movies will play on-stage throughout the evening. Tickets are $50.

“It’s a real festive event,” promises Parker. “It’s over at nine; everyone goes out afterwards. It’s just really fun.”

For tickets, call The Orange Peel (225-5851) or visit their Web site (www.theorangepeel.net). For more information, call the Asheville Downtown Association (251-9973).

— Lisa Watters

A bright idea

Compared to old-fashioned light bulbs, a compact-fluorescent bulb has a whole lot more going for it. If it’s on for an average of four hours a day, it will pay for itself (at a cost of about $5.50) in less than a year and should last more than eight years. During that time, it can save you as much as $50 (depending on which size bulb you buy and the wattage of the incandescent bulb it replaces). Multiply that by the number of light bulbs in your home and you can get an idea of how much you can save on energy costs over the long haul.

Add to that the fact that each compact-fluorescent bulb you use prevents the creation of thousands of pounds of pollutants (which is good news for the air, your lungs — and your ability to see our beautiful mountains), and you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize it makes sense to make the switch.

The Clean Air Community Trust and Quality Forward have teamed up to educate folks about compact fluorescents. Quality Forward sells them in the nonprofit’s Green Goods Shop (29 Page Ave.) in downtown Asheville, and the Clean Air Community Trust is offering them to groups to sell as fund-raisers. The bulbs are also available at local home-improvement stores.

For more information, call Quality Forward at 254-1776, or visit the Clean Air Community Trust Web site (www.airtrust.org).

— Lisa Watters

Two people, one table and seven minutes

Dina was a single mom with an 11-year-old son and her own wholesale jewelry business. Andre was a high-school teacher working with special-needs kids. Neither had dated for a while, and both decided to try speed dating — the new matchmaking phenomenon that has swept the country.

That’s how they met, at an Asheville event back in May. It was Dina’s first time, and though Andre had taken part in previous events, he had yet to find that special someone.

Dina admits to being nervous at the start but says, “I ended up having a really fun time.”

Speed dating follows a round-robin format in which equal numbers of men and women (typically seven to 10 of each) get a chance to meet. Participants are paired off at tables for a seven-minute “date.” When the bell rings, the women stay seated and the men move on; this continues until everyone has had a turn with everyone else. At evening’s end, participants indicate on a “scoreboard” which of their dates they’d be interested in seeing again. Whenever there is mutual interest, it’s a “match,” and event organizers contact both parties the following day to give them the pertinent names and phone numbers.

Speed dating, explains Dina, is highly structured — which can be particularly helpful if you’re shy or not bar-savvy. “You’re totally guided through the whole process, and you can feel safe that no one will get your number other than someone you’re giving that number to.”

At the event Dina attended, “There were a few people I talked to who had tried match.com and thought that this was a better way to meet people,” she reports. “When you sit with a person for seven minutes, you really get a feeling for them.”

All told, Dina met three guys she liked that evening, but it was Andre whom she was most excited about seeing again. “You write people’s names on this little card, and I wrote Andre’s with stars and exclamation points afterwards,” she recalls.

He put her name down too, making them a match. “He asked me over to his house for a barbecue that weekend, then bowling and pool and a few beers,” says Dina.

By July, they felt ready to escalate, going on a hiking trip in Canada together. And six months after meeting, they’re still dating. Says Dina, “He’s the best guy I’ve ever met.”

After a brief hiatus, meanwhile, founder Erik Field is bringing speed dating back to Asheville with a bang — just in time for the holiday season. Three Wednesday-night events (Nov. 19, Dec. 3 and 17) are scheduled in upcoming weeks. And if the prospect of romance isn’t sufficient incentive to attend, there’ll also be door prizes, a grand-prize dinner date for two, and more. All events start at 8:30, upstairs in the nonsmoking oxygen lounge at Tressa’s Downtown Jazz and Blues (28 Broadway Ave.). Singles in their 30s and 40s are invited to take part. The cost is $20, and advance registration is required.

Dina’s advice to first-time speed daters: “Go and just be yourself.”

For more information, contact Erik Field at 254-1011 or Ashevillespeeddating@hotmail.com.

— Lisa Watters

Film festival makes movie magic

Two days after the end of the Asheville Film Festival, Melissa Porter‘s voice was still a little hoarse. The Asheville Parks and Recreation staffer, whose job it was to coordinate the first-time event, had come down with a mild case of laryngitis during the festival weekend. (Perhaps not surprising, considering that during the nearly two years since Porter first suggested the idea of an annual film festival, she’s been working hard to make it happen.)

“It’s still a little surreal in my mind,” confessed Porter, sounding both stunned and happy. “I’ve been working on it for so long.”

One thing she’s sure about, though, is that “it completely, utterly exceeded all my expectations of what I expected for a first-year event.

“The amount of tourists that we brought in our first year — just the amount of people in our first year — was amazing,” she explained. “We don’t have a complete ticket count yet, but we’re estimating 8,000. I would have been happy with 5,000,” the usual number of attendees at a first-time film festival.

Another surprise, said Porter, was the number and caliber of submissions, such as “the fact that a movie produced by Ang Lee [One Last Ride] would give a first-time movie festival a chance.”

Equally impressive, she noted, was the extent of community support for the festival and the number of volunteers — both essential to the fledgling event’s success.

And then there was “the fact we had so few glitches,” she added. “Whenever there was a glitch, the volunteers on-site handled it. I expected to get a lot more calls on my cell phone.”

Plans for next year’s event (scheduled for Nov. 4-7, 2004) include more venues and a second showing of selected films. And maybe in the not-too-distant future, ventured Porter, a 10-day festival spanning two full weekends. Now there’s a woman who knows how to dream!

— Lisa Watters

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