Buzzworm news briefs

SBA seeks outstanding small businesses

The U.S. Small Business Administration wants your help. The agency is seeking nominations of exceptional small businesses and small-business supporters for its annual awards program. The SBA district office in Charlotte will select the 2005 North Carolina winners, who will then attend the SBA national celebration in Washington, D.C., April 25-30, 2005. National Small Business of the Year award winners will be chosen from among all the state honorees.

The SBA is looking for established businesses that have shown increased sales, steady growth, and innovation that demonstrates creativity and imagination. The award categories include: Small Business Person of the Year, Small Business Exporter of the Year, Family-Owned Small Business of the Year, and Young Entrepreneur Under 30 of the Year.

The Small Business Champion of the Year Award recognizes those who promote small businesses or volunteer their time to support small-business interests, such as by helping these enterprises obtain financing or advocating on their behalf. The award also recognizes those who support businesses owned by minorities, veterans or women, as well as home-based businesses. A separate award honors the Small Business Journalist of the Year.

In addition, the SBA’s Phoenix Awards are given to individuals who help their businesses and communities recover after a disaster.

Nomination packets and guidelines are available at www.sba.gov/nc. Nominations must be received at the Charlotte District SBA office no later than Friday, Dec. 3. For more information, contact Mike Ernandes at the Charlotte office (704-344-6588).

— Megan Shepherd

Honoring women of note

They are leaders and mentors. They shine in the workplace and in the community. They are creative, imaginative and disciplined. They’re the type of women honored by the Asheville YWCA in its annual Tribute to Women of Influence Awards Banquet.

The YWCA is now accepting nominations for this year’s TWIN honorees, who will be recognized at a ceremony in March. Each year, about 20 women are celebrated, and one is recognized as Honoree of the Year. Eligible candidates are local women with management responsibilities who demonstrate admirable qualities beyond simple job qualifications; nominations should focus on professionally and personally accomplished women.

Nominations will be accepted through Dec. 31, though the YW would prefer to receive them as soon as possible. To obtain a nomination form or for more information, contact Marketing Director Ami Worthen at 254-7206, ext. 205 (e-mail: amiw@ywcaofasheville.org).

— Amelia Pelly

Bizworm

Listening with his hands

When Greg Capps was attending massage school earlier this year, his classmates were asked to experiment with a technique he had already spent a lifetime perfecting.

They were instructed to “close their eyes and experience doing the work without vision,” he explains.

Capps, who was diagnosed with glaucoma at birth and can only make out colors and large objects, notes, “I [was] already accustomed to receiving a lot of information through my hands, where a sighted person has to learn to let their hands talk to them because they’re so used to looking at things.

“It’s amazing to me how the body talks to a massage therapist,” he adds. “It shows us where the pain is.”

The health-care field had long attracted the 42-year-old Capps, who chose the field because it “would … utilize my sense of touch and caring about people,” he says.

Licensed since August, Capps reports that he’s enjoying putting his new skills to work, especially “being able to make a difference in [my clients’] world right now. It’s not something that takes a year. When they leave the table, they feel better.”

Capps, who works out of his home in East Flat Rock, specializes in Swedish massage (though he’ll soon add training in hot stone massage to his resume) and offers flexible hours. He works on men, women and children, tailoring “all of my work to the individual’s goals and needs,” he says.

He also offers gift certificates, which are on special through the end of the year.

Aside from a heightened sense of touch, his blindness offers his customers “an additional level of confidentiality,” says Capps. “For someone who may feel self-conscious about themselves or who may have issues of not wanting to be recognized [out in public], I offer them an added degree of privacy. If I see them in the mall, I’m not going to notice them unless they come to me.”

For example, he suggests with a laugh, “If someone is … the News 13 anchorperson … and they want to remain incognito, then they can come see me and nobody is the wiser!”

For more information, contact Capps at 696-5243 or dgcnc@bellsouth.net.

— Lisa Watters

Bringing AIDS into focus

“AIDS is the worst plague in human history,” actor Will Smith reminds us in A Closer Walk, a 2003 documentary that travels four continents and interviews some 75 people to provide a painful but clear overview of the present AIDS pandemic. Among those interviewed are dying children; dedicated doctors and advocates; and famous leaders such as UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, rock star-activist Bono and the Dalai Lama.

“Soon, [AIDS] will have killed more people than all the wars of the 20th century,” notes Smith, who narrates the film along with actress Glenn Close. “But no one seems to know or even care very much about it.”

A Closer Walk will be one of the films shown at the World AIDS Day 2004 Film Festival on Wednesday, Dec. 1. Each movie will be followed by a panel discussion about current issues related to AIDS in our community and living with HIV. The schedule is as follows:

• 4:30 p.m., Blood Lines (for teens), at the W.C. Reid Center (free).

• 7:30 p.m., A Closer Walk, at the Fine Arts Center ($5).

• 7:30 p.m., Ask Me, I’m Positive, at the UNCA Alumni Hall (free).

• 9 p.m., A Closer Walk, at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Company (free).

Sponsored by the Buncombe County World AIDS Day Committee, the festival features some of the films that were shown at this year’s International AIDS Conference in Bangkok, Thailand, explains Anna Tillman, a health educator at the Buncombe County Health Center.

“We’re trying to raise awareness of AIDS internationally and in this community and … to start dialogue about different actions we can take in our own communities to deal with the AIDS epidemic,” notes Tillman.

“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, AIDS is a problem out there,'” she adds. “One of the things we’re trying to do, especially in the panel discussions, is to make people look at it as a problem within our own communities — and something that does impact us. It’s not just an international problem or a problem in other continents. It is a problem that impacts all of us and I think we need to bring that point home.”

For more information or a full description of the films, see www.wncap.org or call 252-7489.

— Lisa Watters

Everything green at your fingertips

Here’s an easy way to keep up with local and statewide environmental activities using a new Web-based “Green Calendar” (www.warren-wilson.edu/~elc/green_calendar.shtml), launched by the Environmental Leadership Center of Warren Wilson College. The site aims to provide a central source of information for upcoming environmental events in North Carolina and nearby states.

For example, a recent visit to the site netted the following:

• Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day.

• N.C. Environment Management Commission (which oversees most of the state’s air quality, water quality, groundwater-protection and water-allocation laws) is meeting Dec. 9 in Raleigh.

• The Environmental & Conservation Organization in Hendersonville is hosting a Winter Solstice night hike to Hooker Falls in DuPont State Forest on Dec. 11.

The idea for the site was conceived when ELC staff were looking for online information about environmental events in the region, but were unable to find a comprehensive calendar.

“We decided to develop a Green Calendar as a service to the region, and have as many Web sites as we could muster linking to the calendar,” notes Margo Flood, ELC director of community outreach. “It is remarkable to learn how many diverse environmental events are going on.”

ELC publications assistant Courtney Cochran, a Warren Wilson freshman, compiled the initial Green Calendar after contacting environmental organizations across the state. She will continue to update the calendar weekly.

To publicize your upcoming environmental event on the Green Calendar, e-mail Cochran at ccochran@warren-wilson.edu.

— Lisa Watters

Freecycling: Keeping good stuff out of the dump

Do you need an iron, a rice steamer, or an old couch to outfit your apartment? Do you want to give away a kite, futon or a couple of goats? Perhaps you’re looking for a big-ticket item such as a washer, dryer or even an old car? Instead of posting signs around town or putting your unwanted possessions onto the curb, you may want to check out Asheville’s online freecycling opportunities.

The Freecycle Network is a worldwide grassroots movement of people giving and getting free stuff — with no bartering or selling involved. The mission of freecycling is to keep good (though unwanted) stuff out of landfills and put it into the hands of people who need it.

It was founded in May 2003 in Tucson, Ariz., and has since spread across the United States and into 30 other countries, according to www.freecycle.org. There are freecycling networks in 1,824 U.S. cities with more than 657,000 people are freecycling, the Web site notes.

Locally, the largest such effort is the Asheville Freecyclers, an e-mail group in which members can post messages detailing their offerings or what they are looking for. The Yahoo group was formed in April and already boasts more 1,000 members.

“Freecycling is one step between stuff and the dump. It is environmentally sound and socially beneficial by helping make connections between people,” says Egg Syntax, an Asheville Freecyclers moderator.

The Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) also hosts a freecycling forum on its Web site, www.main.nc.us. On a related note, www.wncbarter.org, offers bartering and carpooling opportunities.

To become a member of Asheville Freecyclers, visit groups.yahoo.com/group/Asheville-Freecyclers. To learn more about statewide, national and international efforts, check out www.freecycle.org.

— Megan Shepherd

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