Human rights, human responsibilities

Thursday, Dec. 10, marks the 50th anniversary of the U.N. General Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To commemorate the day, UNCA students and faculty will hold a discussion about the future of human rights and responsibilities. The event, which is open to the public, will also be the culmination of a student essay contest on the subject.

The contest is the brainchild of the Western North Carolina Chapter of the United Nations Association/USA. When invited to take part, several UNCA faculty members responded enthusiastically, offering to encourage their students to participate, particularly in the political science, sociology, philosophy, history and interdisciplinary humanities programs. At press time, 62 submissions had been received and were under review by the judges from the university and the U.N. Association.

To learn more, call John Fobes at 253-5383.

Poetry matters (no, really)

Robert Pinsky — the nation’s ninth poet laureate, and a professor of English and creative writing at Boston University — understands something that few people do: that Americans love poetry. To prove it, he’s launching the Favorite Poem Project, creating an audio and video archive that will feature 1,000 Americans of all ages and all walks of life reading their favorite poems. He’s inviting all Americans to mail or e-mail him their submissions, choosing a beloved poem and explaining why that poem is so treasured. The indefatigable Pinsky has already received 3,000 submissions, and he’s asking for more.

“I want all American voices to be heard,” Pinsky says in a Boston University press release. “I hope we get poems in Chinese and Spanish and Yiddish,” he adds, noting that poems in other languages will be accompanied by their English translations. “I hope welders, truck drivers and doctors alike will consider submitting their favorite poems.”

Pinsky asks participants not to choose a poem they’ve written, but rather, one they’ve read and admired. The work can be by any poet, of whatever nationality, past or present. And because the project emphasizes the relationship between the reader and the poem, your explanation of why you find the poem meaningful will be an important criterion for selection. The deadline for submissions is April 30, 1999.

For more information, contact Laura J. Mikols, at (617) 353-3666. To submit a poem, send it to Robert Pinsky, The Favorite Poem Project, Boston University, 236 Bay State Road, Boston, MA 02215, or e-mail it to

Berry speaks

Another noted professor, Thomas Berry, is coming to Warren Wilson College to give a lecture on environmental issues, particularly the consequences of moving from an organic economy to an extractive one.

His lecture, titled “Our Way Into the Future,” will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 9, with a discussion afterward.

Berry, a noted historian and writer, is particularly concerned with how cultures are founded on their relationships with the natural world. He has, in fact, devoted his life to the question: What happened to the Western thinking process and its inclination to devastate the life systems of the planet?

He holds a doctorate in history from The Catholic University of America and has studied Chinese and Indian languages and cultures. For more than a decade, Berry directed a graduate program in the history of religions at Fordham University; he then went on to found the Riverdale Center of Religious Research in Riverdale, N.Y., which he directed for 25 years, until the center closed in 1995.

In perhaps Berry’s most widely acclaimed work, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era–A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos, he collaborated with physicist Brian Swimme to lay the groundwork for what has been described as a “functional cosmology” for the Western mind. As evidenced by his credentials, Berry is as deeply steeped in spirituality as he is in science, once noting that “the Universe itself is the primary sacred community to which we all belong.”

Berry has retired to the North Carolina piedmont.

To learn more, call 298-3325, ext. 423.

Mountain frescos

Yet another distinguished professor is coming to another local college east of our fair city– only this one’s sticking around. Montreat College has welcomed internationally known fresco artist Ben Long as the school’s Hamilton Gallery Artist in Residence.

Long is no stranger to North Carolina — he grew up in Statesville and was educated at Chapel Hill. But the artist has also studied painting in New York, and even apprenticed under Italian master Pietro Annigoni, spending seven years in that country perfecting his oil, tempera and fresco techniques. Widely known for his religious frescos, Long is currently working on a fresco in Montreat College’s new Chapel of the Prodigal.

He plans to teach anatomy, figure drawing and technique, and portraiture drawing during the spring semester, using an art studio the college maintains in downtown Asheville.

For more information, call 669-8012, ext. 3708.

Scout’s honor

The party’s over, but the good feelings linger. The Valley Springs Service Unit of the Pisgah Girl Scout Council hosted a community service project and birthday party honoring Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the American Girl Scout movement, on Oct. 24. Nearly 100 Girl Scouts and adult leaders teamed up to create hundreds of all-occasion, handmade greeting cards to donate to local nursing homes, giving residents a way to keep in touch with family and friends. The Girl Scouts will personally deliver the cards, bringing a little extra cheer into the lives of these seniors.

The party also featured several official Girl Scout ceremonies, plus programs about the life of Low, whose birthday — Oct. 31 — is celebrated by Girl Scout troops across the nation as Founder’s Day.

— corrigibly compiled by Paul Schattel

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