Weekend events say no to war

“President Bush says war will stamp out terrorism. But to map the ‘war on terrorism’ is to map the world’s oil,” declares Bob Wing, editor of the national newspaper War Times. Wing will be in town to dialogue with local activists at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville. “Organizing in War Times” happens Friday, Dec. 6, 7 p.m., is co-sponsored by The Asheville Global Report, the WNC Peace Coalition and the church’s Social Action Committee.

Based in the San Francisco Bay area, Wing has been an anti-war and anti-racism activist since the Vietnam era. In addition to his newspaper work, he is the founder of Color Lines, a magazine of race, culture and action. Wing believes that to effectively oppose the war with Iraq, “We must double-track — the peace movement has to bring in people whose major interests are promoting economic justice, dismantling racism and protecting the environment.”

The next day (Saturday Dec. 7), several local groups are sponsoring a rally urging President Bush not to go to war with Iraq. Concerned citizens will gather at Pritchard Park at 2 p.m. and march through downtown Asheville. They will then return to Pritchard Park for speeches, music and other activities.

The event — organized by the Carolina Interfaith Task Force on Central America, the Colombia Education Project, the War Resisters League, the WNC Peace Coalition and the WNC School of the Americas Watch — is intended to demonstrate to the community and to both local and national government that the participants prefer peace to war, oppose a unilateral war against Iraq, and are urging the president to use negotiation and cooperation with the United Nations to solve this conflict with Saddam Hussein.

For more information on “Organizing in War Times,” contact Laura Gordon at (828) 649-0591. To find out more about the Saturday rally, contact Melissa Fridlin (828-777-3968) or Jim Brown (828-252-2022), or go to

WNCW faces new FCC inquiry

Popular public-radio station WNCW is facing another inquiry by the Federal Communications Commission — less than a year after it was admonished by the federal agency for improperly promoting the for-profit Mountain Oasis Music Festival on the air and failing to maintain its public file.

In a Nov. 8 letter to Isothermal Community College (which holds the Spindale, N.C., station’s broadcast license), the FCC’s Charles W. Kelley wrote that the agency had received three complaints in April alleging that the station had effectively conducted an illegal lottery via an on-air fund-raising promotion.

The complaints claim WNCW conducted the contest improperly during the station’s spring fund drive because listeners were required to make a pledge to win prizes and because the station didn’t regularly announce the rules to listeners, Kelley wrote.

Another complaint (also filed in April) accuses the station of once again failing to keep up-to-date and complete information in a file that’s open to the public.

According to the FCC, a public-file violation could prompt a fine of up to $10,000, while a lottery violation could yield a $4,000 fine.

WNCW Station Manager David Gordon says the college, in conjunction with its Washington lawyers, is putting together a response to the FCC’s letter.

“The allegations, we feel, have no merit, and we do feel that that is what will be borne out,” says Gordon, adding that he’s not aware of any restrictions on complainants’ ability to prompt an FCC inquiry.

“Anybody can file at any time, for any reason, as far as I can tell,” Gordon observes.

The inquiry marks the latest episode in an ongoing conflict over how the station is run. Former WNCW staffer Linda Osbon (who says she’s not afraid to be included in the ranks of so-called “misguided malcontents”) believes the complaints are on target.

“The ‘misguided malcontents’ were proven right the first time,” Osbon declares. “And more than likely, they’re going to be proven right again.”

In December 2001, the FCC ruled — after investigating a complaint filed by outspoken listener Bill Bost of Hickory — that the station had crossed the line between informational announcements and outright advertisements in promoting WNCW’s Mountain Oasis Music Festival. The agency also found that the station had failed to properly maintain its public file. Both are violations of FCC rules.

But rather than issuing a fine or revoking the station’s license, the FCC merely admonished the community college, citing an “otherwise unblemished” record, according to an opinion written by David H. Solomon, chief of the agency’s enforcement bureau.

In the current case, the college has received an extension until Dec. 6 to respond to the inquiry, Gordon reports.

Readings feature award-winning author

Writers, poets, storytellers and readers alike are invited to an afternoon of readings on Saturday Dec. 7, 2-5 p.m. The event will feature acclaimed author Joseph Bathanti, who has published numerous works fiction and poetry, including Communion Partners, Anson County, The Feast of All Saints and This Metal. Bathanti received his M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College and teaches English at Appalachian State University.

Young writers will have a chance to share their stories and poetry at 2 p.m., followed by Writers’ Workshop contest winners of all ages reading at 3 p.m. Members of the public are invited to participate in the open-mic reading by signing up at the door.

“This will be a lot of fun,” promises Karen Ackerson of the Writers’ Workshop. “It will give a lot of people a chance to get their stories and poems out there and meet other writers. They’ll also learn about upcoming workshops and contests that are available to them.”

Co-sponsored by the Friends of Pack Library, the event will take place in the library’s Lord Auditorium. All readings are free and open to the public. An optional dinner with Bathanti ($25 per person) will be held at the Uptown Cafe following the readings.

For more information or to make dinner reservations, contact Ackerson at 254-8111.

Buddhist center finds new home

The Kosala Buddhist Center is moving to a more central location on Walnut Street (downstairs in suite 1D) in downtown Asheville.

Resident teacher Gen Kelsang Tilopa says, “The new location … will enable Kosala Buddhist Center to provide an expanded schedule of daily meditations, more frequent teachings, retreats and practice sessions, at times that are convenient for people with busy lives. This will make it easier for people in Asheville to benefit from the meditation and teachings on offer at the center.”

To consecrate the new space, a special ceremony (including “Offering to the Spiritual Guide,” a traditional Mahayana Buddhist ritual conducted in English) will be held on Sunday Dec. 8 (8 p.m.). And on Monday Dec. 9 (7 p.m.) special guest Gen-la Samden Gyatso, deputy spiritual director of the New Kadampa Tradition, will present a “Puja and Teaching on Wisdom.”

Gyatso, a renowned practitioner, teacher and scholar, is the close disciple of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the founder and spiritual director of NKT. Besides being the principal teacher at Manjushri Center in England (the main center for NKT), Gen-la Samden Gyatso travels the world giving teachings and empowerments, helping Kadampa Buddhist teachings flourish in the more than 500 centers in 36 countries. Says Tilopa: “His teachings are filled with humor. … He is a pure example of how to practice Buddhism and meditation with joy.

“The visit of Gen-la Samden is an extremely auspicious event for Asheville and will bestow many benefits on the whole community,” he adds. “Not only will he teach from Buddha’s highest teachings on wisdom, but his presence at the Blessing Puja (chanted prayers) on the opening evening will bestow powerful blessings on the new location downtown.”

For more information, contact the center at 231-3283 or

A kingly feast

Imagine this: You’ve been swept back in time to the Renaissance, where you find yourself a noble guest at a feast that King Roderick of Lower Tidmarsh is hosting to find a match for his lovely daughter Isabelle. The tables are laden with sumptuous treats, including roasted meats, vegetarian dishes and spiced cider. And as you savor your holiday feast, you converse with the king’s courtiers and ladies (whose company is good, even if their table manners leave something to be desired).

To commemorate this special occasion, King Roderick has assembled his finest bards and musicians. You find yourself lavishly entertained by stirring renditions of poetry by the members of the Poetry Alive! troupe; medieval holiday harmonies by the Whiskey Sisters (including excerpts from Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols); the astounding antics of the Great Zucchini, juggler and fire eater extraordinaire; Lady Paula Bishop and her dulcet dulcimer; Lady Anne Adelle Lloyd with her heavenly harp; and other less predictable antics by the king’s Court of Fools!

You can have just such an experience at the upcoming Madrigal Dinner, happening Saturday, Dec. 7 and again on Sunday, Dec. 8 (6-9 p.m. both nights) at Calvary Episcopal Church (Hwy. 25) in Fletcher. Tickets ($25) can be purchased at The Costume Shoppe (224 Broadway St.) in Asheville. All proceeds will benefit the Eliada and Presbyterian homes for children.

The event is hosted by the Mountain Renaissance Adventure Faire with sponsorship by A-B Tech, the city of Asheville, Ingles Markets, RC Cola, CP&L, WLOS-TV 13 and other local businesses.

For more information, call 252-8404 or 231-6114, or visit the Mountain Renaissance Adventure Faire Web site (

United Way grants available

Public agencies and nonprofit health-and-human-services organizations seeking funding may want to check out a pair of local grant programs through the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County. The grants are available to organizations working in the following areas: transportation; food; family-support needs; outpatient mental-health care; substance-abuse issues; housing; employment; temporary financial assistance; respite care or group, individual and family counseling.

“This year, United Way has rolled both grant opportunities into one orientation,” explains United Way President/CEO David Bailey. “The purpose of United Way grants is to stimulate creative, collaborative solutions to community needs.”

Although applications will be accepted through Friday, Jan. 31, all applicants are required to attend a workshop on Thursday, Dec. 5 at United Way (50 S. French Broad Ave.) in Asheville, starting at 10 a.m. Successful applicants will receive funding from July 1, 2003 through June 30, 2004.

For information on how to apply, call Lois Martin or Ron Katz at United Way at 255-0696.

Women singing strong

“When God made woman she made hips and thighs/ She made a big legged woman … I’m watching the TV, it makes me so mad,/ to see all those women dressed like boys in drag/ but out on the street, honey what do you see?/ There’s a whole lotta women look a lot like me/ ‘Cuz I’m a big legged woman, a big legged woman,/ a big legged woman is a good kind of woman to be.”

— “Big Legged Woman” by Marla Beth Elliot and The Righteous Mothers

To celebrate the release of its latest CD, Everything Possible, the singing group Womansong is hosting a community gala on Friday Dec. 6, 7-9 p.m. in the Atrium of the Haywood Park Hotel (1 Battery Park Ave.) in Asheville. The new CD features old favorites such as “Big Legged Woman” and “We Are” as well as the title song and several original pieces composed by Womansong members Jean Cassidy, Sue Ford and Cathy Riley. Refreshments will be served, and Womansong will perform selections from the CD (which will be available for purchase). Proceeds from the event will support the group’s musical endeavors and their New Start Fund.

Womansong, a nonprofit volunteer organization, was founded in 1986. Group members perform for women-oriented projects in the region and bring music to drug-rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and community events. Womansong members share a commitment to raising funds for community-based support organizations and the group’s own New Start Fund, which provides financial assistance to women trying to make a new beginning.

For more information, call Cheryl Orengo at 250-5290 or visit the Womansong Web site (

Expanded bus service to Black Mountain

If you live in Asheville and work in Black Mountain — or vice versa — you now have some new transportation options. Thanks to a $100,000 allocation from Congress under the Job Access and Reverse Commute Program, Buncombe County is expanding employment-transportation options between Asheville and outlying areas of the county. Matching funds are being provided by Buncombe County, the state and passenger fares.

As of Monday Dec. 2, Asheville Transit Services added an early-morning and later-evening run to Route 28, which serves Black Mountain and Swannanoa. Buses on this route travel U.S. 70 and Old U.S. 70 between Asheville and Black Mountain. Employers situated along the route include Ingle’s Warehouse, Kearfott, Cooper Bussman, Kunkle Valve, the V.A. Hospital and Mission-St. Joseph’s Health Center. These runs arrive in Black Mountain and Asheville in time to transfer to connecting transit routes.

The county will also offer additional public-transportation services in the Black Mountain area through Mountain Mobility, its community-transportation system. Two routes will be offered, providing service along State, Cherry and Broadway streets, to Ridgecrest Assembly, Montreat, Blue Ridge Assembly, Highland Farms, Blue Ridge Apartments and the Lakeview Center, with connections to Asheville Transit bus routes. Services are available Monday through Saturday. Both Mountain Mobility’s 20-passenger bus and Asheville Transit’s 28-passenger bus are lift-equipped and feature bike racks.

As part of Black Mountain’s Holly Jolly Christmas celebration, both Asheville Transit and Mountain Mobility will offer a “free-fare holiday” to riders on these routes on Friday Dec. 6. Evening routes will also be offered that day for late shoppers in downtown Black Mountain.

Asheville Transit and Mountain Mobility welcome comments or suggestions about the schedules and stops, as well as public transportation needs in other areas of the county. The partnership between these two organizations grew out of community input through the Asheville-Buncombe Vision 2000 Community Dialogues on transportation.

For more information, call 258-0186, ext. 316, or visit the Asheville Transit Web site (

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