The Green Scene

Rock star Timmy O’Neill gets “EnviroActive”

Among rock climbers, the name Timmy O’Neill sparks a special admiration. Sponsored by outdoor outfitter Patagonia, O’Neill is perhaps most widely recognized for his and climbing partner Dean Potter‘s record-setting three-hour-and-24-minute jaunt up the Nose at El Capitan in Yosemite. (As if that weren’t enough, he made another trek up El Capitan with his brother, who is paralyzed from the waist down.) Having scaled cliffs from Pakistan to Greenland, he’s as popular for his zany comedic performances as his occasional “buildering” escapades. His new Environmental Action Tour, which purports to “to put the ‘mental’ back in environmentalism,” will hit just three cities: San Francisco, Portland and Asheville.

“I’ve heard Asheville is like the Boulder [Colorado] of the East Coast,” O’Neill told Xpress during a phone interview. “It’s supposed to be really groovy. I’ve always wanted to check it out.” Resting up in Alberta after a day of ice climbing, he said the tour is geared toward “outdoor athletes and people of that ilk” — aka the “EnviroActive” movement — who want to become more involved in environmental preservation. Scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 16, at the N.C. Stage Company (33 Haywood St.), the event will feature short films and a presentation by Southern Appalachian Forest Coalition activist Josh Kelly, who’s been researching old-growth stands in Western North Carolina’s national forestlands.

O’Neill says he’s “obsessed” with using only nondisposable cups and cutlery, and he cultivates a minimalist approach to consumption. “My number-one tenet is to live life now. If you can be present in your life, and cultivate your relationship with the natural world and appreciate nature, then you’ll have this affinity where you want to take care of it.”

All the proceeds from the Environmental Action Tour will benefit 1% for the Planet, a business alliance that donates 1 percent of profits to fund environmental organizations worldwide (see www.onepercentfortheplanet.org). Tickets, which cost $8, are on sale at Black Dome Mountain Sports or at the door.

Can public policy stop sprawl?

The Mountain Voices Alliance thinks so, and they’ve got a 37-page report published by one of the foremost environmental nonprofits in the nation to bolster their case. Standing Tall: A New Path for North Carolina’s Forests, co-authored by Will McDow of the Raleigh office of Environmental Defense, outlines policy tools that can be employed to halt the replacement of forests with subdivisions. The report will be on the front burner of an upcoming forum, “Public Policy to Protect Our Mountains,” hosted by the alliance and scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 9, at UNCA’s Highsmith Center Alumni Hall.

Speakers will include McDow and local environmental attorney Gary Davis, who will describe successful models of progressive land-use policy. Jesse Martin of the North Carolina Center for Creative Retirement will deliver a brief history of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The event is free and open to the public, and invitations will be extended to Western North Carolina’s state representatives and senators.

Environmental quality control

Quality Forward, one of Western North Carolina’s longest-standing environmental organizations, announced the recipients of their annual environmental awards on Nov. 1. The Asheville Transit Authority and City Council were declared winners for increasing ridership on city buses through the Ride for Free initiative.

“Environmental Excellence” awards were doled out to the following: Grace and Cecil Pless, for stewardship of “Grace’s Corner,” a stop on the downtown Urban Trail that the couple maintained through plantings and litter pickup; Sandy and Mike McLeod, owners of Willow Winds vacation-rental cabin, for landscape-beautification efforts; the Corner Kitchen Restaurant in Biltmore Village for implementing an extensive recycling program; the Drover’s Road Preserve for maintaining sensitivity to the natural environment during development, and Bob Caldwell, the WLOS-TV weatherman who routinely encourages viewers to protect waterways.

“We feel like if you give people a pat on the back, they’ll go out and do more,” says Susan Roderick, executive director of Quality Forward.

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