Letters to the editor

Support low-power FM radio

I am a supporter of creation of a Low Power FM (LPFM) radio service, as outlined in the FCC’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in docket MM 99-25, which called for creation of 1,000-watt and 100-watt commercial and noncommercial LPFM stations nationwide.

It has come to my attention that the FCC intends to vote, at its Jan 20 meeting, to severely gut this proposal [by allowing] only noncommercial stations with a maximum power of 100 watts (coverage thus limited to only 3.5 miles, as opposed to 9 miles for a 1,000-watt station).

To place such severe limits on LPFM would doom the service before it begins, making it impossible to obtain enough financial support … to [be able to] exist. …

An overwhelming number (thousands) of comments [were] filed in this proceeding supporting the creation of 1,000-watt and 100-watt stations, allowing for both commercial and noncommercial operation, as set forth in the FCC’s [proposal].

The public has spoken on this matter, and to ignore this public mandate and cave in to political pressure from the National Association of Broadcasters is a disgrace. Use of such anti-competitive actions by the NAB should be investigated by the Justice Department.

The NAB tried to cause confusion on this issue by claiming that the new LPFM stations would cause interference to existing stations. A receiver study conducted by the FCC proved this to be incorrect. The NAB raised this smokescreen issue to attempt to conceal its real dislike for LPFM — the fact that it does not want competition for listeners or advertising revenues for its member stations. The FCC cannot prevent competition and is supposed to promote [it].

I would hope that the FCC would vote for LPFM in its full form … or delay the vote — to clear the way for a workable LPFM service of 1,000-watt and 100-watt commercial and noncommercial stations. …

What possible reason can the FCC give for not permitting commercially supported LPFM stations, other than to protect NAB member stations from competition? Commercial support has nothing to do with interference! Thereis no good reason to doom the LPFM service by taking away its ability to support itself by the sale of commercial advertising, a method of support that has served this nation’s stations well for over 75 years!

I urge everyone to call, fax, and write your [congressional representatives] and senators, asking that they support the creation of a Low Power FM Broadcast Service and make their support known to the FCC commissioners immediately.

More information on this important issue may be found at www.concentric.net/~Radiotv/.

— James W. Foster
Kansas City

A Minnesota toast to Asheville

I’m writing to tell you how wonderful my experiences visiting Asheville have been, and how much that city has changed and enhanced my life.

Once, I thought Asheville should advertise itself more. Now, I don’t think so. Asheville is a precious gem that people need to mine for, and avoid what happened to Santa Fe, N.M.; it got all ugly and turned into a tourist trap, and everyone lost sight of the real beauty. Georgia O’Keefe would be spinning in her grave. She loved New Mexico for its loneliness and desolation, its peace and spirituality.

I decided to bring my husband to Asheville (where my father lives), and its magic is/was far-reaching. We drove all the way from Minnesota, and got to Knoxville around 9 p.m. Everyone at the Knoxville truck stop said, “You don’t want to go through the mountains in the dark.” But Steve (my husband) wanted to push on and get there. I told him, “The mountains are bigger and older and more powerful than you and me, and we’re not respecting them.” Anyway, we started our trip through the mountains that night, and it was so dark and scary that I kept praying to God and all the angels on those curves and hairpin turns. After about half an hour, we ended up behind a small, old pickup truck. We stayed right behind them all the way through the mountains. They were our angels, our “lights in the darkness.” They led us through the mountains and into Asheville. So, whoever you are, we thank you — from the old station wagon with Minnesota plates on the Saturday night of Labor Day weekend.

So we did get to Asheville — and were so hungry. We pulled off I-40 to the Waffle House on Patton Avenue. We had the nicest, kindest waitress, named Meg Fightmaster. I was so grateful for her kindness, but it seems you Southern people treat everyone like that. As you get to Kentucky and then Tennessee and so on, people are calling you “darlin'” and saying “bless you” and “thank you kindly.” I’m sure not used to it, coming from cold Minnesota and its cold people.

Anyway, we eventually went on to Myrtle Beach and had fun, and then came back to Asheville. On our way back, we had car problems and broke down coming into Asheville. We stopped at a place called Quick Stop with a flat tire, very little cash and no credit card. I was crying. So we went into the place and talked to this beautiful older woman (the clerk), and she was so nice to me. Then, as we were sitting there, all these older guys are going into the store for their Saturday-night Busch beer. They noticed we needed help, and so they all gathered around our car and offered advice and help, saying things like, “There’s a tire place a couple of miles away that we could drive you to, etc., etc.” One of the men told us he’d lost his brother to a shooting a couple of months back. He almost started to cry and told us how he always tries to help people. So we got our tire situation all squared away, and I’m sitting in the car, much more calm. The hood is still up, and a pickup truck full of men pulls over and they offer to help us. Steve was never so stunned! Not only did we get so much help, but everyone likes to talk and share their lives, and you feel so connected. Only in the South: You don’t get that up here in Minnesota.

We had another flat tire another night, and we had our tire fixed in 15 minutes from a cool old guy the people at the Quick Stop told us about. The tire only cost $10. We could not believe it.

At 40 years old and after I’ve been searching so long, I feel I’ve found my heart, my soul, my home in Asheville. My husband and I are thinking about retiring there, in about 20 years or earlier. Please keep your beauty, and don’t get that suburban-sprawl ugliness. We love you, all the people we met, and the mountains, the river, etc.

— Natalie Rekucha
Fridley, Minn.

You don’t know us, Prof. Ready

Your comments about the Spiritual Episcopal Church of Mystic Christianity [Commentary, “Why do Asheville and Buncombe County dislike each other so much?”, Jan. 5] indicate that you know very little about us.

The Spiritual Episcopal Church is Christian. Our members are intelligent, independent thinkers who believe in the freedom to worship God as they choose. We do not tell our members how to vote. We do not get involved in politics or political issues. Our only focus is on spirituality.

Truth shines more brightly when illuminated by facts, rather than baseless innuendo.

— Lesley R. Reifert, associate pastor
Spiritual Episcopal Church

Share your post-Y2K abundance

As I sit here looking back on the Y2K hoopla, I think, “Was it all for naught?” Then, the other side of my brain answers, “Certainly not.” For me, it was a lesson in preparedness; self-sufficiency has been at the top of my list of admirable aspirations [ever] since I bought a boat and set sail at the tender yet radical age of 20.

I didn’t think then that I’d be going steadily more in the direction of dependency on the grid, and not getting closer to “freedom,” a.k.a. sustainability. It’s been three years since I hung up my transient shoes, choosing to inhabit a space, pay my dues, and become an “upstanding member of society.”

In this time, I’ve learned of a new concept in sustainability: urban sustainability. Simply put, this means that by working together, we can make our community self-sufficient. This can be done without dropping out of society, without sacrificing today’s conveniences, and without buying a piece of land and becoming a hermit (although this helps).

In the fall of 1997, a group of concerned citizens came together and formed a nonprofit organization called New Foundation, in order to open a community center focused on setting an example of how urban sustainability can work. However, as the millennium approached, it was painfully obvious how dependent we still are on the system. We were, however, fortunate to [be able to] buy about a ton of bulk food, some propane burners and other supplies to “see us through,” in case anything happened.

Which brings me to another lesson that Y2K brought me: appreciation. I give thanks that there was an abundance that allowed for food to be stored and saved for this community. We are now … serving that food as delicious, healthful meals [for] the hungry on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, downtown in City/County Plaza.

If you were blessed with an abundance this year, or don’t quite know what to do with your Y2K stash, donate it to a worthy cause.

— Rebecca Wagner

[New Foundation can be reached at 252-9662.]

Find out for yourself

Mr. Milton Ready’s commentary [“Why do Asheville and Buncombe County dislike each other so much?” Jan. 5] was interesting. Since he specifically mentioned our Spiritual Episcopal Church of Mystic Christianity, I would like to invite him and others to attend one of our worship services and find out for themselves what we believe.

We are a Christian denomination that teaches responsibility for self, acknowledgment and respect for all other denominations and individuals, belief in the afterlife, and communication with the other side.

On Feb. 20, the presiding clergy of the Greater Church, Rev. Jay Powell, will be present at our new location to dedicate the premises and install our pastors. We invite you to meet with us at 11 a.m. at our new location at Barker Heights Community Center (just off Jackson Park Road), Jackson Park, Hendersonville. For information, please feel free to call either of the pastors: Rev. Lesley Reifert at (828) 654-9029, or me at (828) 859-5896.

— Rev. Ana Jo O’Brien
Spiritual Episcopal Church of Mystic Christianity

Sustainability a joke in Buncombe County

The insidious subversion of “sustainability” marches on! Now we have a county Strategic Plan [Xpress, “County short takes,” Jan. 5-11, 2000] that “will promote … a sustainable quality of life.”

What, exactly, does that mean? It appears that the current buzzword is simply being slopped on — in a season when everything that doesn’t move is painted with one broad brush. We hear about sustainable development, sustainable growth, sustainable business … and now sustainable quality?

I am not convinced that there is even a consensus in Buncombe County about what “quality of life” is. From all appearances, there are powerful forces at work set on a course diametrically opposite to my definition — and I know my druthers are anathema to the mountain razers, highway builders and tourist trappers who are happily wrecking this paradise. There is little about the current course of Buncombe County that I would vote to sustain for 10 minutes.

More to the point, the rush to paste this label du jour on every new plan is messing with people’s heads. Initially, the concept of sustainability meant creation of a society that could provide livelihood for human beings without deleterious impact on our life-support system. It envisioned a culture living on its solar energy income and recycling everything — in other words, a culture modeled on nature. Such a system is, inherently, no growth.

The biomass of the earth — that is, the total quantity of living stuff — has not changed appreciably since the last ice age. More people — and more people-stuff — means less of something else. So we have more cattle and less rain forest, more corn and less prairie, etc. If we do not change our consumptive ways and substantially reduce the human population on our planet, it is extremely likely that a crash will come. It happens to other animals when their numbers exceed the carrying capacity of their habitat, and we are not exempt — no matter what “quality” we presently enjoy.

If the county government has any strategy worth the name, it should be considering the ramifications of energy scarcity, overpopulation, food shortages, and pollution — which are poised to overwhelm humanity in this century. Is there a future for a highway-oriented tourist town when the era of cheap personal transportation ends? Suppose we build it, and no one can afford to come? What about local food supplies when trucking becomes prohibitive? Farmland morphed into subdivisions is not easily re-plowed.

The “heart” of the Strategic Plan reads, “Buncombe County is … in harmony with its environment.” Huh? Buncombe County, North Carolina? Who’s kidding whom? Methinks the committee has been sampling the moonshine. That, or breathing local air.

— Cecil Bothwell
Black Mountain, N.C.

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