Letters to the editor

Send letters to: Letters to the Editor, Mountain Xpress, P.O. Box 144, Asheville, NC 28802, or by e-mail to letters@mountainx.com. (Include name, address and phone number.)

I’m rooting for the Root Bar

Hunter Pope’s review of Songwriters in the Round (“Earful,” April 4) struck a chord with me — a sour one. His down-the-nose commentary painted a picture of a pub I’ve certainly never been to and was a disservice to both the artists and the venue. With broad brush clenched tightly, he paints East Asheville as some Appalachian version of East L.A., into which he bravely ventured. “Rod Serling’s wet dream,” he says [in the online version of his review], is a “surreal” experience filled with “hedonistic” natives getting “rowdy” and “unnerving” — hardly a place for civilized folk such as Mr. Pope. Safely returned to more rarefied surroundings, one can almost hear the conversation as Pope shared the story of his grand adventure. “You went to East Asheville? Alone?!”

The Root Bar is a reflection of Asheville — a little bit different, consistently friendly, always creative, open-minded and accepting. On a sunny afternoon, one need only look to the white-sand RootBall courts to see Asheville’s prized diversity — businessmen with their shoes removed and cuffs rolled up playing against blue-collar workers still covered in paint, hippies high-fiving punks when a good score is made.

It’s also a place where you can see some of the best local musicians come together to experiment, to collaborate, to craft and explore their art and give birth to new partnerships and new sounds. Dave Turner has put forth a huge effort to create the Songwriters in the Round series and has made something unique and interesting. He started the series after playing at the pub himself, no doubt inspired by an atmosphere that encourages artists to break outside the routine of putting on a show. The SITR series sprung from the very environment Mr. Pope decries: relaxed, casual, friendly and without any pretense. Perhaps he simply didn’t see the forest for the trees.

Just like Asheville itself, the Root Bar attracts the occasional eccentric, and they are welcomed as any other. If you prefer a gated community with exclusivity and arrogance, pomposity and refinement, perhaps Asheville and the Root Bar aren’t your cup of tea. On the other hand, if you’re looking for great friends, great music and a unique and addictive atmosphere, East Asheville’s Music Kitchen serves it up daily.

— Ed Molesky
Asheville

Healthy homes need healthy input

The WNC Green Building Council appreciates the input from people who have expressed concerns about building materials used in HealthyBuilt Homes and other green buildings. We would like to encourage more input from anyone who has constructive ideas to share about better ways of moving the building industry toward a more sustainable model. This is definitely a work in progress, and no one claims to have all the answers. The NC HealthyBuilt Homes program that certifies houses that meet certain standards has been developed to assure homebuyers that the house meets a higher environmental standard than the average. Criteria and point allocations are reviewed yearly and adjusted as product availability and innovations occur.

Green building involves a balance of many variables. Energy efficiency is usually given a top priority because it is effective over the life of the building and has the largest environmental impact. Every situation can have different priorities. For people with chemical sensitivities, indoor air quality is a higher priority, while in sensitive site locations, site work and erosion control are primary. Material choices are often driven by availability and affordability. The WNC Green Building Council is working to find and promote sustainable products from recycled to sustainably harvested and least-processed, locally derived sources. Most builders and their clients operate within cost and time constraints that affect decisions. The more demand there is for local sustainable products, the easier it is to effect supply.

It is encouraging to get public input into the process, and we encourage everyone to ask about green-building choices whenever they are looking into building or buying homes. Please contact the WNC Green Building Council with any ideas or questions: info@wncgbc.org or 232-5080.

— Boone Guyton
Asheville

Madison’s forestland is far from useless

Have you made your comments yet? May 1 is the deadline to send comments to the National Forest Service about the proposed sale of NFS lands nationwide — and closer to home, in Madison County.

Many of us may have been lulled into complacency by the strong statements of some of our elected officials that “this will not happen.” Others of us may have bought the party line of the under secretary of agriculture, “that these are small fragmented bits of public land” and “the money will be used to provide funding for rural schools.”

Wrong.

Here are the facts: Practically none (if any) of these hypothetical funds will come into North Carolina, much less Madison County. Indeed, the county commissioners of Madison County passed a resolution opposing the sale of these lands.

And these public lands are not fragmented and useless. They have enormous value. As examples, here are a few of the pieces proposed for sale in Madison County:

• Parcels U-472h-i, 570.64 acres; U-472-j, 15.63 acres; U-472-r, 32.84 acres; U-472h-l, 22.38 acres; U-472-o, 13.92 acres and F-605-i, 44.54 acres, represent a dashed line of nearly 700 acres that stretch across a steep and beautiful ridge line, joining up with NFS lands that lead to the Smokies. This area is perfect for a wildlife corridor, for hiking, hunting and appreciating. It is too steep for home building or logging.

• Parcels F-605-f, 31.54 acres; F-605-g, 17.62 acres are on the way to Max Patch — surely an area where we do not need development.

• Parcels F-528 and U399, 211.34 acres, provide access to Laurel Creek and great fishing.

You get the picture. These are valuable lands that Washington would take away from North Carolina and Madison County, a county that earned $21.3 million tourist dollars in 2004. That tourism provided 280 jobs with a payroll of $4.9 million.

Please do not be complacent on this issue. Send your comments before May 1 by e-mail to SRS_Land_Sales@fs.fed.us, or postal mail to: USDA Forest Service, SRS Comments, Lands 4S, 1400 Independence Ave. SW, Mailstop 1124, Washington, DC 20250-0003.

Send copies to: Paul L.Bradley, Appalachian Ranger District, POB 128, Burnsville NC 28714-0128; Sen. Richard Burr, 217 Russell Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510; Sen. Elizabeth Dole, 555 Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington DC 20510; Rep. Charles Taylor, 339 Cannon HOB, Washington, DC 20515.

— Maxine Dalton
Spring Creek

Activism is hard, but we’ve majored in it

We are writing this as a collective complaint in regard to the March 22 article entitled “Comfortably Numb? Students Coordinate Feminist Film Fest — But Say the Notion ‘Doesn’t Fit [Their] Frame of Reference,'” by Hanna Miller.

The backlash to this article was largely due to the its title, which portrays the students in Horvitz’s women’s studies class at UNCA as “comfortably numb.” This label not only offends our class, but it assumes that women at our school do not care about serious issues that pertain to women’s rights.

Our positions as interviewees need to be taken into account, in that Ms. Miller not only misquoted our opinions by leaving out key points to our arguments, she also failed to represent our actual status as students at UNCA. We are both women’s studies majors who are upperclassmen and have been feminists for quite some time now, unlike her description of us as “recent converts” or “humanists.” We are by no means novices in the academic discipline of feminist studies, nor are we novices in analytical reasoning skills.

The F-Word film festival, much like the response Dr. Lori Horvitz wrote [Letters, “We’re Not Numb Yet,” April 5], was a collaborative effort by our class, which is the true meaning of feminism. Feminism, which is never actually defined in Miller’s article, aims at the cooperative effort to end all oppression, and it would be hard to imagine why anyone wouldn’t call himself or herself a feminist. As a collective, we decided that Dr. Horvitz and Caitlin Shanley’s response fully articulated the class’s (as well as our own) frustrations with the article.

One would hope Dr. Horvitz, a professor of literature, would accurately compose a collaborative response to our grievances. We, in addition to Dr. Hovitz, were under the impression that the article was going to be about the film festival and how our class was planning for it. Instead, it seemed to be more about ridiculing our class at the expense of the film festival (which was why we were so distraught). We trust that in future articles, there will be a more accurate representation of our class and our causes.

— Stephanie Jones
UNCA senior, Psychology and Women’s Studies
Asheville

— Katie Clayton
UNCA junior, Women’s Studies
Asheville

Quantity may beat quality for eco-friendliness

I find it ridiculous that in pages and pages of debate over material selection for this “eco-friendly” home being built in Montford, nobody has bothered to ask or to tell readers how big it is.

The basic fact is that in building to avoid unsustainable overconsumption, quantity is far more important than quality, and all parties’ complete failure to address or even mention quantity reveals that they are not seeing the forest for the trees.

So I’m now asking these long-winded debaters the only important questions: How big is this house? How much wallboard did it require? And how much housewrap on a per-unit basis? I calculate that a 1,000-square-foot unit with 8-foot ceilings would require at least 1,012 square feet of wallboard and housewrap, so I am prepared to consider this house “green” if it used less than 1,500 square feet of housewrap per unit — but not if it didn’t — regardless of material or brand.

In addition to limiting per capita overconsumption, limiting unit size — even if only by personal approval — also can encourage smaller families and therefore contraception, because a family of three can fit in 8,000 cubic feet, but it gets a bit tight for a family of four or more. So it is material quantity, and not selection, that should be the primary determiner of eco-friendly housing.

— Alan Ditmore
Leicester

Editor’s note: The writer is referring to the letter “Those Green, Green Fields of Home,” published March 8, and several subsequent letters published in reply.

Celebrate immigrant solidarity on May

For centuries, humans have migrated in search of fertile land, plenty of game or other resources.

Currently, United States citizens are crossing borders to do just that. Each time a large corporation crosses a border to expand their business, whatever their claim to legitimacy, they are effectively migrating in search of resources. If it is illegal to cross a border in order to meet my needs, then I am an illegal alien, as a consumer.

A recent proposal to criminalize certain human beings is less about “immigration” and more about economics. Anyone wanting to increase a profit margin is the true benefactor in a society with an entire class of people who have fewer rights, are equally taxed and are underrepresented by society’s decision-makers. Welcome to America’s caste system.

Immigrants do pay taxes and are less likely to file tax returns than nonimmigrants. In effect, the public system receives more revenue from immigrants who then have even less access to public resources. Isn’t that called a profit?

It is not immigrants themselves but the way they are classified by our system that causes so much tension and competition among the working class. If we leveled the playing field by legitimizing all workers, true solidarity could emerge. When the working class unites, wages and working conditions improve for all.

We live in a global community. But corporations cross borders for cheap resources and then leave. Instead of providing stability, they only serve to give immigrants a push toward big capital. Immigrants then cross borders in search of a stable life for themselves and their families.

The working majority has only to benefit from uniting with one another. Come to Pack Square and join local immigrants at 5 p.m. on May 1, in solidarity with demonstrations nationwide. What we do to each other, we do to ourselves.

— Sharon Bigger
Asheville

Bush is beyond impeachment “light”

Sen. [Russ] Feingold, Democrat of Wisconsin, has been criticized for suggesting that G.W. Bush, (I hate to say it) president of the United States, should be impeached for breaking the law(s) regarding our rights to privacy. It seems to me that [Bush] could be impeached for numerous reasons, chief among them taking us into a war under false pretenses and keeping us there for who knows what reasons.

If Bill Clinton could be, and was, impeached for indiscretions that hurt only himself (the so-called “victim” has profited from the, pardon the pun, “exposure”), then surely, couldn’t a sitting president who has harmed the entire country (world?) with his lies and egomania be — this time, legitimately — impeached?

You go, Sen. Feingold!

— Sandra Houts
Asheville

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