Letters to the editor

Commissioners made best decision regarding FFA contract

On behalf of the Find-A-Pet Society (formerly, Humane Society of Buncombe County) Board of Directors, I would like to offer another view to the recent article, “Commissioners lie, animals die” [Commentary, Oct. 4].

The opinions expressed by Ms. David do not present the entire picture, nor [do they] reflect the views of all animal-welfare and protection advocates concerning the Friends For Animals (Asheville Humane Society Shelter) animal-services contract controversy.

After it became apparent the county commissioners were considering whether or not to end the FFA contract, I and others who had not spoken up contacted several county officials to oppose the animal shelter becoming county operated. They listened to our concerns and ideas on solutions to the problem. All facts and views were needed — not just one point of view — before any decision was made whether or not to continue FFA’s animal-services contract. We feel all public and private views were heard and the best decision was to continue the program.

Animals are dying because there are too many, and not enough homes!

— Gloria Eskridge

Asheville-Buncombe VISION encourages dialogue

The Asheville-Buncombe VISION welcomes Mr. John Johnston’s letter [Oct. 4]. His comments speak to the heart of the VISION’s 2000 Community Dialogues program, sharing differing opinions. Indeed, the Dialogues are an important means of democratic discourse, civic re-engagement and community building that we should all support.

This fall, over 200 interested residents are meeting in 15 locations across Buncombe County to talk and brainstorm about how we can create a transportation system that meets the needs of each of us, our community and our environment. The topic of transportation was chosen through a citizen survey from a slate of four topics (transportation, jobs, health care, housing) in late July. This survey was a reasonable measure of public preference for one issue to discuss.

These Dialogue groups are gathering in Montford, Oakley, West Asheville, Skyland, Fairview, Haw Creek, Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Weaverville, downtown Asheville and elsewhere once a week for five weeks. They are meeting in groups of 10 or more in community centers, schools, fire departments, a branch library, a church, a town hall, a retirement community and a downtown office building.

The impetus for the Community Dialogues came from the 1995 Wadley-Donovan report, which pointed out that one of the obstacles to development in this community was divisiveness and inability to reach mutually satisfactory decisions. Initially funded by a grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, this year the program is supported by the VISION itself.

Now, in the final week of the series, diverse groups of citizens are talking and listening to each other — at some length and at some depth — about our transportation needs and priorities. The VISION Dialogues are designed to address community friction by expanding the common ground. We learn by listening to people with different opinions.

I agree with Mr. Johnson when he says, “What happens next is not clear.” There is no predetermined outcome to the Dialogues. The VISION is not advocating or favoring one view over another in the Dialogues. What will emerge will come from the shared wisdom of the Dialogue participants. But I have confidence that many of us will be better informed, that creative ideas on transportation will surface, and that we will be building toward a critical mass in favor of dialogue to reconcile our competing voices.

Recently, Dialogue participants and the public attended the Community Transportation Summit sponsored by the VISION. Participants from all 15 dialogue groups and other citizens who attended had an opportunity to share ideas with transportation professionals and elected officials — as well as to volunteer with various community efforts, public and private — to improve the transportation we use. Your input is valuable, and could make as much a difference as our truly listening to each other. After all, isn’t that the beauty of dialogue?

If you want to know more or to receive a copy of the 2000 Dialogue on Transportation report, please contact the VISION at 254-0333 or e-mail to abvision@abvision.org.”

— Joe McGuire
VISION Board of Directors, 2000 VISION Dialogues chair

All Creatures deserves praise, not citations

I was at the zoning/hearing meeting for All Creatures on Oct. 17 in Hendersonville, at which they were denied a rehearing for zoning rights, etc. At the meeting, I was very upset at how Jay Angel (head of the Commission Board) handled this matter. I felt he was very rude, impatient and acted as if his mind was set against them before he entered the building. There were people wanting to speak out and he blatantly snubbed them, which appeared heartless and downright rude. There was a roomful of caring, concerned people there who came looking for compassion and help, and instead all they got was injustice.

The vote for All Creatures was 5-3 in favor; I might add [Angel] was one of the three opposed, so I guess what he says “goes.” The way he verbally attacked and threatened a senior woman who just wanted to explain the situation was downright cruel and heartless! All Creatures is trying to make a serious and positive change for animals, and he blew them off like all they stood for was insignificant in “his” eyes!

I have been working with — or rather, volunteering for — them for about three-and-a-half weeks now, and in this time, I have witnessed much kindness and love towards the animals. I am a major animal lover and will not tolerate any kind of mistreatment of any creature! I was amazed how much my fellow volunteers gave their all to donate their time unpaid to helping put an end to euthanizing perfectly healthy animals.

I have had the great privilege of working with these animals and being the [recipient] of their unconditional love. These are not strays with rabies or the mange, but gentle, affectionate creatures that want nothing more than to be loved and taken care of.

I have witnessed the selfless act of concern and care from All Creatures toward these special beings. I know the folks there bust their butts working there when others are too busy or don’t care! There are only donations from a few dear and loving souls who have opened their hearts as well as their checkbooks to this organization.

… Maybe if the public would lend a hand and make a generous contribution at the level they can afford, things would and could move along quicker.

I ask Jay Angel and those who denied the rehearing, Have you ever worked at a shelter? Have you ever cleaned litter box after litter box, swept out dog kennels, donated your time or money to such a beautiful cause? If you have, your heart would be open and would know what a major contribution you have given to the animals — not to mention yourself!

No, All Creatures doesn’t kill animals. Why should the animals pay or suffer for man’s irresponsible neglect, abuse or overbreeding of them?! Why should perfectly healthy animals be killed? They deserve love and deserve to be protected, as they are innocent creatures with no voice to defend themselves. It’s a shame the volunteers have to deal with irresponsible people who can just abuse, abandon and let them breed whenever and where ever they choose.

All Creatures is doing a wonderful, spiritual thing in this world. OK, if they aren’t quite up to “your” code, then help them! What can you do to make a change? It starts with one person. If I had a ton of money, I would build a new shelter, perfect in every way. Until then, you do the best you can. Can you come out and donate your time, and/or your finances? What about supplies? It’s up to each of us as individuals to make the world a better place. …

So, I guess the reason I’m writing this letter is to say, “Everyone can make a difference.” I have, and so can you. Please open your heart to the animals and to All Creatures for their generous heart. They are trying to make the world a gentler, more peaceful place for all. Please don’t condemn them with your “technicalities.” Instead, how can you make a difference for “peace on earth” to all?!

— Susie Keeler
Bat Cave

Forgo holiday bauble-buying

With the holiday season soon upon us, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone that good cheer does not have to come in a wrapped box from Wal-Mart. While Americans make up 5 percent of the total human population, we consume nearly 30 percent of the earth’s total resources.

This holiday season, let us put a stop to our overconsumption. Instead of buying presents, why not get creative and give alternative gifts to that special loved one? How about baking a batch of cookies or other goodies? Or how about IOUs; they always come in handy! Instead of exchanging gifts between friends, what about working on a community-service project? Not only will the time spent together be quality, but also the friendship will grow by working toward a common goal.

If none of these ideas sound appealing, and that credit card is screaming to be used, buy local products made by local people. We are lucky to live in an area that is blessed with talented crafters! Just think about all the resources that are lost as we transport items across the globe. After all, money spent here stays here, helping out our economy.

Make a difference this season and think environmentally. After all, if things are going to change, they have to start with you and me.

— Karen Rudolph

Yes, we have good seafood

I would like to respond to Ms. Susan Stanton’s letter in your Oct. 18 issue, titled “Bring on the seafood.” There are several independently owned seafood restaurants in and around Asheville. You have Don’s Fish Camp in Swannanoa, the Poseidon in East Asheville, the Coach House in Black Mountain, and the Beaver Lake Seafood and Steak Restaurant in Asheville — just to name a few. …

— Linda Conner
Black Mountain

Bravo says bravo!

Thanks to Mountain Xpress and Jerald D. Pope for some great advance publicity [Oct. 18, “Chip off the old block”]. Asheville Bravo Concerts began its 2000-’01 season on Tuesday, Oct. 24, with an audience consisting of many new young attendees, as well as our faithful subscribers. Broadening the audience for local fine-arts performances is one of our goals, and advance publicity is absolutely necessary to reach these new audiences.

And what a concert this new audience heard! The Iceland Symphony Orchestra — under the exciting young conductor Rico Saccharin — was terrific in its performance of music by Khachaturian and Berlioz … with a medley of jazz and swing mixed with classical by Icelandic composer Atli Heimir Sveinsson. The audience was also treated to two encores: a lovely Rachmaninoff and an enchanting musical rendition of an Icelandic fairy tale, complete with horses, goblins and a race through the woods.

On Nov. 16, Bravo Concerts will present the Veriovka Ukrainian National Song and Dance Ensemble. Please help us fill the seats in the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium so we can continue to bring the best of the world’s performing artists to Asheville at mountain prices.

— Connie De Land, president
Asheville Bravo Concerts

Materialism isn’t Christian

I have been concerned about the growing popularity of materialism here in America, even among my fellow Christians.

Webster’s defines materialism as a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things.

I will not attempt a comprehensive definition of Christianity in the space allowed. However, I hope everyone will agree that emulating the simple, loving lifestyle of Jesus Christ is an important component to being a good Christian.

Therefore, I want to encourage all Christians to unite in taking a hard look at the way we spend money. Let us consider the fact that, compared to most people on the earth, we live like kings and queens. Millions of people exist without running water, adequate food, shelter or medical care. We have a responsibility as Christians to live simply.

We should be carefully considering each purchase we make, from the vehicles we drive to the clothes we wear. I cannot see Jesus coming back to earth wearing designer clothes and driving a new SUV. Jesus came to town on a donkey, not a new or pretentious form of transportation.

Certainly, we are inundated by commercials telling us we need new vehicles, jewelry, etc. However, as Christians, we are supposed to be different. We are supposed to witness through our lives, not just on Sunday mornings.

— C. J. Haag

Downtown’s going to the rats

Alas, it is fair sickenin’– fair sickenin’, I say — that greedy and megalomaniacal power madness are becoming common as dirt ’round here. A pox! A pox, I say, on “proposals” like the Interstate-26 Connector, the “proposed” Wal-Marts, as well as any and all other indecent propositions, which’d get one slapped and slapped damn hard if it were an indecent proposal of a personal, rather than civic/corporate, nature. From my not-quite-up-to-the-minute awareness of some stories — due to the obfuscation of the news by the main local corporate “media” storytellers ’round these parts — I generally go with what I can actually see in the here and now. What I see, here and now, is a scarred-earth patch with a super-sized lookin’ Best Buy, Barnes and Noble bookstore and gawd knows what-all on South Tunnel Road, erupting just past the Asheville Mall, K-Mart and Lowe’s.

Being the denizen of the “sleazy underbelly” of downtown Asheville that I am, I’ve also watched the “improvement” of what was once a perfectly fine Pritchard Park, complete with feisty and loud ol’ street preacher. I admired that guy for years for his steadfast conviction that someone might someday heed his shouted admonishments (no need for a Helen Gordon-style bullhorn; no, not he!) that all were surely hell-bound, save he and his stand against everything. As I passed the construction site there late one night (which I know for a fact would be better done and for less money by stone-masonry and contractor friends of mine), I was stunned to see rats, many of ’em, many(!), swarming all over the site. They’d been freed from their usual home in the sewers by the work crews, who’d evidently knocked off for the night. I was the only human being there, that late. …

The downtown Asheville citizenry, especially those who venture forth at night, being considered unworthy of consideration (and viewed, it seems, as likely “suspects” who are probably up to no good anyway) may contract “sewer-rat fever,” but who cares, eh? Downtown Asheville citizens are like unwanted stepchildren to the authoritarians who roughneck their triflin’ wills against us. Seems like they always have the same collective hive-authoritarianism verbal lines, too: “Got any identification?!” (By the by: No, I don’t need any.)

Any honest public-health official empowered to act in the interest of public health and well-being on what I have come to recollect as “Rat Night” would have launched a hell-raising of late-night wake-up calls to sleeping elitists, for any honest official would have stopped(!) that rat racket, right that instant!

I’ve had a gut full of this contemptible contempt on the part of these nasty powers-that-be. My feelings are shared by some very fine, able and determined folks who don’t react like Pavlov’s dog to the influence of some entrenched, unelected, taxpayer-paid fat cat in suburbia with a money mindset. … Let’s tighten up at the source of their abuses, tighten up on their $-cash-cow. These renegades will not stop with shooting dogs on botched calls. They are armed, dangerous and at large!

Beloveds, the goon squad that we replaced our once-friendly Asheville cops with has a real, real bad attitude! They are zero-tolerance, humorless, armed-to-the-teeth boys and girls who display what seems to be a very real desire to emulate the head-bangers they evidently idealize: like Bull Connor and the infamous police-dog attacks and high-pressure hosing of dissenters in Birmingham in the 1960s. Or the unforgettable police rioting ordered by Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago at the Democratic convention in ’68.

Let me herein state I am all for progress. I just don’t see much! I see rapacious greed and poisonous contempt for the very air and water necessary to life.

The conduct of our local civil servants is chapping local folks raw. They disrespect us more and more, whilst confiscating more and more of folks’ financial substance in such ways as our notorious “parking citation,” multimillion dollar civic scam! …

… These blackguards, rapscallions and rascals, those powers that be, need to ‘fess up and fly as right as right can be, for there’ll surely be coming an accounting! Nobody expects ’em to be perfect, but they are enjoined and entrusted to get with the real program here and behave as is seemly for those, ideally, exemplary fewer and fewer who are enjoined so, necessary and whom we choose to entrust so with our community good. They are on the public’s turf and payroll — not we on theirs. …

— Rod Personette

What? Me a Crone?

Women know it. Our lives are not all of a piece — not years and more years of being the same person. The excitement, the high energy of the Maiden gives way to the concentrated creating and nurturing of the Mother — whether of children, career or paintings. Then another shift occurs, my favorite one: the time of the Crone. This is like the autumn time of our life, of our year. The trees let go of their leaves and we let go of old ways, old ideas. Mother Nature puts her energy into the deepness of the earth and we reach inside to touch our own wisdom, our own power.

Today, women are reclaiming the title of Crone. Our ancestors lived in a society that honored the Crone, that asked her to sit on councils and give of her wisdom. Imagine being honored for being old and wise. Even more powerful, imagine honoring yourself for being old and wise. And it was for untold centuries an expression of honor, an aspect of the goddess. Nearly every “primitive” spirituality had its Triple Goddess. In pre-classical Greece it was Persephone, Demeter, Hecate. India has Parvati, Duga, Kali. And Rome had Juventas, Juno and Minerva.

Sometimes we fight against the idea. Our society certainly honors youth and almost tries to not see older women. And we all know that the Maiden is still very much a part of us when we are playing, loving, celebrating. The Mother also is still there; we are often still nurturing children, grandchildren, younger women. But a large portion of our time and energy is now directed inward; it is a time of introspection, inner growth, new kinds of pleasure, new ways of seeing ourselves. It may happen at age 56 (the second Saturn return), at Menopause, or at any age. Each of us knows when it is time to name ourselves Crone, or perhaps, Crone in Training.

A ritual is being planned to which we can invite our daughters and friends. Women of all ages will be honoring the Crones of our community, the women who in previous years named themselves Crone or Crone in Training. But most importantly, we will be honoring ourselves. We will “celebrate myself and sing myself,” as Whitman put it. And a workshop is forming, three Saturday afternoons in November, where we can talk about the ideas, the tradition of Cronehood. If you think this may just be the year for you, come join us.

— Barbara Devitt

[Barbara Devitt is a member of Whisper, a not-for-profit organization that explores and honors women’s spirituality. For details about the ritual and workshop, call Devitt at 251-1486.]

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