Blog :: 10-2009

Asheville to mark climate action day with Saturday Event

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10/22/2009 - Asheville to mark climate action day with Saturday Event
by Ashvegas

On Oct. 24, churches around the world will ring their bells 350 times. Mountain climbers will wave banners depicting the number 350 on the worlds highest peaks. Therell be rallies in cities large and small, with participants chanting 350 in every language.

And in downtown Asheville, citizens of all ages will join in the same worldwide movement to focus attention on the number 350. Its all part of the International Day of Climate Action, the most widespread day of grassroots environmental action in the planets history. Covering almost every country on earth, the 350 project is about citizens joining together to urge world leaders to take bold and immediate steps to address climate change and reduce carbon emissions.

The efforts are aimed at the number 350 because scientists say that 350 parts per million (ppm) is the most carbon dioxide we can safely have in the atmosphere. The current CO2 concentration is approaching 390 ppm.

The Asheville 350 gathering, 2 4 p.m., in the new park in front of Asheville City Hall, will be one of nearly 4,300 simultaneous events in 170 countries taking place on Oct. 24. The family-friendly afternoon will include speakers and activities for children and adults, and a group photo that will depict the number 350, to be taken at 3:50 p.m. [See details below.]

That photo and thousands from around the world will be posted on the international 350.org Web site and displayed on the 30-foot tall screens on Times Square in the heart of New York City. Then, on the Monday after Oct. 24, the 350.org team will visit United Nations headquarters to hand-deliver the photos as something of a visual petition to diplomats and delegates the world over.

These global actions come six weeks before the worlds nations convene in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference to draw up a new climate treaty. Eighty-nine countries have already endorsed the 350 target, as have the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Rajendra Pachauri; the worlds foremost climate economist, Sir Nicholas Stern; and Nobel prize-winner Al Gore.

Among those attending the conference in Denmark will be 22-year-old Ellie Johnston, a UNC Asheville student and delegate to the Copenhagen meeting through the organization SustainUS. Johnston will speak at the Asheville 350 gathering on Oct. 24, alongside Mayor Terry Bellamy and one of the areas most dynamic speakers on climate issues, Andrew Jones.

A senior biology major, Johnston is active with Southern Energy Network, an organization that works to build and facilitate an inclusive student- and youth-led movement in the Southeast promoting a clean, just, safe and sustainable energy future. Her activities at UNC Asheville have included co-chairing Active Students for a Healthy Environment and serving as the universitys 2008-2009 student government executive of sustainability.

Jones is program director of the Sustainability Institute, a nonprofit organization founded in 1996 that applies systems thinking, system dynamics modeling, and organizational learning to economic, environmental and social challenges. Working out of the Institutes southeast office in Asheville, Jones contributes to breakthroughs in climate change strategy internationally and within the U.S.

The Asheville gathering is sponsored by the grassroots environmental organization, Western North Carolina Alliance. It is among several local activities so far, more than any other community in North Carolina associated with the international 350 project. Others in the area include the Wild and Scenic Environmental Film Festival, Oct. 23 at UNC Asheville, a low-income household weatherization service project on Oct. 24, organized by North Carolina Interfaith Power & Light and involving numerous organizations, and a performance by Playback Theatre, Our Dance with Sustainability, on the evening of Oct. 24 at AB Tech.

Asheville 350 is organized by a steering committee co-chaired by volunteers Tracy Kunkler and Jim Barton. Kunkler, of West Asheville, is director of grant writing and communications for Sims and Steele Consulting and a member of Western North Carolina Alliance. Her background includes positions with the Region A Partnership for Children and Land-of-Sky Regional Council. As the mother of a 10-year-old son, for Kunkler, the need for climate action is particularly compelling.

In the event of inclement weather, the event will take place downstairs in Pack Place.

For more information on Asheville 350, visit www.asheville350.org. For more on the international efforts, visit www.350.org. That site also features fact sheets on the science behind 350, a list of actions taking place worldwide, and a 90-second video, Because the World Needs To Know, that succinctly explains the problems and solutions addressed through the 350 movement.

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Details about Asheville 350 on Oct. 24 in front of Asheville City Hall
Inclement weather location: Downstairs Pack Place

2 3 p.m. Games and activities
Hands-on educational games and activities on climate change and saving energy
For children and adults

3 3:30 p.m. Speakers include:
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy
Andrew Jones, Program Director for the Sustainability Institute
Ellie Johnston, UNC Asheville student going to Copenhagen.

3:30 3:50 p.m. Photo:
Assemble for 350 group photo to be displayed in Times Square and then sent to world leaders convening in Copenhagen for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in December.

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Weather Channel Lured to Western North Carolina by Fall Color, Waterfalls

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10/16/2009 - Weather Channel Lured to Western North Carolina by Fall Color, Waterfalls
by Asheville Citizen Times

The leaf-peeping quality in the Western North Carolina is so rich, it lured the Weather Channel to the mountains Thursday to feature live spots from Transylvania County, including Gorges State Park, the Cradle of Forestry and Looking Glass Falls.

When people talk about fall color destinations nationally, they think of New England and Vermont, but nationally, we're still a well-kept secret, said Susan Dosier, a spokeswoman for the N.C. Division of Tourism.

We're trying to get the awareness out that North Carolina's changing elevations give leaf season a long life. The high altitudes near Boone will be reaching peak this weekend, and the color will last all the way through Thanksgiving down in the Piedmont.

Getting national exposure on the Weather Channel, which has been featuring fall color destinations from around the country, will be a big help in bringing tourists to the region, said Libby Freeman, executive director of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce.

With the economy like it is, we haven't seen the increase in tourists that we have in previous years, Freeman said. Brevard's visitor center has about 30,000 visitors a year, she said, while the Pisgah Ranger Station in the national forest has some 250,000 visitors each year.

October is the second most popular tourist season in Transylvania County after the summer months, Freeman said. The county, about 35 miles southwest of Asheville, is home to 250 named waterfalls, rivers and streams for boating and fishing, more than 300 miles of mountain biking trails and hundreds more miles of hiking trails within Pisgah National Forest, DuPont State Forest and Gorges State Park, she said.

The cable network aired segments Thursday morning that were taped previously at Gorges State Park. A planned live shoot at Looking Glass Falls was canceled because of breaking news.

Gorges State Park ranger Larry Johnson was interviewed a couple of weeks ago for a taped segment that aired Thursday.

They asked me about people coming to see the waterfalls, said Johnson, a ranger at Gorges, home to several waterfalls. I talked about the safety and how people need to stay on the trails. Especially with all this rain, we encourage people to come and visit, but to be careful around the falls.

I think it's a wonderful thing for Transylvania County, said Brad Campbell, with the county's tourism board. It's a chance to step out of the shadows and show people the wonderful natural and cultural resources we have in the county.

Weather Channel reporter Katy Tur, who is based in New York City, and spent Thursday sightseeing in between live broadcasts, said she had not previously heard about WNC's fall scenery.

The mountains are beautiful, the waterfalls are gorgeous, and the people are wonderful, Tur said. I just had my first biscuits and gravy this morning at the Gatekeeper's Table (in Pisgah Forest). It was delicious.

What's interesting about this area is you can see leaf color for a month and a half. But in Vermont, it's there and then it's gone.

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Asheville to compete in city recycling contest

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10/2/2009 - Asheville to compete in city recycling contest
by Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE The City of Asheville is participating in the Cans for Cash City Recycling Challenge.

The contest, sponsored by The United States Conference of Mayors, Keep America Beautiful, and Novelis Corporation, challenges cities across the country to promote citizen participation in the collection of aluminum beverage cans.

Asheville will compete with other cities of the same size for up to $5,000 in awards. Awards will be used to support recycling efforts through local education and awareness programs.

Approximately 50 billion aluminum cans end up in landfills each year. Recycling aluminum beverage cans reduces waste in our landfills and helps create a sustainable environment. The Challenge runs from Oct. 1-31.

For more information about the Challenge or drop-off center locations, visit www.ashevillenc.gov/sanitation or call 251-1122.


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Asheville's renaissance: How did we get here, will it continue?

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10/2/2009 - Asheville's renaissance: How did we get here, will it continue?
by Asheville Citizen Times

Asheville has come a long way since I was a boy growing up in Western North Carolina. Not all that long ago, downtown was a place you did not go often, and certainly not at night. Many of our currently cool, unique, quirky call it what ever adjective you will places like Lexington Avenue and Wall Street, were mostly boarded up.

Back then, no one was saying, Lets keep Asheville the way it is. Asheville the way it was meant dying, dingy and dirty. Frankly, no one really cared much about downtown. I know many of you reading this did not grow up here, and must find this statement hard to believe. Asheville was not always this way.
How did we get where we are today? On the backs of entrepreneurs. Now we call them visionaries; back then they were simply nuts. Many of them opened a small business in an abandoned downtown. They took huge risks, went against convention and even common sense a common trend among entrepreneurs. They invested their blood, sweat, tears and precious greenbacks to pursue their passion and follow their hopes and dreams. In doing so, many failed and lost it all. But by their collective efforts, our city became all we know and love today.
Entrepreneurial spirit
What was it that helped all those entrepreneurs and visionaries create what we enjoy today? Well, certainly, it was the spirit of the entrepreneurs themselves. I suggest they were much like those in our nations infancy who headed west to make a better life for themselves. They did not know exactly what to expect; they did not know how they would make it. But they had themselves to rely on. They created their own sustainability, if you will. They were not scared of the risk. Their passion for something better drove them. We owe a collective debt of gratitude to the pioneers who took those risks.
Where would our nation be without them? Where would our city be without them? Werent the entrepreneurs who started Ashevilles current renaissance (not our first by the way) doing essentially the same thing? Sure they were, and like those who headed west we owe those entrepreneurs and risk-takers our gratitude for what we have, and often take for granted today. Look what happened in the last 10 years here when our modern entrepreneurs went west West Asheville that is another renaissance. It is because of all of them, success or not, that Asheville appears on many top 10 lists. Beautiful mountains and our natural world: thank God. Great restaurants: thank the entrepreneurs. Great art: thank the entrepreneurs. Great shopping: thank the entrepreneurs you get the idea.
Many now say, Lets keep Asheville the way it is. I think this would be the beginning of our demise, and it has happened to Asheville before. We must continue to grow, but before you stop reading, I am not suggesting we cut down all the trees and pave over everything. I am suggesting that to continue our renaissance, we must embrace the entrepreneurs who got us here. We must not lose, but vigilantly protect, and continue to create a culture and an environment so that entrepreneurs can thrive. They will take the risks and invest their hearts and souls. If you love Asheville, it is your job to support them, and in doing so, you will keep our renaissance alive.
Local support vital
So, how do you support an entrepreneur? There are so many ways:
Buy local. It might be cheaper online, but the cost to Asheville could be the loss of small businesses and jobs.

Streamline government. Ensure our local government makes it easy for entrepreneurs to do business.
Dine in our local restaurants and cook with products from local farms.
Invite your friends and family to visit Asheville.
Experience and purchase art from Asheville.
Support those organizations that help create and grow small business, such as the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, Mountain BizWorks and A-B Techs Small Business Center.
Visit our River Arts District. Theres an exciting renaissance going on right now down by the river. Play in the parks or go to an artists workshop.
Welcome new small businesses with open arms. Say thanks to the entrepreneur, not just for the service you receive, but for contributing to the fabric of Asheville. Everybodys talking about sustainability now. Green is everywhere. By supporting entrepreneurs, we can guarantee Ashevilles sustainability.
Love Asheville? Thank the entrepreneurs.

John Mark Stroud is a local, an entrepreneur and lover of Asheville.

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