Keeping rivers cleaner
Each year, the Buncombe County Soil and Water Conservation District receives cost-share allocations from the state for agricultural non-point-source pollution control. These funds are passed on to farmers for conservation measures that decrease the amount of sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, chemicals and other pollutants that enter surface and ground water. Such projects may include livestock exclusion fencing, watering systems, grassed waterways, animal-waste management and agrochemical handling facilities, among many others.
Farmers who want to claim a share of this year's allocation must apply by July 15 in order to be eligible. On request, the District will send a conservation specialist to visit applicants' properties and suggest possible protection measures.
For more information, call 250-4785.
-- Cecil Bothwell
Nectar collector inspectors wanted
The WNC Nature Center will open the second season of its "Beauty of Butterflies" exhibit with an event dubbed "Nectar Collector Day," Saturday, July 2, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rick Mikula of Hole-In-Hand Butterfly Farm in Hazleton, Pa., will be the featured entertainer.
Mikula is a butterfly breeder and originator of the practice of releasing butterflies at weddings and funerals. Author of numerous books on the subject, he is said to be a high-energy lecturer, and has delivered "Spread Your Wings and Fly" presentations for almost 25 years to audiences ranging from day care to collegiate.
The kick-off will also include a butterfly plant sale, face painting, butterfly arts and crafts, puppet shows and a book signing by Mikula.
"Beauty of Butterflies" is a seasonal exhibit that first opened in the summer of 2004. The enclosed walk-through exhibit offers visitors an up-close-and-personal experience with native butterflies. This year's exhibit will house 300 butterflies of nearly 20 different species, hundreds of nectar plants, an emergence box displaying chrysalises and a demonstration garden.
The exhibit will be open from July 2 through Labor Day.
For more information, visit www.wncnaturecenter.org or call 298-5600, ext. 403.
-- Cecil Bothwell
Under the big top
It just got a little easier to run away and join the circus. The Asheville Circus School opens its doors (or rather, its tent flaps) this summer, first to kids ages 8 to 17 for two summer-camp intensives and then to both kids and adults in the fall, when it will offer classes in a variety of disciplines. (Though, as Moksha, the school's founder, points out, "Adults are just kids with grownup costumes.")
Many of those who will be teaching at the Asheville Circus School are professional performers who travel, and thus classes will be designed around their availability. At various times throughout the year, the school will offer instruction in aerial arts (trapeze, hoop, tissu, sling and Spanish Web), manipulation (juggling, poi, staff and swordplay), movement (acrobatics and dance) and theater (character development). Eventually, classes such as Butoh (Japanese movement), mask making and costume design will be added.
Two mainstays of the curriculum are yoga and pilates, which, says Moksha, are essential building blocks for all the other disciplines. "They increase balance, strength, calmness and focus, which are important in being able to branch out into other skills," he explains.
The summer-camp intensives, July 11-22 and August 1-12, will introduce kids to a myriad of circus skills, with an emphasis on safety, discipline, creativity and playfulness. Each session will conclude with a performance for family and friends.
The goal of the school, says Moksha, is to have students walk away with new skills and increased confidence, prepared for a more active engagement with the world.
"We've become a passive culture," he says. "I witness a lot of children these days absorbed in video games and TV and doing things that aren't necessarily healthy."
Learning circus and performance arts, "teaches us how to participate with life," he says. "All of us have that quality of performers, that playfulness. ... When as individuals we're able to open to that, it enhances our experiences."
The school is geared to students of all levels and ambitions. Some, Moksha hopes, will go on to join performance groups or start their own -- but others, he says, will be happy just to have a new skill to show off to their friends and families. Still others will use their new skills to enhance disciplines in which they're already involved, such as dance or theater.
In regards to the circus, says Moksha, "Everyone has a gift to offer. It's just a matter of reaching in and finding it and bringing it out."
While the weather's warm, all classes will take place in and around a large circus tent set up by the French Broad River. When it starts getting colder, says Moksha, classes will move to a warehouse in the River District. The cost for each summer camp session is $250, and there are two scholarships available on a need basis.
For more information, call (813) 468-0104 or visit www.ashevillecircusschool.com.
-- Lisa Watters
Sweepin' the Clouds Away
Since 1969, kids have been visiting this magical land -- at least for an hour at a time -- and no, I don't mean Disney World. Generations have grown up with the eclectic residents of this much-lauded neighborhood, learning to count, chant the ABCs and sing and dance with a diverse group of characters from all ethnicities, including Muppet.
And starting Friday, July 1, it will be a lot easier for Asheville kids to be, you know, on their way to where the air is clear. The traveling exhibit "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street," produced by the Strong Museum in Rochester, N.Y., moves into the Health Adventure through November.
Created six years ago in celebration of the famed TV show's 30th anniversary, the exhibit offers interactive stations for both adults and children. Hang out on the brownstone stoop at 123 Sesame St., visit Oscar's Newsstand, sit in the bus shelter, curl up in Big Bird's nest, follow a timeline or meet the neighborhood's residents. Or you can count with The Count, sing with Elmo or learn Spanish with Rosita.
Kids can work with letters and numbers or learn about such words/issues as diversity. Adults can find out how the program developed over its 36-year history.
While Sesame Street is in town, the Health Adventure is offering a series of public programs to get fans -- new and older ones -- involved. Saturday, July 2, is Dress Up Day: Arrive at 10:30 a.m. dressed as your favorite Sesame Street character for a parade at 11 a.m.
Thursday, July 21, at 7 p.m., is a Buncombe County Child Care Open House. And on Saturday, July 23, the Vegetable Circus Jugglers put in a 4 p.m. appearance.
The Health Adventure is located in Pack Place, and admission runs $6 for adults and $5 for students, seniors and children ages 2 to 15.
For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit www.thehealthadventure.org or call 254-6373.
-- Alli Marshall