Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Transcript of Pope Francis's speech to Congress

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and –one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self-sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms.

But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.

Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good”. This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home”. “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all”.

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps”, and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature”. “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology”; “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power”; and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral”. In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces.

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Speech was given on September 24, 2015

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

What America owes the refugees

What America Owes the Refugees Pouring Into Europe
Here's how the U.S. can leverage its wealth, safety, and diplomacy to serve the refugees it helped to create.
By Phyllis Bennis, September 11, 2015.

The vision of hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings fleeing airstrikes, terror, and violence from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and beyond has brought the stark human cost of today’s “anti-terror” wars to the front pages. The heart-breaking photo of one small boy, still clad in a “red shirt, blue jeans, and little sneakers,” as a now-viral poem goes, washed up on the Turkish shore, has brought the horror of that stark reality into our hearts.

Indeed, the refugee crisis growing out of the multi-faceted Syrian war and others is now a full-blown global emergency. It’s not only an emergency because it’s now reaching Europe. It’s an emergency several years in the making as conditions have deteriorated throughout the Middle East and North Africa. In addition to Syria, refugees are also pouring into Europe — or dying as they try — from Libya, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Bangladesh, and beyond.

But it’s the war in Syria — now involving a host of regional, sectarian, and global actors all fighting their own wars to the last Syrian — that lies at the bloody center of the current crisis. And here the United States bears no small responsibility.

The Syrian war — and particularly the rise of ISIS — has everything to do with U.S. actions dating back to the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, which gave rise to ISIS in the first place. Even now the U.S. airstrikes in Syria and neighboring Iraq are escalating the war in both places.
So emergency responses, particularly from the United States, need to start — though they must not end — with Syria. The Obama administration’s decision to allow 10,000 Syrian refugees into the country next year is a welcome step, but not remotely adequate.

Here’s what needs to happen next.

Immediately, the United States should announce:

An increase in daily U.S. refugee assistance to the World Food Program and the UN Human Rights Committee equivalent to the daily cost of U.S. military action against ISIS — that is, about $9 million a day.

A decision to immediately accept 65,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, as called for by leading human rights organizations.

In next 30 days, Washington should roll out:

A plan to parole desperate refugees into the United States on humanitarian grounds. They should be provided with temporary protected status as long as conditions in their home countries remain dangerous. Once they’re in the United States, safe and provided with medical care, housing, work, education, and other support, longer-term protection can be determined on a case by case basis. Such an administrative decision can be made by the White House alone.

In next 45 days, the White House should announce:

That the United States will provide 28 percent of needed emergency refugee assistance, equivalent to the U.S. share of global wealth. That means…

That it will immediately pay 28 percent of the current United Nations refugee relief request, which totals $5.5 billion to support almost 6 million Syrian and related refugees through the end of this year. That would amount to approximately $1.5 billion in U.S. contributions by the end of 2015.

That the United States will accept 28 percent of those refugees from Syria (and others forced to flee as a result of the Syrian war) who need refuge abroad. That means 28 percent of up to 4 million refugees as determined by the United Nations, or up to 1.12 million refugees who are allowed to come to the United States.

It should be noted that fewer than 1,000 Syrians have been allowed into the United States this year, while Germany has already agreed to take in 800,000. The limits on numbers of refugees allowed into the United States each year are set by the White House, and fluctuate for political and policy reasons. (For example, in just over a decade, beginning with the decline of the Soviet Union in 1990, more than 378,000 Soviet Jews immigrated to the United States. In 1992 alone, more than 62,000 entered the country.)

Finally, in next 60 days, the U.S. should develop:

A new plan, now that the Iran nuclear deal is being implemented, to engage with Iran as well as all other regional and global players in a renewed United Nations-led diplomatic and arms embargo initiative to end the Syrian war.

Phyllis Bennis directs the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Monday, October 05, 2015

From an Afghan Girl

Ruminations of an Afghan Girl Burning to Death in a Hospital Bed

By David Swanson

Life is a very jumbled mixture. The pain of it, if you're awake and thinking, brings into your mind the happiest moments you can remember and transforms them into agony unless you resist bitterness with every drop of strength you have left, if not more. Physical pain makes clear-thinking and generous thinking more difficult, until death appears in front of you, and then the physical pain is as nothing.

I know that I'm not supposed to be bitter, and yet that somehow makes it harder not to be. When my father and sister and two cousins were blown into little pieces last year, it was the action of some distant office worker pushing a switch on a remote-controlled airplane. And I'm supposed to believe that they meant well. And this is supposed to make it better. But somehow it makes it worse.

The war that landed me in this hospital in Kunduz, along with all of the screaming men, women, and children around me whose voices have now faded into what I imagine the roar of the ocean must be, this war comes from a distant land that we are told means well. Yet it generates enemies through its horrors. It funds those enemies through its incompetence, corruption, and insistence on buying protection for its occupiers. It fights those enemies with such marvelous weaponry that it kills and kills and kills until many more enemies face it, and it goes on fighting from afar. I’m told the people in America believe the war ended, that it isn't even happening, that it isn't entering Year 15 in four days, while I will never enter Year 14.

I've only known war. I've only heard of peace. Now I will know only the peace of the dead. 

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Upcoming events for the week of October 4, 2015

And God only knows how many others we have killed since 2001. Over twenty were killed just yesterday in Afghanistan, when US forces bombed a hospital. And that war was supposed to be over!


10/04/15 to 10/10/15 KEEP SPACE FOR PEACE WEEK
International Week of Protest to Stop the Militarization of Space.

Please join us this Monday night, October 5th at Green Sage at Westgate in Asheville. We will talk with  Brian Haynes, Rich Lee and Keith Young, candidates for city council.. Time is 5:30 PM to eat, with presentation starting at 6 PM. We ask that all attendees to RSVP so we can give our friends at Green Sage a headcount for dinner, beverage and/or dessert. Contact Cheryl at for more information and to RSVP.

Robert Shetterly's “Americans Who Tell the Truth” exhibit is on display now at the YMI Center in Asheville. This exhibit contains the portraits of fifty-two courageous Americans Who Tell the Truth and were painted by Robert Shetterly. $10 Suggested Donation. The YMI Center is open from 1 to 4 PM on Sunday and from 11 to 4 PM on Tuesday to Saturday. Closed Mondays. This exhibit will be up through November 7, 2015 and more volunteers (to be greeters and docents) are needed. Please contact Carmen Ramos-Kennedy at to volunteer. 

If you live in Asheville, help decide who our final candidates for City Council should be - vote!

“From Humanitarian Intervention to the Responsibility to Protect: the Evolving Discourse on Human Protection,” with George Andreopoulos, director of the Center for International Human Rights at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and professor of political science and criminal justice at City University of New York. The lectures are sponsored by the WNC chapter of the World Affairs Council, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville, and the university's Department of Political Science. Admission to World Affairs Council presentations at UNC Asheville is $10 for the public; free to members of the World Affairs Council and UNC Asheville students. For more information call 828.251.6140.

Current Events Book Club discusses “Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America” at 7 PM at Malaprops. Contact Malaprops for more information.

Creation Care Circles - Our first book studies launch this Fall! A seven week study. You are invited to join one of our Regional Papal Encyclical study groups. All are welcome to learn, discuss, listen and act on behalf of creation with others who are reading through the Pope’s Encyclical about Caring for our Common Home. Time is 6:30 to 7:30 PM and location is First Baptist Church in Asheville. Karen Richardson Dunn is heading this study group. Email Scott directly at to find out more details. 

Transit Committee Meeting from 3:30 - 5 PM. Location is the 1st Floor Conference Room at City Hall in downtown Asheville.

“Leaders of Color in Asheville City Schools” networking refreshments and presentations. Free Held at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce at 36 Montford Avenue in their boardroom. Time is 5:30 PM to 7 PM. Call 350-6135 for more information.

Join Byron and DiAnna from Mother Grove Goddess Temple and Amy Cantrell from Beloved House as we honor the lost, the forgotten, the misfits and the outcast who have died this past year. This is a solemn ceremony and all are welcome. It will be outside under the large beautiful tree in Aston Park. Please dress appropriately for the weather. Time is 7 PM and location is Aston Park in downtown Asheville. This is a facebook event.

This is at 6:30 PM and held at the Public Works Building at 161 South Charlotte Street. Free. Call 251-1122 for more information.

Sierra Club meeting on Community Greenways And Bikeways: Where We’ve Been And Where We Are Headed. Speakers are Marc Hunt, Vice Mayor of Asheville and Mike Sule, Jim Grode, and Claudia Nix. Location is Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, 1 Edwin Place, (corner of Charlotte & Edwin). Time is 7 PM.  Contact:, or 828-683-2176 for more information.

It has been 14 years we have spent destroying that country. And the Taliban are still there. This week we bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital, killed three children, and caused the hospital to close which will kill even more children. Violence is as American as apple pie.

This meeting will be at 9:30 AM at Black Mountain Presbyterian Church at 117 Montreat Road in Black Mountain. Contact Suchi at for more information.

Join MountainTrue at our annual gathering for members and supporters! Thursday, October 8 from 5 - 8 PM at Hi Wire Brewing’s Biltmore Village location, 2 Huntsman Place. Light hor d’oeuvres, drinks and music provided. $10 suggested donation. Contact for more information.

We will be holding a 20th Birthday Celebration for Children First/Communities in Schools on Thursday, October 8th from 1 to 3 PM at the Family Resource Center at Emma (on the campus of Emma Elementary at 37 Brickyard Road in Asheville) and would like to invite you to join us. Presentation will begin at 1:30 PM. There will be light refreshments as current and former staff members, community members and local families convene to share stories and memories from the last 20 years. Please contact Jodi at 828-620-9091 for more information.

“The Greek Crisis and Its Implications for the Future of Europe” by Professor George Andreopoulus. He is Professor of Political Science at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, and an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at Columbia University. He is also the founding Director of the Center for International Human Rights at John Jay College. Before coming to CUNY, he taught for several years at Yale University, where he was also the founding Associate Director of the Orville Schell Center for International Human Rights. He has written extensively on international organizations, international human rights, and international humanitarian law issues and has lectured widely at US and European universities. Over the years, Professor Andreopoulos has participated in several human rights missions and has been a consultant for international organizations and NGOs. Free and open to the public. Time is 4 to 6 PM, and location is Laurel Forum at Karpen Hall at UNCA. For more information, contact Mona Moore at 828.251.6634 or

Access and representation in higher education is not equitable for everyone, for some the journey may be filled with unforeseen obstacles. This program will shed light on the stories of student leaders who identify as a Latino to discuss their journey to higher education, obstacles they may have encountered, and successes that they have had. Time is 6 to 7:30 PM and location is Highsmith Union, Room 221, at UNCA. This is part of Multicultural Student Education. For more information, contact

The film “Ferguson: A Report From Occupied Territory” will be shown at 5 PM in the Grotto at Highsmith University Center at UNCA. This is presented by Democracy NC, The Center for Diversity Education, Multicultural Student Programs and the Black Student Association. 

“Issues in the National and International Immigration Debate” is a lecture by retired Ambassador Gwen Clare. Free. Held in the Humanities Lecture Hall at UNC at 12:15 PM. 

Showing up for Racial Justice (SURJ) is a national network of groups educating and organizing white people to act as part of a multi-racial majority for racial justice. Asheville SURJ hosts a weekly discussion group on risk-taking, accountability, mutual interest and how to call more white people into racial justice work. Anyone with a passion for working with white people on racial justice is welcome! Time is 10 AM and location is Firestorm Cafe & Books in west Asheville.

Climate Ambassadors Training with the North Carolina Audubon Society will be held at New Hope Presbyterian Church at 3070 Sweeten Creek Road in Asheville, NC. Time is 9:30 AM to 4 PM. Birds are showing us an urgent truth. Recent research shows that 170 species of birds in North Carolina will be threatened or endangered over the next 75 years. Many of our most beloved birds – the Wood Thrush, the Brown Pelican, the Baltimore Oriole, the Wild Turkey  -  could be gone within our children’s lifetime. Audubon North Carolina is taking this threat to heart and taking immediate action to make a difference. But they need many more people to be involved. Might you be part of the solution to protect birds, nature and all creation? Audubon is actively recruiting volunteers for the Audubon Ambassadors program. For more information, contact Kim Brand, or 336-391-9614.

This is Deaverview tree planting prep day. Volunteers needed to help dig holes, set trees and prep for the Oct 10th planting day. Time is 11 AM to 3 PM. Email if you're interested in any of these projects or events.

Saturday, October 10th at 11 AM, a partial screening of Robert Reich's mini-film series “Ideas to Save the Economy” will be held at Firestorm Café in West Asheville. The mini-film viewing will be followed by active discussion around practical steps we can take within our community to ride the wave of economic crisis currently experienced worldwide. Let's come together to learn, discuss, and take steps towards creating a more balanced economy. Location is Firestorm Café at 610 Haywood Road in west Asheville. Contact Hannah at or Kelly for more information.

This event is free. Come join us to view the informative and incredible exhibit- 'Americans Who Tell the Truth' -brought to Asheville by The Mountain People's Assembly. Then join us for an introduction to the Grassroots Equity Alliance and a discussion about telling the truth in our community. The Grassroots Equity Alliance is a group of local grassroots nonprofits focused on collective work and collective impact. The Grassroots Equity Alliance is made up of the Asheville-Buncombe Community Relations Council, Be Loved, Bountiful Cities, Just Economics of WNC, and Women's Wellbeing and Development Foundation (WWD-F). Location is the YMI Center on Eagle Street in downtown Asheville. Time is 2 to 4 PM. This is a facebook event.

Please join us for this public and open forum. Asheville City Council Candidates will join us to discuss questions relating to food security and resilient food systems in Asheville. Each candidate will answer 3 moderated questions. Responses will be posted on the ABFPC's website. Light refreshments provided. Time is 6:30 PM and location is Lenoir-Rhyne University at 36 Montford Avenue in Asheville. This is a facebook event.

“Making a Personal Energy Descent Action Plan”
Jeanie Martin will lead a process that will allow us to look at the different ways we use energy in our everyday lives and develop strategies to create our own energy descent action plan. We will also focus on how we expand these strategies into our neighborhoods. Jeanie was a member of the group that initiated the Transition movement in Asheville in 2009. She remains interested in learning and sharing the skills that will create resilient community whose citizens are having fun as they become ready to meet the challenges of a lower energy future. Time is 6:30 to 8 PM and location is the parish hall at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church on Charlotte Street in Asheville. This is a facebook event.

On the second Tuesday of each month,Western North Carolina Veterans for Peace meets to coordinate group activities and programs.Veterans For Peace is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using our experiences and lifting our voices.We inform the public of the true causes of war and the enormous costs of wars, with an obligation to heal the wounds of wars. Our network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars. Time is 6:30 PM and location is Firestorm Cafe & Books in west Asheville. Contact Lyle for more information at All are welcome.

From the intrepid team behind The Invisible War, comes “The Hunting Ground”, a piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses. Panel discussion with faculty and students will follow. This event is sponsored by the Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program and is free and open to the public. Time is 7 to 9 PM and location is Carmichael Humanities Lecture Hall at UNCA. 

Join Pisgah Legal Services for our 5th Annual Poverty Forum called Getting Upstream of Poverty with Dr. Rishi Manchanda. Location is Diana Wortham Theatre in downtown Asheville. Don't miss "upstreamist" health care innovator and visionary Dr. Rishi Manchanda who will discuss the relationship between health and poverty as we explore what we as a community can do to improve the health of our society. Forum starts at 7 PM, cocktail reception before that. Tickets are $50 for forum and cocktails, $15 for forum only. To buy tickets by phone or for sponsorship information, contact Betsy Ellis at (828) 210-3444.

UNC Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education will screen four documentaries in the series, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.” Screenings take place at 6 PM on four Wednesdays, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and 28, and Nov. 11 in the Highsmith Union Grotto. Discussions led by Dwight Mullen, Darin Waters, and Sarah Judson after the scrneening. Free. For more details, email or call (828) 232-5024.

Green Death – 10 Steps to a Sustainable Funeral. An overview of existing funeral industry and the alternative sustainable funeral industry. Carol will answer the question what is a natural burial and how to DIY (do it yourself). Carol D. Motley, the green reaper and serial educator, has been interested in burial for 25 years.  Boggled by the modern burial practice, she sought out alternative methods.  In 1996, after her grandmother died and was buried in a very unrealistic fashion in a modern cemetery completely out of line of how her grandmother lived, she decided that there had to be a different way.  Soon after, she read an article in Utne Reader about Ramsey Creek Preserve  where hundreds of acres were devoted to green burials- her thoughts ran with her imagination. Why should such a natural progression of life have such an expensive unnatural end?  Since 2008, she had been riding the wave of green burials, hoping to have a beautiful, well-made, decent priced burial product.  Bury Me Naturally has been a dream that finally others are starting to share. Socializing is at 5:30 PM and presentation starts at 6 PM. Location is the Green Sage at 5 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. Contact Joan at for more information.

On Thursday, October 15th, we are screening the important documentary, “When I Came Home” - a film about the plight of soldiers who have returned from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. While this film was made in 2006, it is still pertinent today. The film is at 7 PM. Location is the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville at 1 Edwin Place in Asheville. There is no charge for viewing the film - Donations are welcome. Open to the public. For more information, contact Charles at 612-860-6628.

The next WNC PSR monthly meeting will be at a private home near the VA Hospital. Brown bag lunch at noon with meeting from 12 noon to 2 PM. Everyone is welcome. For more information contact Dr. Terry Clark, Chair, 633-0892 or Dr. Lew Patrie, 299-1242.

Racial Equity Institute (REI) is offering a two-day workshop for people of color and white people who are committed to eliminating racism. It provides an analysis that helps participants gain clarity about how racism is organized and how to work to disrupt its powerful influence. Registration required. The cost is $150 per person and registration is open to the public. Please submit registration forms and payment as soon as you (or your organization) are able to commit to the workshop. Time and location TBD. For more information including how to register, contact Laura Eshelman at or Isabel Carson at

The Carolina Land Coalition is having a Protect Our Land Picnic on Sunday, October 18 from 2 to 5 PM. Attend this family-friendly event to enjoy food, fun and take action challenging Duke Energy’s plans! Location is the Henderson County Courthouse in Hendersonville. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend, because even if power lines won’t run through your property or community, we’ll all pay for this $1.1 billion plan through our utility rates. Stand in unity against Duke’s energy plan and tell elected officials and utility regulators that we oppose this plan. Get up to speed on the latest developments and know all your options for making your voice heard! This was promoted by Mountain True. For any questions please contact Joan at or 828-575-6268 ext. 205.

"Sexuality and Current Events" will be presented by Kelley Johnson at the Sunday, October 18th meeting of the Ethical Humanist Society of Asheville, from 2:00-3:30 PM, at The Friends Meeting House, 227 Edgewood Road, Asheville, NC. Kelley Johnson will discuss how recent news events relate to sexuality. She will draw from the disciplines of history, sociology, political science, religion and health. This multi-disciplinary approach to current events will foster critical thinking about important issues of the day. The discussion will help participants analyze different perspectives, recognizing that we all are coming from a particular worldview. Participants will understand their own worldview and the view of others. Informal discussion and refreshments will follow the presentation. All are welcome.

The Asheville Blade is thanking its readers and raising funds for more hard-hitting journalism and sharp perspectives. Join the Blade's talented crew of writers as they share some of their best work and give a glimpse at what's to come. We'll have readings, entertainment, raffle prizes and more. Subscribers get in free. $5 donation for all others. Time is 3:30 to 5 PM and location is Firestorm Cafe & Books on Haywood Road in west Asheville. This is a facebook event.

Location is the North Asheville Library at 1030 Merrimon Avenue in Asheville. Time is 7 PM. Move To Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not to corporate interests.  Move To Amend calls for an amendment to the US Constitution to unequivocally state that inalienable rights belong only to human beings, not to corporations, and that money is not a form of protected free speech under the First Amendment and can be regulated in political campaigns. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Diana at  or 828-275-0680. 

The 3rd Tuesday of every other month is our regular meeting at 6:30 at the United Way on South French Broad.  We will have dinner…feel free to bring a dish to share if you would like and are able.  We will discuss general Just Economics topics and then divide into committees:  Policy Advocacy, Certification, and Education and Outreach.  Everyone is welcome! For more information, contact   

“Sustainable is Possible”. This presentation focuses on how we can achieve the goal of living on 10% of the resources of the average American while living a high quality life. This number is critical because it matches current estimates from the scientific community for the goals we need to achieve to live sustainably and head off the worst effects of climate disruption. Dancing Rabbit Ecovillage is achieving that goal, and thus is a timely, relevant and needed model as our society struggles to figure out what a livable, low-carbon future might look like. Q and A will follow the talk. Socializing is at 5:30 PM and presentation starts at 6 PM. Location is the Green Sage at 5 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. Contact Joan at for more information.

Voting places: Election Services at 77 McDowell Street, West Asheville Library, North Asheville Library, South Buncombe Library, Asheville Mall. Time is 8 AM to 6 PM from Monday to Friday, 8 AM to 1 PM on Saturday. 

The past year has seen a lot of turbulence between law enforcement and the general public, particularly people of color. Join in a conversation with Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Police, Eric Boyce, as we discuss how we can re-establish trust with the police. Learn about strategies that our law enforcement is using to keep UNC Asheville safe as well as hear from his perspective as a Black Chief of Police. Time is noon to 1 PM. This is part of Multicultural Student Programs. More information, including location, from

Carolina Public Press will hold its next Newsmakers event, a nonpartisan conversation series on top Western North Carolina interests and issues, about the ownership of the region’s water. It will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6-7 PM at Fletcher Town Hall. Going beyond headlines and sound bites, the Newsmaker series brings together the state and region’s top journalists with those making and influencing the news — people such as business leaders, lawmakers, agency administrators, public policy influencers and others — for in-depth, nonpartisan conversations with the public. Newsmakers will break down barriers often felt between journalists and lawmakers, between community members and leaders — all toward building an engaged, informed community. This free and public event will offer the region’s residents to discuss public and private ownership of drinking water systems across the region, and it coincides with a Carolina Public Press in-depth and investigative reporting project launched in July on some of the issues facing the region’s drinking water. Space is limited, and advanced tickets are required. This event is made possible, in part, through the support of The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. For more information and instructions on how to get a ticket, please contact Carolina Public Press at 828-774-5290 or at

Filling a gap in regional history – the missing story of African Americans in Western North Carolina – will be the aim of a new conference convened by history scholars at UNC Asheville on Oct. 22-23. Conference events, which will take place on UNCA campus and at the YMI Cultural Center in downtown Asheville, are free and open to the public. James Ferguson, who began his civil rights activism as a student and continued as an attorney, will deliver the conference’s keynote address at 6:30 PM on Thursday, Oct. 22  at the YMI Cultural Center, 43 Market Street, downtown Asheville. Ferguson, an Asheville native, is one of the founding members of the Asheville Student Committee on Racial Equality (ASCORE), a student group which worked to desegregate Asheville’s movie theaters, lunch counters, libraries and other public facilities in the 1960s. As a lawyer, Ferguson was defense attorney for the “Wilmington 10,” – convicted of arson in the period of racial tension over school desegregation – and he continued to battle, ultimately successfully, to have their convictions overturned. Thursday’s opening reception will include a special recognition of Asheville resident Julia Ray, a centenarian, for her many contributions to the Asheville community. Among other honors, Ray is the recipient of the Mission/MAHEC Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for her pioneering service to the Asheville medical community. The conference will feature lectures on slavery and emancipation, segregation and civil rights in Western North Carolina, and will run from 9 AM to 5 PM on Friday, Oct. 23 at Alumni Hall at Highsmith Student Union at UNCA. The African Americans in Western North Carolina Conference is sponsored by many UNC Asheville offices and programs, including the Dean of Humanities, Howerton Professor of Humanities, Humanities Program, NEH Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities, The Wilma Dykeman Legacy, Dean of Social Sciences, O­ffice of the Provost, Department of History, Center for Diversity Education and Interdisciplinary Distinguished Professorship of the Mountain South. Free to attend. For more information and to see the schedule for this event, visit the YMI website or call 828-251-6415.

The last Wednesday of the month we will contemplate “Wine, Women and Fixing What's Wrong”. Time is 5-6:30 PM. We'll meet up at Sherri's office, 10 South Main Street, Weaverville, drink wine on the back porch, watch the leaves change colors, do a little networking, and take care of chapter business in an informal setting. Rain or shine. For more information contact

UNC Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education will screen four documentaries in the series, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.” Screenings take place at 6 PM on four Wednesdays, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and 28, and Nov. 11 in the Highsmith Union Grotto. Discussions led by Dwight Mullen, Darin Waters, and Sarah Judson after the scrneening. Free. For more details, email or call (828) 232-5024.

This legislative session has been jam-packed with moves to roll back environmental protections, hinder renewable energy, slash funding for open space protections and more. But it’s not all bad news. Many of our WNC legislators have stood against these shenanigans and are attempting to forward legislation to protect our communities’ natural resources. We’ll get you caught up on environmental outcomes of this legislative session, priorities between sessions and next year, and how you can get involved in holding our lawmakers accountable to the public they serve. Socializing starts at 5:30, program starts at 6 PM. Location is The Green Sage at 5 Broadway Street in downtown Asheville. Contact Joan at for more information.

This legislative session has been jam-packed with moves to roll back environmental protections, hinder renewable energy, slash funding for open space protections and more. But it’s not all bad news. Many of our WNC legislators have stood against these shenanigans and are attempting to forward legislation to protect our communities’ natural resources. We’ll get you caught up on environmental outcomes of this legislative session, priorities between sessions and next year, and how you can get involved in holding our lawmakers accountable to the public they serve. Time is 6 to 8 PM and location is Biz 611 at 611 North Church Street (MountianTrue Offices). Please RSVP and let us know you'll attend. For any questions please contact Joan at or 828-575-6268 ext. 205. 


Transit Committee Meeting from 3:30 - 5 PM. Location is the 1st Floor Conference Room at City Hall in downtown Asheville.

“Israeli-Palestinian Borders – Issues and Dilemmas,” with Harvey Starr, author and emeritus professor of international affairs at the University of South Carolina, where he continues to serve as an institute associate of The Walker Institute of International and Area Studies, consulting faculty in the Jewish Studies Program, and a Rule of Law Collaborative faculty member. The lectures are sponsored by the WNC chapter of the World Affairs Council, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UNC Asheville, and the university's Department of Political Science. Admission to World Affairs Council presentations at UNC Asheville is $10 for the public; free to members of the World Affairs Council and UNC Asheville students. For more information call 828.251.6140.

Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor at Harvard University, will be the keynote speaker for the commemoration of the UNC Asheville Center for Diversity Education 20th anniversary which will pay tribute to the work of the Asheville Student Committee of Racial Equality from 1960-1965. Seating will begin at 6 PM and no backpacks are permitted.  This event is free and open to the public. Contact Deborah Miles at for more information. Time is 7 PM and location is Kimmel Arena at UNCA.

In honor of Native American History Month, learn the history behind the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians in the 19th Century from their land in North Carolina. Discuss the larger implications and the impact it had on the Cherokee community and history in Western North Carolina. This discussion will be facilitated by Dr. Ellen Pearson, Associate Professor of History. Location is Intercultural Center at UNCA, and time is 11:50 AM to 1:05 PM. Contact for more information. This is sponsored by the Multicultural Student Programs.

More information to follow. Time is 3 to 5 PM and will be held at Warren Wilson College.

Sunday, November 8 - Our Final Business Meeting at the YWCA for 2015. Time is 2 PM at the YWCA on South French Broad in Asheville.. We'll plan our Annual Year-End Meeting for December, it's our special holiday gathering. Venue, Date/Time to be determined. For more information contact

UNC Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education will screen four documentaries in the series, “Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle.” Screenings take place at 6 PM on four Wednesdays, Sept. 30, Oct. 14 and 28, and Nov. 11 in the Highsmith Union Grotto. Discussions led by Dwight Mullen, Darin Waters, and Sarah Judson after the scrneening. Free. For more details, email or call (828) 232-5024.

This will be November 12-15, 2015 at Lake Junaluska. Theme will be “Longing for Peace/Exploring the Heart of God”. Keynote speakers are Rabia Terri Harris, founder of the Muslim Peace Fellowship; Rabbi Or Rose, founding director of the Center for Global Judaism at Hebrew College and Dr. Sam Wells, vicar of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. Special music by Yuval Ron and Ensemble-- a world-renowned musician, composer, educator, peace activist, and record producer.  The Yuval Ron Ensemble has been actively involved in creating musical bridges between people of the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths. They will perform Saturday eve. Registration is $145. Packages which include registration, lodging and meals are available. Register via Lake Junaluska website or call 828-454-6682 for more information. 

Join us at the Forum on Veteran Homelessness on November 12th, presented by AVL Technologies. We'll feature Jas Boothe, a veteran who experienced homelessness after Hurricane Katrina and now works to end female veteran homelessness. She'll join a panel of local experts on the topic. Your ticket also includes a full meal and is only $25 ($27.37 with service charge).  Time is 5:30 to 8:30 PM and location is Celine and Company at 49 Broadway Avenue in Asheville. Homeward Bound of WNC is organizing this event. For more information, including how to purchase tickets, please contact Beth Russo at 258.1695 ext. 111.

Founded in 2011 by Rainbow Recycling, Hard 2 Recycle events are free to the public collections geared to bring awareness to other modes of recycling to our area. Four quarterly held collections to cover the four corners of the County and one central event in Downtown Asheville. Our goal is to educate, collect and divert items that would normally end up in the Landfill i.e Styrofoam, Electronics, Books, Batteries, Cooking Oil and much more. November 14th - Arden NC - 2310 Hendersonville Road, Arden NC 28704 (10 AM to 2 PM). Contact for more information or to confirm.

Meet us at Hill Street Baptist Church on Nov 15, at 10 AM for #BlackLivesMatterSunday with Professor Dr. Karsonya (Kaye) Wise Whitehead of Loyola University, Maryland. Prof Wise Whitehead is an historian who works in the  black documentary tradition. No further information, contact Hill Street Baptist Church to confirm.

Veterans for Peace have a weekly vigil at 5 PM at Pack Square, Vance Monument

Haywood Peace Vigilers have a weekly vigil at 4 PM at Haywood County Courthouse in Waynesville

Showing Up For Racial Justice meeting at 10 AM at Firestorm Cafe & Books in west Asheville
Asheville Homeless Network meeting at 2 PM at Firestorm Cafe & Books in west Asheville

Women in Black have a weekly vigil at noon at the City Hall in Hendersonville
Women in Black have a monthly vigil at 5 PM at Vance Monument in Asheville (first Friday only)

Transylvanians for Peace and WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility have a weekly vigil at noon in front of the courthouse in Brevard. Call 884-3435 to confirm. 
Third Saturdays – Asheville’s Green Grannies invites the public to “sing for the climate” at Pritchard Park at 5 PM.

Youth OUTright meeting from 4 to 6 PM at First Congregational United Church of Christ at 20 Oak Street in Asheville. Ages 14 - 23 only.

“Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.” – Pope Francis, September 24, 2015