The Smoke-free View from Austin

Our city has some unfinished business. Spartanburg City Council needs to pass a long overdue non-smoking ordinance for our bars and restaurants. It’s not an economic issue. Other communities have banned smoking in bars and restaurants without gutting their downtown economies. Starting Jan. 2 the entire state of North Carolina, the former epicenter of cigarette manufacturing, will ban...

Music on the Mountain

Last weekend we drove four hours to Floyd, Virginia, for the 8th annual Floydfest Music and Arts Festival, a high altitutude (at least for the east) cultural festival just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Floydfest draws together about 15,000 spirits on a high windy ridge. If you are a music lover like we are and need a July escape from Spartanburg, it’s a good option. It’s a cross...

Brother, Can You Spare a Metaphor?

I flew to Chicago this past week for the yearly conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, or AWP as everyone calls it. AWP is an annual writing conference I’ve attended off and on for 25 years. My first one was in 1984 in Savannah, and there were 1,500 writers there. The past two years, New York and Chicago, the throng of poets, fiction writers and essayists has...

Ye Olde Waffle Shop

There is a great deal of talk in the current election cycle about what is real and what is fake. Who is a real American? Where is the “real” Virginia? Who is more “real”-Joe the Plumber or the latte liberal? It seems to be a watershed year for reality. Locally the Wofford environmental club has been focusing on the idea of what is real as well. They’ve been talking...

The Garden on the Hill

This past weekend when I flew to Vermont for an environmental studies conference at Middlebury College I knew I would be impressed by the elite liberal arts school’s efforts at “greening” its campus, curriculum, and student body. After all, Middlebury received a grade of A- on the College Sustainability Report Card for 2008. Furman, the greenest school in our region, scored B-...

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