Think NC First – A Discussion About Roadmap 2025 – June 24th

Friday, June 24, 2016      8:30 am to 10:00 am
The Collider, 1 Haywood Street
Suite 401, Asheville, NC

Concerned about the direction of North Carolina?
Do you think our state needs a new agenda?
Be a part of the discussion about sound ideas for North Carolina.

Think NC First Invites You to Join: KEN BRAME, Sierra Club Political Chair and BROWNIE NEWMAN, Vice-Chair Buncombe County Commission

For a discussion about Roadmap 2025, a project offering ideas for a new direction.

Recommended Parking in the Rankin Parking Deck

Event is Free and Open to the Public.
For Questions Regarding the Event, Contact:

Focused, effective action can strengthen our civic institutions, build crucial infrastructure and make North Carolina a more inviting place to live and work. Let’s Be Ready for the Road Ahead.

Learn more about the North Carolina Roadmap at:

Think North Carolina First, sponsor of the Roadmap 2025 Project, is a policy and message development think tank that serves as a reliable source of evidence-based research for policy makers and thought leaders. We value high-quality public education, economic growth, protecting our natural resources and our quality of life, fairness, equal opportunity and the preservation of an effective social safety net.

Moral Monday Gathering in Sylva, NC – June 13th

Carolina Jews for Justice/West has been invited to participate with a coalition of organizations in the Moral Monday gathering with the Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NAACP of North Carolina, in Sylva on June 13.  We will blow the shofar and share a few words about social justice issues, and we will have a table at the event.  Please consider joining us if you are able.

Monday June 13, 2016      5:00 pm
Bridge Park – downtown Sylva

A coalition of organizations led by the Jackson County Branch of the NAACP is coordinating a Moral Monday gathering to be held at Bridge Park in downtown Sylva on Monday, June 13, starting at 5 PM, rain or shine.

To date, Coalition partners in organizing and sponsoring the event include the Asheville, Hendersonville, Transylvania County and Haywood County Branches and Working Groups of the NAACP, Liberty Baptist Church of Sylva, Democracy NC, The Canary Coalition, WNC Physicians for Social Responsibility, OccupyWNC, Equality NC, WNC Jews for Justice, Jackson County Veterans Support Group, Mountain People’s Assembly, Mountain Voices Alliance and the Far West Local Program Unit of the NC National Association of Social Workers.

The Moral Monday Movement, a vast non-partisan coalition, began 10 years ago as the HK on J (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) Coalition in North Carolina and now fights legislation passed by the General Assembly and Governor that has negatively impacted the most vulnerable citizens in our state. Issues include the new restrictive voter ID law, the State’s refusal to accept federal funding for the expansion of Medicaid, cuts in the Unemployment Insurance Program, rescinding of the Criminal Justice Act, cuts in funding for public education, the weakening of environmental standards and the enforcement of those standards, the intrusion into local control of minimum wage, health, environmental and social standards in HB2, among other actions and in-actions of the state legislature.

In addition to The Reverend Dr. William Barber ll, President of the NC NAACP, some of the speakers at the event will represent the “Faces of Pain” created by the policies of our state government. Connie Jean Conklin, a middle-aged Sylva resident with physical disabilities, will speak of the suffering she has endured as a result of being refused Medicaid. John deVille, a teacher in Franklin, will speak about how the cuts in public educational funding have hindered teachers and impacted students. There will also be speakers who will represent those who have been disenfranchised by restrictions in the new election law, those who have been impacted by the elimination of the Criminal Justice Act and those who been impacted by cuts in the Unemployment Insurance Program.

Live music at the event will include a performance by nationally acclaimed singer-songwriter David LaMotte.  Sylva resident Stella Moore will lead the crowd in singing songs of the Movement.

The Reverend Charles Lee, of Liberty Baptist Church in Sylva, will be the Master of Ceremonies.

The gathering will begin with the Sounding of the Shofar by Frank Goldsmith of WNC Jews for Justice.

Sylva Mayor Lynda Sossaman will welcome the crowd.

A number of organizations who are coalition partners will be setting up information tables and booths at Bridge Park. The Jackson County Branch of the NAACP will be providing voter registration forms and guidance in filling them out.  Membership forms will also be available for those who may wish to join the NAACP.

For more information about the event please contact Avram Friedman, 1st Vice-President of the Jackson County Branch of the NAACP and Executive Director of The Canary Coalition 828-631-3447.

Honoring the Memory of Isaac Coleman – June 26th

Isaac Coleman was a stalwart friend and supporter of Carolina Jews for Justice/West.  As most of you know, he passed away on May 10, an enormous loss for the cause of social justice.  Fittingly, the WNC chapter of the ACLU of North Carolina will present him with its annual Champion of Civil Liberties award posthumously on June 26.  An announcement with the details is below.  Please consider attending, if you are able, to honor the legacy of this remarkable man

Sunday June 26, 2016      3:00 pm
The Altamont Theatre
18 Church Street, Asheville, NC 

The Western North Carolina chapter of the ACLU of North Carolina will hold its annual membership celebration Sunday, June 26, in Asheville. The ACLU Celebration will be held at The Altamont Theater, 18 Church Street, at 3 pm. Refreshments will be served and beverages will be available.

ACLU legal director Chris Brook will bring an update from “In the Courts and at the Statehouse,” covering civil liberties issues North Carolina faces, including voting rights and HB2.

This year’s Evan Mahaney Champion of Civil Liberties Award will be given posthumously to Isaac Coleman, whose recent death ended a lifetime of commitment to the causes of human rights and equal justice.

All ACLU members and supporters, and all friends of Isaac Coleman, are invited and welcome.

Coleman’s lifelong work began when he became part of Mississippi Freedom Summer, joining hundreds of other college students, black and white, on their mission to register black citizens.  He founded Just Economics, helped found Read to Succeed, and worked for the Housing Authority of City of Asheville.

Seemingly tireless and always recognizing the connections when it came to equality, Isaac Coleman was on the board of the NAACP, Clean Water for NC, and for years with the Democratic Party of Buncombe County.

Accepting the award and speaking in celebration of the life of Isaac Coleman will be Carmen Ramos-Kennedy, president of the Asheville-Buncombe Branch of the NAACP, fellow Freedom Summer student Carol Rogoff Hallstrom, who remained a close friend and colleague of Isaac’s throughout their lives in Asheville; Gene Bell of the Housing Authority; and Isaac’s widow, Wanda Coleman.

Please join us for this wonderful event Sunday, June 26!

CJJ/West Hosted a Forum for Green Opportunities on May 18th

Green Opportunities

On May 18, CJJ/West hosted a forum for Green Opportunities (GO) at the Asheville JCC. The intent of the forum was to spread the word about the non-profit and to help them connect with businesses in the building industry. George Jones, GO executive director, gave an overview about the organization and its core values: hope, change and transformation. GO has been in existence for about 8 years and there are now 65 graduates of their training programs (culinary and building). The event focused primarily on the builder training program, but the delicious refreshments were prepared by the culinary students. Mr. Jones stressed the current housing needs in Asheville and especially the need for green builders. For that reason, the 3-month training program is undergoing a change to a 9-month program. Doug Sharkey, the Build Environment Lead Teacher elaborated on the ED’s overview. He described the newly adapted curriculum, which will enable students to gain certifications in various fields (e.g. HVAC, OSHA) and to complete relevant apprenticeships to make them more employable. He feels GO is the work force solution in affordable housing in Asheville. He introduced a graduate of the program who was hired by the Asheville Housing Authority, who testified about the value of the GO program. Another former student, Eric Howell, was also introduced. He was so successful in the program that he was hired by GO as an instructor. Anthony Thomas, employment manager, introduced another graduate who related his personal story and how GO is unique and effective. He mentioned that 40% of the students have a criminal record and at least 32% are homeless. But what they all have in common is that We’re warriors. We work hard! GO provides wrap-around service support to their students to help them be successful.

The concluding statement from GO is that they need community support, in the form of volunteers, ambassadors and donors. They are especially seeking apprenticeship and jobs for their students. So if you are in the building industry, or know someone who is, check out Green Opportunities ( And if you are contracting to have some construction work done yourself, ask your builder to hire GO graduates.

We Mourn the Passing of Isaac Coleman

Carolina Jews for Justice/West mourns the loss of one of its most consistent partners in the struggle for racial and economic justice, Isaac Coleman, who passed away from cancer early Tuesday morning, May 10, 2016.  Isaac was a true friend of CJJ/West.  He was a member of the Black-Jewish Alliance started by CJJ/West (a dialogue group that meets monthly in Asheville), a faithful attender at CJJ programs, and a panelist on our program about civil rights workers in the Deep South inspired by the movie Selma.  He was a visionary and a tireless worker for the rights of all.  We will miss him deeply.