The Nitty Gritty of Fermenti… LLC
Meg Chamberlain is sole owner and CEO of Fermenti. LLC. She recounts a bit of recent history: “We had a soft opening last September in Madison County and then officially started the business on January 1, 2017. My talented husband helped me get the infrastructure of the business up, and is my unpaid sidekick. When I decided to stand up for Fermenti., he decided to stand up in full support of me. Our four-year-old daughter even has input! Our best-selling Ginger and Turmeric Pink Kraut is pink upon her advisement! This truly is a family affair with incredible support by our community and local foodies!”
When I first looked at Fermenti.’s website I was impressed both with the beauty and variety of the fermented foods they offer. Even more meaningful for me was the Culturing Community statement about the Annual Ferment Festival they created in November,
“We were unsurprised to read that Asheville was ranked 16th out of 75 mid-size cities for its rate of volunteering in 2015.* We live in a time where people are looking around and saying ‘How can I contribute? How can I help?’ We want the Expo to be a starting point for community members to explore volunteer opportunities and examine community needs,” said Crystal Capps, chair of the committee organizing the Volunteer Expo.
Continuing their mission of training volunteers, the Junior League of Asheville will host four speaking panels at the Volunteer Expo centered around the theme, “How do you serve?” Panelists will address direct, government, and board service, as well as financial management of nonprofits.
From its inception, the Junior League of Asheville has trained women for leadership roles and equipped them with the skills necessary for effective volunteer service in their communities. Members are tasked with serving on a committee and are encouraged to chair a committee or serve on the League’s Board of Directors during their time as an active member in the League. The experiential training members receive through League related service and leadership is supplemented by numerous community service projects for local nonprofit organizations, and through a variety of workshops and retreats that train members on topics such as fundraising, diversity and inclusion, marketing, and nonprofit governance. Additionally, the Junior League of Asheville hosts many awareness initiatives around their central community focus: women and children in poverty.
Playing music and singing with other people is a powerful way of creating community. Harmonizing with voices and instruments are both beautiful expressions of synergy. Synergy is defined as “the interaction of two or more ingredients to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects.” When we make music as a group, we have the potential to tap into an archetypal power in music. I am not talking about engaging in the profession of music; I am referring to making music with others for the love of music and community.
Marimba band music is true community music. There are parts that can be played on the instrument that are very simple and other parts that are quite complex. All the parts are needed to create the whole sound. There is a lot of room for improvisation and the music is polyrhythmic and joyful.
Fifteen yeas ago, I started a middle school marimba band program at Evergreen Community Charter School. Through this experience, I learned to research traditional world music and cover songs to make arrangements, and to write originals for marimbas and voices. I had the opportunity to bring in guest artists from around the world who happened to live in Asheville or were visiting. I learned material from traditional artists from Zimbabwe, Guinea, West Africa, Puerto Rico, Japan and the Middle East. Most importantly, I learned to facilitate the talents of young people to create in the marimba workshop and to perform in public. Over the years, we performed at over 100 venues and produced five professionally recorded CDs.
In 2016, I decided to share the marimba band experience with the greater Asheville community. With the help of River Guerguerian of “Asheville Rhythm” I started the Village Marimba School. Village Marimba is a program of Asheville Rhythm, an organization that seeks to create a culture that promotes wellness through rhythm, and bridges musical traditions through innovative collaborations.
In Village Marimba classes, students learn a repertoire based on the group’s interest, including popular songs, multicultural songs, and original music. We work on proper mallet/stick technique, which is applicable to other percussion instruments, and we have fun playing music with other people, creating that magical synergy from making music as a community.
My students and their parents have a lot to say about the experience.
An adult student, Debbie Nordeen, former director of Womansong of Asheville says, “I highly recommend this class by Sue Ford! I love it! Going into this endeavor a bit overconfident because I have played piano for years, I was surprised to find that my left hand really didn’t like being so independent! Through playing marimba, my brain and left hand became even more engaged and flexible. They say learning a new language is great for us as we age. I say that MARIMBA is a language I love to ‘speak’ in! Join the fun!”
These are testimonials from parents of former students:
“I truly feel that marimba changed my son’s life. I tell people it was the first thing that he could work at and really see steady improvement in his life. His severe dyslexia has always made school an exercise in frustration despite his obvious intelligence. Sports have always come somewhat easily. But marimba was a challenge that he could stretch into and achieve a dream/goal.”
“For our son, a young person with social challenges, yet who possesses natural musical ability, Marimba Band is a positive experience that provides an outlet for musical expression, collaboration, and building friendships. The discipline of learning marimba repertoire and the interdependence of the instruments comes together in joyful performances that showcase the young musicians’ dynamic teamwork. Sue Ford is magical, and young musicians respond to her relaxed way of teaching, as well as her ability to treat them as mature, responsible young people.”
“Playing with the marimba band has given my child the ability to participate in a variety of venues for a variety of audiences. She has gained knowledge of rhythm, beats, cultures, and musicality in a format that is fun, engaging, and authentic. She has loved being with Ms. Sue and playing in a band with her friends. It has been a priceless opportunity that I feel she has been blessed to experience.”
“My son has had such a wonderful experience in marimba. It gave him the freedom and confidence not only to play but to compose music as well. It was a refuge and your gentle leadership was a blessing.”
On Saturday, December 2, Village Marimba classes will perform a concert, featuring two bands formed from the fall session: one adult band, “The Marimba Mamas” and one student band, “Knock on Wood.” The concert will include a set by guest artists, the “Gamelan Ensemble” from Warren Wilson College, directed by Kevin Kehrberg. Please join us for a wonderful evening of world music beginning at 7 pm at the Rainbow Community Auditorium, 60 State Street in West Asheville.
To inquire about upcoming classes for students aged 10-18 and for adults, please contact Sue Ford at email@example.com.
Village Marimba website is:
A North Carolina native, Sue Ford is a singer-songwriter-multi instrumentalist. She has been teaching music to Asheville preschoolers through middle-schoolers since 2003.
Sue is a composer, writing choral music for Womansong as well as her students. She has performed for 50 years and released an album of originals in 2004. She has won first place in the Mountain Xpress “Best Music Teacher” four years running.
Sue lives in Weaverville with her husband, professional puppeteer Hobey Ford.
Technology, in the form of smartphones, surveillance systems, smart cars, apps, and artificial intelligence, increasingly permeates every aspect of our personal and professional lives. We can unplug and hit the trails but we will always plug back in. Thus, many in the WNC community wonder: how can we harness the power of technology to benefit our local communities and businesses? In other words, how can we ensure that the digital revolution elevates WNC?
Tracy Schmidt had been dreaming of a way to gather the community together to answer these questions for many years. “There is so much good energy and so many people on a similar wavelength here in WNC. I know our community understands win/wins. We want to collaborate and help each other succeed,” she said. Schmidt, a Senior Program Manager at By Light Professional IT Services, has lived in Asheville with her family since 2004. She is tall and gracious with curly brown hair and a deliberate disposition. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, her subtle southern charm and the finely tuned management skills acquired while studying organizational development and public policy position her in a unique way to lead this effort.
Last year, Schmidt connected with Asheville residents and social entrepreneurs, Steve Cooperman and Cheri Torres, to begin laying the foundation for applying an organizational development process called “Appreciative Inquiry” to help the community discover and heighten positive potential around technology. Last spring at the US Cellular Center, the two brought together a consortium of volunteers to organize the Unite WNC: Designing our Digital Future Summit.
Out of the Spring Summit arose nine initiatives, one of which was the establishment of UniteWNC as a permanent, adaptive regional alliance, whose mission is to cultivate a thriving region by developing a collaborative technological and social infrastructure that empowers our communities while enhancing quality of life. Its membership is free and open for all to join. About 30 members recently participated in a Fall Retreat on November 10 focused on team building and planning, while continuing to work on initiatives that benefit our community.
The Silver to Gold initiative, led by Marc Czarniecki, is collaborating with Land of Sky Regional Council and other local organizations to hold a “hackathon” in January – where the community will come together to build solutions to the transportation challenges seniors face in WNC. Another initiative that will have a major impact on our community is the Internet for All Initiative; Michael Moody of BloomIP and Anwar Timol of OgreCloud are working toward a goal of providing Internet for all, even those in the farthest hollers.
UniteWNC’s strategic initiatives focus on the need to involve every WNC county, every resident across the mountains, every learning level, every gender, every race, every age, and every socioeconomic status. Participant Eric Willeke expressed it succinctly by articulating his desire to, “Truly close the digital divide. Knowing that change is inevitable, our only choice becomes learning how to navigate it. Those without digital fluency will increasingly struggle to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.” Schmidt is leading UniteWNC to do just that!
Kristy Lapidus is a co-organizer of UniteWNC and founder of Corvo Consulting Group, a business and technology management consulting firm specializing in digital transformations that improve and automate business processes. She moved to Hendersonville from Chicago in 2013 and lives happily in the mountains with her husband. You can reach her at Kristy@ccgroup.io or through her firm’s web site.
UniteWNC monthly meetings are held at Immedion in the Biltmore Park Technology Center. For details and other events, check out the calendar at UniteWNC.io/calendar.
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