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The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County has merged the energies and aims of its grassroots forerunners: PWH, POW, Hendersonville Huddle and Silent Vigil for Immigration Reform.

Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, September 9, at 2:00, the Progressive Alliance of Henderson County (PAHC) Informed Progressive Series will feature Sailor Jones, Campaigns Director of Democracy NC. Sailor will provide an update on the recent ruling of Democracy NC, et al vs. NC State Board of Elections, et al and the status of voting in NC.

Please click on this link to join the September meeting:
Meeting ID: 812 7175 6419
Passcode: 923726


Postcard Parties

Postcard Parties will be VIRTUAL until further notice.  

Postcard Parties will PERSIST – but they may not be “in-person” at Oklawaha Brewery (renamed from Sanctuary Brewing), still at 147 1st Ave. E, Hendersonville.  We will post weekly suggestion sheets on our FB page, website and in emails.

This week's full postcard Suggestion Sheet can be viewed below or downloaded at our website.
Progressive Alliance of Henderson County has been assisting El Centro with some new landscape.

We are very fortunate to have some pollinator-friendly plants contributed by our Hendersonville affiliate of Bee City USA.  They have donated a dozen milkweed (also known as butterfly weed) plants for the front area of El Centro. This is a natural fit as this time of year monarchs will lay their eggs on milkweed to create the long-lived generation that migrates to Mexico. After overwintering in Mexico, the same monarchs will then return to NC in the spring to begin the cycle again.  Talk about full circle!

If you are also interested in adding milkweed plants to your own landscape, you can purchase some from the Bee City USA booth at Pollinator Day at the Hendersonville Farmers Market (at the Historic Train Depot) on September 12. Free pollinator-friendly seeds will also be available! In addition, kids can pick up a pollinator art kit to create a beautiful paper monarch. The paper monarchs can then be sent to children living around the monarch overwintering sanctuaries in Mexico as part of the annual international “Symbolic Migration” project. 

Here is a link to more details about the Symbolic Migration, The local Bee City site can be viewed at:

Please cruise by El Centro at 508 N Grove St, Hendersonville. Even better, bring your green thumb and help on Fridays from about 9 to noon, weather permitting.  Email Sissy Owen to confirm dates and times.

Your support of El Centro, Bee City Hendersonville, and Progressive Alliance of Henderson County truly makes a world of difference.
Are You Ready for 2020 Voting?

We progressives cannot afford any mistakes or oversights for voting in November - many races will be close, and Republicans are actively trying to suppress our votes.  Here is an overview:
  1.  Are you registered to vote?  ARE YOU SURE? Unlike many other freedoms (speech, religion, etc.), the right to vote can be lost through disuse or a change in address.  Check to make sure you are registered at . If you need to re-register, you can find the form at .
  2. You can vote in any of 3 methods (just vote once - this isn't 1930s Chicago, and voting fraud is a felony): in the booth on November 3, at the Board of Elections (BOE) during the early voting period starting in mid-October, or via absentee ballot. 

    If you think there is ANY reason why you may not be able to vote in person, please file for an absentee ballot. You can always decide later to vote in person (and not use the absentee ballot, of course). You can obtain the absentee ballot application and instructions at: 

    You must request the absentee ballot by October 27.  But, we recommend that you file the request ASAP, as the BOE may be deluged with requests.  Save a copy of your form to remind yourself to follow up with the BOE if you have not received your absentee ballot by, say, mid-October.
  3. If you have any questions, you can find most answers on the BOE website: .  Of course, feel free to also stop at the BOE at 75 East Central St. in Hendersonville or call them at 828.697.4970.
Michele Skeele
by Lee Stevens

Michele Skeele is a gypsy at heart, a nature lover, and a person whose passion about family and music has inspired her to create end-of-life experiences that enrich both families and communities. In fact, if you have had a loved one in hospice care, they (and you) may have benefited from the comfort and beauty of Michele’s Native American flute music that she offered as part of her role as a therapeutic music practitioner.

“The presence of Michele’s music at Elizabeth House is a gift to our residents, families, and staff.  There is a sense of calm that soothes any of us that hear the gentle notes drifting through the building.” -Rebekah Swift, MSN, RN, then-Director of Clinical Services, Elizabeth House, Four Seasons Hospice.

While it has been some time since she played her flute at Elizabeth House, she remains active as an End-of-Life Doula & Home Funeral Guide, and before COVID, sang bedside with the Asheville chapter of Threshold Choir.

Born in Urbana, Illinois, her father (an engineer with GE) was transferred to Henderson County when she was three years old.  Her parents, though not involved with politics, were very involved in the local arts community once they settled in the Dana area.  Her mother was a choral director and directed the Hendersonville Choral Society for a number of years.  Her dad was very involved in Hendersonville Little Theatre, starring in Bell, Book, and Candle and Sabrina Fair.  When her grandparents retired to Hendersonville, her grandfathers, one an artist and the other a mason, became involved in set design and building.

After graduating from East Henderson High School in 1976, Michele spent a school year abroad in Austria through the American Field Service (AFS) exchange program. Leaving the small community and her close family to live in the midst of the Alps while learning a new language and culture gave her the tools she needed to navigate the larger world and find her independent spirit. 

Upon her return, she began her college education at Blue Ridge Technical College.  But Henderson County was too small and provincial in 1977 after her year abroad, so she went to California where she toured with a band for six months and then found work on a sheep ranch near Sacramento for another six months.  Finally feeling ready for higher education, and not quite having full residency in California, she returned to Western North Carolina and attended UNC-Asheville for several years. She then transferred to UNC-Wilmington, where she received a BS in Botany in 1982.

She and her husband lived on the coast for several years in Wilmington, then left to backpack in Europe for six months.  She particularly loved Yugoslavia and the Adriatic coast, Norway and the midnight sun, and revisiting her second homeland, Austria.  They moved back to Henderson County in 1985 to be closer to her parents and grandparents as they started their family.  When their first child was not yet two, they bought a VW camper van and set off again, this time spending nine months traveling through the USA, Canada, and Mexico.  They bought their home on Third Avenue West in 1990 and raised their two children here in Hendersonville. 

Over the years, her many varied jobs have included the following: driving an eight-ton Massey Ferguson harvester on the sheep ranch outside Sacramento and playing midwife to the sheep during lambing season; gardener after college in Wilmington; administrative assistant for (then) ECO; Adjunct faculty in Environmental Sciences at BRCC; business manager for My Native Ireland (an Irish import store in Asheville, now closed); project coordinator for Henderson County Council on Aging; office manager for her husband’s solar company; office manager for Gentle Pain Release, a physical therapy office; gardening for clients; and part-time administration work and tours for Carolina Memorial Sanctuary, North Carolina’s first and only Conservation Burial Grounds in Mills River.

Throughout her life, Michele has maintained passionate dedication to issues of justice – social, environmental, and racial – as well as to the need to preserve our wild places. Both she and her husband enjoy canoeing, hiking, and traveling. In addition, they are dedicated dog owners. 
Her pathway to involvement in the Progressive Alliance began when she participated in the Asheville Women’s March after the 2017 inauguration.  Although she was unable to go to D.C., she knit many pink pussy hats to send with her friends who were going.  After the march, Michele was caught up in the momentum that led to the creation of the Progressive Women of Hendersonville.  She began attending those early meetings and events, and helped Meg Hoke launch her idea for postcard parties.

Even though she stays busy keeping up with work and caring for her aging parents, to help manage the stress of both politics and the pandemic, travel continues to be a source of relief.  And when things really get difficult, she sits with her back against the heritage Oak in her back yard.  Breathe!  Spending time with her hands in the soil or walking in the woods helps as well.
Informed Progressive

On Wednesday, August 12, we held a virtual Informed Progressive meeting with Judge Mack McKeller as our featured speaker. Mack is District Court Judge for District 29B (Henderson, Transylvania, and Polk Counties). He spoke on the role of the district court in our area and how a district court judge impacts the community. Mack explained that in NC all judicial officers are to be elected by the people. He stated that the branches of the judicial system in NC are: Supreme Court of NC, Court of Appeals and trial level judges. District level judges (Mack’s position) hear misdemeanor cases, lower level felony cases, juvenile cases, appeals from the magistrates and advise citizens of their Constitutional rights. Mack indicated that the main portion of his job is dealing with civil family issues.

He reported that he is aided in his job by nonprofit domestic violence organizations such as Steps to Hope (Polk County), Safe, Inc. (Transylvania County) and Safelife (Henderson County).  He urged members to support these organizations as much as possible. He stated that he is also aided by DSS and the Guardian ad Litem program.

Mack’s campaign slogan is “Serve Experience and Respect”.  He clearly demonstrated these values during his presentation and in response to attendee’s questions.

Please find additionakl information regarding Judge McKeller's campaign at:

If you were unable to attend the meeting, please click on this link to view the recording: 

Postcard Virtual Party #188       August 28, 2020

Amazon, et al
Luckily, deliveries of many things during the pandemic have been a tremendous safeguard against the vulnerabilities of going out into the world as well as a convenience.

However, considered objectively, in more ordinary times we hope will soon come, can we, as well as most of the developed world, continue to use our resources in pursuit of what, for the majority of us, is simply a luxury?  Take, for instance, a typical multi-item order from Amazon or Walmart.  Delivery might be by UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc.  Since items are often supplied by different merchants and arrive separately this can mean a truck in your driveway for each one, no matter the size or cost.  The damage to local merchants aside, the overall cost of this self-indulgence is huge in terms of the environment- more trees cut for paper, more paper waste for landfills and more pollution into the atmosphere.

Amazon, in particular, has played on the ‘freedom and privilege’ of making virtually all your purchases from them online, with extremely convenient delivery, regardless of the item.  Many of our friends, relatives and neighbors brag about being members of Amazon Prime.  Is delivering a single sleeve of paper cups by a driver in a truck a waste of energy and labor?  What do you think?

This extravagance depends on low wages and no benefits for drivers and warehouse workers, cheap fuel and a public dependent on fewer and fewer suppliers.  Do we need to encourage and support more dead-end jobs in this country?
Make your own decisions about how and who you buy from, but write Congress to express your concern that long-term we need to regulate the big tech companies before their take-over is complete.

ICE and the Detention of Children
Seemingly lost in the Pandemic and the upcoming election are 120 children ordered by a Federal judge June 26, 2020 to be released within 30 days.  According to the Flores Settlement, a 23 year old class action lawsuit which laid the ground rules for children’s rights held in immigration detention, children cannot be held for more than 20 days. Many children have been detained much longer; 47 children in a Texas facility have been incarcerated for more than 300 days.  Increased cases of Covid among the ICE- held children are “on fire” according to the judge.

ICE and lawyers representing the children have been unable to agree on how to safely and humanely remove children from custody, which of course, in most cases, means removal from their incarcerated families.  ICE could choose to release entire families to relieve the pain and danger of detention but have chosen not to.   The judge originally gave ICE two options on June 26: release the children to sponsors with parental consent or release the parents and children together.  So far, ICE has refused to release families together.  The judge has admonished ICE for failure to comply with the ruling and find solutions to the problem.

Write Congress and demand that ICE comply with legal rulings, and above that, act with humanity and above political pressures from uncaring politicians. 

School Vouchers in NC
Children’s Law Clinic, Duke University Law School
There are differing opinions about school vouchers and charter schools, depending on one’s point of view.  Those in favor of this system look for benefits from religious-based schooling and lack of governmental controls on how our youth are educated.  Those opposed to the current concept of charter schools may feel that there should be a separation between church and state and/or that educational standards should be maintained through controls on curriculum and measurement of results in the classroom.

Regardless, the Duke University Law School published a study which outlined the experience in NC with its school voucher system so far. Some of the pertinent findings:

  • 93% of the vouchers have been used to pay religious school tuition in NC
  • More than half the students using vouchers are performing below average in reading, language, and math.  Similar public school students in NC are scoring above the national average.
  • Educational accountability in NC private school receiving vouchers is among the weakest in the country.  The schools need not be accredited, adhere to state curricular or graduation standards, employ licensed teachers, or administer state end-of-grade tests.
  • Private schools receiving vouchers in NC are not required to administer state tests nor publish detailed achievement data.  Therefore, we will be unable to reach valid conclusions about the success of the program at improving educational outcomes for participating students.
  • The NC voucher program is well designed to promote parental choice, especially for parents who prefer religious education for their children.  It is poorly designed, however, to promote better academic outcomes for children and is unlikely to do so.

So, what are the costs of “freedom” from regulation?  

Whatever your beliefs, write Governor Cooper and our legislators to tell them your feelings.

Some people don’t look.
Some look, but don’t see.
Some see, but don’t act.
Some people act.
. . . Anon
To connect residents of Henderson County and surrounding areas to civic engagement and activities at the grassroots level.
The Progressive Alliance of Henderson County (PAHC) compassionately advocates for justice, respect, inclusion and sustainable, healthy communities for all.    

Visit our website for more photos, events, and links to like-minded groups.
The PAHC core leadership group (currently Chris Berg, Nancy & Neil Brown, Lucy Butler, Sheila Clendenning, Julia Luellen, Laura Miklowitz, Sissy Owen, Amy Ross, Vikki Schantz, and Paul Weichselbaum) working together diligently to strengthen our impact, has created mission and vision statements for the group.

Please speak to any of us if you can offer your ideas and time about the future of Henderson County. 
Copyright © *2020* *Progressive Alliance of Henderson County*


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Progressive Alliance of Henderson County · P.O. Box 192 · Mountain Home, NC 28758 · USA

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