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Breaking News on July 8, 2008
PARKSIDE PROTEST INTENSIFIES
24/7 VIGIL BEGINS UNDER THE MAGNOLIA TREE IN FRONT OF ASHEVILLE CITY HALL
The 'Magnolia Lady' Climbs into Fray with 24/7 Vigil and Protest to Reclaim Parkland Sold to Parkside developer Stewart Coleman
By Byron Belzak
Everything about Parkside is difficult, complex and, at times, gut-wrenchingly confrontational. And now, the "confrontation index" just got dialed up at least two notches by one determined lady, Dixie Deerman, who calls herself Lady Passion. She has worked for nearly a year to prevent the chopping down of the magnolia. She has attended public meetings, talked countless hours on the telephone, meet in person with city officials and others associated with Parkside and the magnolia tree, all to no avail.
Now, she said, she has been left no other option -- and not one that she would have chosen but feels compelled to act -- and that means to publicly announce her 24/7 vigil of protest and care under the magnolia tree to protect it for now for the people and future generations. "I am not alone," she said. "There are many who support me in doing this. I can't afford to do this. I am not rich. But I will. It is the right thing for me to do now."
Who is the Magnolia Lady? -- as she has been dubbed by DowntownAsheville.com. Her business card says, Lady Passion / Dixie Deerman, and features "The Goodly Spellbook." She is a Wiccan of the Coven Oldenwilde (www.oldenwilde.org).
On Monday afternoon, July 7, 2008, immediately following the outcome of the public meeting presided over by a belligerent Technical Review Committee (TRC), who had quickly and unanimously approved the building of the controversial Parkside condominium by the notoriously aggressive developer Stewart Coleman -- despite a massive show of public outcry at the TRC meeting to halt the project, or until at least after the lawsuit brought by the heirs of George Pack is settled -- Lady Passion with the flowing blond hair, left the meeting with her handfast" partner, Steve Rasmussen -- who is also known as Diuvei of the Wiccan Coven Oldenwilde -- walked to the magnolia tree, which is located less than 100 yards from the front steps of Asheville City Hall.
There, under the magnificent magnolia, she with the support of Diuvei, vowed to live under the magnolia tree, literally, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, until the park land willed to the people forever and improperly, if not illegally, sold by Buncombe County Commissioners in November 2006 is given back to the people.
She hasn't left yet since the TRC's kangaroo public meeting. "It was obvious to me that they, TRC, had already made up their minds even before the public had spoken," said Lady Passion.
And what if she is removed by the police or under warrant of arrest requested by developer Stewart Coleman? "I will return," she told DowntownAsheville.com publisher-editor-reporter Byron Belzak as she stood under the magnolia tree which she and other Wiccans had protected weeks ago with a curse against any and all who intend or do harm her to the rooted friend of the people, such as the musicians of Shindig on the Green, who have played for four generations under her boughs and sweet flowery frangrance.
Why now? "It was just time to do it," she told DowntownAsheville.com on Tues., July 8, 2008, at 8 p.m. The 100-year-old magnolia, which has become an icon of the protest to Stop Parkside, is located in the City-County Plaza directly in front of Asheville City Hall.
How long will she remain? "As long as it takes," she said.
Her ultimate goal? "To have the park land returned to the people," and to stop the building of the Parkside, she said while she stood under the magnolia in the cool evening air, and ran a large comb through her long hair, under the watchful eye of Steve Rasmusssen, who had publicly delivered a 1,003-signature petition to the County Commissioners at its June 24, 2008, public meeting to request that they "Stop Parkside."
The Magnolia Lady's protest will no doubt bring greater attention to the inaction by Asheville City Council members and Buncombe County Commissioners to stop the Parkside condomium project and reclaim the park land, which was sold by the County Commissioners in a quiet land deal that went unnoticed for over a month by both citizens and the press.
For detailed daily reports from under thee magnolia, visit "ASHEVILLE ON THE GROUND," Click Here>
For the Asheville Tree Commission report concerning the magnolia, Click Here>