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Alan Scott Robinson biography

Posted by admin on Jul 27, 2018 in Meeting News

alan robinsonAlan was born on May 31, 1950 in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of seven children of Dorothy Ada Cromar Robinson and Charles Mardee Robinson. He was early known as a scholarly and studious child, often — to the distress of the large family — locking himself in the single family bathroom to read from the family’s set of The Encyclopoedia Brittanica. This early fascination with knowledge served Alan well, as in later years he was the only person known to his many friends who could read every issue of Scientific American magazine, and fully grasp the complexities of all the articles ranging from theoretical physics to tectonic geology, DNA discoveries, applied mathematics, and current biomedical developments.

Alan studied astrophysics at the University of Utah, then spent two years on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon) in Melbourne, Australia. Upon returning to North America he and another university student, Rebecca Louise Boes, married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple while Alan was employed at the Hansen Planetarium in Salt Lake City.

When their son, Christian Alan, was about a year old, Alan moved to the Westchester County Planetarium in a northern New York City suburb, and Becky and Alan lived in Chappaqua, New York. They, briefly, returned to Salt Lake City, but because of Alan’s vast knowledge of optical effects and his exuberant curiosity, he was hired by the Walt Disney Corporation to become an “Imagineer” at WED (named for founder Walter Elias Disney) in Glendale California. The Imagineers at WED did research and development for special effects, both for Disney films and the newly developing theme parks in Anaheim, CA and Lake Buena Vista (Orlando adjacent), Florida.

Alan was greatly responsible for some of both Disneyland’s and Disney World’s (EPCOT) most memorable visuals — notably the Leap-Frog Fountains at both, which later became a hall-mark of the two companies in which Alan was a principal.

Following the completion of Disney’s EPCOT Center in Florida, Alan survived a cut in the Special Effects department staff from 125 to scarcely a dozen. He and two other Imagineers now had ample time to ‘play in the water’ and to moon-light with special commissions to recreate their earlier exemplary water features outside the Disney realm. It was during this time in California that Alan and Becky’s 3 youngest children were born: James Rowlandson, Daniel Timothy, and Amy Elizabeth.

Two of this team’s early and most notable projects were for an enormous, several-acre Fountain Place ‘water garden’ at the base of the striking I.M. Pei-designed Allied Bank Towel building in downtown Dallas, and the famed quadrant, courtyard fountain in the Los Angeles Music Center (think: Lincoln Center in NYC or Kennedy Center in D.C). This large installation of water jets coming up from the paving blocks at the base of a huge Jacques Lipchitz sculpt, sits in front of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where the annual Academy Awards were presented for many decades.

Both the above projects were created by WET Design (Water Entertainment Technology) co-founded by Alan Robinson, and later based on part of the Universal Film Studios campus in the Los Angeles community of Studio City. Among Alan’s most notable WET Design projects were many in Los Angeles (the Gas Company Tower lobby, Universal City’s City Walk, and The WaterCourt at California Plaza. Away from L.A. Alan restored Rockefeller Center’s Prometheus Fountain and the Museum of Modern Art’s (MOMA) courtyard fountain where Alan worked with architect Phillip Johnson, who had designed MOMA’s signature building, decades before.

Alan’s creative genius was seen in the restoration of the large fountain at the base of the Space Needle in Seattle, the Gavidae Commons fountains between Saks Fifth Ave. and Neiman-Marcus in Minneapolis, the State Capital grounds in Harrisburg, PA, at convention centers in San Diego and Chicago, the Galleria in Houston, the Capital Promenade in Sacramento, CA, countless casino water features in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe, Reno and Macao, China. He created the fountain at the base of Navy Pier in Chicago and the waterwalls of the Hearst Building lobby just off Columbus Circle in New York City. During those years Alan was a principal in major water projects from Edmonton, Alberta to Birmingham, Alabama.

In addition to working on projects with I.M. Pei and Phillip Johnson/John Burgee, Alan also collaborated with water features for projects by famed architects Michael Graves, Robert A.M. Stern, Sir Norman Foster (now Lord Foster), Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo (direct successors to Eero Saarinen), and Skidmore Owens Merrill architects. He created water features at the Vancouver World’s Fair, and for the Atlanta Olympics. His former firm later did signature projects at two subsequent Olympics, and renovated/redesigned the Revson Fountain in front of NYC’s Metropolitan Opera House in Lincoln Center.

Alan’s many overseas water features include the King Faud Airport in Saudi Arabia, the massive water feature atop Victoria Peak in Hong Kong, a children’s museum in Mexico City, Tokyo Dome, a hospital in Tel Aviv, the Gold Market in Bangkok and many other projects in Jakarta, Korea, the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Singapore. His first firm, WET Design later did the legendary 8-acre swaying waves water feature at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas and the world’s largest performing water feature in Dubai.

After leaving WET Design Alan co-founded another water feature design-build company, Watermark which became the fountain consultants for the famed horticultural display gardens at Longwood, between Philadelphia and Wilmington, DE, where Alan helped design a new children’s garden, and worked to maintain the century old fountains at Longwood Gardens built by Pierre Samuel duPont. During this time the Smithsonian had an exhibition called “Fountains: Splash and Spectacle” which was a history of water features, and published a massive ‘coffee-table’ publication of the same name with the cover photo of one of Alan’s projects and many references to his works within. Websites of same are at ‘www. Fountains by Alan Robinson,’

In the course of his career, during which he was arguably the foremost fountain and water feature designer/engineer, Alan created projects featuring not only water, but fire, smoke, steam, ice and remarkable lighting. He pioneered the use of compressed air, rather than water pressure, to send jets of water as high as 240 feet. He held patents for innovative techniques to create laminar flow streams, for water to come out of the paving blocks beneath the feet of enthralled observers, rather than from pools or visible reservoirs. These were the world’s first ‘user-friendly’ fountains, now copied with abandon and without attribution, including in his adoptive home town, Asheville’s Pack Square Park’s “Splashville.”

In addition to being an accomplished designer, engineer and ‘imagineer’, Alan was also a skilled pilot, who over the years kept small planes, the most recent of which was a Cessna Cardinal RG that provided countless hours of recreational flying and opportunity to fly from Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley (ELM) to Western North Carolina (AVL) which became a common ritual. The small plane got family and friends as well as ‘stuff’ from ironing boards to computers and printers from coast to coast.

Alan was introduced to the Society of Friends (Quakers) by Jim Cavener, at Claremont monthly meeting, in California’s San Gabriel Valley. This was a better fit for Alan at the time. Becky and Alan, their three youngest children and Jim moved to Asheville, NC in a blended and extended family, and Alan transferred his involvement with Friends/Quakers to Asheville monthly meeting. Early on, Alan had called for a Quaker Clearness Committee to help him sort out the path he would take in his unusual family and professional tasks. Later he attended Pacific Yearly Meeting of The Society of Friends, and then became very involved with Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting, becoming Treasurer of this regional association of Quakers.

Alan was nominated to Asheville Friends Meeting’s Ministry and Council for some years, then became co-clerk of Asheville Friends Meeting. Although Becky and Alan remained married for many years, eventually they divorced after Becky and their 3 youngest children had moved back to Salt Lake City. Alan and Jim remained partnered for two decades, then Alan met — and ultimately married, David Russell Spicer, under care of Asheville Friends Meeting — with Alan’s youngest son, Daniel Robinson, and former partner, Jim Cavener, both present.

Health issues plagued Alan for much of his later life. He was exposed to HIV in the first decade of that plague, about thirty years before his death, outliving by several times the survival expectancy for such. In later years he suffered from severe Celiac disease, finally diagnosed after many years of an unrestricted diet. He was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder along with peripheral neuropathy, hand and arm tremors and sleep apnea, though maintaining a productive and rewarding life through it all.

In the summer of 2017 Alan was discovered to have a rare and pre-leukemic blood cancer, myelodysplastic syndrome, a major set-back on the health front. After months attempting heroic efforts to forestall or reverse this condition, his oncologists and hematologists concluded there was nothing more they could do to treat this affliction. In early February Alan decided it was time to let go and he quit eating and drinking, and was moved to Asheville’s superb Hospice facility (Solace) where he died on February 7th. Alan had lived a good life, and died a good and well-prepared-for death. On this latter matter of preparing for his own death, Alan Scott Robinson was a noble example for us all.

 
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Another Friend Crossed Over

Posted by admin on Nov 18, 2016 in Meeting News

We have learned through her husband, Jack Donovan, of Lake Lure, NC, that Bettina Wolff died on October 27, 2016, at their home, assisted by Hospice. She was 89 and had suffered failing health for many years.

Bettina was born in 1927 in Amsterdam, NY. She had been an active member of Swannanoa Valley Friends Meeting in Black Mountain, NC in the early 2000s.. Earlier, she had attended Asheville Friends Meeting.

In addition to her husband, she is survived by three children: Eric, Doug, and Jennifer Wolff. Before coming to North Carolina, Bettina and family spent many years at Olney, Ohio, where she was an active member of Olney Friends Meeting and Olney Friends School.

Her special Quaker interests included Powell House, in NY State, the Alternatives to Violence program, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Friends General Conference, and SAYMA—the Southern Appalachian Yearly Meeting and Association. She will be remembered by her devotion to these causes by all who knew her.

According to her wishes, a memorial service has not been planned.

 
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Energy Audit

Posted by admin on Nov 15, 2016 in Meeting News, Uncategorized

Asheville Friends’ Peace and Earth Committee arranged for an energy audit of our Meetinghouse through Interfaith Power and Light, of which we are a member. You can view their report by clicking this link:

Energy Audit

 
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A Notable Passing

Posted by admin on Oct 28, 2016 in Meeting News

Robert (Bob) Latta Barrus died peacefully, holding his wife’s hand, October 19th 2016. Bob was born in Manchester, New Hampshire, January 19, 1918, and grew up in Rochester and Brooklyn, New York. His parents, George Latta Barrus and Gertrude Emily Schneider Barrus, lived apart from each other when Bob was young, but they were always dedicated to him. He also had an important family connection to his Aunt Ruby and his Searle cousins in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

As a boy, Bob traveled with his father to forestry jobs around the United States and in Europe. Because of his travels, he attended many different schools during his teen years. This included two years at the Fellowship School in Switzerland, where he was introduced to pacifist values and alternative education methods. Bob received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester. He started out studying chemical engineering but changed his interest to sociology before graduating.

During WWII, Bob registered as a conscientious objector because of his deeply held beliefs about the value of all human life. He served in the civilian public service on a forestry project in New Hampshire and at a school for troubled boys in Cheltenham, Maryland. On furlough from service, he met Dorothy (Dot) Somers, when she joined a hiking trip with him and their fathers. After the war, Bob felt a calling to serve in the reconstruction of Europe. He joined the American Friends Service Committee and was assigned to rebuilding houses in Italian villages. Dot joined AFSC as well, and they were married in Rome, November 9, 1946.

Upon their return to the U.S., they lived for a few years in Chapel Hill, where Bob was director of the UNC campus YMCA. In 1951, they moved to Yancey County and joined Celo Community, seeking a more supportive community to raise their children, especially their mentally handicapped daughter. After a childhood in many places, it was important to Bob to put down roots in a place that would be home for the rest of his life. When his parents retired, they both joined him to live in Celo.

When the family first arrived in Celo, Bob worked at a number of jobs, but his calling was to be a teacher. He soon got a position teaching at Harris High School in Mitchell County. He later taught at South Toe Elementary, and Asheville Country Day. In 1963, Bob joined Elizabeth Morgan to help found Arthur Morgan School, where he remained the principle teacher until his retirement.

In 1955, Bob and Dot took over management of Camp Celo, a farm-home summer camp for children. They were encouraged and joined in this effort by Ernest and Elizabeth Morgan. They dedicated their lives to helping children experience the joy of physical work while living on a farm in a diverse community. They made sure this experience was available to children of all races, religions and economic means.

When Bob and Dot moved to Celo, they joined a small group of Quakers who were worshipping together. They helped establish Celo Friends Meeting. Bob and Dot were trained through Friends General Conference to lead couples’ groups in marriage enrichment retreats. This work contributed to the depth of their own marriage of 70 years. The Friends spiritual community continues as a central focus of their lives until today.

Bob is survived by his loving wife of 69 years, Dot Barrus; two sons, Gib Barrus and wife Annie of Celo and Greg Barrus and wife Elizabeth of Burnsville; two daughters, Rommie Barrus of Celo and Barb Perrin and husband Tom of Celo; four granddaughters, Gracie Barrus of Celo, Lucia Parker and husband, Clay of Celo, Sadie Perrin of Celo, and Kayla Barrus of Tennessee; three grandsons, Kyle Barrus of Burnsville, Drew Perrin and wife Carly Todd of New York, and Kristian Barrus of Tennessee; and four great-grandchildren, Hayden Parker, Lauren Barrus, Niko Perrin, and Arlo Fields.

A memorial service was held at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 22nd at the Celo Friends Meeting. The family received friends from 2 until 4 p.m. prior to the service at the Celo Friends Meeting.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Friends of Camp Celo Campership Fund, P.O. Box 2392 Asheville, NC 28802 or http://friendsofcampcelo.org/donate.

 
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Items To Donate For Refugee Relief Kits

Posted by admin on Aug 7, 2016 in Meeting News, Uncategorized
    Peace & Earth Committee is collecting supplies for school kits and hygiene kits for refugees on August 7 and August 14. P&E reminds Friends that all donations should be new, unopened items.

    SCHOOL KITS

89,958 shipped last year to Jordan, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon, Haiti, U.S., Serbia, Honduras and more.

Contents (NEW items only)

    • 4 spiral or perforated notebooks (8 1⁄2 x 10 1⁄2 in and 70 sheets)
    • 8 unsharpened pencils
    • 1 ruler (flat, flexible plastic; indicating both 30 cm and 12 in)
    • 12 colored pencils (in packaging)
    • 1 large pencil eraser

Thank you for limiting your generosity to the items listed.

    RELIEF KITS

14,507 shipped last year to Jordan, Syria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Haiti, Honduras, Iraq, Lebanon, Ukraine and Serbia.

Contents (NEW items only, in original packaging)

    • 4 large bars bath soap
    • 1 plastic bottle shampoo (13–24 oz; place in resealable plastic bag)
    • 4 large bars laundry soap (Fels Naptha®, Sunlight® or Zote® brands)
    • 4 adult-size toothbrushes
    • 4 new bath towels (medium weight, dark or bright colors)
    • 2 wide-tooth combs (6–8 in)
    • 1 fingernail clipper (good quality)
    • 1 box adhesive bandages (minimum 40 count, assorted)
    • 1 package sanitary pads (18–24 count thin maxi)

Due to strict regulations some countries have on the expiration date of toothpaste, MCC no longer asks for toothpaste to be donated with the kits. Instead, we will provide toothpaste with the kits when they ship from our warehouse. The kit will be re-packed in a new 5-gallon plastic pail with lid.

Soap specifications: New bars of bath or laundry soap: All sizes and brands of bar soap are welcome. Please leave in wrapper.

Towel specifications: NEW bath towels: Good quality, dark or bright colors, medium weight preferred. Washcloths are not needed.

Thank you for limiting your generosity to the items listed,

THANK YOU FOR HELPING OUT WITH THIS EFFORT!!!

 
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Minute of Concern about Excessive Police Force

Posted by admin on Aug 4, 2016 in Meeting News
Asheville Friends Meeting approved the following Minute, as recommended by AFM Racial Justice Committee, at a called Meeting For Business on 7/17/2016, with actions to to be discussed and taken as opportunity arises and Spirit leads:

“Our hearts are cracked open by the excessive use of force by police in our nation and in our own community, against people of color, especially young black men and Jerry Williams in particular. We acknowledge that this long history of institutionalized violence has repeatedly broken the hearts and shattered the lives of people in our community.

We recognize that our silence makes us complicit. If we fail to speak now, our silence will be deafening. Therefore, we are called to take the following actions:
• To bear Quaker witness and speak “Truth to power” in our community
• To support the family and community most impacted by racial violence: to stand with them, believe in them, and affirm their vital importance to this city.”

 
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Reflections from a Friend

Posted by admin on Aug 4, 2016 in Meeting News
    Asheville Friends Meeting joins many others in their concern about racial injustice and has formed a committee to address it. We are trying to discern the mission of this committee but have not yet come to unity on the particular wording. The term “white supremacy/racism” preferred by the committee has deeply hurt and offended some of us. Others recognize this term as an academic definition of an historic and ongoing system in which structural or societal racism privileges white people over others, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred.

    In the manner of Friends, we continue to hold each other in the Light and hopefully treat each other with respect, tenderness and understanding. I invite each of us to look deep within to examine whether our attitudes, reflections & reactions are derived from Spirit or from our own unresolved issues.

    The following comments are my own personal opinion and do not necessarily reflect the the thinking of the Asheville Friends Meeting:

    As we continue to discern the mission statement of our Racial Justice Committee, let us for a moment or two take our thoughts to a less personal level and try to see the issue as a more systemic reality.

    Let’s pretend for now we’re from Mars or some other planet and we’re looking at the history of planet earth from a few hundred years ago. We see the North American continent with many people of darker skin living and working, raising families and taking care of themselves and their part of Earth. We also see the European continent with white skinned people doing some of the same actions.

    One day, some of these light-skinned people decide to go on an adventure in hopes of gaining more land and wealth. They get in ships and sail away to the American continent. When they get to this far-away place, they see that the people have a different way of doing things and a different way of being. The light-skinned folks don’t particularly like these other ways and they tell the darker-skinned people we have a better way. We will take this land and do things our way so you’ll have a good life. We know better than you what’s best for you.

    Of course, the dark-skinned ones don’t like this and there is much conflict. But the light skins set up laws, systems and institutions to be sure they are in charge and have power over the dark skins. As we keep looking at this history, we see the light skins continue to be in charge and they suppress the dark skins so they can maintain their power over them. The light skins say we have more knowledge and expertise than you so our way is superior to yours. We’ll build the best of all worlds here and for your own good, you’ll help us do things our way.

    Now as an outsider from another planet, wouldn’t we say this scenario illustrates how the light skinned (white) people have supremacy over people of color? Today we can’t change any of this history but can’t we at least acknowledge that our systems, institutions and culture elevate white people to a supreme position? It doesn’t necessarily mean a particular individual has supremacist attitudes but that our white skin automatically puts us at a higher level than dark-skinned folks. My understanding is that our Racial Justice Ministry uses the term “white supremacy” to name and acknowledge this fact.

    ~Patricia M. Johnson

 
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State of the Meeting Report

Posted by admin on Mar 15, 2016 in Meeting News

After some deliberation and revision, our State Of the Meeting 2015 was approved at our 3rd month business meeting and submitted to the Yearly Meeting for wider distribution this summer. The report is also posted here on our website:

 

State Of the Meeting, 2015

 
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Workshop: Stand Up and Act Against Racism

Posted by admin on Jan 23, 2016 in Meeting News

Developing Our Spiritual Leadership to Stand for Black Lives Matter and Act Against Racism
February 27 (10:00-3:00)
Unitarian Universalist Church of Chattanooga

Join us for a dynamic and interactive workshop with Unitarian Universalist educator Chris Crass on using our spiritual superpowers of prayer, ritual, song, and community to act with courage against racism and for Black Lives Matter. We will talk about the challenges and opportunities the congregation is experiencing as we have taken a bold and public stand for Black Lives Matter. We will explore ways we can deepen our church’s internal understanding and commitment to anti-racism, as well as strengthening out external work for racial justice and racial equality.

Utilizing story sharing, small and large group discussion, this participatory workshop will focus on how we can help create supportive and healthy leadership and culture that enables more and more of us to be effective racial justice leaders in these Black Lives Matter times, in our congregations and our communities.

Chris Crass is a white anti-racist activist, also a Unitarian Universalist, who leads anti-racism trainings around the country, and is the author of Toward Collective Liberation: Anti-Racist Organizing, Feminist Praxis, and Movement Building Strategies.

Click for more info:

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Memoriam: George White, founding member of AFM

Posted by admin on Jan 22, 2016 in Meeting News

GEORGE LEVERING WHITE, 88, of Greensboro, NC died from complications of a heart valve failure on Thursday, January 14, 2016, surrounded by close members of his family. He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Marilyn Root White, his four children, Becky White Rodzik, Alan Robert White, Cynthia White Lenda and David Ernest White, and their families including 7 grandchildren and one great-granddaughter: Jason & Rachel Rodzik; Bunny (Paulette), Tristan, Rachel & Nora White, Caleb White; Brian, Ian & Ben Lenda; and Jan & Jonathan White. He is also survived by his sister, Dorothy White Hartley, and was preceded in death by his sister Ruthanna White Holmes.

Born in Greensboro in 1927, to Vivian Robert (Bob) and Ruth Levering White, George became an Eagle Scout in high school and joined the Navy as World War II came to a close. He attended NC State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1949. George enjoyed his 42-year career with Southern Bell Telephone Co. as an electrical engineer, then district level engineering manager in various cities in North Carolina. He served on the board of Friends Homes at Guilford and was very active in Friendship Friends Meeting in Greensboro. He was active in the BellSouth Pioneers club.

George loved traveling with his family including many road trips across the country that took him to all 50 states. After retiring, George and Marilyn enjoyed bicycle tours in Europe and other travel. He rented a large house at Ocean Isle Beach, NC every year to host his family of up to 18. He loved talking about current events, watching the evening news, and reading the New York Times. George enjoyed telling stories, had a great sense of humor, and loved his family dearly.

A Meeting for Remembrance in the manner of Friends for George White will be held on February 6, 2016 at New Garden Friends Meeting, 801 New Garden Rd, Greensboro, NC at 1:00 pm, with time to share stories of his life after Meeting in the Friendship Hall.

In lieu of flowers, if you would like to give a gift in Remembrance of George White, please consider a donation to one of the following:

Guilford College (memo line: V.R. & Ruth L. White Scholarship Fund)
Friendship Friends Meeting Building Fund
Friends Committee on National Legislation

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