Category Archives: Environment

Latest News

Screening of 13th Fundraiser

On Monday, December 4, at 6:30 pm, CJJ/West, the Western North Carolina Chapter of the ACLU and Hood Huggers International will be co-sponsoring the screening of  13th, a documentary by filmmaker Ava DuVernay, at the Altamont Theatre, 13 Church Street in Asheville. The film explores the history of racial inequality in the US, focusing on the nation’s prisons that are disproportionately filled with African-Americans.

A panel discussion, which will include Hood Huggers’ DeWayne Barton, will follow. Catering will be provided by Comedy Catering, and Black Star Line Brewing from Hendersonville, a new African-American owned brewery, will be featuring its brews. The suggested minimum donation is $5; all funds will go to Hood Huggers. Because space is limited, it is important to RSVP by November 28 to

Social Enterprise

Gift Cards!

Did you know you can buy Hood Tours gift cards to give to friends and family? Click here to purchase gift cards.

End of Year Donations

You can click here to make a tax deductible donation to Hood Huggers.

Certificate of Excellence

Hood Tours has received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence for all of the positive reviews we have received. We appreciate the support! If you’d like to add a review, click here for the Hood Tours page. Thanks in advance!

Best of WNC

In the recent Mountain Xpress “Best of WNC” poll, Hood Tours placed third in the “Best City Tour” category. A nice recognition! Our gratitude to all who voted for us.

The Arts

Southside Arts & Agricultural Center

The Kresge Foundation recently awarded Green Opportunities a grant for this project “to support healing, restoring, and reclaiming community culture, support emerging leaders, grow food, and incubate economic development. The Center will celebrate black culture, creativity, arts and agriculture. Specifically, this grant will provide funding for the Southside Community Garden as well as the renovation of the auditorium in the Arthur R. Edington Education and Career Center. The Housing Authority will raise the remaining funds required for the auditorium renovation.” Hood Huggers is serving as a consultant for this very exciting project.

Visualize Health Equity

Health equity means everyone has a fair shot at living the healthiest life possible. Personal responsibility plays a key role in health, but the choices we make depend on the choices that are available to us.

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM), a nonprofit research organization in Washington, DC, called on artists of all kinds to illustrate what health equity looks, sounds, and feels like to them.

The Burton Street Community Peace Gardens is one of their featured projects.

Visualize Health Equity is part of the NAM’s Culture of Health Program, sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which is working to identify strategies that support equitable good health for all Americans.

Peace Garden Upgrades

Asheville Creative Arts is assisting with improving the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens. Thanks to a generous gift from Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, we will be adding interactive educational signage and more.

Historical Markers Project

Hood Huggers is consulting with Buncombe County, the African American Heritage Commission, and community leaders on a project to install African American historical markers throughout the county, particularly in historically African American neighborhoods.

The Environment

E.W. Pearson Center Plans
Hood Huggers working with community groups and business owners to transform the Burton Street Community Center into a multi-faceted entrepreneurial and community hub that will be called the E.W. Pearson Center for Community Innovation. The center will focus on economic development, education and training, health, and community infrastructure.

I-26 Connector Project

Hood Huggers International is working with I-26 ConnectorProject group, the Burton Street Community Association, and neighborhoods impacted by the I-26 Connector Project on mitigation strategies. Public Participation Partners is also supporting the community’s efforts.

Back in School!

As a Culture of Health Leader, DeWayne Barton had intensive leadership training and education. Culture of Health Leaders is a national leadership program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to support leaders—from all sectors that have an influence on people’s health—to create collaborative solutions that address health inequities and move their communities and organizations toward a Culture of Health.

Summer News

We’d like to share with you some of the things we are involved with this summer, in addition to our regular Hood Tours.

Financial Literacy Program
Pictured above is the first family that will be piloting the financial literacy program that the interns from Self-Help Credit Union developed  with us this summer.

Buncombe County – Pearson Plan
Buncombe County recently awarded the Shiloh, Burton Street and East End/Valley Street neighborhoods an Isaac Coleman Economic Community Investment Grant to implement aspects of the Pearson Plan. Click here to learn more.
 LEAF Downtown
Join Hood Huggers this weekend at LEAF Downtown AVL. On Saturday at 5:30 pm we are hosting a talent show celebrating up-and-coming artists from historically African American neighborhoods. Also over the weekend we will be making plastic puppet people, inspiring conversations around the environment. These sculptures will be part of a performance at the Peace Garden on Saturday, September 16 in collaboration with Asheville Creative Arts.
WRES Sweet 16 Banquet Honoring John R. Hayes
On Saturday, August 19, 7 pm at AB Tech/Mission Health Conference Center, celebrate the 16th Anniversary of WRES-LP 100.7 FM by honoring John R. Hayes for his many contributions to the community. Proceeds will go to support the Empowerment Resource Center/WRES FM. Tickets are $25 per person in advance/$30 at the door and are available for purchase at or at the station, 91 Patton Ave.
Poetry for the Eclipse
DeWayne Barton will be performing as part of the Great Smokies National Park Solar Eclipse event at Clingman’s Dome on Monday, August 21. 
I-26 Connector
We are partnering with Neighborhood Solutions to work with the NC DOT on betterment for the Burton Street Community in response to the I-26 expansion.

Thanks to the Americorps volunteers who built this wonderful shelter for Martha Jane’s garden!

Save the Date!
Burton Street Agricultural Fair will be Saturday, September 16!
As always, thank you for your interest and support!


This Summer, Hood Huggers is happy to be working with three interns from Self-Help Credit Union, and one on our own.

Sapphire DeBellott and Donovan Spencer are both Self-Help Outreach Interns, focusing on outreach to the African American community. They are looking into local organizations that need to know about Self-Help, especially organizations focused on youth, and they are developing materials to spread the word about Self-Help to these groups. With Hood Huggers, they are working on developing a well-rounded financial literacy program for middle school and high school students, and creating the marketing materials to go with the program. Finally, they are participating in a number of outreach activities. Their task is to “make it fun!”

Donovan says the internship “is helping me achieve my goal of developing professional skills,” and Sapphire  says, “we’re learning valuable skills that we can take into the workforce.”

Stefanie Pertiller (pictured above on the left) is working as a Self-Help Sustainability Intern, looking at improving energy efficiency in the Self-Help branches, while also working with Sapphire and Donovan on incorporating energy efficiency into the financial literacy program they are developing. She is also working with Hood Huggers on building more of an “immersive experience of urban agriculture,” working on educational programs for kids who come to the garden – and also working in the garden herself. Finally, she is doing outreach with about Self-Help to local envorionmental organizations, so that they learn about Self-Help’s work in lending to renewable energy and energy efficiency businesses and in focusing on being a “green” company themselves.

Finally, Talon Mays, a member of the Burton Street community and a student at UNC Asheville, is the Hood Huggers Marketing Intern. He is helping to increase grassroots marketing of Hood Tours, and doing market research for us, among other projects.

We are grateful to be working with this great team this summer!

May News


Ancestors in the Garden June 3
On Saturday, June 3, from 3 to 7 at the Burton Street Peace Gardens will be an event entitled “Ancestors in the Garden.” There will be interactive performances, food and music. Help celebrate the infrastructure improvements we’ve made in the garden. Tickets are a suggested donation of $5 each. There are $50 sponsor tickets available for those who want to support Hood Huggers and sponsor tickets for others.  Click here for tickets.

LEAF Community Arts
Hood Huggers is partnering with with LEAF Downtown to celebrate up-and-coming artists from historically African American neighborhoods by hosting a talent show at the festival with cash prizes. The dates of the festival are August 4 and 5. We are partnering with U-LEAF Home Run Series to promote block-party style events that will offer arts engagement, networking, and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Ghostlight Project May 7
Asheville Creative Arts and Hood Huggers will host a second conversation as part of The Ghostlight Project, Sunday, May 7, 2017 from 3 – 4pm at Burton Street Community Peace Gardens (47 Bryant Street), free and open to the public, with light refreshments. RSVP to The Ghostlight Project is a movement that asks us to examine and articulate our values as institutions, and what we see as the role of theatre and the arts in promoting space, both physically and intellectually, where we may gather and have open communication. Many theaters have missions and outreach that seek to address this gap, so how can we as leaders do better in expanding these efforts, and create the pipeline sought by Hood Huggers, so that truly all are welcome?


Summer Interns
Thanks to a partnership with Self-Help Credit Union, this summer Hood Huggers will have three interns that will have the opportunity to learn more about the pipeline of opportunity for their future careers. There will be a college-aged intern working with environmental outreach and two youth interns focused on financial literacy.

Green Book
We are currently expanding the Green Book black-owned business directory.

Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
We are partnering with the CVB to connect entrepreneurs with resources and exposure.

Peace Gardens Plant Sale
Stop by the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, 47 Bryant Street, for our self-serve plant sale. There are still lots of great plants available


Hood Huggers is a part of these initiatives:

Energy Innovation Task Force
Community outreach campaign to encourage more energy efficient practices.

Everybody’s Environment
Everybody’s Environment is a collaboration of environmental and community groups in Western North Carolina, striving to foster equity and inclusion.

I-26 Expansion
Developing plans to make sure communities impacted by this project receive appropriate re-investment.

Urban Agriculture Alliance
The Urban Agriculture Alliance is a cross-sector collective impact initiative in Buncombe County working to develop a sustainable, resilient, and equitable local food system.

DeWayne Barton holding the Burton Street Community Plan. Photo by Maddy Jones for the Citizen-Times.


We continue to work with Shiloh, East End and Burton Street neighborhoods on the implementation of the Pearson Plan. Looking at the State of Black Asheville, the Pearson Plan serves as a road map for repairing communities and addressing  disparities, designed to meet the goals outlined in established community plans.


We are grateful for the support we receive that makes our work possible. Want to be a part of “Rebuilding Affrilachia?”
Here are two things you can do:

  1. Help spread the word about Hood Tours and the Pearson Plan!
  2. Make a donation – click here.

Until next time! Peace!


BLove Rising

Upcoming events:

“Return to Burton Street” Reading
Hub City Bookshop & Press 
Saturday, November 21, 1-3 pm
Masonic Temple, 186 W Main St
Spartanburg, SC

 NC Climate Justice Summit
Friday – Sunday, November 20 – 22
Greensboro, NC
The NC Climate Justice Summit (NCCJS) enhances the resilience of North Carolinians through exploring community-based approaches to climate change mitigation and adaptation. By convening people across lines of difference–different ages, races, classes, geographies, issue areas and strategies–the Summit broadens grassroots engagement in the climate justice movement at the local, regional and state levels.