Fall 2016 Updates

Hood Huggers International
Updates Fall 2016
Rebuilding Affrilachia: The Art of Resilience

HoodHuggersHood Huggers International implements the Pearson Plan, offering sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African-American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that inclusive and economically just.

Who We Serve: The Hood Huggers’ Pearson Plan uses a comprehensive, collaborative approach, working with individuals in historically African-American neighborhoods to build internal systems of support and capacity. We also work with organizations and individuals with resources, providing guidance on how to serve in ways that have a greater impact. Our work with these internal (community) and external (service providers) systems creates a new paradigm where communities determine what resources they need and want, and guide how the programs that serve them function.  

The Arts:

  • Hood Tours is an interactive tour of the history, present, and future of Asheville’s historically African-American neighborhoods. Tours incorporate poetry and music and highlight public art, artists, and cultural heritage assets in these neighborhoods. From January until November 2016, over 650 people have taken tours.
  • Partnership with LEAF Community Arts provided the ULEAF stage/sound system and Easel Rider activities for the Hillcrest Juneteenth Celebration (June) and the Burton Street Agricultural Fair (September), and Deaverview (October). Hood Huggers also curated performers for the ULEAF stage at LEAF Downtown (August).
  • Collaboration with Organic Synergy and Asheville Music Professionals led to a successful 8-week Inside/Out performing arts workshop to build foundations for a pipeline for careers in the entertainment business for neighborhood-based talents. Monthly breakfasts to build on this knowledge are now being held, and participants for future workshops are being identified.
  • Partnership with the YMI Cultural Center’s Goombay Festival (September) led to a Goombay Art Show in the YMI Gallery, featuring local artists of color. In addition, Inside/Out participants performed on both stages during the festival.
  • Provided a Hood Tour and poetry workshop to Word on the Street, a multicultural teen-run online magazine (August).
  • Working with the African American Heritage Commission and Green Opportunities on a plan to build and place historical markers throughout the community.
  • Our plan includes working with arts organizations on neighborhood-based public art.
  • The North Carolina Arts Council awarded DeWayne Barton a Mary B. Regan Residency grant. It will be used to renovate the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens, adding a performance space and more. It will also provide seed money to support art and history projects in the Shiloh and East End neighborhoods (October 2016-October 2017).
  • Signage and lights to be installed on the E.W. Pearson mural on the Burton St. Center.
  • Historical landmark sign and installation of a bell at Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
  • Sculpture entitled “Terminator” on display as a part of the Inside a Town with People show at Push Skate Shop Gallery (October – November).
  • Hood Huggers creates platforms for creative expression and pride, using the arts to contribute to community healing.

Social Enterprise:

  • Hood Tours is a social enterprise that creates opportunities for young people and supports small businesses, helping to spark more grassroots economic development.
  • Hood Tours provides a model for other businesses to learn from.
  • We maintain and distribute the Hood Huggers Green Book, a directory of African-American led organizations and businesses.
  • Another key initiative is a pilot financial literacy program in partnership with Self-Help Credit Union, IRL, City of Asheville, community members and parents. Students will develop basic financial management skills and tap into a pipeline for careers in finance or entrepreneurship (Fall 2016 semester).
  • Developing a working partnership with Asheville City Schools.
  • Twelve young people are participating in the Hood Huggers savings program. They are paid stipends for work done with Hood Huggers, and the money they choose to save is matched at the end of each month.
  • Future plan for the development of a youth-led credit unions.
  • We work to connect existing youth programs with each other and with businesses and volunteers in our target neighborhoods, providing a platform for youth skill-building and mentorship.

The Environment:

  • Hood Tours highlights neighborhood green spaces and community gardens.
  • Establish additional green spaces to help strengthen community connections to nature.
  • We are partnering with Everybody’s Environment to support the creation of a pipeline for African-American youth to pursue careers in the environmental field.
  • Member of the Urban Agriculture Alliance, an alliance supporting urban agriculture initiatives to address root causes of poverty, injustice, and inequity within the local food system while utilizing a collective impact framework.
  • Hood Huggers is aligning with the United Nations’ Goals for Sustainable Development.
  • Member of the I-26 ConnectUs Project. Advocating for equity in community reinvestment
    and opportunities in the historically African American neighborhoods that are impacted.
  • Helping to establish Smith Mill Creek as a greenway connected to other greenways.
  • Part of an Environmental Task Force investigating the possibility of working with Duke Energy to promote public education on lowering carbon footprints.

Thanks to Our Financial Supporters:
Buncombe County Health & Human Services
Amy Madel and Katina Rodis Fund
The Lawson Family
North Carolina Arts Council

Want to Engage with Hood Huggers?
1. Join our email list for updates and event announcements.
Take a Hood Tour or two (different options available).
3. Encourage others to take Hood Tours.
4. List your black-owned business in the Hood Huggers Green Book.
5. Support the businesses and organizations in the Hood Huggers Green Book.
6. Rent the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens for an event.
7. Have other ideas? Let’s talk!