How Did We Get Here?

DeWayne Barton returned to his hometown of Asheville, NC in 2001 bringing with him a commitment to youth and community development.

And in 2003, as the nation clamored to its 2nd war in Iraq, the Burton Street Neighborhood (where his family had lived for 4 generations) continued working to recover from the recurring trauma of the war on drugs. Though he couldn’t stop the war in Iraq, he and his wife could do their small part to increase the peace within this historic neighborhood – and thus the Burton Street Community Peace Gardens (now Peace Gardens & Market) were born. The Peace Gardens are situated on the side of a hill in the heart of West Asheville’s Burton Street Community, a historically African American neighborhood established in the early 1900’s by community leader, Edward Walton Pearson, Sr.

In 2008, utilizing the Peace Gardens as a launchpad, Dewayne co-founded Green Opportunities.

Green Opportunities is a green jobs training program focused on lifting those from under-resourced and under-estimated communities. In 2015, DeWayne left Green Opportunities to create Hood Huggers International (HHI), Hood Tours, and the Community Accountability Plan (CAP) Framework – a systemic approach to community development using the arts, environment, and social enterprise.

Using HHI as a vehicle for his community-engaged social enterprise work, founder DeWayne Barton pursues the vision of “Rebuilding Affrilachia”. Affrilachia, a term coined by Frank X Walker, refers to African Americans living in Appalachia and it is an ever-evolving cultural landscape poised to render the invisible visible, containing a population that needs and deserves economic investment to ensure its visibility and thriving future. HHI uses the CAP framework which helps identify cooperative ambitions, celebrate and maintain connections, and builds accountability through a variety of community-centered projects at the intersections of economic development, environmental and social justice, and creativity. With various stakeholders, Hood Huggers International is dedicated to moving society toward a redesign of our lives to include 6 months of work and 6 months of play.

Where Are We Going?

Help us make the Blue Note Junction a reality!

Join us in our capital campaign as we raise funds to purchase, design, and break ground on our very own Health & Business Incubator…a synergistic mix of art, environment, and social enterprise – a destination where the health and wealth of the Black, Indigenious, People of Color (BIPOC) community takes center stage. Part cultural center, part neighborhood spa, part business incubator, this all-inclusive space will create a model for previously under-resourced and underestimated communities.

How Can You Help?


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