DeWayne Barton

DeWayne Barton
Location: Asheville, North Carolina Cohort Start Year: 2017 Project Topics: Employment, Environmental Justice Population Served: Low-Income Communities
Community Engagement Coordinator
Buncombe County Health and Human Services

Hood Huggers International, LLC, offers sustainable strategies for building support pillars for resilient historically African-American neighborhoods, providing a framework for community capacity building while helping to create spaces that absorb trauma and increasing the effectiveness of existing service programs. These strategies incorporate the arts, social enterprise, and the environment, building a culture of stability that is inclusive and economically just.

STRATEGIC INITIATIVE: Burton Street Peace Gardens: Improving Systemic Health Through the Arts, Environment, and Social Enterprise
Our strategic initiative is the Burton Street Peace Gardens and its historically African American neighborhood. We catalyze existing resources within our community, focusing on the arts, environment, and social enterprise to address systemic health issues. The Gardens are a connection platform, bringing together residents and others. Our initiative will expand these physical platforms (e.g., upgrade stages, install solar panels) to support programming such as meditation and music performances. We will also build a digital platform, including an augmented reality tour of the gardens and QR codes that provide historical information about the African American community. We will create on-site businesses, include environmental-focused art, and build a hands-on lab that supports creative activities. Our initiative also includes the Community Accountability Plan Guidebook, describing our best practices so that Culture of Health green spaces can be replicated across the world.

I am a social entrepreneur, a veteran, and a visual and performing artist who uses creative expression and experience to help protect, promote, and expand the dreams and goals of neighborhoods in the Affrilachian region.

Click here to watch DeWayne’s Legacy Project video.