My ongoing goal is to amplify the positive in our community, like the Hood Huggers Green Book, a project I am part of which I got to write about for the the latest issue of the Urban News. You can see (and download) the print layout by clicking here, or you can pick up a copy of the paper around town (they have a box in front of the Pack Library). I’ve pasted the text below as well.

Hood Huggers Green Book:
A Resource Grid for Economic Development

Earlier this year, DeWayne Barton’s organization, Hood Huggers International, launched Hood Tours, tours of Asheville’s historically African American neighborhoods that highlight their resilient history and future. Everyone who takes a Hood Tour gets a copy of the Hood Huggers Green Book, a directory of African American businesses and organizations.

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DeWayne Barton, Hood Huggers International. Photo by Steve Mann.

The idea for the Hood Huggers Green Book was based on the Negro Motorist Green Book, a guidebook for African Americans which was published from 1936 to 1966, during the Jim Crow era. It was intended to provide African American tourists with the information necessary to board, dine, and sightsee comfortably and safely during the era of segregation (source: Wikipedia).

“The history of the Green Book is powerful and I wanted to educate people about it and then bring it up to date to 2016 to talk about how a concept like that could be used to support businesses and organizations whose missions are to improve the overall conditions of our African American community,” says DeWayne. “We feel that business owners have a role to play in helping to rebuild the capacity of neighborhoods.” Using the Green Book as an outline of the resource grid that exists in the African American community, it is a tool to support community success.

“Having worked in the community for a couple of decades, we have seen some of the gaps and a lack of the collaboration and connection that would allow businesses to be more successful,” DeWayne explains. “We also see the importance of creating the next generation of business owners to be sustained for the long term.”

“Like a power grid, the Green Book lays out power points within the community in terms of business and programming,” says DeWayne. “The goal now is for people to build out that power grid by supporting those businesses and connecting with those organizations so that the dots on the power grid are interlocked.” When this power or resource grid is activated, it can create a pipeline for economic development and opportunity.

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Hosea Jackson, Haywood Lounge

Examples of this could be when a person refers to the Green Book to hire M.S. LEAN Landscaping to cut their lawn, then Stephen Smith (owner of MS LEAN) uses that money to pay a young person from the My Community Matters program to do landscaping work. Or if Hosea Jackson, owner of the Haywood Lounge, buys greens from a community garden in the Green Book and then promotes the garden at his restaurant. “The sale is not just me and you, the sale is me and you and then it goes to something else, and then to something else, and it continues to feed,” DeWayne explains.

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Stephen Smith, MS LEAN Landscaping. Photo by Steve Mann.

For Hood Huggers, Hood Tours and the Green Book are part of a larger community development effort that includes developing financial literacy and savings programs for youth, and helping them develop the skills needed to pursue entrepreneurship. Moreover, says DeWayne, “We put the Green Book into the hands of young people so they can see that these businesses exist and that these organizations are designed to support them. We use it to help encourage the next generation of leaders.”

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Shuvonda Harper, My Community Matters Empowerment Program. Photo by Steve Mann.

The current version of the Green Book and the resource grid it highlights is just a start. “We want it to grow. First it gets stronger, then as it gets stronger it would tend to expand.”

If you would like to have your business or organization included in the Hood Huggers Green Book, email info@hoodhuggers.com or call 275-5305.

For more information on Hood Huggers International, go to hoodhuggers.com.