Around Town: Community workday celebrates Burton Street neighborhood

BELOVED COMMUNITY: The Burton Street Peace Gardens will be among the many locations tended to during a rescheduled Martin Luther King Jr. Day community work day, taking place Saturday, Feb. 26. Photo courtesy of Hood Huggers International

In 1906, E.W. Pearson arrived in Asheville and soon thereafter established the Burton Street neighborhood. A veteran of the Spanish-American War, Pearson remained in his adopted city until his death on July 4, 1946. An entrepreneur, community leader and Renaissance man, Pearson established the Buncombe County District Colored Agricultural Fair in 1914 (which ran for more than three decades) and launched the Royal Giants — Asheville’s first Black semiprofessional baseball team — in 1916.

Today, the Burton Street community “remains a historically African American neighborhood, full of rich Black history,” says Catherine Siravantha, communications specialist for Hood Huggers International, a local tour group established by DeWayne Barton that focuses on Asheville’s African American historic sites.

On Saturday, Feb. 26, noon-4 p.m., Hood Huggers will co-sponsor a community workday in the Burton Street neighborhood. The event, originally scheduled to take place on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, was rescheduled due to snowfall. Planned projects include but are not limited to the removal of an old greenhouse, cleaning up Smith Mill Creek, picking up trash, repairing and weatherizing homes, and designing and laying out garden beds at The Vine Community Garden.

“The MLK Day of service is a defining moment each year when Americans across the country step up to make our communities more equitable and take action to create the beloved community of Dr. Kingʼs dream,” Siravantha says. “While Dr. King believed the beloved community was possible, he acknowledged and fought for systemic change. His example is our call to action.”

Along with Hood Huggers, the event is co-sponsored by RiverLink, Asheville Parks & Recreation, Asheville Creative Arts, Energy Savers Network and the Burton Street Community Association.

Anybody wishing to volunteer should go to 47 Burton St. There will be an orientation at noon, but anybody who arrives later is welcome and will be given guidance. Folks are encouraged to RSVP at

Telling tales

Oh, the stories you’ll tell.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will offer Crafting Stories from Nature on Saturday, Feb. 26, 1-4 p.m., at Christmount Christian Assembly in Black Mountain. The event, originally scheduled for January, was postponed due to concerns over COVID-19.

“We will discuss how to find stories in the natural world and in our daily life, and how to craft engaging narratives that celebrate the richness of the human experience,” says master storyteller Doug Elliott, who will lead the workshop. “We will think about how we can recognize an incident, encounter, problem or question that might become the mythic, archetypal ‘call to adventure,’ which can lead us on an engaging narrative journey.”

The workshop leader will also give tips about how to incorporate dialogue and dialect into a story.

Elliott, who lives in Rutherford County, says Western North Carolina’s traditional tales and folklore are deeply intertwined with nature. “Plant and animal stories and lore are a big part of the culture and the narratives of the Appalachian people and a rich resource for storytellers,” he says.

A self-described “naturalist, herbalist, storyteller, basket maker, backcountry guide, philosopher and harmonica wizard,” Elliott has performed and presented programs at festivals, museums, botanical gardens, nature centers and schools from Canada to the Caribbean.

Tickets are $35-$45. The event will be held in the meeting room of the guest house at Christmount Christian Assembly, 222 Fern Way, Black Mountain. Participants will receive driving and parking directions ahead of time. For more information or to register, visit

Waste not

When he was in his early 20s, Rob Greenfield was obsessed with material possessions, financial wealth and social status. He had the goal of being a millionaire by age 30.

But at 24, something changed for the Asheville author and activist.

“I  began to explore deeply the impact of my daily actions on the Earth, my community and myself,” he says. “This included the food I was eating and understanding the toll driving my car took on the environment. I decided to transform my life to live more harmoniously with Earth, humanity and all our plant and animal relatives.”

Greenfield’s desire to extoll the benefits of a more environmentally friendly life led him to write Zero Waste Kids: Hands-On Projects and Activities to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The book, geared toward children ages 8-12, was recently published by Quarry Books.

“To get kids actively involved in zero-waste activities helps them better grasp their place on this Earth,” he says. “Zero-waste isn’t the solution to all the world’s problems, but a very good place to start and that’s really the primary message: Start with small, manageable steps and have fun.”

All of Greenfield’s proceeds from the book will be donated to grassroots environmental initiatives.

For more information or to purchase the book, visit

Time to talk

TEDx Asheville returns for the first time in more than two years on Sunday, Feb. 27, 1-6 p.m., at the Wortham Center for the Performing Arts. The event, Building Bridges, Opening Doors, will also be livestreamed.

Reggie Tidwell, founder of Asheville graphic design business Curve Theory, and Amy Climer, a facilitator, speaker and coach, will emcee. Nine speakers are lined up: Lyndon Harris, Jeffrey Kaplan, Maiysha Clairborne, Nikki Robinson, Justin Jones-Fosu, J Hackett, Ginger Huebner, Hannah Williams and Jennifer MacDonald.

“We look to become a ‘hub of hope’ by sharing inspirational stories of personal growth, community engagement and, as always, groundbreaking ideas,” organizers say in a press release.

The TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities with TED Talks and live speakers. TEDx Asheville is independently organized by community leaders.

For more information or to get tickets to the live or online event, go to

Sphere of influence

Tracey Morgan Gallery will present Spheric, an exhibition of oil-on-canvas paintings by Asheville artist Ralston Fox Smith Friday, Feb. 25-Saturday, April 9. An opening reception with the artist takes place Feb. 25, 6-8 p.m.

Spheric is Smith’s second show with the gallery and will be presented in conjunction with a solo exhibition by Spartanburg, S.C., artist Ben Nixon.

“Long enamored with lines and rectangular shapes, Smith has recently begun incorporating spheres in his work, adding further opportunities for visual play and challenges in spacial awareness,”  a gallery press release notes. “Layering and shading evoke a sense of movement, and the deceptively simple renderings continue to reveal new elements, if given time to do so.”

The Tracey Morgan Gallery, 188 Coxe Ave., is open Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. For more information, visit

Black History Month Awards

Black Wall Street AVL will present Black History Month Awards at the Black Wall Street AVL New Building on Saturday, Feb. 26, at 5 p.m.

Awards presented at the dinner include Community Leader, Business Trailblazer, Outstanding Elder and Emerging Young Leader. Speakers will be Bruce Waller, director of Black Wall Street, and J Hackett, founder of the organization.

Food will be provided by Ramona Young, owner of the Kente Kitchen Market, and Stephen Moore, owner of The Broke Stove. DJ Twan will be the featured entertainer.

The Black Wall Street AVL New Building is at 8 River Arts Place. For more information or to register for the free event, go to

Colorful images

Tickets are on sale for the sixth annual Color Me Goodwill fashion show, presented by Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina. The fashion show, featuring collections by seven local designers, takes place Friday, April 29, at 7 p.m., at The Orange Peel, 101 Biltmore Ave.

Each of the seven designers will present a runway collection based on a selected color, using materials found at local Goodwill stores. Designers compete for a first-place prize of $500, awarded by a panel of expert judges, and an audience choice prize of $200.

Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets may be purchased through The Orange Peel box office at For more information, visit


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About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

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