Green Roundup: Community leader releases book about developing sustainable cultures

NEW PLAN: Hood Huggers International founder and CEO DeWayne Barton says that his new book is set up similarly to a football playbook, but instead of scoring touchdowns, the “plays” help achieve community goals. Photo courtesy of Hood Huggers International

Hood Huggers International founder and CEO DeWayne Barton released his new book, The CAP Playbook: Phase One, on Aug. 14. The book’s Community Accountability Plan lays out a vision for creating a sustainable, inclusive and economically empowered culture in historically marginalized communities. Barton notes that the book is set up similarly to a football playbook, but instead of scoring touchdowns, the “plays” help achieve community goals.

“I want to create the same culture and passion that we have around sports around helping people, communities and the environment,” says Barton. “People will rally behind their favorite sports team, and I want to see that same drive behind organizing the community, improving the environment and supporting social justice.”

Barton says the book targets three main elements: the arts, the environment and social enterprise. In conjunction, these elements improve communities, particularly those that have been historically neglected.

“With CAP, businesses, nonprofits, community volunteers and government agencies can operate in collaborative response to the plans of neighborhood leaders, working to help manifest their vision and build momentum, rather than just prescribing solutions or programs that don’t work,” says Barton. “At the end of the day, it’s all about creating a culture that is sustainable and economically just, all at the grassroots level.”

Barton emphasized the importance of the environment as a part of his plan. “A major part of the book and CAP as a whole is about making the restoration of the planet a universal sport,” Barton says. “Because if we, together, don’t change the way we treat each other and the planet, nobody’s going to have a real cool place to stay.”

The CAP Playbook: Phase One can be purchased on Amazon or at Barnes & Noble.

Tips for preventing wildfires

As North Carolina transitions to the fall, the N.C. Forest Service is reminding the public to be careful, ready and responsible when burning outdoors.

Typically, wildfires occur more frequently from October through early December. Outdoor fires left unattended can get out of hand quickly, becoming wildfires that threaten lives and property. According to the NCFS, there were nearly 6,400 wildfires that burned more than 24,000 acres in North Carolina in 2022, 99% of which were caused by humans.

“As more of our state’s acreage is developed and our population continues to grow, we’ll have more people actively living and recreating in areas where homes and forest and woodlands meet,” said N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler in a media release. “Increased human activity traditionally leads to more wildfires.

“Backyard debris burning, escaped campfires and machine and vehicle use are common forms of human-caused wildfires,” Troxler said. “Steps to reduce wildfire risks begin at home by creating a defensible space and making fire-resistant landscape choices. Remember, we are our best defense against wildfires.”

For those who choose to burn, the N.C. Forest Service offers the following tips:

  • Make sure you have a valid permit. You can obtain a burn permit at any N.C. Forest Service office or at an authorized permitting agent.
  • Check the weather. Never burn on dry, windy days.
  • Keep fires small, not tall.
  • Be sure you are fully prepared before burning. To control the fire, you will need a water hose, bucket, steel rake and a shovel for tossing dirt on the fire. Keep a phone nearby as well.
  • Never use kerosene, gasoline, diesel fuel or other flammable liquids to speed up burning.
  • Never leave a fire. Stay with it until it is completely out.

For helpful information and tips to safely burn outdoors, visit the N.C. Forest Service Fire Safety Outdoors webpage at

Good to know

  • Henderson County residents Michael Keen and Alexander Mihalas have been named the 2023 recipients of The Pisgah Chapter of Trout Unlimited William L. Arbuckle Memorial Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 each. The scholarship’s focus is to cultivate future biologists and conservationists who will continue to protect and restore coldwater fisheries and their watersheds across the Appalachian region.
  • The N.C. Land and Water Fund awarded the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy $4.37 million for its Deaverview Mountain project, getting the project nearly halfway to its $8.8 million funding goal. The funds will be used to conserve Deaverview Mountain by turning the 343-acre mountaintop into a public park.
  • Local environmental group MountainTrue is partnering with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to provide septic repair grants to qualifying homeowners in Buncombe, Henderson, Mitchell, Transylvania, Yancey and Madison counties. To learn more about the septic repair program and MountainTrue, visit
  • On Sept. 29, The Conservation Fund and the Maggie Valley Sanitary District announced the protection of an additional 1,250 acres within the Maggie Valley watershed priority conservation area west of Asheville. The acquisition will nearly triple the amount of land protected by The Conservation Fund and the sanitary district in the valley, bringing the total to roughly 2,000 acres made up of dozens of properties.
  • The N.C. General Assembly’s 2023-25 budget invests $54.9 million in trail and greenway infrastructure in North Carolina. Fund allocations include $12 million to Conserving Carolina for ongoing development of the Saluda Grade Corridor Trail in Henderson and Polk counties, as well as $2.5 million to Camp Grier G5 Trail Collective for trail construction and related improvements at the Grandfather Ranger District of Pisgah National Forest.
  • On Oct. 3, the YMCA of Western North Carolina flipped the switch on its new solar panel installations at the Reuter Family YMCA facility. According to a media release, the Y says the installation allows it to take a significant step toward sustainability and demonstrates its commitment to environmental stewardship.
  • Emissions of harmful air pollutants like nitrogen oxides and particulate matter have reached historic lows across North Carolina, according to the latest update of the “Air Quality Trends in North Carolina” report published by the N.C. Division of Air Quality. According to the report, a major reason for these declines is cleaner electricity production from solar development across the state. The full report can be found at

Save the date 

  • Local nonprofit EcoForesters is holding a free Forestry Workshop 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 21, in partnership with Madison County Extension Office and the N.C. Forest Service to help landowners learn how to identify and control nonnative invasive species. Attendees will learn how invasive species have affected forest health and what can be done to mitigate their impact. More information can be found at
  • The Safe Passage Fund Coalition is hosting a short-film screening on wildlife crossings in Southern Appalachia 5-9 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26. The event will feature multiple guest speakers, live music, food trucks and a short tour of the plēb Urban Winery. More information can be found at
  • GreenWorks’ 2023 Fall Tree Adoption registration is now open. Buncombe County residents can adopt a tree and pick it up on Sunday, Oct. 29.  GreenWorks is requesting that participants make a minimum $10 donation with all funds going to support urban forestry efforts throughout the county. More information can be found at
  • The WNC Nature Center will host a behind-the-scenes tour 1:30-3 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 12. The event will give visitors the opportunity to meet the zookeepers, experience an animal enrichment session and learn about the feeding and care of the center’s animals. More information and the registration link can be found at



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About Chase Davis
Chase Davis is an Asheville-based reporter working for Mountain Xpress. He was born and raised in Georgia and holds a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from LaGrange College. Follow me @ChaseDavis0913

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