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From the Mountain Xpress:
From the Citizen-Times:
Burton Street continues revival with Mystic Dreams
By Barbara Blake
WEST ASHEVILLE — It seems there’s always a dream around the corner in the Burton Street community.
The residents of this longtime neighborhood just off Haywood Road had a dream that the modern-day, drug- and crime-infested chunk of West Asheville would return to its safe and close-knit roots of the past.
And with determination and collaboration with local police, it has.
Other dreams followed and became reality: building what is now the lush, productive Burton Street Community Peace Gardens; erecting a proud sign welcoming visitors to the Burton Street community; creating a neighborhood association and a master plan for the community; reviving the historical summertime agriculture fairs and sharing the gardens’ bounty.
On Saturday, Burton Street’s latest dream came true when a brand-new, open-air pavilion and educational classroom called Mystic Dreams was dedicated on the grounds of the Peace Gardens.
The building will be used for myriad purposes, from gardening classes for neighbors to art projects for kids using found objects and recycled materials — all with an eye on consumer waste and sustainability with a focus on social, economic and environmental justice.
“Honestly, as we move forward, the goal we’re working toward is to create an inclusive and fully engaged community that is not just interested, but active, in making their community a better space,” said Safi Mahaba, who founded the Peace Gardens with her husband, DeWayne Barton.
“This project is just a little cornerstone for other projects we’re getting ready to kick off in the community,” she said, “and our dream ultimately is to become a model for other communities to follow with sustainability, creativity and neighborliness.”
A collaborative project of the nonprofit Asheville Design Center, the new structure is the result of its first Design-Build Studio. The project involved five students from N.C. State, Appalachian State University and Virginia Tech who spent 10 weeks this summer designing, finding materials and constructing the building. At every step, the project was designed to build on “the spirit of reuse and repurposing exemplified in the gardens to create a truly unique, beautiful, and functional community outdoor space,” Mahaba said.
Working with a low budget funded mostly through donations from local architects and builders, the three male and two female students — whose academic fields range from architecture and landscape architecture to construction management — spent much of their focus on the search for materials.
“We have some new materials for the structure, some was donated, and some we got on craigslist, but a lot of other materials were right here in the garden, and we got creative in how we used them,” said Luke Perry, a volunteer consultant with ADC and overseer of the project.
One of the students’ assignments was to do a “materials scavenger hunt,” Perry said. “We wanted the students to take this broad range of material palette and work off this vision and transform it into a functional building that works but is still beautiful and carries the ethos and spirit of the garden.”
Among the found objects was an 8-by-10-foot Texaco sign that is now a sliding door to the pavilion. The name of the building itself — Mystic Dreams — comes from a big plastic sign that was found by one of the students. Old metal ironing boards serve as benches and work spaces, rain-catching gutters for irrigation of the gardens were created from big water jugs, an old red stop sign serves as a work table.
“What’s cool is that it seems organic, like we just added stuff as we went,” said Jay Holt, a rising junior studying architecture at N.C. State. “But there’s definitely logic to everything, and it’s all here for a reason.”
Neighbors and supporters who flocked to the site to see the new building were surrounded by the aroma of fresh vegetable pizzas baking in the Cobb oven in the garden and meats and vegetables sizzling on the grill nearby, as they sipped beer, wine and lemonade and swayed to the music of Leonard Mapp.
Ekua Adisa, a neighbor who was helping throw the celebration party and who has watched the project evolve throughout the summer, said she is happy to see a space for community education in her own neighborhood, to complement the garden she visits often.
“I think this is going to help bring the community together even more,” she said. “I’m honored to have seen this come together, and to be able to frequent the garden and this space … it’s been magical.”
Holt said the summer has also been pretty magical for him and the other four students who worked on the project.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to be part of something you designed,” he said. “And then to see it coming to fruition and actually happening, and having these people here, is awesome.”
“I think this is going to help bring the community together even more.” said Ekua Adisa.
Asheville community celebrates new education classroom and pavilion, called Mystic Dreams
Burton Street residents in Asheville hold a celebration and dedication of their new education classroom and outdoor learning space called Mystic Dreams.