Building Sustainable Communities Together



Community Roots is an active, volunteer-run 501(c)3 with plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. Along with the WNC 100% Renewables Coalition we are working to move Asheville, Buncombe County and other communities to 100% renewable energy and establish the Rights of Nature.


The current law in North Carolina allows the State to make decisions about what happens in Cities and Counties without our involvement. The nationwide Community Rights Movement is putting that right and giving local communities the Right to decide what happens at home.

For example, in Asheville, the City passed a resolution to get to 100% renewable energy by 2040 but the State of North Carolina has legalized a monopoly of electricity production with Duke Energy. Duke Energy’s current course of action has us at 9% renewable energy by 2045.

We cannot reach the goals we have set if we continue with Duke Energy as our only electricity provider. We cannot use other electricity providers if we continue to comply with the State’s unjust monopoly laws.

The Community Bill of Rights is a City ordinance (i.e. a law) that allows us to disregard the State monopoly and choose our own electricity providers.

Our Right to a clean environment is being violated by Duke Energy and sanctioned by the state.

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The current law sees nature as property from which resources should be extracted in pursuit of endless economic growth and sees the Rights of a Corporation to make a profit as higher law than the Rights of the Planet or the People who live there. This has resulted in unsustainable environmental degradation and widespread social injustice.

The global Rights of Nature movement states that ecosystems have the Right to exist, to regenerate their vital cycles, to evolve and flourish outside of human interference. The Rights of Nature movement is passing laws around the world that give ecosystems legal standing so we humans can file suite, on behalf of the natural, world against corporate polluters.

Rights of Nature laws were written into the national constitution in Ecuador in 2008 and are currently being considered at the national level in Sweden. Rivers and forests have been given legal standing in Columbia, Boliva, India, Nepal, New Zealand and the US. Lake Erie, OH, was given legal standing in March 2019 and the Yukon River, CA in September 2019. Asheville’s Climate Bill of Rights will give the Rights of Nature to ecosystems within the City of Asheville.

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Our Board of Directors


Co-Founder & President: Kat Houghton Ph.D.

Kat is a psychologist committed to cultural change through facilitating personal transformation. Kat worked for 15 years with families of children with autism dedicated to changing within-family cultures from those of despair, or the drive to “fix” autism, to that of a deep appreciation of different world views and a focus on building bridges with empathy to communication.
Since 2009, Kat has been running the software company,, that provides wearable, mobile and web systems to psychologists and behavioral health researchers. These systems are part of the technological disruption of psychology that is allowing, for the first time, the systematic study of people in their natural environments, acknowledging the interconnectedness of humans with the rest of the world and the complexity of factors influencing individual behavior. Kat was instrumental in founding the Asheville Community Rights Movement which is moving towards local legislation to assert rights for self-governance and the rights of nature; a crucial step in dismantling corporate rule.


Program Director & Secretary: Suzannah Park

Suzannah is a singer, activist, teacher and comes from a family of three generations of traditional singers, storytellers and dancers. A native of Asheville, NC, she is the founder and director of the Wild Asheville Community Chorus as well as director of the Warren Wilson College Choir. She has been a part of the core team of Community Roots since the the fall of 2017. In the role of program director, Suzannah leads educational talks, marches, dance parties in the streets, works with local people, businesses, police officers and politicians. She actively promotes and engages in dismantling all systems of oppression and division. As the secretary for Community Roots she enjoys organizing, creating systems and keeping this citizen initiative moving forward.


Dawn Chávez

Dawn Chávez brings more than 20 years of leadership experience in nonprofit management in the environmental field to her role as the Executive Director of Asheville GreenWorks. A native of the Bronx in New York City, Dawn has lived and worked across the country in many different communities, from wilderness outposts to small towns to large urban centers. Throughout her career, Dawn has been passionate about equity issues, environmental protection and the intersection of the two. Before moving to Asheville in January 2015, Dawn worked in Boston for twelve years as director of the Boston Youth Environmental Network and education director of the Urban Ecology Institute. Dawn serves on the board of the Conservation Trust for North Carolina and the NC Center for Nonprofits. In her free time, Dawn enjoys hiking and camping in the mountains around Asheville with her husband, Andrew, two children, Noah and Phoebe and the family dog, Finn.


Ben Harper

Ben Harper is a social and environmental activist born in Abita Springs, LA. His exposure to extreme police corruption and environmental destruction in Louisiana led him to drop out of Architecture school and follow his passion to create a more regenerative, humane world. He first traveled to Taos, NM to attend an internship with Earthship Biotecture to learn how to build radically sustainable off-grid homes and then moved to Oakland, CA to build the P.L.A.C.E. for Sustainable Living and tour with the Sustainable Living Roadshow doing traveling environmental education all across the country. He worked on multiple GMO Labeling campaigns and has engaged in many acts of civil disobedience including blockading Monsanto's global headquarters during their shareholder meetings and blockading Monsanto's largest seed production facility in Oxnard, CA. He then moved to Asheville, NC to co-found the REAL Cooperative and the Asheville Tool Library which he now sits on the board of. He works full-time for Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and has shifted his activism focus towards community rights organizing and transitioning our society towards the emerging sharing economy. He has been planting seeds of community rights organizing in Asheville since 2015 when he organized the Corporate Person Birthday Party and later brought Paul Cienfugeos, a community rights leader, to Asheville for a weekend workshop. He has now merged his efforts with Community Roots to advance the Asheville Community Bill of Rights.


Kim Porter

Kim is a fabulous woman that we here in the land of Community Roots, love tremendously. Her bio is coming soon but know she is a community organizer and all around brilliant woman and we’re lucky to have her on our board.

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Steve Norris

Steve Norris is a retired professor at Warren Wilson College. He has been an activist since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. He now focuses his activism on climate and energy issues, specifically resisting the Atlantic Coast Pipeline with He is Community Roots beloved elder and his passion and knowledge and listening skills are deeply valued. Steve, we honor you.



 Community Roots is a founding member of the WNC 100% Renewables Coalition which includes the following organizations:

  • Dogwood Alliance

  • The Alliance for Energy Democracy

  • NC Warn

  • Alliance for the Protection of People and Places we Live (APPPL)

  • Beyond Extreme Energy

  • RenewAVL

  • Indivisible Asheville

  • Asheville

  • NC Climate Solutions Coalition

  • Justice Action Mobilization Network

  • Sierra Club

  • First Congregational Church Asheville

  • Citizens Climate Lobby

  • Mountain True

These organizations have joined together to plant seeds for a more sustainable future and dig our roots deeper for a stronger community. Join us in enacting a Climate Bill of Rights here in Asheville and stop our reliance on fracked gas and other unsustainable, polluting fossil fuels and move towards 100% renewable energy for the city and county.

Community Roots is an active, volunteer-run organization with plenty of opportunities for you to get involved. Along with the WNC 100% Renewables Coalition we are working to move Asheville, Buncombe County and other communities to 100% renewable energy.


Tyler Garrison


Tyler was a father, entrepreneur, environmental activist and Co-Founder of Community Roots. He had turned a pickup truck and 10×10 storage unit into a multi million dollar a year business now with three divisions. The Regeneration Station, Junk Recyclers, and Garage TRS are now staples in Asheville, keeping things out of landfills and offering customers entertaining and thrifty shopping experience in WNC. In addition to his businesses, he was a full time philanthropist and activist being on the ground in Standing Rock, Sabal Trail, and many other social and environmental causes. Tyler passed away in 2018. His spirit is with us still.


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