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Table of Contents Welcome: Carlton Turner, Executive Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2


Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Organizational Strategy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Programs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Institutional Development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Communications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

ROOTS REUNION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 About the Reunion. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Key Milestones. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Founders of Alternate ROOTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Honors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

38 38 41 45

ROOTS WEEK PROGRAM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57 Welcome: Robert Martin, Executive Committee Chair . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Note about Programming. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Learning Exchanges & Self-Organized Space. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Performances & Exhibitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

58 59 61 70

ROOTS WEEK & REUNION ORIENTATION . . . . . . . . . . 78

Important Info. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78 Meeting Agreements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80 Glossary of Terms. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 81

Funders, Sponsors, and Special Thanks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 82

Welcome: Carlton Turner, Executive Director It is my esteemed pleasure to welcome you to the 40th Anniversary of Alternate ROOTS. Reaching 40 years in the field of arts, culture, and social justice is a tremendous milestone for any arts organization, and particularly special for one founded on the explicit principle of engaging creativity to manifest the world we want to live in. In his book What Is Life?, New Orleans writer Kalamu ya Salaam posits that it is the strength of the extended family that has always provided us the ability to weather the constantly shifting seas of life. ROOTS is that extended family for so many artists, activists, cultural organizers, educators, and youth across the South. ROOTS has supported the creation, presentation, and professional and cultural development of hundreds of artists since its inception, and because of that legacy, ROOTS is now a leading contributor to the national cultural landscape in areas of diversity, inclusion, and equity.

I’m not only the executive director, I am a son of ROOTS – raised up through the ranks from a regional representative, to the Executive Committee, a grant recipient, and receiver of professional development, mentorship, and guidance. I am a son of John O’Neal, Nayo Watkins, Kathie deNobriga, Dudley Cocke, Alice Lovelace, Bob Leonard, and many others. Their practices and wisdom are part of my cultural and artistic DNA. The constant struggle to ensure that our humanity is recognized becomes an act of collective resistance because this extended family supports and loves its folks. What is really important about many artists’ relationships with ROOTS is that the organization doesn’t make a distinction between being an artist and a citizen. We work hard to honor the complexity of the human experience by valuing the artist as a full being. It is this foundational purpose that makes ROOTS a unique place for cultural development. A 40th anniversary is a momentous occasion, so you have before you a fairly epic volume. This document includes three sections: a threeyear organizational report, writings about the 40th Reunion celebration, and the program book for ROOTS Week. We’ve placed these pieces together to help us reflect on the past, present, and future, so that we can weave these reflections into a compelling story about who we are and who we will be. Congratulations, Alternate ROOTS! Thank you for your investment in arts, culture, and social justice, and thank you for your investment in me. CARLTON TURNER Executive Director Utica, MS



Introduction To The Three-Year Report REFLECTIONS FROM RON RAGIN, EDITOR OF 40TH ANNIVERSARY PUBLICATIONS When I received an email from Nicole GurgelSeefeldt, asking me if I would consider working as editor for the 40th Anniversary publication and authoring Alternate ROOTS’ three-year organizational report, I couldn’t help but smile. In the five years that I’ve been part of the ROOTS family, I have learned and grown in ways that I couldn’t have imagined. I’ve met some of my best friends, seeded new artistic collaborations, sat at the feet of so many elders, and fundamentally shifted my practices as an artist and cultural organizer. The opportunity to make a contribution to ROOTS through this report seems like the least I could do. The past three years witnessed profound growth for Alternate ROOTS, and not in the areas of finance and operations alone. The strategic planning process that unfolded during this report period led to some deep changes in the organization’s strategy of engagement with its members and peer institutions, as well as attendant changes in

programs. ROOTS’ current strategic plan, which extends through 2018, is the outgrowth of decades of work, but especially reflects the thoughtful work in which the members and staff engaged from 2013 to 2015. Working with staff, we’ve tried to keep this report easy-to-read, engaging, and well … ROOTS-y. So readers will notice use of the words “we” and “us,” the meaning of which move fluidly depending on whether we’re talking about staff (many of whom are members), the larger ROOTS membership, or the many people and organizations with whom ROOTS partners. This fluidity may go without saying, but I want to clearly name it. In keeping with ROOTS’ strong tradition of honoring history and learning from the past, this report attempts to trace the recent trajectory that led us to the present. You can think of it as a prequel to the current strategic plan, the story of the continued diversification and deepening of ROOTS members’ work – locally, regionally, and nationally.

IN LOOKING BACK, WE ASK OURSELVES NOT JUST WHAT WE’VE DONE AND WHAT WE’VE LEARNED, BUT HOW WE WILL APPLY THOSE LESSONS AS WE MOVE STRONGLY INTO THE FUTURE. I am excited to see how this story continues to unfold and to do my part to contribute to the narrative. RON RAGIN Editor of 40th Anniversary Publications Ontario, CA by way of Perry, GA


Organizational Strategy Over the past three years – and beforehand – it has become increasingly clear that Alternate ROOTS has numerous opportunities to deepen its impact. As an organization of member-artists working intensively in their communities, this impact ranges from hyper-local to regional to (inter)national. Building our potential to make profound and fundamental changes toward a more just world is slow and complex work over time, and the shifts in organizational strategy and collaboration described below are only a few of the efforts that have helped ROOTS move the needle in that direction.

LOOKING INSIDE: RESOURCES FOR SOCIAL CHANGE, FROM PROGRAM TO CORE VALUE Resources for Social Change (RSC) began in the early 1990s as a training program, developed by ROOTS, to strengthen the practice of artists working for social change through their art. The program began in recognition of the need to institutionalize ROOTS’ knowledge in the field and grew into a kind of think/do tank, with core members holding monthly meetings and collectively building a praxis. RSC trainers were artists experienced and schooled in the methods of using and bringing art into communities that traditionally may not have considered the important role that the arts can play in addressing oppressions and effecting social change. Trainers taught methods for initiating and building partnerships between cultural workers and their community partners, and ways of using the arts as “search engines” in community work. In addition, the program provided training, mentorship, and peer education to artists, cultural workers, arts administrators, students, and community activists from diverse cultures and disciplines. Local artists presented case studies of model projects taking place within their communities.

The program developed, as a part of its core curriculum, the following five principles of working in community, values that are now present throughout all ROOTS programs and operations:



Additionally, two notable publications by RSC members remain valuable contributions to the field and are still used by ROOTS members and our organization: The RSC Workbook and The Partnerships Work Kit. In 2013, the program transformed in recognition of the fact that we are all resources for social change. Now, RSC has become an organizational principle, embedded in all programs and threaded throughout all actions and decisions. We can see this shift from program to principle reflected in many of the areas of the report that follows, from the deepening of partnerships with ROOTS-funded projects in Partners in Action to the creation of ROOTS Weekends that highlight the ongoing transformational work of artists in communities throughout the South. As ROOTS continues to grow and develop, the organization more broadly is shifting from a service orientation to that of action. So, what does this mean? Historically, ROOTS has primarily acted as a passthrough for resources but aspired to be an active collaborator in member engagements. The shift toward action is one that brings the growing ROOTS staff into deeper partnership with members


across all programs, and allows the organization to build deeper partnerships with peer organizations across the South and the country. This partnershipin-action stance will allow the entire ROOTS community to have a deeper and wider impact through its work. Over its 20-year lifespan, RSC provided vibrant annual programs to hundreds of participants, and its committed core of facilitators/trainers consistently evolved the program, helping to catalyze change throughout the ROOTS region. We, as individual and organizational members as well as staff, will continue to steward the legacy of this important work in all of our social change efforts going forward.

BUILDING A REGIONAL MOVEMENT: SOUTHERN MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY REFLECTIONS FROM NIKKI BROWN, MEMBER OF SOUTHERN MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY GOVERNANCE COUNCIL My first Southern Movement Assembly or “SMA” encounter was at the first gathering in Lowndes County, Alabama in 2012. Individuals, activists, and organization members honored our movement ancestors, sat at the feet of movement elders such as Scotty B. and Gwen Patton, and heard from a new generation of youth leaders working on The Student Bill of Rights. We looked at the reality of our local and national political landscape, from

the 60s into this new millennium, and we created our own tent city. From this first gathering was birthed The People’s 100 days, a series of actions taking place in multiple cities across the South to put newly elected “powers that be” on notice. The people are watching. Will you keep your promises? “So what exactly is an SMA,” you ask?



our movement work, which is happening locally and regionally, and created an organizing institute and 10-city organizing tour to share skills across communities. It wasn’t until the fourth gathering at the Project South office in Atlanta that SMA deeply incorporated the work of artists and culture workers into our approach. It took time and many conversations with our co-anchors, but we created a healing space with a counselor on call, brought in a massage therapist and reiki and energy work practitioners, and incorporated arts supplies and a break out session lead by Alternate ROOTS on the importance of art in the social justice movement. SpiritHouse and Alternate ROOTS are two of 13 anchor organizations supporting this effort, and we’ve helped create a space that increasingly honors the role of artists and cultural organizers in this new branch of social justice movements. Over the past three years, we’ve organized a total of five SMA gatherings across the South. Many important developments and actions have occurred, including organizing a rapid response Dignity Walk across Florida to commemorate the unjust deaths of people like Trayvon Martin and to shout down the injustice of the court system that had Marissa Alexander fighting for her freedom. We developed principles of unity to help govern

SMA V, which occurred in New Orleans during the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, was the most art-infused to date. It included a vibrant healing space, a day of performances in Congo Square (featuring ROOTers such as Sunni Patterson and Shaka Zulu), and art installations throughout the city, including ECOHYBRIDITY: LOVE SONG FOR NOLA, a visual [black] opera in 5 movements, created by ROOTS artist kai lumumba barrow. And still other ROOTers such as Carlton Turner, Tufara Muhammad, Trap Bonner, and SpiritHouse facilitated front line assemblies. All these efforts have brought us to the current Southern People’s Initiatives: • May 1st Initiative for a New Social Economy • People’s Democracy Initiative for Power & Movement Governance • Protect & Defend Initiative to End State Violence You can learn more at www.southtosouth.org. Clearly, the work of ROOTers falls into each of these initiatives, and I sincerely hope to see more ROOTS members, as well as the overall spirit of ROOTS, continuing to infuse the SMA process. NIKKI BROWN Southern Movement Assembly Governance Council ROOTS Executive Committee Durham, NC



between the partner organizations, the initiative has four long-term outcomes: 1. Build stronger, strategic intercultural collaborations and solidarity in the field of arts, culture, and social justice 2. Promote the traditional and contemporary practices of artists and culture bearers, within old and new structures 3. Enhance the capacity of artists, culture bearers and arts organizations to pursue cultural equity and sustain their work in a changing environment 4. Shift discourse and endow greater resources in multiple sectors to support transformative practices of artists and culture bearers

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts a people-ofcolor majority by 2044. As this shift emerges, we cannot assume solidarity across cultures. We must cultivate it. Throughout history, divide-and-conquer strategies have hampered efforts at building the diverse coalitions necessary to sustain long-term and systemic social change. How do we move beyond cross-cultural efforts, which emphasize comparing and contrasting differences, to intercultural efforts, which stress where and how we meet and foster mutual accountability? How do we cultivate interculturally competent leaders who are deeply culturally rooted and can also work together across difference to co-create solutions to the most pressing challenges of our time? What experiences, skills, and tools do they need? The Intercultural Leadership Institute is a response to these questions in these times. It is a collaborative effort between Alternate ROOTS, First People’s Fund, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and PA’I Foundation. Developed through years of conversations and collaborations

To date, the Intercultural Leadership Institute has hosted one pilot session (September 28 October 1, 2015), which engaged 25 leaders from across the country and from many cultures. The curriculum for the pilot emphasized deepening the understanding of who we are, how we work, where we are, and why we matter. The full initiative will be launched in the spring of 2017, as a series of convenings in the Southwest, the South, the Plains, and Hawaiian Islands. Given ROOTS’ longstanding commitment to eliminating all forms of oppression and to open dialogue, ROOTS members will certainly be strong contributors to and beneficiaries of this growing community of intercultural practice.



The evolution of the Community/Artists Partnership Program (C/APP) into Partners in Action (PIA) marks one of the largest programmatic shifts that the ROOTS organization has made in an effort to grow its capacity to support members. While C/APP was a long-term and successful re-granting program, providing more than $500,000 dollars to over 100 community-based projects, there was an increasing awareness that members and their communities were looking for more than money. Alternate ROOTS staff began to ask, “How can we leverage the collective resources of the organization in service of the artist-community partnership? How can we connect the local work of ROOTS members to relevant national movements and resources?” Building on C/APP’s strong history, the transformation to PIA signifies a deeper connection between ROOTS and the partner projects. In the past, ROOTS took a somewhat distanced stance from individual C/APP projects, primarily providing funds, and requiring a mentor and final report.


In this new PIA approach, ROOTS is more integrally involved in partners’ projects, envisioning them as an on-the-ground opportunity to demonstrate our collective approach to community organizing through the arts. This focus on multifaceted partnership brings additional support and resources to partners, including: • •

Increase in maximum award amounts from $5,000 to $20,000 A simpler application with added community visits during the selection process; these visits are an intentional organizing strategy and even applicants who aren’t funded report to staff that the visits are an enormous resource and benefit for their work Explicit provision of technical and staff support from ROOTS

In addition to these structural shifts to the program, each year ROOTS Week’s themes and programming are now directly linked to the issues and concerns of the PIA cohort.









ARTISTIC ASSISTANCE SUPPORT FROM ARTISTIC ASSISTANCE WAS CRITICAL IN SUPPORTING THE CREATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND PREMIERE OF MY FIRST SOLO-PRODUCED WORK... IT ALLOWED ME TO REACH A MILESTONE IN MY CAREER AND TO SUPPORT ROOTS MEMBERS WHO WERE PART OF MY CREATIVE TEAM. From 2013-2015, the Artistic Assistance program provided more than $275,000 to 131 projects. ROOTS members can apply for resources to support the presentation of work, professional development, or the development of artistic projects. Though the average award amount per project is a modest $3,115, a little can go a long way in communities that don’t always have strong institutional or government support for artists working for positive social change. As 2015 recipient Rebecca Mwase shared, “Support from Artistic Assistance was critical in supporting the creation, development,


and premier of my first solo-produced work, Looking at A Broad. It allowed me to reach a milestone in my career and to support ROOTS members who were part of my creative team.” These investments in ROOTers and their communities help to strengthen the artwork and skills required to get the work done. Artistic Assistance has seen slow and steady growth in the annual number of funded projects, the number of dollars granted, and the average size of the grant award.





Alternate ROOTS is a community in diaspora, so one of the most important things we do is gather together – to find fellowship, to learn, and to celebrate each other. ROOTS Weekends are a new addition to our programmatic repertoire. They serve as a condensed, three-day version of ROOTS Week that allows the organization to engage artist

members where they live and work. Six regional gatherings will be held throughout the South from 2015-2017, bringing artists, activists, and cultural organizers together to build community and exchange practices through workshops, dialogues, visual arts, and performances.



The first ROOTS Weekend took place September 18-20, 2015 in New Orleans, Louisiana. We explored the theme “Resilience to Resistance” with sessions on topics such as mass incarceration, the principles of cultural organizing, climate change readiness, and the role of healing within our social justice movements. In the wake of the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, there was a lot of energy and power in beginning the ROOTS Weekend series in the Crescent City, where ROOTS also has a particularly strong member hub. The site of the second ROOTS Weekend was Eatonville, Florida, one of the first all-Blackgoverned towns in the United States and home of Zora Neale Hurston, famed Harlem Renaissance writer and anthropologist. Produced in partnership with the Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, from January 28-31 we celebrated the long legacy of artists working at the nexus of arts and social justice with programming that included workshops on entering and exiting community as artists engaged in social change, many electrifying performances, visual arts presentations, and an introduction to the People’s Movement Assembly process. And, of course, at each ROOTS Weekend, we’ve had an amazing party.

As of the writing of this report, more than 300 people have participated in two ROOTS weekends. We are looking forward to the future gatherings in New Market & Knoxville, TN (June 23-36, 2016), Dallas, TX (October 20-23, 2016), Richmond, VA (Spring 2017), and Atlanta, GA (Fall 2017). We hope to see many of you at these upcoming ROOTS Weekends and welcome your ideas and feedback on how to make them inspiring, informative, and engaging.


VISUAL ARTS INITIATIVE REFLECTIONS FROM ASHLEY MINNER, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER In 2013, JMF gave ROOTS a significant three-year grant, which allowed many exciting developments to occur. A new visual arts chairperson was appointed, and a position for visual arts coordinator at ROOTS Week was created. The “Visual Arts Innovation Ensemble” was revived and quickly populated by members eager to continue this work together. A visual art scholarship program was implemented and carried on through 2015. Through this program, visual artists within ROOTS’ membership identified other visual artists within the region whose mission and work aligned with that of ROOTS and who would be interested in having ROOTS members as their audience and collaborators. Each year, new visual artist scholars were selected to present their work at ROOTS Week, and ROOTS made calls for visual artwork and direct commissions for publications and fundraising. Also through the initiative, visual artists have been invited to participate in annual planning retreats, and apply for funds in multiple rounds of ROOTS Artistic Assistance dedicated specifically to visual artists (see p. 18 for more on this). Major themes of discussion within the Ensemble over the past three years are worthy of mention. Visual art and artists have been present in the work of Alternate ROOTS since its founding, even if the primary label placed upon the work has often read “performance.” In 2012, ROOTS received a planning grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation (JMF) to launch an initiative to increase the presence and visibility of visual art and artists within the organization. ROOTS sought to generate dialogue about visual arts-for-social-justice perspectives and processes; to gain a clearer sense of how visual arts might connect with the organizational strategic plan; to create appropriate ways to exhibit the work of visual artists at ROOTS Week; and to make visual artists feel welcome and supported.


The membership of Alternate ROOTS, on the whole, is still learning to interact with visual art (as such). An appropriate tool to offer feedback for the work is needed. What is the distinction and/or the overlap between visual art and performance? Many ROOTers are interdisciplinary, multidisciplinary artists. Lines differentiating media and form are ever being nudged, erased, redrawn. In keeping with a recurring theme of “aesthetics,” ROOTS visual artists continually ask themselves how visual art is or should be defined. If and when visual arts are truly integrated into the organization, is a Visual Arts Innovation Ensemble still needed?

The Visual Arts Initiative has been a transformative process for the organization. Thirty-one visual arts scholars have participated in ROOTS Annual Meetings, twenty-five of whom have become members. Funding received from JMF this year is earmarked for re-granting to visual artists within the organization, rather than a continuation of the scholarship program. Recently, the Visual Arts Innovation Ensemble transformed into the Visual Arts Workgroup. Stewarded by one chairperson since 2012, the baton has been passed on to two dynamic, visionary co-chairpersons – Jayeesha Dutta and Lauren Hind – who are leading this work into the future. ASHLEY MINNER Visual Arts Workgroup Chair, 2013-2015 ROOTS Executive Committee Baltimore, MD




Institutional Development Alternate ROOTS continues to expand its capacity to partner with members and their communities to deepen impact. In this section, we’ve highlighted a number of important changes and growth indicators that have strengthened ROOTS’ ability to do its work effectively and sustainably over time.



SHIFT IN MEMBERSHIP POLICIES From 2013 to 2014, ROOTS participated in EmcArts’ Innovation Lab, which explores ways organizations can build their capacity to adapt to a rapidly changing environment and question core assumptions that may prevent positive organizational change. Membership structure emerged as a critical area for assessment and adaptation for ROOTS. In 2013, an intergenerational group of members crafted a statement that sums up the need to look critically at membership: As the need for our services grows, as our community churns and becomes more diverse, and as the systems of our organization become more nuanced, we need organizational membership and governance structures that are more clear, adaptive, and nimble, honor multiple forms of participation, promote network building, and champion creative expression as a pathway to equity. Through the EmcArts process, we engaged in much planning and dialogue, and we decided it was time to lower barriers and enable more people with more diversity to formally join and contribute to the ROOTS family. In 2014, ROOTS’ voting membership approved two changes.

First, the membership structure now has three formal categories: Voting, General, and Organizational. In brief, Voting Members assume trusteeship for the organization and must live in the U.S. South. General Members can live anywhere and do not assume trusteeship. Organizational Members too can be based anywhere, as long as their work aligns with ROOTS’ mission. Second, membership induction now happens throughout the year, rather than at ROOTS Week alone. General members are now accepted on a rolling basis by staff. Becoming a Voting (Board) Member still requires a vote by the voting membership and still happens primarily at the Annual Business Meeting, although applications for Voting Membership are accepted throughout the year. So what have the results been over the past two years? Since the changes occurred, ROOTS membership has steadily grown, with a current paid membership of 216. While we cannot say with certainty that changes to the membership policy caused these shifts to occur, we consider them positive indications that we are headed in the right direction, and ROOTS staff and the Membership Work Group will continue to monitor these trends.


ROOTS’ work is movement-based, so we should note that the ROOTS membership is actually larger than those who are current with their dues. Fundamentally, our membership is based on affinity, affiliation, and allyship. As ROOTS

members move in and out of the region, and the country, they continue to say, “I’m a member of Alternate ROOTS.” This spirit is part of what makes the ROOTS family vibrant, strong, and enduring.


Throughout its history, the staff structure of ROOTS has erred on the side of lean and nimble. However, in recent years it became clear that this approach was preventing ROOTS from pursuing opportunities to deepen and expand its impact. In 2015, after an extensive process of evaluation and visioning, Alternate ROOTS shifted our staff structure to enable deeper partnerships with and support for members, to proactively seek collaborations with peer organizations, and to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of our operations. The resulting staff structure is more team­-oriented and cooperative, removing silos and increasing knowledge building among staff. It is also larger, consisting of six full-time and two part-time employees. This represents significant growth. Only five years ago, ROOTS had three full-time staff alone. This new structure has four teams: Organizational Strategy Team: Led by the Executive Director, this team holds executive-level oversight and management of the organization and ensures the organization’s work is aligned with the strategic plan. Operations Team: Led by the Operations Director, this team’s primary responsibility is to manage ROOTS’ finances and development, including

fiscally sponsored projects; payroll, billing and interns; membership renewals and records; office management; and logistics such as travel, contracts, catering, etc. Programs Team: Led by the Programs Director, this team is responsible for managing all of ROOTS programming done through Artistic Assistance and Partners In Action, and for events such as ROOTS Week and Learning Exchanges. Communications Team: Led by the Communications Manager, this team ensures that ROOTS’ internal and external communications (website, newsletters, social media, and archive) are strong, in support of our operational and programmatic needs, and position us as a thought leader in the field of arts and social justice. Already, we are seeing benefits from our increased capacity. ROOTS is now able to plan projects and events one year in advance, which is necessary now that the organization increasingly works across the region and supports a larger number of partnerships. ROOTS’ board and staff will continue to evaluate and refine this new structure to align with the needs of members and deepen the organization’s impact.


FINANCIAL HEALTH AND SUSTAINABILITY The ROOTS organization and its members have committed ourselves to responsible stewardship of the organization’s financial resources. Over the past three years, ROOTS has achieved consistent growth in income, assets, and our cash reserve, which could currently support four months of organizational operations. Our goal is to build a cash reserve equal to nine months of operating

costs, and we are well on our way. Consistent multi-year general operating support grants from a number of institutional funders have enabled the board and staff to financially plan with reasonable accuracy and certainty. Increased financial stability is a hallmark of ROOTS’ organizational development and sets us up to move strongly into the future.


UPROOTING OPPRESSIONS oppressions. Throughout the year, the Executive Committee builds on our ROOTS Week learning by making this work a part of our regular board meetings.

“As a coalition of cultural workers we strive to be allies in the elimination of all forms of oppression. ROOTS is committed to social and economic justice and the protection of the natural world and addresses these concerns through its programs and services.” This section of the Alternate ROOTS mission statement is the marrow of our organizational body. It establishes ROOTS as an organization with a purpose larger than the arts and itself. We understand that to live this aspect of our mission requires a consistent ebb and flow of reflection and action. A few examples of how this practice has changed our organization stand out. ROOTS has actively worked to address racism within our organizational structure, leadership, and practice. Over the past few years, we’ve partnered with Race Forward to provide workshops during ROOTS Week, and in 2015, ROOTS invited Carmen Morgan of ArtEquity to help expand our conversation and look at the intersections of


Another important example is ROOTS’ Collective Accessibility policy, mandating that any venue used for ROOTS events must be fully accessible. Thus for gatherings such as ROOTS Weekends, which take us across the region, accessibility is a factor that determines whether or not a venue is appropriate. This policy arose because member-artists such as Jaehn Clare, Camille Shafer, and Nikki Brown brought these issues to the forefront, demanding that we pay attention to any barriers to artists with disabilities having full access to the organization. Building on this work, we are partnering with Elizabeth Labbe-Webb, an accessibility consultant, to conduct a full accessibility audit of ROOTS Week 2016. Looking externally, ROOTS also addresses issues of equity and eliminating oppression through its collaborations with organizations like the Art x Culture x Social Justice Network, the Southern Movement Assembly, and the Intercultural Leadership Institute.

IN A LEARNING COMMUNITY, THE LEARNING IS NEVER COMPLETE. ROOTS will continue to look for ways we can invite and equip each other to identify and eliminate oppressions wherever we find them – out in the world or at home at our kitchen table, in the actions of others or in our own.

Institutional Funders 2013-2016 Catalytic Fund and DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the Kennedy Center

Surdna Foundation

EmcArts Inc.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Fund for Southern Communities

The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta

Joan Mitchell Foundation

The Ford Foundation

Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC)

The Kresge Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts

The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

REFLECTIONS FROM A LONG-TIME ROOTS FUNDER ROBERTA UNO, DIRECTOR, ARTS IN A CHANGING AMERICA, CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF THE ARTS I first heard of Alternate ROOTS when I was the Artistic Director of New WORLD Theater in Amherst, Massachusetts. Artist Dan Kwong told me about a gathering he attended every summer in the South and said it embodied the kind of national community he wanted to build with. He said that ROOTS Week was inspiring. I was intrigued that an Asian American artist, based in California, would feel a sense of home in a part of the country I had always thought of as black and white. My call was always towards the Pacific of my birth. But I thought something very special must be going on there‌ In 2002, I arrived at the Ford Foundation at a moment where I had the agency to develop new initiatives as the program officer for arts and culture. I had the privilege to work with Ford’s president, Susan Berresford, Holly Sidford, Sam Miller, and others on a complement of grantmaking initiatives that resulted in the founding of LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity) and


United States Artists, and the funding of a dozen service organizations that served individual artists through innovative programs, including ROOTS. It was an unprecedented table where one fourth of the organizations were Native American, yet the overriding issue was one of inequity. Ford awarded larger-budget organizations large grants ($400K-$500K over 2 years), and the smallerbudget organizations were only eligible for small grants based on the percentage of their budget size ($50-75K over 2 years). And due to systemic racism, the latter were also those organizations led by people of color, including ROOTS. This inequality continues to be the status quo across America, where large budget historically nondiverse institutions receive the majority of arts funding, despite many being located in places that have already undergone the demographic shift to a future America. Thus began my walk with ROOTS and a decade of collaborative work to level the playing field by building capacity and increasing funding for diverse organizations in order to strengthen arts practice as social transformation. Synergistic with the individual artists initiative, I launched two initiatives. Future Aesthetics forwarded hip-hop generational culture and organizing, and Artography: Arts in a Changing America also used the lens of aesthetics, arts processes, and artists to shift the paradigm from utility (audience development, community engagement, etc.) to leadership/artistic excellence/ community building. Both ROOTS and National Performance Network approached me for travel grants to bring hip-hop inspired artists to their gatherings, which they reported helped to transform their constituencies.


THE DEMOGRAPHICALLY CHANGED AMERICA WE ARE PART OF NOW STANDS ON THE SHOULDERS OF SOUTHERN LEADERSHIP. Organizations like ROOTS, First Peoples Fund, and National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures became case making partners that moved beyond innovative service to address the deeper social justice issues that Ford champions. Their innovative thinking, generosity of spirit, and openness to learning as well as leading, resulted in unprecedented collaboration in the field, in particular, the Intercultural Leadership Institute. These strategic collaborations have made progress in leveling the playing field, by showing that key organizations are essential to changing the game. Over a decade, Ford went from funding ROOTS at $75K to $750K. And the commitment to building strategic support of ROOTS has been strengthened by funders like Mellon, Surdna, and others. Describing the partnership with ROOTS towards equity is important, but hardly speaks to the spirit of the work and why so many artists and their communities participate in ROOTS to be inspired, laugh, sing, find community, and gain strength in an enacted future now. The staff and board embody the soul of the larger ROOTS community and Carlton Turner’s principled, insightful, and courageous leadership has been at

the heart of ROOTS’ national impact. I’m always inspired that Carlton manages a meaningful arts practice – it’s a huge benefit to ROOTS, not just for the perspective and profile he brings as an artist, but the capacity to connect authentically throughout the field. When I conceptualized my new project, Arts in a Changing America (ArtChangeUS), Carlton was one of the first people I invited to join as a Core Partner.

The demographically changed America we are part of now stands on the shoulders of Southern leadership – and the possibility of a truly pluralistic America is ROOTS’ value to the future of our field. ROBERTA UNO Director, Arts in a Changing America California Institute of the Arts

COMMUNICATIONS ROOTS CONTINUES TO POSITION ITSELF AND ITS MEMBERS AS THOUGHT LEADERS IN THE FIELD OF ART AND SOCIAL JUSTICE. The last three years have brought dynamic changes to Alternate ROOTS’ communications, changes that we will continue to build on in the coming years. From 2012-2014, we partnered with Ennis Carter of Social Impact Studios, developing strategy for our communications and, ultimately, a redesigned website which launched in 2014. The goal of this redesign was to create a web presence that more clearly reflected ROOTS as an artists’ organization, something more vibrant, visual, and accessible for members to navigate.

In 2013, we piloted a content development initiative, commissioning our members to write articles about the art, activism, and cultural organizing work they are engaged in across the South. This initiative supported our members – financially and editorially – in reflecting on and documenting the stories of Southern artist activists and shared these stories with our membership, as well as our partners and supporters across the country. Since 2013 we have published 110 member-written articles. Combined with other strategies, including increased social media activity and capacity to respond quickly to pressing issues, ROOTS continues to position itself


and its members as thought leaders in the field of art and social justice. In this anniversary year, we are reflecting deeply on ROOTS’ history, and we are working on several initiatives that engage ROOTers in telling the story of this dynamic organization. One of these initiatives, the ROOTS Book Project, was introduced last year at ROOTS Week. Led by Carlton Turner and Dr. Jan Cohen-Cruz, we envision creating a general interest book that illustrates how profoundly art contributes to our shared lives. Working alongside a group of founders and elders, we are enacting an iterative method of research that draws on member knowledge, perception, desire, and needs; reflections from community partners; and the critical distance of additional historians, cultural thinkers, and writers. At this year’s ROOTS Week and ROOTS Reunion, we launch The History Project, an interactive web-based platform that allows us to identify key milestones in the organization’s history and populate them with archival materials – photos,


video, audio stories, and more – that flesh out and animate particular moments in time. The History Project enables a robust, multi-faceted telling of our collective story. Alongside these projects, we are also dedicating ourselves to gathering new and sorting through old video footage with which we’ll create a feature-length documentary about ROOTS. To this end, we are working with Lily Keber to film all of our gatherings – both ROOTS Week and ROOTS Weekends – over the next year and a half. The research and archival work of the projects mentioned above will no doubt inform this documentary, and the footage gathered will be of service to the book and timeline projects. Finally, after 40 years of accruing quite a large amount of archival materials – 101 boxes at our last count – we are looking for a permanent home for the ROOTS archive. We are in talks with universities in the Atlanta area, and are seeking an institution that will not only be able to preserve our archive, but make it accessible to the public for generations to come.

ROOTS REUNION Celebrating 40 Years August 12-13, 2016 Lutheridge Conference Center Arden, NC

About the Reunion REFLECTIONS FROM ASHLEY SPARKS, ROOTS REUNION PRODUCER Tell me what you remember – help me pull the pieces of the puzzle together into a kaleidoscoping picture of ROOTS’ radical and wild history. Even if it’s only glimmers of performances, a short song refrain, fragments of a conversation in a rocking chair ... 40 years. There is an urgency to hear stories, to remember. Since February, I’ve had conversations with dozens of elders about the beginning. As they grew from their 20-something artist selves into their 60-somethings, ROOTS grew up with them. I’ve been asking, “What do you remember about the early years? How has ROOTS impacted and influenced your work? Your life? Your love life? What do you wish people knew about ROOTS?” Papa Bizzoso, tell me a story of your wildest late night adventure… maybe the one that ended with performances underscoring the sunrise. Or maybe the one that resulted in tears and the artists who never returned. Or maybe the one where the volume was too loud and all the white people plugged their ears ... ROOTS’ history is fraught with growing pains and break-ups. Institutional melt-downs and beautiful growth spurts. From the early days, we were trying to disrupt and dismantle oppressions and sometimes that meant we were practicing on each other. It was (and still is) hard work.


BECAUSE WE NEED TO REMEMBER THE STORIES BEFORE THE DETAILS BECOME MORE DISTANT. BECAUSE WHO WE ARE NOW IS DYNAMICALLY DIFFERENT THAN WHO WE WERE 40 YEARS AGO. 40 years, and we are still talking about similar themes – race, aesthetics, equity, justice, fighting for systemic transformation, and the necessity to create in the midst of adversity and oppression. But we’ve also grown up. We have developed vocabulary and tools that have rippled out beyond us and changed the national conversation about the impact of arts and artists in community. We have organizational infrastructure and best practices! We don’t do as much day drinking! It may not be any easier, but now we are having healthy, healing, and grown-up compassionate conversations.

Many people have come and gone through this ever-evolving experiment in participatory democracy. “Who comes is,” and as we turn 40, we need to celebrate with as many people as possible. Like reconnecting with an old teacher once you are well established in your discipline, we want folks to reconnect with their ROOTS. Because we need to remember the stories before the details become more distant. Because who we are now is dynamically different than who we were 40 years ago. Because we love to throw a birthday party. Because we need to reconnect with what makes ROOTS pulse – our relationships to each other. Because this may be the last time we sing together in this specific circle. At 40 we are “giving folks their roses now” and singing our collective songs of gratitude for and with the people who have made this dynamic institution possible. Through honors, re-enactments, commissions, and encouraging folks to tap into their “wildness,” we are celebrating where we have been and where we are going.


The ROOTS Nashville 1978 Festival program book introduction said, “The new theatre is a theatre of vision and of individuals – a theatre of caring. The new theatre people are no longer hiding their knowledge and art from each other. There’s a feeling of wanting to share.” And 40 years later, that spirit continues – one born of hunger, urgency, and generosity. What did you bring to share? What will you pass on into the next 40 years of ROOTS? What will you remember about ROOTS? ASHLEY SPARKS ROOTS Reunion Producer


Founders of Alternate ROOTS In 1976 a small group of individuals came together at the Highlander Center, and later that year as 1976 became 1977, more theater companies gathered together in Sarasota to share their work. Somewhere in between someone wrote down the names – to be kept in perpetuity as part of the incorporation documents that became the ROOTS Bylaws. Forty years later, a few of these companies are still producing work. Many have dissolved

into the the ephemeral state of memory, where theater perpetually lives, and in some cases, we do not know what happened (but you might – if you do, please tell us!). Some individuals, too, have transitioned, and others are still with us, producing work and creating joy in the world. We lift up those companies that showed up in 1976-1977 to lay the foundation for what we were and are. We stand on your shoulders.

COMPANIES Academy Theatre Atlanta, GA 1956-present The work is focused on a mainstage season of established and new works and houses a School of the Performing Arts. Birmingham Festival Theater Birmingham, AL 1972-present A full-time professional repertory company that produces original work and became the “Off-Broadway” of Birmingham’s theatre scene.

The Carpetbag Theatre Knoxville, TN 1969-present A professional, multigenerational ensemble company dedicated to the production of new works. Its mission is to give artistic voice to the issues and dreams of people who have been silenced by racism, classism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.


Free Southern Theater New Orleans, LA 1963-1980 Free Southern Theater’s fundamental objective was to stimulate creative and reflective thought among African Americans in Mississippi and other Southern states through theater. Hippodrome Theatre Gainesville, FL 1963-present A center for creative and daring theatrical experiences that includes classics and new plays.

Ensemble Theatre Company Nashville, TN 1973-? A touring company that brought audiences in the mid-Tennessee area productions that pushed the boundaries of drama with new scripts, improvisational pieces, and ensemble-developed shows. Florida Studio Theatre Sarasota, FL 1973-present Founded by Jon Spelman, has a dedication to making and touring contemporary theatre to audiences not usually touched by the magic of live theatre.


Little Marrowbone Repair Corp. Joelton, TN Early 1970s-present Founded by the late Don Evans and billed as “a bunch of friends who get together and do stuff.”

New World Theatre Company Berkeley Springs, WV 1976-present Explorers into the realm of theatre, adventurers in the uncharted reaches of imagination, the channels through which thoughts become reality. Otrabanda Company New Orleans, LA (1976), Later New York City, NY 1971-2001 Was an ensemble of multi-disciplinary experimental theater makers and produced the “River Raft Review”, a 10-year cycle of performances down the Mississippi River. The Play Group Knoxville, TN 1973-? Work sprang from remembrances of child’s play. Molded by vigorous explorations of the attitudes that permit its expression, a transgression of the rituals with which it is masked. The work was best seen by the child’s eye within you. Pocket Theater Durham, NC 1975-1988 Brought professional theatre to Durham and developed the works of new playwrights. They were an integral part of their community developing new material and theatrical forms that related more directly their communities’ stories.

The Road Company Johnson City, TN 1972-1998 A professional touring company that created new plays and used theater as a vital form of dialogue in mountain communities by reflecting and responding to their needs, experiences, and concerns. Roadside Theater Norton, VA and Whitesburg, KY 1974-present Dedicated to artistic excellence in pursuit of the proposition that the world is immeasurably enriched when people and cultures tell their own stories and listen to the unique stories of others. Sidewalk Dance Theatre Knoxville, TN 1977-? A touring modern and improvisational dance company. Artistic Director: Annie Genung


INDIVIDUALS Jo Carson Johnson City, TN 1946-2011 Playwright, poet, and founder of Alternate ROOTS.

Marge Gregg Abingdon, VA Practicing artist using a painterly approach to textile and multimedia works.

Liesel Flashenberg Washington, D.C. 1945-2010 Consultant

Kelly Hill San Francisco, CA Actor for several companies in Tennessee and North Carolina.

Robin Foster Nashville, TN Actor, filmmaker, anarchist rabble rouser.

Nancy Terry


HONORS To celebrate 40 years, Alternate ROOTS is creating two inaugural honors. We want to lift up the people who have laid the foundation for ROOTS to flourish and who have significantly transformed the organization.

DEEPLY ROOTED HONOR Thirty years is a long time to commit to something, and this honor is specifically for people who have been actively involved in Alternate ROOTS for 30 years or more. Many of these individuals have been involved for 40 years. Some came along in ROOTS’ first decade and found their artistic home. As staff,

executive committee members, festival planners, organizers, and bad ass artists and activists, these folks have remained committed to Alternate ROOTS through the rich and poor times, the joys and the growing pains. With deep gratitude, we honor those who have been in it for the long haul.


My work is rooted in identity, struggle and collaboration, drawing on the Black Arts Movement and ensemble theater practice. ROOTS has been the catalyst for my growth as an artist, my platform for justice, and my partner in creativity. It has been a collaborator, a family, and a battlefield. It has brought me joy and pain. It is the connective tissue of my work and my Southern church.



Performance/production as actor, dancer, stage manager, poet, writer, editor, proofreader, organic gardener, and cat sitter; knitter; political activist. Membership in Alternate ROOTS (30+ years) has meant participating in a democratic community which supports, encourages, and demands artistic and political growth, attempting to live in principle and working toward high standards. Most importantly, it has given me friendships and collaborations that never would have happened otherwise.

DUDLEY COCKE Norton, VA and Whitesburg, KY

Artistic Director, Roadside Theater/Appalshop. We focus on new play creation, teaching, community cultural development, and advocacy for cultural equity. I’ve experienced ROOTS as a stomping ground for odd people with their different ideas, emotions, and spirits. It can be fun or sad, but its abiding rationale is to advance, in the words of the Rev. James Lawson, “a social order of justice permeated by love.”



Work? (Money) = organizational consultant, specializing in planning & board development. (Heart) = writer, performer & co-host of monthly Art Salon. The people of ROOTS diagnosed me as a born racist, and then gave me the medicines to control, if not heal, this chronic condition. Also 99% of what I know about group facilitation & conflict, I learned first-hand at ROOTS. I am grateful to ROOTS as my tribe.

CHRIS DOERFLINGER Louisville & Shelby County, KY

Work in writing, interdisciplinary community performance, visual art: fiber & constructions with natural materials. Work with women & students of all ages, youth & adult offenders, developmentally disabled & mentally ill populations, intergenerational groups & solo conceptual performance. I have always had an affinity to dance, performance, and visual art. I used the arts in my Physical Education/Therapeutic Recreation work in schools and with “special populations� in communities and institutions. Alternate ROOTS instilled the courage and provided the tools for use in solo work and more in-depth work in community. ROOTS is a safe community in which to develop my strengths and confront my weaknesses. I am evolving significantly as an artist and a human as a result.


RODGER FRENCH Yangon, Myanmar

I define myself primarily as a musician and my work (in a ROOTS-ey context) as that of a musical collaborator/facilitator. For decades, ROOTS and its joyously unconventional family of artists have nurtured me with surpassing friendships and inspirational collaborations. I have also been afforded constructive, if sometimes discomfiting, opportunities to confront my personal conceptions regarding matters of prejudice and privilege. At heart, ROOTS has helped me become a better person.

BETH HEIDELBERG Decatur (Atlanta), GA

I am a woodwind musician. I perform, and also teach individual lessons in piano, flute, clarinet, and saxophone. ROOTS has helped me grow in my performing skills, in my awareness of what I want to communicate, and in how to accomplish this. Through ROOTS, I have learned to question and examine what is being said, and what is being meant by how we communicate.



Theatrical Designer, Mask-Maker, Sculptor, Painter, Visual Art Instructor, Company Coordinator and Principal Performer with Gateway Performance Productions. We were already engaged in outreach programming to underserved communities and Native American communities. We saw ROOTS as an opportunity to engage with like-minded individuals. Through its touring subsidies, ROOTS has made it possible for Gateway to reach communities that would otherwise have been unable to participate in our programs.


A writer, performer, director, choreographer, musician and producer who creates original art for and with communities – locally, nationally, and internationally. Through its programs, members, and staff, ROOTS has transformed me by recognizing and supporting my work – original art created for and with communities throughout the Southeast. With this support I’ve been able to consistently serve marginalized populations as they strive to overcome racial, cultural, economic, and other societal barriers.



I perform for children and adults, do school residencies, and am president of the Southeast Center for Arts Integration. A clueless young Yankee transplant with no understanding of history and no awareness of my white privilege, yet wanting to change the world for the better, I learned at the knee of ROOTS that artists are activists, and that I can take responsibility for the oppressions I see around me.


Professor of Theatre, Women and Gender Studies, and Dance; collaboration with Carol Burch-Brown on new media and Junk DNA, our subversive ukulele act; singing with Elise Witt. From the first time I met Jo Carson at a writer’s conference in Kentucky, saw and heard Paula Larke sing, and saw the passion and commitment to art, social justice, and community, I have been “ROOTed.” From wild singing to water ballet to excruciating and long conversation on the hardest subjects, ROOTS has given me courage to be an artist.



I paint and tell stories with the hope that I’m planting seeds of change and understanding for myself and anyone that stops to notice. ROOTS TRANSFORMATION - I became Papa Bizzoso!!!! The title came with many “not too serious” relatives with enormous talents who shared in the creation of unpredictable moments that nourished us into better agents of change and mitigated the pain of oppression. (Disclaimer: There is no scientific proof or historic evidence that this is true.)

BOB LEONARD Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

I am a theatre director, an ensemble theatre maker, an arts organizer, a teacher, a community activist for social justice. I could not have done what I’ve done without ROOTS. I’ve been nurtured and taught, challenged and encouraged by ROOTS and all the people whom ROOTS has brought into my life. I’ve been entertained and inspired and subverted and informed and released and revived over and over again by ROOTS.


CELESTE MILLER Long time resident of Atlanta, GA. Five years ago moved to Grinnell, IA for a job.

Work: Text + movement, in performance, in workshop, in education – movement as a tool for inbodying embodied experiences. ROOTS has been the core of my continual journey to discover: why & how art matters, what makes art matter, how we can make lives of meaning with the tools of the arts as our skill base, how this is a democratic practice and pedagogy.


JOHN O’NEAL New Orleans, LA

Theater Maker, Co-Founder of Free Southern Theater. Now retired and working to publish theater works. In 2014, Dudley Cocke asked John O’Neal what he would say to young artists coming up. This is John’s reply: “Keep talking. Keep talking to the people and keep engaged with the issues that they’re trying to meet and find themselves challenged by, and just keep going. Follow it even in the darkest nights. The darker the night, the more likely you are to find that jewel.”


TONI B. SHIFALO Orlando, FL and Stone Mountain, GA

Turned classical oboe training into a career on the washtub bass; learned to juggle, badly, so I became a clown. I struggled with how a juggling musician fit the ROOTS mission to be an artistically creative community-based activist. This gave me much conflict, also many ideas on how to merge the Politic with Antic to bring power to the people merely by sharing a few silly skills accessible to everyone.


Creating beauty performing writing producing making music caring for my dad For 35 years I’ve been thinking about something Ruby Lerner said, “If you have 5 people in your audience, it’s because you’re not serving your community.” Since the ROOTS meeting at Camp Wahsega, Jo Carson’s story about the AfricanAmerican woman who told her, “But we do live in the same community.”


MK WEGMANN New Orleans, LA

Work: Organizing and cultural policy My involvement with ROOTS has intersected with my work.


Elise Witt’s concerts of Global, Local & Homemade Songs™ and her Impromptu Glorious Chorus™ workshops create and connect singing communities around the globe. Elise currently serves as Artistin-Residence at the Global Village Project, a school for teenage refugee girls. Alternate ROOTS has shaped the nature and form of my work since 1979. * the importance of deep and lasting connections with my singing communities * collaborations with ROOTS artists in many disciplines * monetary, technical, emotional, and spiritual support ROOTS is my artistic family.


SPIRIT OF ROOTS HONOREES Alternate ROOTS has a history of audacious instigators, beautiful artistic agitators, playfully absurd makers, and relentless creative warriors in the journey for justice. This year we honor several individuals that embody the spirit of our ROOTS ancestors. In the spirit of Jo Carson, Brandon DuMonde, Adora Dupree, Don Evans, Liesel Flashenberg, Dennis Frederick, Sterling Houston, Warren Johnston, LeAnn Loughran, Lloyd Martin, Kenneth Raphael, Ronnog Seaberg, Nayo Watkins, and Frank Wittow, we honor these individuals listed below. For at least 10 years, each honoree has demonstrated their on-going commitment to “doing the work” of Alternate ROOTS in the myriad forms it takes. These folks have a track record for instigating transformation inside of ROOTS and their Southern communities. They have been creating art that is provocative, embodies a spirit of beauty and justice, tells critical stories, and/or embodies Don Evans spirit of “doing stuff.”


My work is finding creative ways of building sustainable and resource-generating partnerships that benefit and celebrate our diversely rich culture of Appalachia. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work and collaborate with artists, arts organizations, and organizers all over the United States. I am more rounded in my day-to-day work and have developed a stronger affinity for the value of art and culture as a tool for social change.



My work for now 40 years has been and still is to build Azule, a rural Appalachian artists residency, a place for artists and community to meet, learn, and work together through the arts. I advocate for people with disabilities to have a full place at the table, to be heard, accepted, engaged, not just tolerated and left alone. ROOTS has helped me find a language to express what I stand for, out of my own isolation, to articulate and deepen my own feeling and thinking by being confronted by others’ bright artistic discipline and critical minds. To listen, to find other souls to work with, to build and share a better, more just world.


I am a Cultural Organizer with varied tools that assist communities in demystifying complex concepts, while helping to connect populations across differences. ROOTS has been an instrumental part of helping me to expand my knowledge base as a business person, refine my skills as an artist and cultural organizer, broaden my personal critical analysis, and expand my international movement family.


ROOTS WEEK PROGRAM BOOK A Call to Action: Emergent Organizing

August 10-14, 2016 Lutheridge Conference Center Arden, NC

Welcome: Robert Martin, Executive Committee Chair Welcome to ROOTS’ 40th Anniversary Week and Reunion! This week will no doubt be memorable in our collective history of an ongoing 40-year experiment in participatory democracy and power-building amongst people who are willing to creatively vision a more just society. As June Jordan penned and Sweet Honey in the Rock (and ROOTers over the years) sang, this 40th celebration reminds me once again…we are the ones we’ve been waiting for… If our goals are to celebrate expressions of our people, places, traditions, and spirit, while putting an end to injustice and oppression everywhere, it is necessary for us to gather at times like this – to ground ourselves, to look back and take stock of where we are and where we are headed, and to practice being together in beloved community.

We ask everyone to bring their most creative visioning as we begin to manifest the next 40 years. We also ask that you use this time to be thankful and practice radical gratitude to the founders, staff, family members, long-term, and short-term ROOTers, all of whom are our teachers and without whom we might not have reached this point – especially considering that we find ROOTS at 40 in a place of substantial organizational health and strength. Every year it seems like we welcome a more diverse group of newcomers into the ROOTS fold. What a blessing! This is in deep alignment with the strategic plan, commitment to cultural equity, and our current theme of Emergent Organizing. I consider this organization brave and visionary for choosing to welcome diversity, usher threads of change, and continue to evolve to keep meeting our mission. We choose to build paths instead of walls. We trust that by investing in our community of artists, activists, and culture workers we are creating a space of abundance for all. We are here to feast, to teach, to learn, to grow, to honor, and to prepare the ground for our sustainability to come. We are all welcome here, friends, and we are deeply thankful for all of the contributions that you and yours have brought to our collective table. On behalf of your Executive Committee of fellow ROOTS members, thank you for being here and give thanks to all those who are with us in spirit. ~b. ROBERT ‘bobbyb’ MARTIN Alternate ROOTS Board Chairperson Clear Creek, KY


A Note about Programming

ROOTS Week Annual Meeting & Artists’ Retreat is a fun-filled four days of performances, workshops, learning exchanges, visual arts installations, latenight cabarets, and ROOTS’ annual business meetings. This year’s program includes all of the usual elements, and we also have more unscheduled retreat space to savor and honor this 40th gathering of Southern artists. 40 years! And to really celebrate, we will have a blow-out ROOTS Reunion on Friday and Saturday. The ROOTS Reunion is a perfect example of this year’s theme, the third of a three-year initiative, A Call to Action: Emergent Organizing. Emergent Organizing reflects our belief that the work of creating a more just world is already underway; it is happening in communities on the grassroots level and through cultural organizing across our region and planet. When we come together, we build new and cultivate old connections, for social justice work is collective work.

This year, we have created programming around three themes that are shared by our Partners in Action cohort and also show up in the work of ROOTS members, giving us the chance to deepen our collective analysis, toolkit, and wealth of wisdom around these particular issues and to practice Emergent Organizing: Community Health & Safety explores the ways communities are working to ensure that collective wellness and sustainability are at the center of community development. Mass Incarceration lifts up the work of organizers who are using arts and culture to address the prison industrial complex, from im/migrant detention centers to the School-to-Prison pipeline. Youth in the Movement highlights youth-led organizing efforts throughout the South, as well as issues that affect youth specifically.


In addition, from Friday night through Saturday night we have a segment of ROOTS Reunion programming that specifically celebrates our 40th Anniversary. You’ll find performances, visual arts exhibits, and installations inspired by previous ROOTS Weeks / Annual Meetings / ROOTS Festivals, as well as reenactments and workshops that explore ROOTS history. All programming descriptions are listed below in alphabetical order. For dates, times, and locations, please see your schedule/handout. As described in our mission statement, ROOTS has an organizational commitment to eliminating all forms of oppression. In past ROOTS Weeks, we have dedicated an all-conference session to UpROOTing Oppression. This year, UpROOTing Oppression is not a specific program but a value that we hope each attendee will continue to enact and uphold through the many ways we all will participate in this week’s events. For more information about this topic, you can check out p. 30 of the three-year report.


Learning Exchanges & Self-Organized Space A Learning Exchange is an opportunity for a community, a group of people, artists, facilitators/trainers, and any combination thereof, to come together around an agreedupon topic. Inspired by the principles of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, we have adopted the term “learning exchange� to show that all the knowledge that is needed to solve any given problem is already in the room.

We also invite attendees to convene SelfOrganized Space in the breaks between sessions and before or after meals. Each convener of a session takes responsibility for creating it, posting it on the Self-Organized Space bulletin board, assigning it a space and time to meet, and then later showing up at that space and time, kicking off the exchange. Self-Organized Space is a convening process that reflects our five principles of being resources for social change. It is an opportunity for shared power, partnership, open dialogue, transformation and aesthetics of transparent processes.


Learning Exchanges 2004: WHEN HIP-HOP MET THE HIPPIES Omari Fox The Hip-hop Scholarship program was a tipping point for Alternate ROOTS and in 2004, with an influx of new energy, the organization experienced a dynamic transformation. Hip-hop Scholar Omari Fox leads a discussion featuring artists who were there, to talk about the growing pains and the impact of that growth on ROOTS. Themes: 40th Anniversary

conNECKted conNECKted team with JEMAGWGA (La’Sheia Oubre’, Latonnya Wallace, Jean-Marie Mauclet and Gwylene Gallimard) We will explore engagement, participation, and ideas around “conNECKted” Imagination Tables, banners, videos, and actions. The conversation will be a question/answer session in a Relay Interview Format. The goals of “conNECKted”, an art in/withcommunity project, are to challenge Charleston, SC political institutions and developers by amplifying the voices of neighborhoods and residents who are absent from public or private plans. Together, we oppose the planned displacement of minorities in housing and entrepreneurship and the destruction of common memories. We work for attainable housing for all, the earnest desegregation of schools, and for a city where families scarred by gun violence can heal. Themes: Community Health & Safety


CRAFT ME A WORLD Mathew Schwarzman & Keith Knight From the creators of “Beginner’s Guide To Community-Based Arts” comes “CRAFT Me a World,” an interactive, interdisciplinary workshop for teens and adults that combines the immediacy of improv games and live cartooning with bold intergenerational discussions about social issues. In this version, especially designed for ROOTS Week 2016, participants will explore the cultural roots of police brutality and develop cultural strategies for dealing with it. Mathew Schwarzman is a nationally recognized speaker, teacher, writer, and theater artist, and the creator of the CRAFT community-based arts framework. Keith Knight is one of the leading political cartoonists in the United States, winning the 2015 NAACP History Maker Award for his police brutality slideshow entitled “They Shoot Black People, Don’t They?” The two co-authored the first edition of “Beginner’s Guide to CommunityBased Arts” in 2005, one of the leading textbooks in the field, now used in dozens of universities and community-based organizations around the world. Themes: Mass Incarceration


CULTURAL ORGANIZING WITH ART AND STORIES Monique Davis During this mini-workshop that replicates the flow of imagining, I will share processes that I used to gather diverse communities with varied interests, as a Cultural Agent in Jackson, MS. I will share a brief overview of the history of the United States Department of Arts and Culture, my role as an agent, and walk participants through the process. This workshop may be of particular interest to cultural organizers and activists.

We will discuss the current state of the prison reform and abolition movements taking place and the role that the arts play to enact change. We know that each of you have experience in your work. We are also hoping that this conversation will jump-start the ROOTS community’s interest and participation in ROOTS Weekend-Richmond coming up in Spring 2017, tentatively themed “Imagine a World Without Prisons.”

Monique Davis currently serves as a Cultural Agent for the United States Department of Arts and Culture (USDAC) – a people-powered action network of artists and cultural workers mobilizing creativity in the service of social and environmental justice. The USDAC is the nation’s first peoplepowered department, founded on the truth that art and culture are our most powerful and undertapped resources for social change. Radically inclusive and vibrantly playful, the USDAC aims to spark a grassroots, creative change movement, engaging millions in performing and creating a world rooted in empathy, equity, and social imagination.

Featuring: Rend Smith, Working Narratives - Black Man Running; kai lumumba barrow, Gallery of the Streets; Nick Szuberla, Nation Inside and Working Narratives; Moderator: Trey Hartt, Art 180 & Performing Statistics Themes: Mass Incarceration


Learning Exchanges THE FREEDOM CHAMBER Rebecca Mwase & Ron Ragin We invite you to join us for a song-story workshop, during which we’ll sing, create, and document songs and sounds of freedom amidst confinement. Through the Freedom Chamber, an ongoing project based in New Orleans, we are collaborating with groups organizing against mass incarceration to develop community-created sound sculptures reflecting the experiences of currently and formerly incarcerated people, their families, and communities. Drawing upon freedom songs of the Black Diaspora, our workshop experientially activates people’s sense of justice and harmony, weaving storytelling and education about the current state of mass incarceration to push people to want to act – with their voices, their bodies, and their civic participation. Rebecca Mwase is a Zimbabwean-American theater artist, creative consultant, producer, and cultural organizer. Ron Ragin writes, sings, and creates interdisciplinary performance work that integrates sound, text, and movement. Together, we are co-shapers of the Freedom Chamber and of Vessels, a ritual performance exploring the transcendental possibilities of song during the Middle Passage and within spaces of confinement. Both Ron and Rebecca have experience creating and facilitating spaces for communities to engage in storytelling, singing, and performance creation.


Themes: Mass Incarceration

Alternate ROOTS

HOLDING SPACE IN THE WATERSHED Every generation has its defining moment, when systemic violence – and the people’s response to it – reaches a boiling point. This summer, we’re rising up against police brutality, transphobia, homophobia, Islamaphobia, and political platforms based on violent, divisive rhetoric. This facilitated discussion will hold space for all that is taking place in our country and world right now, in this watershed moment.


Alternate ROOTS is taking the opportunity of this 40th anniversary to dig deep into our history and invites your participation in this collectively curated memory experience! We invite you to bring your ROOTS memorabilia and stories to ROOTS Week, and share them in our archival lab where they’ll be documented and digitized. We’ll then use these to help us build The History Project, an interactive web-based platform that identifies key milestones in ROOTS’ history and populates them with archival materials – photos, video, audio stories, and more – that flesh out these particular moments in time.

Learning Exchanges “IN MY 20s…” Rebecca Mwase & Patton White Since 1976 people have landed at ROOTS when they were 20-something artists. Rebecca Mwase and Patton White co-facilitate this intergenerational conversation and story sharing that will highlight

the stories of folks that were in their 20s when they arrived. If you came to ROOTS in your 20s we invite you to share your own stories and listen to others share about the role ROOTS played in their evolution as artists and activists. Themes: 40th Anniversary

IT’D TAKE SOME TELLIN’: ROOTS WEEK 2016 INTERGENERATIONAL CONVERSATION AND STORY CIRCLE Jan Cohen-Cruz & Carlton Turner This conversation/story circle invites ROOTers of all ages to share what they consider most important to communicate in our collaborative research project, It’d Take Some Tellin’ – Multiple Perspectives on Art and Social Engagement Through 40 Years of Alternate ROOTS. The ROOTS research project seeks to articulate the place of this organization

and its artists at the intersection of art, activism, and community. The research will culminate in a digital compendium consisting of a website that is integrated with a chronological platform called The History Project, where project artifacts (text, video, audio, photos), documents, and other items, and a discourse surrounding them, will live... We look to you, ROOTS members of all ages, to help us prioritize what to include in this undertaking. Jan Cohen-Cruz edits Public, the Journal of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a national organization she previously directed. She was a professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts for over 25 years, co-founding its Art and Public Policy initiative and Drama’s Applied Theater minor. She wrote Local Acts, Engaging Performance, and Remapping Performance: Common Ground, Uncommon Partners; edited Radical Street Performance; and co-edited Playing Boal and A Boal Companion with Mady Schutzman. In 2012, CohenCruz received the Association of Theatre in Higher Education’s Leadership in Community-based


Learning Exchanges Theatre and Civic Engagement Award. She is Director of Field Research for A Blade of Grass. Carlton Turner is a cultural organizer from Utica, Mississippi and the executive director of Alternate ROOTS. Carlton works across the country as an artist, arts advocate, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant, and facilitator. He is on the board of Imagining America, Appalshop, First People’s Fund, and the Arts x Culture x Social Justice Network, and serves on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly and as an advisory member of the We Shall Overcome Fund. Carlton is also a co-founder, along with his brother Maurice Turner, of the performing group M.U.G.A.B.E.E. Carlton lives in Utica with his wife Brandi (expecting) and two children Jonathan and Xiauna Lin. Themes: ROOTS Reunion

JOURNEYS AND CONNECTIONS Jessica Solomon Jessica Solomon leads an interactive story and mapping session to share personal experiences of how people came to ROOTS – both metaphorically and literally. Through a series of exercises we will explore how you got to ROOTS (delayed flights, jalopies, and long road trips with strangers), the relationships that brought you to ROOTS, and who you took away with you. Themes: 40th Anniversary

OLIVE DANCE THEATRE: WORKSHOP olive Dance Theatre During this daily gathering, we will offer a physical technique workshop in breaking that is open to all levels and age groups. olive Dance Theatre is a Philadelphia-based organization and ensemble, founded in 2002 by Artistic Director, Jamie Merwin. Current ensemble members include: Jaamal Benjamin, Brooks Jones, Kelly Snell, and Lao Song. oDT’s mission is to validate indigenous American hip-hop dance forms, specifically breakin’ more commonly known as breakdance, through the creation and performance of new dance theatre works domestically and abroad. The company aims to educate audiences and communities about the form’s histories and various techniques. We provide an outlet and appreciation for pioneers, current generation, and future practitioners of these folk styles.


Learning Exchanges

PRAGMATIC VISIONARY SELF-LOVE Nicole Garneau This ceremonial workshop will take place after dark around a fire on the Lutheridge campus. “Pragmatic Visionary Self-Love” is an explicit invitation to banish the shame that prevents us from truly caring for ourselves, and to commit to showering ourselves with the love and care that all people deserve. This ceremony acknowledges the deep wounds that are inflicted on us by systems of oppression. We will generate our own sacred vows of self-love, and tenderly hold each other as witnesses. The elements of this ceremony will be unpacked and named so that participants are also having a meta-experience of learning how to create their own sacred ceremonies to serve the specific healing needs of their communities. This is the 3rd Pragmatic Visionaries ceremonial workshop to be held at Alternate ROOTS.

Nicole Garneau is an interdisciplinary artist making site-specific performance and project art that is directly political, critically conscious, and community building. She served on the board of directors of the National Performance Network from 2006-2012, and is currently on the Executive Committee of Alternate ROOTS. Nicole teaches in Women’s and Gender Studies at DePaul University. She holds a B.A. in Theater from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Art from Columbia College Chicago. She also facilitates a variety of creative workshops, makes ceremonies, and practices healing. Her work is documented at nicolegarneau.com. Themes: Community Health & Safety


Learning Exchanges RACIAL EQUITY IN PRACTICE: WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A PERSON OF COLOR IN ROOTS Stephen Clapp Stephen Clapp leads a conversation for People of Color to talk about what it meant and currently means to be a part of the ROOTS community. While white allies are welcome in this session, it will be focused on POC stories and perspectives.

ROOTS PLAYLIST Marquez Rhyne Bring your favorite ROOTS songs to share or re-learn! Marquez Rhyne hosts this freestyle and loosely guided sing-along session. It’s your chance to engage with songs from the ROOTS canon and offer new additions. Themes: 40th Anniversary

Themes: 40th Anniversary

ROOTS 40TH ANNIVERSARY VOCAL ORCHESTRA Elise Witt Throughout ROOTS Week, we will create Vocal Orchestras with the entire gathering, laying a musical foundation by using the names of ROOTS companies/members as the lyrics, over which we will sing, rap, and tell stories about ROOTS’ history, present, and future.

Elise Witt’s concerts of Global, Local & Homemade Songs™, and her Impromptu Glorious Chorus™ workshops create and connect singing communities around the globe. Recipient of the William L. Womack Creative Arts Award, Elise currently serves as Director of Music Programs at the Global Village Project, a school for teenage refugee girls in Decatur, GA, and a Partner in Action, where she uses singing to help students learn English and everything else needed to get along in this life! Themes: 40th Anniversary


Learning Exchanges WE MAKE THE ROAD BY WALKING, BUT IT HELPS IF YOU HAVE LOTS OF STRING, PLAYDOUGH, AND POPSICLE STICKS! Jeff Becker & Kathie deNobriga Imagine what happens when Alternate ROOTS founding member and art facilitator extraordinaire, Kathie deNobriga, combines creative forces with innovative New Orleans theater alchemist and sculptor, Jeff Becker, in a space with 5 ½ pounds of playdough (assorted colors), 280 paper plates, 1000 popsicle sticks, unlimited pipe cleaners, colored tape, and 3.2 miles of red string, along with 20 eager ROOTers! In this inventive 1-day workshop, Kathie and Jeff will lead participants on a journey to visualize their personal and artistic paths, focusing on how ROOTS has been an integral part of their life’s journey. Using story circle, sociometrics, 3D mapping, and lots of cool artmaking materials, this workshop will create an installation that draws from our past to give visual form to our future.

WE ARE GOING, BUT WHERE? Carrie Brunk & Nia Wilson Facilitated by Nia Wilson and Carrie Brunk, this conversation explores our dreams and strategies for building the future of art and activism. How are we as ROOTers preparing for the next 40 years of creating a world of beauty and justice? What are the songs we will sing to bring us into the future? Join us to dream the future. Themes: 40th Anniversary

Kathie deNobriga is a founding member of Alternate ROOTS and facilitator and planning consultant, engaging the creative imagination in the solution of practical problems. Jeff Becker is a director and designer based in New Orleans. He specializes in outdoor site responsive work that features innovative transforming environments. He has collaborated with many long-time ROOTers including ArtSpot Productions, Mondo Bizzaro, Rebecca Mwase, Ashley Sparks, and Linda ParrisBailey. Themes: ROOTS Reunion


Performances & Exhibitions


Performances & Exhibitions #25 [THE CROSSING] Gallery of the Streets, kai lumumba barrow In 1974, women imprisoned at New York’s maximum-security prison at Bedford Hills staged what is known as the August Rebellion. In the aftermath, 25 women were injured and 24 were transferred to Matteawan Complex for the Criminally Insane. #25 [The Crossing], is a multimedia excerpt from my new work-in-progress, [b]REACH: Adventures in Heterotopia. Set in a mental asylum following the August Rebellion, this surrealist visual opera explores confinement and resistance from a Queer Black Feminist lens. The work merges radical feminist history and theory through interviews, narratives, and archival footage, with speculative painting, poetry, movement, sound, music, and installation.

Gallery of the Streets aims to “engage everyday spaces as sites of resistance.” An evolving national network of artists, activists, organizers, scholars, cultural workers, and community supporters, Gallery of the Streets exists at the intersections of art, education, geography, history, direct action, and movement building. Our signature program, visual opera, a term coined by Gallery of the Streets Founder and Artistic Director, kai lumumba barrow, fuses public art and community engagement to confront power, provoke dialogue, and cultivate sustainable spaces among Black women and Black gender non-conforming communities and our allies. Our point of departure is rooted in our desire for self-determination and our willingness to disrupt and/or highlight our experiences within locations of confinement and resistance. Themes: Mass Incarceration


Performances & Exhibitions BTV - OTHERWISE KNOWN AS BIZZOSO TELEVISION Charles Dennis a.k.a. Chuckie Bizzoso Chuckie Bizzoso dusted off Bizzoso Television (BTV) archives and throughout ROOTS Week and the Reunion will be screening these short videos made during the Annual Meetings in the mid1990s. Originally screened during Cafe Bizzoso, this archival footage highlights some of the truly absurdly ROOTS-y moments of artists making movies in the woods. Each night at Late Night, we’ll have screenings of the BTV archives, as well as screenings of a new collection of BTV videos created daily during ROOTS Week. Charles Dennis is an interdisciplinary artist, choreographer, video artist, and proprietor of Charles Dennis Productions, a Brooklyn, New York-based company that produces digital media content for artists, not-for-profit organizations, and corporate clients. Charles co-founded Performance Space 122 in New York City in 1979 and helped nurture its development as one of the most active performance spaces in this country. Charles created numerous inter-generational, communityoriented dance/performances from 1980-2000 and was awarded many fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Themes: ROOTS Reunion

EARLY ROOTS: A PLAY FOR VOICES Will MacAdams & Ashley Sparks This 15-minute play retells stories from early ROOTS history. Will MacAdams is a playwright and director who has worked in South Africa, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, and across the United States. Recent projects include four community-based plays created with farming communities in New York and


California and a multi-year theater project about economic class and its many intersections, created with students at Hampshire College. Themes: ROOTS Reunion

ELEVEN REFLECTIONS ON SEPTEMBER Andrea Assaf Eleven Reflections on September is a poetry/ spoken word & multimedia performance on Arab American experience, Wars on/of Terror, and the constant, quiet rain of death amidst beauty that each autumn brings in a post-9/11 world. This production is based on the series of poems Andrea Assaf has written since 2001, spanning the fall of the towers, the on-going wars, and the current revolutions and conflicts sweeping through the Arab world. Andrea Assaf, founding Artistic Director of Art2Action Inc., is an acclaimed performer, writer, director, and cultural organizer. In addition to curating community-based programs in Tampa, Florida, Andrea tours nationally and internationally. 2015 performances of her original work, Eleven Reflections on September, include La MaMa ETC, The Apollo Theatre, and the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage. She currently serves on

Performances & Exhibitions the Board of the Consortium of Asian American Theatres & Artists (CAATA), and is a voting board member of Alternate ROOTS. Andrea is also a member of RAWI, the Radius of Arab American Writers. Themes: Community Health & Safety


This theatrical performance deals with our relationship to Mother Earth/the natural world and how critical it is that we look at our disconnections, which are creating severe environmental and health issues all over the world. The Pacha Mamas comprises three unique individuals, who work in harmony with each other and spirit to create, express, and inspire. Their performances are primarily driven by their eclectic original songs, but also include movement, humor, improvisation, and storytelling. The Pacha Mamas seek to inspire the viewer to reflect upon such subjects as unity, inclusion, diversity, and respect for self and all living beings. Joy is their ultimate intention in co-creating with audiences as they seek to engage them in the experience. The Pacha Mamas are: Angela Bennett, Marquetta Dupree, and Vivian Slade. Themes: Community Health & Safety

THE HOLLERIN SPACE Muthi & Angela Davis Johnson This Hollerin Space is meant to activate a collective dream culture. We harness the 40th annual meeting as a functional & ecological space for composition and conduction in which things converge to spark dreaming for the now, the next 40, & beyond, using performance, painting, and film. We will engage in one-on-one and/or group conversations, talking or “live dreaming” with ROOTS Week participants. These will be audio recorded sessions. In tandem, we will be with the mountain environment, the nature, and history of ROOTers’ work around the 4 curated themes for this year’s gathering; observing how patterns move & have moved will inform us. Muthi is a multi media artist from Philadelphia. Their work is a genealogy of migrations. Of place to place border crossings, navigating notions of origins, ancestry, body as home, and blood memory. Muthi conducts public remixes of found & open source documentations of everyday life with workers, queers, and freedom fighters. Angela Davis Johnson is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose practice includes painting, performance, and public art. Her narrative paintings reflect the textured life and spirit of black culture, and with these paintings she incorporates body movements and song to uplift the forgotten and to amplify untold stories. Themes: Mass Incarceration, Community Health & Safety, Youth in the Movement, and ROOTS 40th Anniversary




Rodrigo Dorfman

Rodrigo Dorfman and Spirithouse NC

Through an Alternate ROOTS grant, Rodrigo collaborated with NC Field, an organization dedicated to farm-worker empowerment, to offer a six-week workshop in Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina, to a small group of migrant worker youth. The goals were to develop their skills in the art of multimedia storytelling, empower them to become active participants in their communities, and create the multimedia elements of a media advocacy campaign centered on raising awareness around the timely issue of child labor in the tobacco industry. Rodrigo will present insights into this creative process and show some of the youth’s work, as well as a short video portrait of one of the participants: Neftali Cuello – a 19 yearold farmworker who uses poetry to educate and organize.

Mother to Mother, Collective Sun is an offering from black mothers in Durham NC, for the Black Lives Matter National Week of Action, held on October 20-26, 2014. We stand, in solidarity, with black mothers, from around the globe, against racial profiling, police brutality and the state sanctioned violence that has claimed the lives of so many of our children. #BlackLivesMatter

ORISIRISI AFRICAN FOLKLORE Orisirisi African Folklore is a performing arts company, co-founded by husband and wife team Don and Tutu Harrell. Rooted in history, culture, and traditions of Africa, Orisirisi uses storytelling, drumming, dance and song, children’s games, lectures, documentary film and video, plus educational initiatives and workshops to illuminate the beauty and importance of African and African American life and culture. Since its inception, the company has reached countless people, the world over.


Rodrigo Dorfman is a North Carolina-based award-winning filmmaker and multimedia producer who has worked with POV, HBO, Salma Hayek’s Ventanazul, and the BBC among others. His films have been screened at some of the top international film festivals in the world (Toronto, Full Frame, Edinburgh, Telluride, Human Rights Watch). His short “One Night in Kernersville” won Jury Award for best short at Full Frame (2011). His latest work can be seen at the Levine Museum of the New South, NUEVOlution! Latinos and the New South, a national touring museum exhibit based on his documentary work. He is currently the editor and cinematographer of the documentary Always in Season about the impact of lynching on four different communities.

Performances & Exhibitions PERFORMING STATISTICS: VISUAL ART INSTALLATION The Performing Statistics installation was created by a group of young men incarcerated at the Richmond Juvenile Detention Center. Their photo portraits are in response to the prompt, “If you knew me, you would know that…” The center of the installation includes a to-scale replica of a youth prison cell (6’x8’x8’) with a collective poem about their experiences being locked up. Audiences are also asked to respond to the question, “How can you create a world where no youth are locked up?” Performing Statistics is an art advocacy and cultural organizing project that connects incarcerated youth to the leading juvenile justice reform efforts in Virginia. www.performingstatistics. org #prisonsdontwork Themes: Mass Incarceration

ROOTS REUNION: WHO WE ARE AND WHERE WE’VE BEEN Co-hosts Marquetta Dupree and Nick Slie guide us through a Friday evening of ROOTS history featuring new work, staged readings from past performances, and a very special shout out to all our founding members. Includes: Early ROOTS: A Play for Voices by Will MacAdams, excerpts from Warren by Rebecca Ranson, Daytrips by Jo Carson, some singing, some dancing, and if you are lucky some mate. Themes: 40th Anniversary

SHE SPEAKS Edyka Chilomé Inspired by her book She Speaks | Poetry, an exploration of queer Latinx mestizaje in the diaspora, Edyka Chilomé offers a decolonizing testimony through poetry and storytelling. Pulling from modern and pre-columbian American language and culture, Edyka explores “herstory” through personal and global politics, spirituality, and the origins of poetry itself. In the tradition of queer women of color writers, Edyka Chilomé invites us to consider the complexity of our human condition and the need to tell our stories for healing self and community.


Performances & Exhibitions Edyka Chilomé is a queer indigenous Xicana / Centro Americana. She is an artist, social justice educator, and spiritual activist. Edyka holds a B.A. in social and political philosophy and an M.A. in Multicultural Women’s Studies. She currently lives in Texas and serves as a faculty member for Free Minds Dallas. Themes: Community Health and Safety

SPOKEN WORD PERFORMANCE Chris James This performance will speak on themes of Chris’ work with his organization, The Roots Art Connection. The Roots Art Connection’s programs and projects are designed to support social justice, alleviate poverty and hunger, uproot oppression, and engage youth in creative arts while simultaneously increasing academic success. Chris James is a native of Little Rock, AR, and by age of 24, he has already become one of the primary leaders of the arts movement in the city. He is a member of 2014 Championship Poetry Slam Team, Foreign Tongues. He is an artist on the Arkansas Arts Council Roster and Fellow for Arkansas A+ Schools. He is the founder and Executive Director of The Roots Art Connection. Chris is a national spoken word poet who combines theatre with his performance to shed a different light on the art form. He is a playwright, director, actor, author, photographer, and teaching artist. He has written and produced three original stage plays. Themes: Community Health & Safety

SUPER ROOTSY HONORING AND REUNION SPECTACULAR! It’s our inaugural year for two honors – Deeply ROOTed and the Spirit of ROOTS honors. Cohosted by Ron Ragin and Karen Stevens, Saturday night will feature dozens of individuals honored


through music, poetry, dance, video, songs, and surprises. Cameo performances by Paula Larke, Alternate FROOTS, and others. Guest DJ Dave Soul helps us celebrate turning 40 with a dance party into the wee hours… Themes: 40th Anniversary

TAKEN Kesha McKey Taken (an excerpt), is a dance theater production inspired by the historical epidemic of the absentee father in African-American families and communities. Using dance, theatre, spoken word, and song, Taken exhibits a historical journey depicting significant events that have affected the African-American family such as slavery, war, street violence, and mass incarceration. It is an exploration of the resistance, perseverance, and survival of the African-American family whose patriarchs have been snatched and sold as slaves, unwillingly drafted to fight “white men’s” wars, caged in the era of mass incarceration, and lost to violent crimes and police brutality.

Performances & Exhibitions Kesha McKey is a choreographer, educator, and performing artist in New Orleans. She received her BS from Xavier University and her MFA in dance from UW-Milwaukee. She is the Artistic Director of KM Dance Project, a dance educator at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, and Program Coordinator of the Kuumba Institute at Ashé Cultural Arts Center. Themes: Mass Incarceration


Palestinian women have threaded the embroidery art of tatreez through the historical, political, social, and economic fabrics of their experiences for generations. By embroidering traditional motifs on photographs – historical and contemporary, on the Palestinian symbol of the kufiya, and on contemporary clothing that crosses lines of gender, this work invites a queer re-engagement with embroidery as storytelling in diaspora and in the context of the U.S. South.

WHAT I DIDN’T LEARN IN GIRL SCOUTS Kathie deNobriga What I Didn’t Learn in Girl Scouts is both an homage to an early, though brief, formative experience growing up in east Tennessee, and a mature reflection on life lessons that unfolded in subsequent years. Structured as a series of contemporary “badges,” the piece is a growing collection of short stories told with light-hearted gravity. Kathie deNobriga is a founding member of Alternate ROOTS and facilitator and planning consultant, engaging the creative imagination in the solution of practical problems. With early training in improvisation, community-built plays and ensemble practice, Kathie mostly withdrew from the world of performing while building a career as a nonprofit consultant. There was always one time and place where she nurtured her performing self: at the Annual Meetings of ROOTS, with appearances as Kitty Campbell, Camp Counselor and other characters. Those early ad hoc performances generated an idea for an extended series of stories and reflections. Now, after completing 12 years as an elected official, she finally has the time and focus to return to her own roots as a writer and performer. Themes: ROOTS Reunion

Rasha Abdulhadi grew up between Damascus and rural south Georgia and cut her organizing teeth on the southsides of Chicago and Atlanta. She is a cultural organizer, educator, and community technologist. These days, she is managing a bookstore in Washington DC, writing science fiction, and making traditional Palestinian embroidery. Themes: Community Health and Safety



The Annual Meeting & Artists Retreat is a fun, challenging, and life-altering gathering for many people. Because this is an experiential event, it may be difficult to describe ROOTS Week to someone who has not attended before. However, we’ve provided answers to some of the questions you might have if this is your first ROOTS Week.


Artists, cultural workers, educators, art supporters, and activists/organizers from throughout the South, other parts of the U.S., and even some international friends. Participants are people who want to meet and learn about the work of community-based artists making change happen. They are people who want to learn new methods of interacting with their communities, people who want to work towards the elimination of all forms of oppression, and the protection of the natural world.

WHO WILL BE PERFORMING AND SHARING ART? Check out the Learning Exchange, Performance & Exhibition sections of your program book for a full line-up. In addition to a dynamic schedule, there are also informal opportunities for attendees to share art. Mini-performances are a regular feature of business meetings, and Late Night is open to anyone who has something to share. Spontaneous happenings are an integral part of a ROOTS gathering.



Yes, there is limited, sometimes unreliable wireless access. The main internet cafe is on the second level of Kohnjoy. You can also find internet at cafes off campus. However, we encourage you to be as low-tech as you can this week. It can be a lovely thing to step away from your computer for a while.


Yes – if you’re over 21. We like to let loose around here. But, please keep in mind: not everyone drinks or feels comfortable around drinking. Please be discreet about your alcohol consumption and do not push it on others. Additionally, please do not serve alcohol to an underage participant.


Weather permitting, the pool is open everyday from ​ 10 am-12 pm and 1-5 pm.

IF I’M NOT STAYING AT LUTHERIDGE, HOW DO I GET THERE? WHERE DO I PARK? If you are staying at the Clarion Inn, there will be a regular and free shuttle to Lutheridge. You can also park at our overflow lot – Lutheran Church of the Nativity; 2425 Hendersonville Road; Arden, NC 28704 – and catch a shuttle there. Shuttles will run regularly from 10 AM to 12 AM.


If the incident is a real medical emergency please call 911. Parkridge Hospital is the closest: 100 Hospital Dr, Hendersonville, NC 28792 / 828-684-8501. Mission Hospital is also nearby: 509 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC 28801 / 828-213-1111. Mission Pardee Health Campus (Urgent Care) is available for non-emergencies: 2695 Hendersonville Rd, Arden NC 28704 / 828-6516300.

HOW CAN I GET IN TOUCH WITH LUTHERIDGE AND/OR ROOTS STAFF? Lutheridge Guest Services can be reached, day or night at: 828-606-5684.

ROOTS Staff can be reached by calling the office number, which will be re-routed to our various cell phones. To reach ROOTS Staff, call 404-577-1079 and dial the extension of the person you need to speak with:


Some ROOTS Week attendees experience sensitivity to strong fragrances. We ask that you limit the use of strongperfume or cologne, fragrant laundry/body soaps and shampoos, or any other chemicals/fragrances, particularly when you will be engaging in our public spaces.


You’ll have the opportunity to identify the pronouns you use on your nametag, and we encourage everyone sharing space with us this week to do so. Being intentional about identifying our pronouns, and attentive to using folks’ chosen pronouns is a way to make the space at ROOTS Week more affirming and welcoming to gender nonconforming, transgender, and genderqueer folks. If being mindful of pronouns is new to you, consider this week a wonderful opportunity for us as a community to support one another in putting this into practice.


Wendy Shenefelt, Programs Manager: x306 Paige Heurtin, Operations Manager: x305 Ashley Walden Davis, Programs Director: x304 Sarah Lamb, Registration Assistant: x308

Alternate ROOTS welcomes gender diversity. All ROOTS Week participants are invited to use the restroom that best fits their identity. Multi-stall restrooms are located in the Faith Center, Dining Room, and Mission Halls. Single stall restrooms are located in Thornberg and Kohnjoy.




Everybody works at ROOTS Week! Whether you’re coming to ROOTS Week for the first time or are a founding member, there is a place for you to contribute your genius and energy in the work co-op. By working together, we can keep costs low, build community, and live out our values of sharing labor fairly. The vision is that everyone works one shift over the course of the week. Year after year, ROOTS members say that their experiences working together are some of the most important parts of ROOTS Week.

Alternate ROOTS aims to provide inclusive community building by making our organization and its events accessible across a full spectrum of abilities. We are sensitive to, and attempt to accommodate, mobility differences, communication differences, sensory differences, chemical injury/ sensitivities, and environmental illnesses. In so doing, we commit to our practice of “All of us, or none.” This practice of collective accessibility includes, but is not limited to: • •

Selecting a conference site that is as fully accessible as possible to participants with mobility challenges Providing an American Sign Language interpreter for participants that are deaf or hard of hearing


• •

Avoiding the use of strong fragrances that irritate participants’ chemical sensitivities Sharing the importance of mindful language, particularly related to a wide range of disabilities and differences

It is our desire that ROOTS Week attendees integrate inclusive language that does not privilege and normalize non-disabled ways of thinking, communicating, feeling, and moving through the world (e.g. “moving through the world” rather than “walking through the world,” “coming forward for membership” rather than “stepping up for membership.”)


Please support ROOTS and its mission by contributing to our 40 for 40 fundraising campaign! With 40 for 40 we’re raising $40,000 in 2016 to celebrate 40 years of arts, community, and activism. Your donation will support ROOTS programs and projects. More importantly, you will be part of a growing group of progressives committed to fortifying ROOTS’ next forty years!

ALTERNATE ROOTS MEETING PROCESSES & ROLES This is an evolving snapshot of ROOTS’ practices for convening meetings. It is by no means a mandate for every meeting, nor is it ever complete. Please feel free to add in new language or revise items as you see fit to better serve the unique needs of your group/community.


At the beginning of each meeting/retreat, we create a meeting contract. This agreement includes everything from emotional needs to physical requests in order to keep us together and moving as a cohesive, productive group. It can include things like: • • •

• • •


Use “I” statements (speak from your own experience and feelings) Take care of yourself and your own needs Avoid alphabet soup/coded language (if there are newcomers in the room, do not assume that everyone knows what our acronyms or buzzwords mean) Seek first to understand; assume good intent Leave the space in better shape than we found it Move forward, move back (if you’re talking a lot, make room for others to have a turn; by the same token, if you’re not participating very much, challenge yourself to join the conversation) Let’s have stretch breaks and creatively use our bodies whenever possible!


Also, at the beginning of a meeting, we assign roles. Some of these roles fall naturally to someone who already has a position the function is tied to it (e.g. our elected officer, the Secretary, will likely want to be the notetaker). Roles are: • •

• • •

Facilitator: knows the goals for the discussion and keeps everyone on point toward that end Co-Facilitator: joins in when the facilitator needs help, often will also keep “the stack” or “queue” (the list of people who are waiting to participate in the conversation) Time Keeper: is aware of how much time has been allotted for a discussion item and gives verbal or visual cues for when time is counting down or over Public Scribe: takes notes up on the butcher paper/chalkboard/etc. Note Taker: takes notes for archive purposes on a computer Emotions Monitor: keeps a temperature reading on the room; if things get heated, suggests a breathing exercise, bio-break, etc; if the group moves through a hard piece successfully, suggests a celebratory moment Door Keeper: greets late comers or those who have had to leave and come back; catches them up on what the group has been discussing so that conversation does not have to stop with each new entry


Generally, as time and agenda allow, meetings begin with a check-in and end with a check-out. Individuals are invited to say what’s going on in their neck of the woods, or in what physical,

spiritual, or emotional state they’re entering or leaving the meeting space. This process can be shortened creatively by asking participants to use one word, a song title, or some other abbreviating/ creative concept to capture an energetic reading.

AN ALTERNATE ROOTS GLOSSARY OF TERMS ROOTS has a 40-year history of creating and defining language. Here are a few terms you might hear over the course of this week: Business Meetings: All meeting attendees, no matter how new they are to the organization, are encouraged to participate in ROOTS’ business meetings which include, but are not limited to, program updates and evaluations, planning the future and clarifying our vision, and voting in new members. ExComm: ROOTS’ Executive Committee is frequently referred to as the “ExComm.” The ExComm is comprised of elected representatives, a slate of officers and the staff. Late Night: Based on an open mic or cabaret format, Late Night is an opportunity for you to get up and show some of your stuff. Totally casual and off-the-cuff, Late Night is a place where our night owls come together to share poetry, dance, music, monologues, blog entries – whatever you want to show. Each evening has a host or hosts and that’s who you would speak to about getting on the list. Learning Exchange: A Learning Exchange looks different wherever and whenever it happens. It is an opportunity for a community to come together around an agreed upon topic. Inspired by the principles of Paulo Freire and Augusto Boal, ROOTS has adopted the term “learning exchange” to show that all the knowledge that is needed to solve any given problem is already in the room.

Region: ROOTS has a 14-state service area, plus the District of Columbia. Our service region is the geographic area of the United States often referred to as “The South”: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Rhizome: Taken from a horticultural term that relates to plants that grow through their root structure, Rhizomes are small groupings of ROOTS members and friends who convene and participate in ROOTS-related activities across the region. Self-Organized Space: A meeting technique that acknowledges your power to set your own agenda. Come prepared to share with one another. Studios, workshops, discussion sessions and performances can all happen during time set aside for SelfOrganized Space. Spontaneous performance/happenings/ combustion: Also known as “Gettin’ ROOT-y.” We occasionally burst out into song during the middle of a meal, create an impromptu performance on the way to the pool, or make a sculpture of tin cans. You don’t need permission to join this sort of thing – you just have to give yourself permission. Strategic Plan(ning): This is the process of setting priorities and new directions for an organization. These priorities will serve as a roadmap for future programmatic decisions. Every 3-5 years ROOTS evaluates and sets new directions. All meeting attendees, no matter how new they are to the organization, are encouraged to participate.


Funders, Sponsors, and Special Thanks 2016 INSTITUTIONAL FUNDERS


Fund for Southern Communities Joan Mitchell Foundation National Endowment for the Arts Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Surdna Foundation The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation The Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta The Ford Foundation The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Dean’s Beans

SPECIAL THANKS Allen Welty-Green Angie Yates Black Swan Food Experience FullSteam Labs ...for supporting the research and work for the 40th Reunion:





Eleanor Brownfield Dudley Cocke Kathie deNobriga Sheryl Evans Nicole Garneau Kelly Hill Dan Kwong Bob Leonard Will MacAdams Linda Parris-Bailey Deborah Slater

Staff and Executive Committee ALTERNATE ROOTS STAFF


Carlton Turner, Executive Director Keryl McCord, Operations Director Ashley Walden Davis, Programs Director Paige Heurtin, Operations Manager Wendy Shenefelt, Programs Manager Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt, Communications Manager Kerry Lee, Operations Associate Joseph Thomas, Communications Developer

Black Swan Food Experience (Shana Turner & Nikki Wright), Head Chef Mary Burke Pitts, Youth Village Childcare Provider Melisa Cardona, Photographer Jan Cohen-Cruz, ROOTS Book Project Lead Researcher Phil Cramer, Technical Director, Performances Monique Davis, Hospitality Team Captain Karimah Dillard, Camp Counselor Jayeesha Dutta & Lauren Hind, Visual Arts CoCoordinators Lauren Fitzgerald, Stage Manager Jazz Franklin, Documentation Team Captain Allendra Freeman, Videographer Bonnie Gabel, Reunion Assistant Christine Gautreaux, Camp Counselor Tutu Harrell, Youth Village Captain Topaz Hooper, Assistant Stage Manager Ariston Jacks, Photographer daniel johnson, Programs Assistant Jade Johnson, Green Team Captain Lily Keber, Videographer Sarah Lamb, Registration Coordinator Zac Manuel, Videographer Saran Thompson, Technical Director, Performances SpiritHouse, Health and Wellness Team Captains Joe Tolbert, Technical Director, Business Meetings/ Workshops Patton White, ROOTS 101 Captain

ALTERNATE ROOTS EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Robert Martin, Chair Jessica Solomon, President Tamiko Ambrose, Secretary Trey Hartt, Treasurer Ashley Minner, At Large Member Nikki Brown, At Large Member Don Harrell, At Large Member Nicole Garneau, At Large Member Rebecca Mwase, At Large Member

Photo Credits: Alternate ROOTS Archive, Jonathan Banks, Melisa Cardona, Alan Cradick, Kathie deNobrigia, Rodrigo Dorfman, Marty Pottenger, Sean Scheidt, Ariston Jacks, Xiauna Lin Turner, Craig Zirpolo




Profile for Alternate ROOTS

2016 ROOTS Week & ROOTS Reunion Publication  

2016 ROOTS Week & ROOTS Reunion Publication