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ROOTS

JOURNAL FALL 2006

A N N U A L M E E T I N G E D I T I O N

Celebrating 30 Years Building Community at the Intersection of Arts and Activism


Up from the ROOTS

Dear Friend,

Journal Fall 2006

Where were YOU in 1976?

CAROLYN MORRIS Executive Director

Where were you 30 years ago?

Thirty years ago, Alternate ROOTS was little more than a hair-brained idea in the imaginations of a few socially and politically-aware theatre folk who had cut their teeth in the movements for civil rights, women’s rights and peace in Vietnam. Did we have any idea that we were starting an organization that would continue to work for justice, with arts and culture as powerful tools, into the next generation? Yet we’ve stumbled and struggled, fought, sang and danced with each other, kept talking — and learning.

Now 30 years later, ROOTS has grown into a national force for arts in social change. From our organized response to the after-math of Hurricane Katrina, to our advocacy for artists’ voice and for authentic community expression, ROOTS has matured into an important, vital organization which has supported and served hundreds of artists in all disciplines working for social change. Now, in celebration of its 30 years, ROOTS has launched a “30 for 30” Campaign, to raise $30,000 in unrestricted funding: funding that can be used where it is needed most.

Between us, the two of us served ROOTS as its director for nearly half of those 30 years. We continue to have a huge investment and interest in the health of the organization that we carefully nurtured — so we’re writing to you, to ask you to join us in the “30 for 30” Campaign. Please consider a contribution of whatever you can afford. Consider including ROOTS in your will. Consider the impact that Alternate ROOTS has made in the Southeast — and beyond — through three decades of service and commitment. Please join us in supporting Alternate ROOTS by filling out the information below and mailing your contribution to the office. We hope that you will give generously, so that ROOTS can stay alive and healthy. Sincerely,

CARLTON TURNER Regional Development Director

SAGE CRUMP Executive Administrative Assistant OFFICERS

STEPHEN CLAPP, Chair stephenc@danceplace.org

MARQUEZ RHYNE, Vice-Chair marquezrhyne@yahoo.com TRINA FISCHER, Secretary trina@lookingforlilith.org NAYO WATKINS, Treasurer nayoyan@aol.com

REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES

Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina OMARI FOX manhattanmakesit@hotmail.com TONI SHIFALO labananatbs@aol.com Florida DENISE DELGADO delgadod@mdpls.org

LELA LOMBARDO lelalombardo@prodigy.net

Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee APRIL TURNER laap2000@aol.com JERITA WRIGHT jeritawright@excite.com

SHANNON WOOLEY shannon@lookingforlilith.org

Louisiana, Mississippi MAURICE TURNER mturner@turnerworldaround.org

NICK SLIE mondobizarropresents@hotmail.org Maryland, District of Columbia, Virginia, West Virginia ADRIENNE CLANCY adrienne@clancyworks.org ASHLEY SPARKS ashleysparkles@yahoo.com Satellite S.T. SHIMI stshimi@excite.com LISA SUAREZ lisa@jump-start.org

Kathie DeNobriga Executive Director Alternate ROOTS

Alice Lovelace Executive Director Alternate ROOTS

Visual Arts MEG ANDERSON meg@soundplay.com

GWYLENE GALLIMARD jemagwga@knology.net

NORA HILL crochetdiva11@yahoo.com LAVERNE ZABIELSKI laverne@zabielski.com Journal Staff KEVIN MCFOY DUNN Editor

CARLTON TURNER Graphic Design & Layout WALTON PRESS Printer


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Alternate ROOTS in 2006

arrived at the Lutheridge conference facilities and breathed deeply of the fresh air and the scent of pine trees. At this site nestled in the woods of North Carolina, thoughts of heightened airport security, lost luggage, and the pile of work left on my desk in New York seemed completely irrelevant.

As I entered the main building, I took in the familiar view of this retreat that people go to in order to exchange ideas, share experiences, and think about what they can do individually and collectively in the future. There were people moving in small groups from one building to another, folks sitting together enjoying the sun while engaged in lively discussions, and a few people sitting alone, writing or just thinking quietly. But the Alternate ROOTS annual meeting is distinct from other conferences and retreats that I have attended. It took almost no time to see these differences: a truly diverse community of artists, leaders, and activists; participation of families; children and teens engaged in creative workshops that spanned performance and media art. Mealtimes were communal, and conference participants worked together to prepare food and to help with cleaning up after meals.

and voted on. At points the meetings felt painfully drawn out and unnecessary, but at other times they felt exciting, important. The group, through its own design, allowed everyone to actively participate, and it became clear that each issue had to be explored fully through this process — because editing one or another out would put the whole enterprise of collective power at risk. So I sat and listened, and thought about ways of supporting Alternate ROOTS and its formidable leaders, director Carolyn Morris and regional director Carlton Turner.

Alternate ROOTS is a perhaps accidental precursor to social network technology and network-centric organizational models. The power of Moveon.org, DailyKoz.com, and now Youtube.com is about empowering individuals to have a voice and providing a place for expressing that voice. Judilee Reed is vice president of LINC Moveon.org gives folks an (Leveraging Investment in Creativity) opportunity to find other likean organization minded people; networks form by engaging people through the things they care about, with the 450 West 37th Street, Suite 502 most successful enabling the New York, NY 10018 collective voice to carry the most weight in decision-making Tel: (646) 731-3275 by such networks on either Fax: (646) 731-3289 organizational matters or external issues.

The conference sessions that weekend (I didn’t arrive until the last Friday of the meeting) were interactive; many began with opening songs. I attended a story circle that ended with breakout groups sharing creative interpretations of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on fellow New Orleans residents. Performances held in the evenings were safe spaces in which artists could share their work and receive constructive criticism from their peers. Young artists demonstrated that age was no barrier to powerfully creative expression full of humor, insight, and honesty. The membership meetings scheduled throughout the week were perhaps the most interesting to me. There I saw collective democracy in action, issues of governance, finance, and procedure tabled, debated,

Sound familiar?

The meeting ended on Sunday. I detected a new sense of direction for the conversation that Carolyn, Carlton, and I had started over a year ago. Our discussions were focused on how information technology — Web site tools — could help Alternate ROOTS serve its membership more effectively and efficiently, assist in keeping membership involved throughout the year, and make it possible for all parts of the organization to extend our reach. Throughout those exchanges, I felt that we cared about the same thing and were addressing the same issue, although common understandings on details were elusive. The annual meeting at this place nestled into hills of North Carolina showed me more than I alone could have ever learned otherwise: I saw that it was the most relevant experience I could have had.


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enise Brown and Walidah Imarisha work with the Leeway Foundation, a Philadelphia-based foundation that funds women artists and transgendered artists seeking to create social change in the Philadelphia area. They learned of the Alternate ROOTS Conference through their activities with the foundation, and were interested in attending because of its emphasis on the connection between art and activism.

IMARISHA The Leeway Foundation has been going through a multiyear dismantling racism process, and is at the very beginning of a trans inclusion process. This has meant a lot of changes not only in whom we fund, but in the internal structure of the foundation as well. What I found really interesting, helpful and thought-provoking about the ROOTS conference was getting to speak with staff and members, and getting to see at first hand the change that ROOTS too has gone through in trying to reach out to address the issues and needs of marginalized communities and to bring those communities into leadership positions. That’s what Leeway is doing as well, so it’s important that we work together, support one another, and learn from each other to keep this struggle moving forward.

BROWN I didn’t know that much about ROOTS before I arrived at Lutheridge. Two women I know had attended over the years and spoke very highly of it, but neither of them is a person of color or an artist making change. Then an organizer I know, a woman of color, said that it was the only artists’ conference she would ever consider attending because, as she said, the folks involved are not just “arty”— they’re cultural workers and activists with an analysis of race and power who believe that art is a necessary part of building an effective movement for social justice. That endorsement, combined with what I saw on the Web site, convinced me to check it out. I’m pleased to report that my colleague the organizer was right — ROOTS did not disappoint. I met some fierce artists and activists at ROOTS — staff, board, members, presenters, guests. I participated in conversations and sessions about art and change and organizations in transition, saw thought-provoking performances, felt the warmth of Sage’s smile, PooPoo-LaLa’s hands and Tuffy’s laugh, and came away from the conference feeling less isolated in this work, energized by being in the company of folks who are dealing with many of the same issues we are dealing with at Leeway. I’m grateful we at Leeway made this connection, and look forward to finding ways to work together in the future.

For more information on the Leeway Foundation, go online to www.leeway.org.


The following has been adapted from the text of an address made to attendees of the 30th annual meeting of Alternate ROOTS by one of the organization’s founders, Jo Carson. Her remarks were delivered in the course of the evening performance series on Friday, August 11, 2006.

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hirty years ago, I got a little job from Highlander Center to organize a meeting of a bunch of theater artists to see if we had anything to say to one another. We did.

This organization is now as old as I was when Highlander asked me to organize that first meeting; I turn 60 this fall.

There were others who were far better organizers than I, who had immediate visions of what such an organization might be and set out to make it happen. Some amazing, far-reaching thinking has gone into the making of this organization, and we all benefit from it.

all possible gifts, and organizations like this one really do help in achieving it. But “agency” has a larger meaning than just assuming our own agency as artists.

I think our job as artists interested in community — and I’m personally not much interested in an art without a community — is the giving of agency in that community. What on earth do I mean by that? I mean that it is my job to help others act on their own behalf. Why, you might ask, am I not in social services? Because that agency, like the food stamp agency, is akin in name only to agency as I intend it.

There is a very large, invisible item out there called the “zero-point field.” It is a field of energy as big as the universe, but it is everywhere, this room included. It is a field that (among other things) supports life and seems to collect and keep somehow The obligations that the experiences of that come with making a life. There are real living at my art — I’ve experiments (the done that for most of name of one book that those same 30 years Five of Alternate ROOTS founders (from l to r) Robert Leonard, XXXXXXX, delineates some of — have been more them is The Field by than an influence. I’m a Linda Parris-Bailey, Jo Carson, Kathie de Nobrigia creature who has evolved to fit a niche in those 30 Lynne McTaggart) in which, after one creature learns years. I helped make the niche, but the niche has something, it becomes easier for others to learn the also made me. And I’ve been thinking about what the same thing. learning of those 30 years might be. The implications of this are huge, and many. So let And I have a word: “agency.” me draw just one of them: when I use a story, and I work a lot with other people’s stories, my job is to put What I mean by “agency” is the capacity to act on something into that zero-point field that services your own behalf. It is a fitting word. Alternate ROOTS agency, instead of something that reduces it. has been about assuming our own agency as artists from the very beginning. The capacity to take your Again you may say: So that’s the big picture — thank own agency is the greatest of gifts an artist can you very much, Ms. Einstein. But what good is it? have. It is also what makes you /us so wonderfully dangerous. I cannot tell you exactly where that gift Well, first, it is an amazing way to think about what comes from. I know there has to be something in you art is and what art can do. Art has — my opinion — that wants it a lot before it has any meaning at all. always been about agency (giving it or taking is But to someone who does want it, it is the greatest of depending on who is making the art); we just don’t I’m 30 years further into the making of art than I was at that first meeting. ROOTS has been a huge influence in my work; Highlander has been an influence. And there are others.


think of it that way very much any more. That’s relegated now to ritual, or religion, or any number of other things relatively discredited as having any real power in this culture. Mistake.

Here’s why it works: we humans are creatures that live by stories, our brains are hardwired for narrative, and more, we make stories of everything. The chemistry of our bodies changes with stories we tell ourselves, and the stories that we live with make a huge difference in the courses of our lives. And here comes art: we learn as much (often more) from hearing/seeing stories as we do from experiencing them. Listening to a story does essentially the same thing in your brain that experiencing it does, and a story in which a character real enough to identify with in some way has agency, the capacity to act on his or her own behalf, gives agency; a story with no agency takes it away. It is that simple, and it works from the zero-point field to the tip of your or anybody else’s little toes.

Now, I do not mean we should just do sweet or happy stories — that’s not the experience of this world; it is a tougher place than that, and stories that whitewash hard experience get dismissed, as they should, because they take away agency. So I’m not trying to make you into some Pollyanna or Horatio Alger. Please. If anything, I’d make you fiercer than you already are. What I’m asking you to do is put this idea of giving agency to others with your work in your head and your heart, and see what comes of it. And talk back if you want to.

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n 2005, the young people who participated in the Youth Village proved to all that they had something to contribute, challenging everyone present at their performance to find a way to help support their artistic and leadership efforts as young people ready to go to the next level. I knew that what we had created together in 2005 was wonderful, and had somehow set a new standard for what we should expect from the young people at annual meetings from that day forward. The 2006 Youth Village met every goal set for it. The participants stepped up to the challenge of multitasking, which was going to be very necessary if they were to create a presentation that would include a taste of what each guest artist workshop and other youth programming provided. Every time they displayed their works of art, it was clear that they embodied multicultural and intergenerational bridge building, youth-toyouth communication and trust. I had a fabulous time, and was proud to be in service to the young ROOTers.

Hilda Willis, Alternate ROOTS Youth Coordinator

photo by Dada Ra


STUDIO REPORT

Rajni Shah/Across The Oceans 2: Interventions and Public Gestures Elayne M. White

Rajni Shah defines an “intervention” as an action that has an unexpected effect on people’s lives — although the meaning of neither the action nor its effect is under the control of the artist, that being left rather to the interpretation of each witness. Rajni’s “rules of engagement” for this species of intervention go something like this: An intervention should be, at its heart, a gift. It should be something that you believe in, and should challenge your usual ways of working. It should open a window to change without imposing any particular viewpoint or making any particular argument. It should respect the space and expression of others (necessitating, for instance, that an intervenor seek permission for an act when politeness would require it).

structing and then breaking down illusions in unique ways.

She presented a DVD with examples of her own work and that of fellow artists in the U.K. Also supplied was a handout listing experiential interventionist artists in the U.K., some with provocatively zany names such as “Mad for Real” and “Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army”.

The workshop ended with an experiential exercise and a challenge. For the former, participants were asked to write on a piece of paper a wish they had for this Annual Meeting and to fold it in whatever way pleased them; they then chose someone else’s paper and used it as inspiration to express the means with which they would create an intervention. The latter consisted in The backgrounds of spurring each particthe six participants A gift from Rajni Shah left on the floor of the general meeting space. ipant to mount an interat the workshop convention of her or his own, ducted from 2:30 to 5:30 with Rajni offering support as needed. p.m. on Friday, August 11, 2006, were in theatre, poetry, photography, writing and teaching. Some The group then went outside to observe an intervenattended the workshop out of curiosity sparked by tion by Rodger French, whom they found sitting on a the term “intervention”; others came to seek input living room chair in the open air. On an adjacent regarding a hodgepodge of concerns: nontraditional table lay a note to the effect that he was taking a nap audiences, experimentation, new inspiration, new and was looking for reasons as to why he should teaching techniques, social and political connections wake up. Rooters wrote their answers on sticky to art and change. notes and stuck them to him. Rajni’s background has been in traditional theatre. The United Kingdom citizen’s current work reflects Rajni Shah can be reached at rajni@rajnishah.com. her commitment to making an impact on new audiences and to taking work into the general community, as opposed to limiting her work to conventional theatergoers. Her work challenges stereotypes, con-


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had been enthusiastically prepared by Joe Lambert for the Alternate ROOTS experience. This wasn’t just any gig he wanted me to attend: it was the ultimate confluence of amazing art, progressive, sane politics, and extraordinary people — and so my expectations were quite high.

The Center for Digital Storytelling, in collaboration with Carpetbag Theatre, was charged with facilitating a first-rate digital storytelling workshop for ROOTS youth. The youth who participated in the workshop were a true reflection of the organizers who brought them to the meeting. Our workshop started with some movement-based group bonding activities led by the Carpetbaggers. We continued with an overview of digital storytelling and a story circle in which each participant shared her or his story idea. The youth then wrote their scripts, scanned images, pored over the Internet and took digital pictures. When time came to put it all together, they demonstrated their familiarity with digital technology by learning the video editing program in record time, and easily finished the stories for viewing on the last night of the meeting.

It was a wonderful screening. The stories were emotionally compelling, authentic and humorous. I especially enjoyed the warm reception and affirmation extended to the youth by the appreciative adults attending the screening. The feeling of a community elevating and embracing its youth was palpable — and I felt honored to participate.

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he annual meeting was cool. I really liked the digital storytelling, because I learned how to make a digital story, and I can now teach it to others. I think there could have been way more teens though — there were only a few of us, and some didn’t even get involved. Overall it was a fun, creative, and implausible experience! Camara Morris

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loved the annual meeting! It was very entertaining, and it caught my attention. The digital storytelling was my favorite part. It allowed me to share a lot about my life. It was also very demiurgic. That runs in the 'Morris' gene. I made new friends while making my digital story. I had a lot of fun!

Nona Morris

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his summer, as I traveled to the Alternate ROOTS Annual Meeting, I thought about what this annual meeting would be like. I thought about the new people I would meet, the various performances I would see, and the delicious food I would eat — but what I mainly had my mind on was: “What am I going to do?”

The year before, I’d spent countless hours pointlessly roaming Lutheridge with nothing to do. This year I looked forward to something that would help me connect with my peers, and express myself, without boring me. I’m happy to say that I got what I wanted in the form of digital storytelling.

After the first day, when I heard about what we would be doing, I was eager to share my story. There was only one problem: I didn’t have a story. I spent a long while searching everywhere for something that was right in front of me; that something was the arts.

After brainstorming, I put all of my ideas together to make my digital story. There were a few bumps along the way, but I had help from my sisters and cousin, and from the digital storytelling team of Ms. Linda, Marquez, and Seed. After several days, my story was ready to be presented. It was shared in front of a large group of people. I was surprised at the feedback I received: everyone loved it, and congratulated me. The experience I had with digital storytelling helped me find out a little bit more about myself and strengthened my bond to the arts — which is why I look forward to the annual meeting next year.

Chris Morris


STUDIO REPORT

Alice Lovelace, Organizer for the United States Social Forum Elayne M. White

From 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Thursday, August 10, 2006, Alice Lovelace, the national lead staff organizer for the United States Social Forum, conducted an open space with a view to getting information out about, and to gather support for, the upcoming meeting in June 2007. The 14 attending included artists from varied disciplines such as textile art, poetry, spoken word, storytelling, furniture making and visual arts; two participants identified themselves as organizers.

Alice started by asking participants about their awareness of the USSF. Some had attended the Southeast Social Forum in Durham, N.C., at which — Latino grassroots participants having been actively recruited — a definite push for a brown-black alliance was in evidence. In this connection, Latonnya Wallace brought a short video of conversations at the SESF among pairs of participants from Charleston, S.C. But in general, most participants knew very little about the USSF. One participant with some knowledge of the forum is looking to it as a way to come to the table to make progressive change without governments; his goal for his work is to use the knowledge he gains to move toward giving everyone a voice through theatre and film. Indeed, some had never heard of the Social Forum mechanism at all; on being exposed to the concept, one such attendee saw it as providing a chance to be part of a united global front for change by reason of its capacity to meld a crowd of worthy but fragmented efforts into a

coherent force.

The USSF grew out of the World Social Forum, which got its start in Brazil. In 1996, activists in Seattle, its leadership white and male, mounted protests aimed at preventing the G8 from meeting. Afterward, the organization Grassroots for Global Justice was formed to assure that a larger contingent of people of color was dispatched to the WSF; Alice became involved through the group Project South. All of this ferment represented the beginning of the worldwide movement against socalled “globalization”. In 2005, which saw social forums held in India, Mali, and Venezuela, Alice came on board with the USSF, whose meeting originally scheduled for 2006 had to be pushed back in order for organizational operations to be completed. The main difference between the USSF and other activist organizations is that it functions solely as means of making it possible for people to present their agenda and find support for their particular issues. The USSF provides no funding for travel, speakers’ fees, and so forth — quite unlike the traditional conference model. Help in on offer for organizations seeking funding from philanthropists, churches, etc. One difficulty with conventional funding entities is their insistence on quantifiable results and outcomes to evaluate. The USSF answers to no such


masters: it exists for the attendees, enabling them to work from their own scripts, to set up their own programs, and to make happen what they need to happen.

For the first time within the WSF structure, the 2007 USSF will be led by grassroots people of color rather than by the academics, intellectuals, and professional organizers who heretofore have directed the forum. This new concept for the USSF implicitly advances the idea that unity arises from people coming together and determining their own directions, as opposed to trying to a spark a single action to be performed through the agency of a large, not to say monolithic, group. Victory in the social forum context is a victory for people rather than for a disengaged hierarchy such as a government. The 2007 meeting of the USSF, which will have the involvement of 200 grassroots organizations across the country, could attain a new level of action on issues like the minimum wage, job security, healthcare, education, environmental protections (with special reference to contemplated oil drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), and the like. Some Rooters from Charleston are planning to go to the WSF in Nairobi, Kenya, and are raising the money, as well as putting out the word to others who want to join them.

The world is asking what’s wrong with the people of the U.S., who are perceived by many as uniformly complacent about what their government is up to. This installment of the USSF will afford progressive Americans a robust opportunity to show a puzzled and fearful planet a different side of us. For more information, contact Alice Lovelace at alovelace@mindspring.com, or call her at Project South, (404) 622-1133.


a poem for the closing of the 30th alternate roots annual meeting oh shit there i am on the floor that’s me i mean, that’s my body i must be dead my race is already over wonder what the cause was don’t yet know will have to investigate

oh god, please do not let those be tweezers in my hands please don’t tell me that i died this morning plucking those last few chin hairs that i am so obsessed with please say that it’s a pen in my hand— that i was writing for a noble cause, telling a story that needed to be told a story that only i could tell

oh goddess, please tell me that my mouth is not open in that ugly twisted way because i was telling a lie or mocking something beautiful please tell me that it is about to curl into a smile as i laughed last night with my talented, intelligent, world-changing friends or when i hoooooped it up with the bigness of life and in the bigness of myself said yes to life oh lord & ladies, please tell me that my feet are dirty in that way not because i used my car to drive a third of a mile because i was too fuckin’ lazy to walk but because i was stomping on the grapes of wrath that this world ain’t near perfect yet oh well, i suppose the cause of death is unimportant but it looks like my fight here is done now and i didn’t even do that much while i was here

so, i guess y’all just gonna have to pick up the pace now shannon turner

Shannon Turner is a graduate assistand in the Theatre Department at Virginia Polytechnical University in Blacksburg, VA.


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wing to ongoing performing commitments for a Peace Process Project in Belfast, Northern Ireland, it’s not been possible for me to attend the Annual Meeting for a number of years. My return to the 2006 meeting was a revelation: There’s been dynamic growth on many levels.

Participants I immediately noticed a considerable increase in representation and attendance by youth, small children, and persons of color, as well as continued attendance by founders and longtime members. Programming reflective of and geared to the needs of these diverse groups was clearly in evidence. Performances The performances I attended were well organized and outstanding in their artistry, with plenty of variety in the areas of performing discipline and content. It was wonderful to consistently experience high-caliber work by artists deeply committed to social change. The acrobatic performance by youth was especially moving. The post-performance discussions with artists were remarkable in their depth and sensitivity, and for the detailed critiques that both searched and supported the artists’ work.

Studios I learned new approaches, and gained significant insight into planning effective arts interventions as well as methods of creating new performance work from personal stories. The wonderful expertise of the artists leading both studios was inspiring. Facilities The facilities at the Conference Center provided just the right atmosphere for relaxation and renewal. Keeping us involved in basic setup and cleanup

before and after meals promoted a sense of multileveled community — and the food was really good!

Open Space Technology For me — amazing conversations containing considerable shared resonance with a number of others on the subject of Art and Spirituality. I hope we can continue the discourse in the weeks and months to come. Business Meeting/Procedures So much to accomplish with so little time — all done with vigorous and attentive teamwork in an overriding atmosphere of goodwill and service. Interpersonal I valued sharing: Spontaneous activities and conversations with old friends and new. Laughter and quiet moments in the company of others. Tears shed over deep personal loss. Sadness revealed as impending separation from a loved one drew near. Meeting the challenge of addressing membership issues in impromptu committee.

Staff Carolyn, Sage, Carlton, Vanessa and others involved in the planning and implementation of the annual meeting bestowed on the membership and other participants an experience that no amount of money could ever buy. The organization and planning of the annual meeting was outstanding — a labor of deep commitment and love made manifest.

—Sandra Hughes

photo by Gwylene Gallimard


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had such a beautiful experience at my first Alternate ROOTS gathering in North Carolina. I was truly honored to have been offered the hip-hop activist scholarship, and appreciated the offering coming from such a humble and genuine brother as Carlton Turner.

It took a couple of days to assimilate to my surroundings — being that I wasn’t too fond of the woods, particularly at night. (My first night there, I was greeted by several spiders in my bed!) I overstand that the MOST HIGH sets before us difficult circumstances at times in the way of leading us to push through and to conquer our fears. And that’s what I did.

As far as the gathering went, there is not much I enjoy more than coming together in numbers with loving, creative, spiritual activists — beings from different generations and backgrounds, all wanting to make a change for the better by utilizing the arts, and who inspire me to do the works. I was infused with such a productive energy and fire, and inspired to work harder, and to build with like-minded and spirited beings around me. In one of my favorite parts of the conference, everyone would gather to eat, and almost always end up coming together in praise, song, drumming and dance. I felt such an old-soul energy — one that took me over and followed me home to Miami. I was also loving the surroundings, and the sacred, ancient energy of the North Carolina mountains. All in all, it was a forceful, unforgettable experience that I intend to build from, and hope to be blessed to be a part of again. I give thanks to everyone and everything — including the spiders in my bed — for allowing me to take part in such a powerful and necessary event.

Give thanks and bless-ed Love, Soulflower ONE.

Soulflower was one of three Hip Hop Artist/Activist Scholarship recipients at the 30th Annual Meeting of Alternate ROOTS.

Miami-based Hip Hop Artist Soulflower and Appalachian musician/singer/firedancer Chloe Smith of the Smith Sisters.


Keith Knight is a cartoonist and rapper based in San Francisco. His two weekly comic strips, "the K Chronicles" and "(th)ink", appear in publications nationwide. Keep an eye out for his work in an upcoming issue of Mad Magazine. His fifth collection of comics, "The Passion of the Keef" (Manic D Press), is available at www.kchronicles.com. Also look out for his collaboration with ROOTS member Mat Schwarzman “Beginner’s guide to Community Based-Arts” available at www.newvillagepress.net.

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History

Alternate ROOTS F.A.Q. Frequently Asked Questions

Founded in 1976, Alternate ROOTS is dedicated to providing Southeastern artists working in all disciplines access to the kinds of technical and administrative resources they need in order to enhance their artistic development. By sharing information and resources with artists and presenters, ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of new work and enables artists to get that work before a broader audience. This exchange of work, skills, critical analysis and information serves to create opportunities beyond the scope and ability of any single individual or organization.

Mission

Alternate ROOTS is an organization based in the Southeast USA whose mission is to support the creation and presentation of original art in all its forms, which is rooted in a particular community of place, tradition or spirit. 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.

Programs and Services

Community/Artists’ Partnership Project (C/APP) is designed to fund, document and teach community-based residency models to artists, arts presenters, and community partners regionally.

Residency/Touring Program provides fee subsidies to rural, ethnically diverse and emerging presenters in support of touring activities by ROOTS members in the Southeast. Resources for Social Change (RSC) offers professional development workshops and convenes training institutes.

The Annual Meeting is a weeklong gathering of members and supporters in a retreat setting. Activities include artistic and professional training, performances, networking opportunities and training in “Uprooting Racism”.

Publications include UP from the ROOTS, a quarterly journal with distribution to over 7,000 readers, a monthly ROOTS member bulletin, the ROOTS web site (www.AlternateROOTS.org), the RSC Handbook and an anthology of original Southern plays.

Regional Events are geographic clusters of ROOTS members that meet throughout the year to facilitate regional networking and alliance-building as well as skill development and sharing work. For more information please go to www.alternateroots.org or contact the ROOTS office, 404-577-1079.


UTFR [Fall 2006]