Safe In Our Streets: A Precursor to SpiritHouse’s Harm Free Zone Project

Young African-American boy holds sign that reads "I AM indisposable."

Judgment they pass first,

always tryin to break us,

we always survive 

Black August Haiku of 2011

Community, safety, love, food, security, family, fun, dance, song, life, death, poverty, wealth, elders, youth. All of these things exist in our communities sometimes as tangible entities, sometimes as a desire for something. We are in a constant spiral, moving, dancing, living, mourning, and rejoicing. It’s the DNA coding to our everyday lives. We at SpiritHouse believe the strategic use of a community’s customs, traditions, skills, knowledge, collective healing, and visioning can facilitate transformation. We understand that those same things – dance, food, song – are the glue that brings it all together and innately bring Black communities together. This work lives in our bones. Every program that SpiritHouse has implemented in its fourteen years, has been a precursor to the creation of the Harm Free Zone Project. It is a way to honor, protect and be accountable to our community that honors our cultures, practices and rituals.

As survivors of domestic and state violence, sexual assault, gang aggression, displaced/fractured families, and drug dependence, Collective Sun visionaries, dreamed about authentic accountability, grounded in an understanding of our struggles and our value. It is out of these experiences and understandings that we are able to fashion tools for survival and sustainability, resistance, self love, community togetherness. The precursors are evolutionary or revolutionary steps in an ever-changing organic process; below is a look at one of our precursors that lead us to where we are today. This clip is from an event called “Safe in Our Streets” (S.O.S), that we did at an alternative school called New Horizons Academy of Excellence, where the youth wrote what they would stand up for in their school.


Dreams don’t die in death
they live through those who carry you
purpose new meaning


Heather Lee is a North East native and a South East rooted artist who has been dancing and performing since she was a little girl. Currently living in Durham, North Carolina, Heather specializes in Modern, Hip-hop and African Dance with some experience in salsa, lyrical and bellydance. She has studied Modern, Contemporary and African Dance at the world renowned American Dance Festival where she was a performer with the African American Dance Ensemble in 2010. Currently working as the Program Director for the SpiritHouse Inc. Empowerment Through Dance Program (ETD), Heather uses her knowledge of dance and community engagement in her work with children, teens and adults. Through ETD Heather helps her pupils, novice and/or seasoned, have fun discovering and amplifying their individual and collective voices.

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Alternate ROOTS supports the creation and presentation of original art that is rooted in communities of place, tradition or spirit. We are a group of artists and cultural organizers based in the South creating a better world together. As Alternate ROOTS, we call for social and economic justice and are working to dismantle all forms of oppression—everywhere.