Principles of Community Engagement

At ROOTS, we embrace five principles of working in community.

  • Shared Power
  • Partnership
  • Open Dialogue
  • Individual and Community Transformation
  • Aesthetics of Transparent Processes

Shared Power

Power is shared among all (willing) members of a group

Alternate ROOTS strives to be anti-oppressive and anti-racist. We focus our awareness on how power is recognized, structured and shared in a community. We work for equity in all relationships. We model anti-hierarchical relationships in the sense of wielding power over others. We strive to build personal power, a sense of self, and the ability to speak against injustice and act for good in the world.


True partnership must be equitable; Equitable partnership can exist when all entities involved treat each other as peers/equals

Our work is based on equal partnership – among ourselves, with our partners in and outside of Alternate ROOTS, and with people and organizations in communities. We seek to design and facilitate learning exchanges. We share our expertise and invite others to share theirs; everyone creates and learns together on the issue at hand.

Open Dialogue

Open dialogue is essential; Active listening and honest response is imperative for open dialogue.

We base our work in exchanges in which experience, questions, dialogue, and reflection, rather than lectures or a top-down approach, are used for sharing and giving information. We are guided by Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and the concept of the democratic classroom. We teach by asking questions.

Individual and Community Transformation

Individual/personal transformation can lead to community transformation and social change.

We aim to provoke long-lasting, personal and social change-one person at a time. We believe that imagination is a means of liberation, so we use art as an instrument of change. We intend for personal change to lead to community, institutional, systemic, social, and cultural change. Change is hard, scary work; we strive to create a safe environment and provide support for people in transition. We incorporate evaluation into our planning process, so we know if we have created the change or the ground for change we planned for.

Aesthetics of Transparent Processes

We recognize and acknowledge that social justice aesthetics values multiple perspectives.

Our work is arts-based social change. We believe the arts can be a powerful way of creating personal and community transformation.

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.