Beginning Our Year of Transformation

by Carlton Turner, Alternate ROOTS Executive Director
Utica, MS

Turning 40

The ROOTS Staff recently surprised Carlton with an early birthday cake to celebrate his 40th birthday when they were all together.

It’s often hard to know where to start, so I will start with Happy New Year! We are almost through the first month of 2015 and there is so much happening and change is all around. It is an exciting time to be a part of this organization.

2015 marks the beginning of the 39th year of Alternate ROOTS formal existence. I say formal because the roots of this work runs deeper than the incorporation date of the organization. As I write this, I am completing my 39th cycle around the sun and like this organization, my beginning doesn’t start the day I was born. I recognize that I am part of a continuum of resilient people that have inhabited this land called the South for many generations.

As I turn 40, I am looking at my life through a myriad of lenses: health and wellness (spiritual, physical, and financial), long-term strategy (What can I do today to contribute to a future vision of freedom and equity?), creativity (What is the guiding force at the center of my own creativity?), and risk, to name a few. I am still unpacking my own questions around risk and sacrifice; they seem to go hand in hand with advancing radical transformation.

These same lenses are influencing my work at Alternate ROOTS as it approaches this 40-year milestone in 2016. I can truly say that every year that I have been at ROOTS has been a transformational year, and 2015 is already exceptional.

There are a lot of exciting new things happening at ROOTS. We are shifting to a new staff structure, hiring new staff, taking on new partners, launching a collaborative leadership with our organizational partners at the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, First People’s Fund, and the Pa’I Foundation, setting the stage for more activity in our region with two Regional Gatherings and a number of Learning Exchanges, a move to a new office, and planning for 2016.

There is so much more, and I look forward to seeing you all this year.

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.