Fun-filled Weekend at the ROOTS ExComm Face-to-Face Meeting, Spring 2018

Samuel Valdez (San Diego, CA & Tijuana B.C.) | May 1, 2018

A weekend of friends, family, and artistic planning went on March 17-18, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. We, the Alternate ROOTS Executive Committee, came together for our spring face-to-face meeting, starting off with the usual check-ins and agreements overview of the meeting process. Then we dedicated some space for an uplifting “We Got Your Back” welcome to the new executive director, Michelle Ramos, where we stood together in silence to show our full support in taking on this new phase of her life as well as the new chapter of our beloved ROOTS. Tears rolled down Michelle eyes as she felt the immense spiritual welcoming energy in the room thanking the full group for this gesture. After, business began as usual with the overview of the budget and staff reports, arriving at the conclusion that Alternate ROOTS is in good standing, although we are moving through a big transition.

After lunch we rehearsed our participation as the ExComm for Carlton’s appreciation gathering. Following, we continued with a discussion on how the organization will move forward focusing on our shared vision. All in the room were very excited to envision the future of ROOTS. The rest of our meeting was focused on the strategic planning process with emphasis on putting in place a sexual harassment policy that will help protect both ROOTS employees and members at any gathering. As noted, the sexual harassment policy will take time to be fully developed to fit the ROOTS platform, therefore a meeting was set in New Orleans on the weekend of June 23-24, 2018, where Michelle resides. This weekend will help us focus on this document as we see it as a vital issue in the organization moving forward.

ExComm presents gifts to Carlton and his family at the Grand Appreciation Party. Photo: Melisa Cardona

After a day-long, productive meeting it was time to put on our best outfits and dancing shoes to make our way to Carlton’s appreciation party where cold beer,wine, and ice tea were waiting for the many invitees who attended. A time of joy, appreciating all the fantastic work Carlton put in to helping make the organization what it has become. Friends and family gathered together to enjoy the delicious barbeque and all the sides that come with it. BOY, it was delicious!!!

Following the wonderful meal offered, it was time to give honor to this highly respected man. Words of appreciation, love, and wisdom filled the space though song, poetry, special addresses, gifts, and the rolling of drums. Seeds to ROOTS was introduced, an annual spring fundraiser developed in Carlton’s honor to support rural artists. Time and time again one could spot tears of gratefulness rolling down many faces, especially Carlton’s. One could see and feel the sad, joyful moments that were experienced. After these motivational moments, it was time to dance the night away glorifying this event with love and happiness.

The ExComm and Staff participate in an Interpersonal Leadership Style exercise, led by Carrie Brunk. Photo: Ashley Walden Davis

Day two of this awesome weekend was spent in an Interpersonal Leadership Style workshop facilitated by ROOTS member Carrie Brunk. What is your leadership style? Are you a persuader, counselor, director, or analyst? Carrie took us through the process of finding out which type of leadership style we have by focusing on our personal characteristics. This workshop was a very fun interactive process where the ExComm and staff were able to connect with others in the room using their individual leadership styles. We spent a lot of time analyzing our behavior and how it coincided with others in the room, also sharing our differences with one another. This workshop helped us get to know each other better as well as give the group the opportunity to learn how each individual style fits in the whole leadership of the organization. Time flew by quickly and without thinking about it, it was time to get our stuff and say goodbye.

Feeling grateful and motivated we left the space giving each other hugs and pats in the back acknowledging the good job we had done. This weekend was filled will joy, tears, appreciation, love, and art. Each of us, in the ExComm and staff, left the room inspired, understanding the importance we have in guiding the organization to move forward.

Samuel Valdez is a playwright, director, and performer. He has directed and produced several of his individual works. His most recent show And He Became Man is ready for touring; it speaks about the creation and development of man and how he as a Latino man with a cerebral palsy fits into it.

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.