Southern Soil: Alternate ROOTS’ 2021 Theme, Key Dates, & Happenings

ROOTS Week 2015. Photo by Melisa Cardona.


February 27, 2021 


During this time of the pandemic, many of us have turned to the land to sustain and ground us. In the midst of growing climate crises, many of us are growing the ways we honor the land and the Indigenous people that steward it. This year’s theme, Southern Soil: Collective Liberation in Harmony with the Land focuses our attention on the land and the artistic/organizing practices that can deepen our harmony with it. Collectively, we will grow our understanding of the intersections of climate and racial justice, Indigenous Rights, migration, gentrification, agriculture, and food access.

Together, we will explore ways to connect with nature and embrace sustainability for the planet – human, social, economic, and environmental. Intergenerational leaders will guide us in participatory healing practices and paying homage to those that came before us. Our focus on Southern Soil will help us deepen our analysis of where we are and where we want to be.

Please save the dates listed below and join us as we share strategies of how to amplify our art and action right here, right now in this critical time!

Virtual ROOTS Weekend & ROOTS Week


  • We’re thrilled to announce the dates for our first-ever Virtual ROOTS Weekend this Spring – May 14 – 16, 2021. A condensed version of ROOTS Week, this three-day convening aims to deepen our relationship to the history of land, stewardship, and our practice of being in harmony with the land we are on.
  • This year’s ROOTS Week Annual Meeting & Artists Retreat takes place online

August 3 – 8, 2021 bringing artists, activists, and cultural organizers together to build community and share work through online workshops, dialogue, visual arts, and performances.

The Annual Business Meeting will be held the weekend before ROOTS Week July 30 – August 1.


  • While we were hopeful that we could meet in person this year, our priority is to protect the health of our members by convening a series of virtual events where ideas, art, and actions can be exchanged safely. Through these virtual gatherings, we’ll continue our 45-year practice of learning together.  


ROOTS Partners & Programs


  • Our long-running Artistic Assistance program provides direct support to individual artists and cultural workers in the South to enhance their skills, create unique projects, and build community. Two funding cycles are offered throughout the year: Professional Development in the spring (applications open March 30; due April 30) and Project Development (applications open Fall 2021).

To be eligible to apply, renew your ROOTS membership, or become a General or Voting member AND complete your membership profile by March 31. 

  • In 2021 ROOTS’ newest partnership program, Partners for Change continues! Through Partners for Change, ROOTS advances a progressive southern movement by strategically funding artists/cultural workers of color and people of color-led organizations.

The cohort of partner organizations from 2020-2023 are:  [b]REACH: adventures in heterotopia, Coastal Resilience Lab, Hollerin Space, Idle Crimes & Heavy Work, LOUD: New Orleans Queer Youth Theater Ensemble, and TINYisPOWERFUL. In addition to three years of funding, the partners will participate in a series of learning exchanges as part of a pilot program for our Greenhouse initiative.

  • After five cycles of PIA, we’ve created an Impact Round of Partners in Action to house the current cohort of partners during this program year. This cohort will deepen and amplify the work of our artists in the South and features projects by Erin Washington, Kerry Lee, Kim Pevia, LaQuita and Corey Staten.
  • Continuing our partnership with Southern Movement Assembly, we encourage all ROOTS members and supporters to join the SMA membership here and to stay updated as we support each other to grow our forces within the 21st Century Southern Freedom Movement. Check out the People’s First 100 Days and the organizing skillshare sessions on their website!
  • The Intercultural Leadership Institute, of which ROOTS is one of five founding partner organizations, has begun its third cohort of emerging artists, culture bearers, and other arts practitioners this year. We welcome Lauren Fitzgerald as the new ILI Managing Director!

ROOTS Week 2019. Photo by Melisa Cardona.

ROOTS Legacy Projects


  • The ROOTS Book Co-architects – Kathie deNobriga, MK Wegmann, Ron Ragin, Ashley Minner, and Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt – continue to move this years-in-the-making project forward. Sixty ROOTers are currently working to create content – personal reflections, critical essays, and facilitated dialogues – about ROOTS’ rich and vibrant history, with more to be commissioned this year. We’ll be soliciting input from members, but don’t wait to be asked. If you still have a savory idea simmering on the back burner, we’d love to hear from you – email
  • The Alternate ROOTS archives are safely housed at Amistad Research Center, and we are working with them to fundraise in order to process and digitize the collection, which we hope to have publicly accessible within the next few years.

Staff Sabbaticals


  • At ROOTS, six-month paid sabbaticals are offered to staff members after six years of service. Sabbaticals are one of the ways we seek to create a healthy and sustainable work culture that prioritizes staff wellness and keeps us energized for the long haul.
  • Paige Heurtin, our Caretaker, Peacemaker & Implementer [Operations Director], has been on Sabbatical as of October 2020. She will be returning in June 2021. In her absence, Aimee McCoy, our Oracle of Synthesis [Operations Manager] has supported Paige’s duties with the assistance of ROOTS members Ashley Walden Davis and  Shannon Turner. A true example of members and staff working together for the good of the organization and our values.
  • This year is our Communications Orchestrator & Story Strategist [Communications Director], Nicole Gurgel-Seefeldt’s turn for a sabbatical and she’ll take hers beginning in June 2021!
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.