Dear Friends,

It is my great pleasure to tell you about the accomplishment of the largest project with which I’ve ever been associated.

Over the last 18 months, we at Alternate ROOTS have been planning our 35th anniversary celebration. All of that planning came down to the 5-day period of June 22-26, ROOTS Fest 2011: Many Communities, One Voice, in Baltimore, MD.

The week was divided up into 2 distinct parts:

  • A National Learning Exchange, which brought together artists, academics, administrators, community members, etc. into a 3-day dialogue around Art, Culture, and Creativity and the way that all these things have the ability to build resilient communities and transform the lives of everyday people.
  • An Outdoor Festival over the weekend which brought together 10,000 people to celebrate the community of West Baltimore.

If you’re unfamiliar with West Baltimore, it is an area that was devastated by a botched highway project in the 1970s, as unfortunately so many of our communities of color are the first places to get razed by “urban planning.” Many people know it as the place that was portrayed in shows like Homicide: Life on the Street, The Corner, most recently and frustratingly, The Wire.

I recommend watching this video to learn more about that series of events, as well as some of the amazing people who are why we ended up landing there for our 35th anniversary.

I could say many things about this project and how it feels to be on the other side of it after working so hard for so long with so many other people. Fortunately, for you, I’m very tired, and the words are neither at the tip of my tongue nor flowing out of my fingertips. I thought, instead, I would simply share with you the words, images, and videos of others that I’ve collected as a small sample of the magic that happened last week.

Below are some of those materials that I’m sending along, especially for those of you who don’t do Facebook and therefore have not been privy to (victimized by) our incessant posting of late. I wanted to archive them here as much for myself as for you.

Finally, I just want to say that now, more than ever, Alternate ROOTS could use your support. If you could use another tax deductible source for your charitable giving, please consider this creative, scrappy, hard-working, visionary organization as a worthy recipient of your good money. You can donate here or consider joining our Friends & Family program here.

Thanks to all of you for being in my personal network of supporters. I always enjoy hearing back from you after I make a post, and this is no exception. Please be in touch.


Pre-Festival Press: