Cultural Organizing

Register today for our next Threads session, “Cultural Organizing 101” July 18, 2022 at 7pm ET!
Highlander defines cultural organizing as the strategic use of art and culture to promote progressive policies with marginalized communities. Developed by Tufara Waller Muhammed and Ebony Noelle Golden, Highlander explains Cultural Organizing as a triad: faith, spirituality and or/wellness traditions; the practice of art and culture, and policy. It centers collective learning, intergenerational organizing and moves through the creation of art, the practice of healing and the implementation or change of policy that shifts power.
In this workshop, participants will share experiences and learn how to expand the role of art and culture in their organizing and advocacy efforts, activating community members to develop cultural tools that can help bring more interest and energy to issue campaigns. Register now to join us.
As a catalyst of change, Highlander Center invites all in community to join us in the practice of our Cultural Organizing methodology. Through a wonderful partnership with Aaron Greenwald and the Big Ears Festival, we were able to practice some popular education and cultural organizing with Damon Locks and The Black Monument Ensemble in early Spring 2022.
Damon Locks, Ben LaMar Gay and Arif Smith were in town to work with Black monument sites in East Tennessee to inform their performance at the Big Ears Festival, including Highlander Center, the Children’s Defense Fund’s Alex Haley Farm, The Bottom, Knoxville College and The Beck Cultural Exchange Center.
From Highlander Cultural Organizer Je Naé Taylor: “We started the week off with a workshop at The Bottom exploring sounds and the ole so flawed english language. When they arrived on the Hill mid-morning, we started with a tour of the land led by our Radical Hospitality and Building and Grounds crews with Ashby from the Septima Clark Learning Center. Later, we had a very delicious meal made by Chef Chris and really spent the afternoon digging deep into two questions: ‘What is the recipe for culture in this time?’ and ‘How have you already been doing cultural organizing in your life?
On the Hill, Locks composed a poem that he opened with at Big Ears. New York Times writer Marcus J Moore wrote, “… Armed with a new perspective, he dissected the juxtaposition of distance and proximity.” You can find the full article about the performance and the poem here.

The Recipe for Culture video highlights the amazing work supported by Cultural Organizer Je Naé in 2020, including biweekly virtual Spiritual Soirees and Happy Hours centering healing, collective joy and resilience during the pandemic; the Culture Cohort supporting five culture workers in the South, culminating in the 48-hour virtual Cultural Bazaar; Parties at the Polls to celebrate voter engagement and voting rights; and much more.