Seeds of Fire is a program at Highlander that brings together Southern and Appalachian youth-led and youth centered groups and individuals organizing for social justice and change. SOF focuses on the importance of having youth co-train and co-educate their communities and each other, because youth have the power to catalyze systemic change across the board. Seeds of Fire works to promote youth-centered, youth-led spaces, provide guidance, mentorship, political education and skill-based trainings that gives room for young people to take the resources they need and work towards a just future.
In 2021, Seeds of Fire is hosting two fellowships to provide direct support and resources to youth organizers and boost capacity for their work in communities on the ground:
The Highlander Methodology Fellowship is supporting six youth organizers in the South and Appalachia working on projects centered around Highlander’s methodologies of Popular Education, Cultural Organizing, Intergenerational Organizing, Language Justice, Participatory Action Research, and Land and Place Liberation.
The TRANSformative Cohort is supporting five trans or gender variant young people across the South and Appalachia to support their leadership and community organizing efforts on the frontlines.
We believe that political education and analysis, through the lens of popular education, creates lifelong leaders and change makers who are able to critically examine issues while making connections between our work locally, regionally, nationally and transnationally.
The program often consists of youth and allies of different ages coming together for intergenerational programming. The allyship will involve adults supporting and challenging each other, while exploring how to best foster youth leadership and effective organizing.
Through popular education, participants will experience 3-way learning practices where they will become both educators and learners of collective knowledge, learning and teaching new tools, techniques and strategies that have made organizing successful. Using research, theater, games, art, music, history and collective wisdom, participants will get to generate new visions for the world they are trying to build.
In order to struggle and effectively envision a future for liberation, we will explore movements and organizing efforts happening across the world, often pulling from ancestral knowledge and wisdom.
For 18 years, Highlander’s Seeds of Fire (SOF) program has impacted and connected thousands of young people (ages 13 – 17) and their allies (ages 18 and up), bringing together emerging and experienced grassroots organizers and community leaders to build collective power and influence critical shifts in policy decisions and practice. We host, support and network intergenerational organizers from across the South to share their social justice work and to learn about Highlander’s methodologies. Together, they discuss the different issues in their communities, strategies to address these challenges and build relationships throughout their local community and the region.
The Seeds of Fire program has included the SOF camp, mini-camps, the Living Legacy Tour, SOF Advisory Committee, Greensboro Justice Fellows, Stay Together Appalachian Youth (STAY), and Supporting Emerging Appalachian Leaders (SEAL), as well as local internships. Now we host fellowships, cohorts, networks, as well as working individually with youth and their organizations!