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.

We’re excited to be working with our 2022 Advisory Committee in guiding this year’s programming. The Advisory Committee (AC) is a group of young folks that help direct our program and build a youth network where folks can share their knowledge and learn skills as youth organizers. The AC will also be stewards of the Seeds of Fire Fund and participate in Highlander’s 90th Homecoming. Learn more about them below!

Our East Tennessee Fellowship is currently underway! From May 30 to August 10, 2022, Seeds of Fire (SOF) is having fellowship specifically for youth in East Tennessee, occupied Cherokee and Yuchi lands, for up to 22 individuals. Fellows participate in SOF’s Organizing 101 curriculum, which supports young people in learning about their communities, how to organize their communities, and how to build their own solutions to the problems they see around them. Each East TN Youth Fellow is receiving a $5,000 educational stipend at the completion of their time as a fellow. This is a 10-week (around 3 months) commitment over the summer to participate in a virtual-based educational curriculum and project development.

 If you have questions or seek more information, please email rosemery@highlandercenter.org.

Meet the 2022 Advisory Committee Members!

Seeds of Fire Program Components

SOF Centers:

  • Popular/Political Education and Analysis

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.

  • Intergenerational Organizing and Mentorship

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.

  • Skills, Tools and Strategy Building

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.

  • Transnational Struggles

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.

Impact

    • Develop leaders and organizers with social and political analysis that are dismantling and uprooting State-sanctioned violence, challenging economic and governance systems and working for alternatives
    • Build resources for youth work in the region
    • Develop a participatory budgeting process for the Seeds of Fire fund that is funded by community members
    • Prepare young people to be part of organizations and assume leadership positions across the South
    • Achieve clear policy changes in schools, local communities and at all levels of government that are needed to shift harmful public school practices and end the criminalization of young people of color and immigrants

History

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!

OTHER RECENT WORK

In 2021, Seeds of Fire hosted 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 supported 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 supported five trans or gender variant young people across the South and Appalachia to support their leadership and community organizing efforts on the frontlines.

Seeds of Fire 2021 Grantees

Asile (uh-sigh-yul) is a community advocate and Black studies scholar based in Atlanta, Georgia. Asile’s work centers Black liberation and the histories of economic, social, and political protest movements within the Black Diaspora. Asile comes as one but stands as ten thousand (shout out to Ms. Angelou) — her research highlights the importance of Sankofa in building today’s Black justice movement, ranging from COINTELPRO’s relentless charge to dismantle the Black Panther Party, to Black identity politics and the Black business landscape in Paris, France. Her research on the Don’t Buy Where You Can’t Work Movements of the 1940s was selected as one of five undergraduate research topics at the National Council of Black Studies Conference in 2017. Currently, Asile works with a team of residents, stakeholders, and community leaders to reimagine how civic engagement can mend the gaps of social and economic inequality through the first study and review in over 40 years of Atlanta’s historic Neighborhood Planning Unit system. 

Her research project with the Highlander Center’s Seeds of Fire program will center the Participatory Action Research method to demystify “the Black vote” in Georgia after the recent unprecedented election cycles, and ultimately create advocacy tools for the political framework Black folks envision for their communities, overall structural democracy reform, and  justice for Black people in Georgia and beyond.  

Outside of her work as a revolutionary Black woman fighting for liberation, Asile is an emerging yogi, a plant mama, a wine enthusiast, and a proud member of the #Beyhive

Beau Revlett is a tenant organizer on occupied Shawnee land, also known as Kentucky. They work to build multiracial, rural-urban movement to win community control of land and housing, a homes guarantee, and to dismantle white supremacy. Beau is a founding member of Lexington Housing Justice Collective and organizes with Root Cause Research Center. Through their Seeds of Fire project, Beau is conducting organizing trainings with tenants and tenant organizers across Kentucky.

Maij (they/he) is working on Revelations, a documentary on trans spirituality in the South