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Southern Jam 2015

Southern Jam - Save the Date (1)

Application Deadline July 24: Apply here now!

Note: We will be taking applications until the Jam is full, so please check in with us at southernjaminfo[at]gmail.com, if you are receiving this information after July 24.


The Southern Jam gathers 30 diverse and intergenerational Southern US-based changemakers at Camp Beckwith, a tranquil retreat and summer camp located on the Gulf Coast of Fairhope, AL, from August 11-16, 2015.  Together, we will connect the dots of our work and lives, build beloved community, and expand in self-awareness. Attending jammers will co-envision a New Normal while sharing tools and creating knowledge on how to get there. YOU – organizers, entrepreneurs, strategists, public officials, business leaders, thinkers, activists, builders, artists, educators, researchers, philanthropists, non-profit leaders, and all-around up-standers and visionaries – are invited to join us for the third annual Southern Jam!



We feel this as a simultaneously unique, turbulent, and commemorative moment in history. This decade marks 50th anniversaries for visible Civil Rights Movement victories: from the 1961 Freedom Rides to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march. In many ways, we feel the South’s legacy of justice and equality at the heart of national dialogue. At the same time, these commemorative moments stand alongside the current context of uprisings and actions around racial inequality, police brutality, and the nature of democracy among disenfranchised populations. Even an incomplete list of the last 12 months –from the recent white supremacist massacre of 9 black people in a Charleston church, to Ferguson and Mike Brown, to Baltimore and Freddie Gray — highlights the haunting and urgent relevance of the call “Black Lives Matter.”
Not too long ago, the South felt like the richest hotbed of resistance, revolution, regeneration, and renewal in the country to us. In this moment, we feel those opportunities and possibilities again. Southern political, economic, and social landscapes have shifted in 50 years and the US, as well as the world, is in the throes of change.
Thus, we invite you to come together and utilize this moment to articulate our present freedom struggles at every level and support the collective change-work being done in each of our diverse communities.


A Jam is a gathering that works on three different levels in order to support change: the internal (self), the interpersonal (relationships) and the systemic (the whole).  It is not a conference, seminar or a typical meeting. More than 100 Jams have been held with social change-makers all over the world on six different continents over the last 12+ years. This is the third Southern Jam. Each year we have hosted the gathering in a different location: 2013 at Highlander Research and Education Center near Knoxville, TN and 2014 at Prama Institute near Asheville, NC.
On the internal level: 
The Southern Jam will allow for purposeful conversations that will be centered on questions like: How do I thrive and sustain ourselves during life’s transitions? How do I take care of myself, care for, and be taken care of by community? How do I find more balance across the many responsibilities in my life? How do I evolve my work and role in my community? What tools and processes are useful to helping me pause, heal, or center myself?
On the interpersonal level:
The Southern Jam knows that healing across our divides is essential and seeks to explore: How do we create Beloved Community in the South and our day-to-day lives? How do we find connections and common ground across our different forms of social change work, whether reform, resistance, alternatives-creation, new storytelling, or something else altogether? How can we heal wounds amongst ourselves that have been developed and inherited across identities? How can we together create forms of dialogue and conversation that center on learning, love, truth, forgiveness and transformation?
On the systemic level:
How can we continue to challenge unfair policies and regressive socio-economic conditions that permeate the South? How can we build and sustain our movement infrastructure? How do we stay hopeful in the face of growing income inequality, anti-immigration, environmental degradation, dehumanization, and more? How can we better understand what’s happening state by state and where we have common ground? How we will build and sustain our movement infrastructure (i.e. relationship & networks) in the midst of challenging contexts?
What are your questions? The Jam grows from there!
We hope in engaging in these questions, and more, will enable us to build a foundation for the type of work that will bring lasting, transformative change throughout the South.


The conveners envision the Southern Jam as an on-going gathering and “think–act” tank where intentional relationship-building, strategizing, and visioning takes root on the ground and in our day-to-day lives and work. In 2014, we saw a continued groundswell of action being taken in the South to challenge unfair policies and regressive social and economic conditions such as fast-food and low wage workers seeking a living wage, historically disenfranchised communities fighting again for voting rights, reproductive justice advocates rallying against detrimental state policies, and mass actions for an end to police misconduct and brutality. Nationally, immigrants continued to seek humane recognition and full democratic rights and the LGBTQ community saw progress around equal rights, experienced backlash, violence and exclusion in other areas.  The Jam offers a week to slow-down and intentionally reflect on our current struggles and integrate what we’ve learned from the on-the ground work we’ve been doing to turn the tides. At the same time, we will play, create, connect, have honest conversations and build our dreams together.
Participants of past jam have been able to take this “think-act” model and convene spaces for the actualization of beloved community. For example, past participants collaborated and brought two Theater of the Oppressed trainings to the Southeast. In North Carolina, two 2014 Jammers came together to create a local food hub which helps assure sustainable incomes for local farmers and food security for one of the least advantaged locales in the state. They also created a “Wiser Together Cafe” at a new Senior Center as a hub for uniting generations and creating multi-generational partnerships around critical local issues. A lot of collaborating, celebrating, and re-connecting has taken place over the past two years out of the unique interests and issues of jammers!



The Jam is being sponsored by the Emerging ChangeMakers Network, an organization challenging economic inequality by supporting leadership and financial development in historically marginalized communities in the U.S. South and YES!, an organization dedicated to connecting, inspiring, and collaborating with change-makers through exploratory and innovative programs that meet the evolving needs and opportunities of our world. In addition, the Jam will be facilitated and organized by several alumni from the 2013 and 2014 Southern Jams:


NorwoodHeadshotJessica Norwood is the Executive Director of the Emerging ChangeMakers Network, an organization dedicated to working with inspiring leaders and innovative ideas that end economic inequality. As a leading social entrepreneur in the region, she supports strengthening social enterprise and social investing as a way to build community resiliency. Most recently, she led the Emerging ChangeMakers Network in creating SOUL’utions, a community investment and economic development project that works with businesses in Alabama and the south by providing an accelerator business program, micro-loans, capacity grants and private capital investment clubs in order to strengthen historically vulnerable communities.
jayanniimageJayanni Webster is a native of the South and finds her roots in the delta city of Memphis, TN. After 5 years of living in East TN and traveling the world, she recently accepted her calling to work for social change in her hometown. Working towards building community power for racial and economic justice with the Put the People First campaign and the Fight for $15 movement, her praxis pulls from the traditions of intersectionality, Black feminism and popular education. She believes that creating spaces for people to be their full selves, practice self-actualization, and self-love is part and parcel of uniting and building a New South!


AshleyCooperAshley Cooper is guided by her insatiable curiosity and reverence for life. As a Co-founder and Learning Facilitator at Mycelium, she designs and facilitates learning programs where people feel inspired to be genuine with each other, discover deeper connections with their authentic self, and find the courage and confidence to take the next necessary bold step in their life. Over the the last 15 years, Ashley has worked in a variety of settings from organizational strategy with foundations and non-profits to curriculum development and programmatic implementation in schools and communities. Ashley was born and raised in the south and currently lives in Asheville, NC.


photoMattice Haynes has called Georgia home for over 20 years but was born and raised in North Carolina. She believes meaningful conversation across differences is a vital step on the journey towards greater justice and equity. She is the Founding Principal and Chief Inclusion Officer at The Art of Community where she designs and facilitates creative, inclusive community dialogues of all shapes and sizes. Over the last two decades, she has held space for communities and organizations to thrive by unleashing collective wisdom and action on issues such as transportation, poverty, and education. Mattice’s path has included facilitating large town meetings in Washington, DC and New York City during mayoral transitions, providing capacity building for resident led groups in Atlanta neighborhoods, and managing an international biodiversity summit.


11255505_10152874949518170_4893282469347503483_n_2Brendan O’Connor is originally from Virginia, where he grew up as one of five kids in the blue mountains of the Shenandoah Valley. As he has lived in Nashville, TN and built relationships with other Southerners working for social and political change, he has increasingly felt a sense of place and purpose in the South. He has worked in various jobs over the years, from a locally-owned paint store to non-profits, federal government, social science research, and community organizing. His deepest interests are around dialogue, race, and civil society, with the goal of building action-oriented solidarity across diverse groups while still dealing directly with our country’s oppressive past and present; his hope is that these efforts contribute in some way to turning back deep racial and other inequities in U.S. society, from health and education to mass incarceration, wealth/income inequality, etc.
305278_10150359822245140_747470139_10190432_242988494_nShilpa Jain is currently rooting herself in Oakland/Berkeley, CA, where she serves as the Executive Director of YES!. Prior to taking on this role, Shilpa spent two years as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of Other Worlds and ten years as a learning activist with Shikshantar: The Peoples’ Institute for Rethinking Education and Development, based in Udaipur, India, where she served as coordinator of the Swapathgami (Walkouts-Walkons) Network. All of her work seeks to uncover ways for people to free themselves from dominating, soul-crushing institutions and to live in greater alignment with their hearts and deepest values, their local communities, and with nature.


YOU (the people who come and offer your time, talents and treasure)
Southern Partners Fund
Emerging ChangeMakers Network
The Fenwick Foundation



The Jam will be held at Camp Beckwith, which houses people in dormitory-style accommodations and private motel-style suites and offers a wide-ranging buffet dining experience with vegetarian options. We are asking people to cover their own travel costs. There will be a welcome packet to help you with arranging your travel. A small number of scholarships are also available to assist with travel costs.  Childcare is also available for those who need it.
Tuition for the Southern Jam is $650, of which $325 covers food and lodging for the time, while $325 covers program expenses. Additional tax-deductible donations above the event price are welcome and help us to provide scholarships to enable the diversity upon which this event thrives. Money should not be a barrier in participating in a Jam, so we will do everything we can to make it work for you to attend.
For more information about scholarships and logistics, please contact the participant liaison for the Southern Jam, Jayanni Webster, at southernjaminfo[at]gmail.com and (901) 864-9507.



Apply here if you want to participate in the Southern Jam 2015!  The priority application deadline is June 10, 2015 and the final application deadline is July 24, 2015.  Please note: We will be taking applications until the Jam is full, so if you are receiving this information after July 24, please write to southernjaminfo[at]gmail.com to see if there is still space before applying.
If you want to join us in co-learning, collaborating, and creating region-wide strategies to tackle the current challenges across the South and a fresh vision of what’s possible here, please complete the application online. We only have space for 30 people and are aiming to bring together a diversity of folks.
You will be notified as soon as possible with next steps. We are looking forward to Jamming with you!
– The Southern Jam Planning Team
Ashley, Jessica, Jayanni, Mattice and Shilpa


Past participants of the Southern Jam share their experiences:

“Being at a cross-roads in my life, I arrived here with a big idea, but not knowing if I had the energy or the means to achieve it. This amazing journey nourished my parched soul and gave me the inspiration and support I need to move forward with courage and confidence.”
– Marla Durden, 48, coach & consultant, Houston, TX
“There were a host of terrific ideas that can only come to fruition by means of the changemakers that I met here. I also learned much about building the right structure of support for organizing endeavors.”
– Gabriel Santos, 38, faculty and community organizer, Lynchburg College, Lynchburg, VA
“What a powerful healing (wholing) experience of the relationship between the personal, the interpersonal and the systemic. It has been on honor to experience the gifted hosting of a space of acceptance, support and loving kindness across differences of generations, race, gender, sexual orientation and faiths toward a future in the south that we can all be proud of.
To discover that “my own soul matters” after all these years of nurturing democratic voice and social change both from the inside and outside of institutions has been (and will continue to be) a life changing experience and personal commitment.
The elegance of the design, the collaborative hosting and the use/encouragement of multiple modes of access to individual and collaborative intelligence (the arts, authentic conversation, reflection movement, etc.) enabled accelerated learning both personally and collectively.
At this time of transition in my own life, work with the Jam has been a true gift that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”
– Juanita Brown, 70, Co-Originator of The World Café and Wiser Together: Partnering Across Generations, Burnsville, NC
“When Martin Luther King stood on a hill in Tennessee and looked down into a valley and had his vision… This is that same hill that I was looking down in this picture. Words cannot express the feelings I had as I sat and meditated on this hill, to walk among the same grounds and sit in the same places that Rosa Parks and many people that brought about profound change in our land was such an inspiring and overwhelming feeling, the healing that I shared with others at this place as we envisioned a new South. The spirit of these change makers reached into my most inner soul and showed me who I really was as a person. To finally find myself, to understand myself, to freely BE myself is a reward in which I will never be able to fully pay back, but I will try with the rest of my life to pay that feeling back with the work I do. I can’t wait to share my new vision with my friends in Arkansas, the South and places afar, as we change the land around us for ourselves, our children, and the people our children will be among. To build the new economy, to build communities, and to build ourselves and our future, my destiny has been revealed and I can never forget the people that helped me in my journey and helped promote a new awakening inside of me.”
– Brandon C., 28, visual artist and designer, Occupy Arkansas, Hoxie, AK