The work of Roadside Theater and the Performing Our Future coalition is rooted in communities’ culture—which we define as how people make meaning together, through their shared intellectual, spiritual, emotional, and material traditions and features. Culture, as well as its intentionally crafted expressions (art), play three key roles in a community-driven development process:
1. Process (the seed): grassroots cultural work—story circles, community plays, and more—creates the conditions where communities work across differences and learn to speak and act for themselves.
2. People (the root): as communities start speaking and acting for themselves, they begin to re-imagine and re-define themselves —by telling their own stories, building their own power, and recognizing the value inherent in their culture.
3. Products (the shoot): once communities can speak and act for themselves, build collective power, and recognize their own value, they can start turning that value into community-owned wealth of all kinds.
The particular power of our work comes from investing deeply not only on the shoot--the products of culture, easy to see-- but also on what happens beneath the surface.