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Activism And Art, At A Distance: Racial Justice Gathering Moves Online

A conference that was originally slated to take place in Asheville this weekend is moving online, due to the pandemic.

Just Us is an annual gathering put on by the arts collective Adé Project and the YWCA. It centers on environmental and racial justice. Adé Project founder and director Cortina Jenelle Caldwell says the classes, activities, and keynote speakers center on uplifting Asheville’s black and brown communities, especially in this difficult time.


“We can’t lose touch with our creativity, and we can’t lose touch with our hope and we definitely can’t lose touch with each other," Caldwell said. "So we're figuring out what are the ways we can stay connected and be supportive.”

Saturday’s event begins at sunrise and ends with a movement exercise in the evening, which Caldwell says, aims to carry positive ideas generated at the Just Us conference outward into the community.


It's not the first pivot the organization has had to make during the Covid-19 pandemic. Artists involved in the collective have been holding classes and workshops online for students who are now at home, instead of in the classroom. Caldwell says Ade PROJECT has also shifted into a human service provider role, helping connect individuals and families with resources, like business couching and homeschooling support, during the crisis. 


“There are moments of anger, sadness, frustration and disappointment...but I can’t stay there too long because it zaps my ability to think clearly and create and maintain hope," Caldwell said. "I think that’s what we’re faced with in this time is really deepening our sense of resiliency and care for ourselves and each other."


That's one silver lining. Another, she adds, is now that the conference is online, people from across the region and even around the world, can participate. 


Registration and information about the Just Us conference can be foundhere. 

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