Rootead transplants to the Douglass to help area youth thrive

Editor's note: This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's On the Ground Northside series.

Drum beats and African dance music will soon be heard in and around the Douglass Community Association as Rootead, a Kalamazoo-based yoga, doula, and African dance and drum collective, starts its fall programming in its new Northside home this October.

Formerly housed at Jericho Town in Edison, Rootead’s new location allows for greater access to youth, says Heather Mitchell, Rootead Arts Director.

“We moved for the kids,” says Mitchell, “There’s a lot more foot traffic here. Our space in Edison was beautiful. We loved it. But we needed room to grow.”

Also home to the Alma Powell branch of the Kalamazoo Public Library, the Northside Boys & Girls Club, the Northside Preschool, and to a variety of other programs for youth, the Douglass Community Association, 1000 W. Patterson, has been a Northside fixture since 1917, changing location and focus over the years.

In the Douglass, Rootead has their own office space and ample storage, Mitchell says. They will be sharing the community room, gym, and sometimes use of the library.

Mitchell also says she has her eyes on now neglected raised-bed gardens behind the Douglass, which she says she hopes to use to plant “more seeds,” adding she’d like to see the Douglass become a place where “kids come and thrive.”

Rootead programming for the fall, which starts in October, includes drum and dance for preschool through adults. In addition to their Youth Dance Company--an audition-based troupe of eighth-  to 12th-graders that performs around the region--there is also a Root Me After School High School Drop-in Program from 3 to 4 p.m. daily.

Mitchell says she’s excited about the potential collaborations, including those with the Boys & Girls Club and with the YMCA, that are made easier in the new location.
“We are all about collaboration over competition,” Mitchell says. “We’re trying to bring different events and opportunities to the youth in our community, but we’re also passionate about letting them know what else is going on.”

A fundraiser, the Rootead Jamboree! Anti-Gala, will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Oct.  6  at The Foundry, 600 E. Michigan, featuring dancing, food, and a raffle. The event will also honor youth achievers in the community. Tickets are $25 online or $30 at the door. 

“People can come in sweats and sneakers if they want to,” Mitchell says.

Registration for the Anti-Gala, as well as upcoming drum and dancing classes and information about doulas and yoga classes, is available online at
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Read more articles by Theresa Coty O'Neil.

Theresa Coty O’Neil is the Managing Editor of Southwest Michigan Second Wave. As a longtime freelance writer, editor, and writing teacher, she has a passion for sharing the positive stories in Southwest Michigan and for mentoring young writers. She also serves as the Project Editor of the Faith in Action series and Project Lead for Battle Creek Voices of Youth.