United Roots has created the first arts and multimedia center dedicated to both ecological awareness, as well as artistic and professional development for youth at the margins in Oakland and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. The Center provides programs in music, video, theater, dance, visual arts, leadership, eco-arts, and healing arts. By working in coalition with several non-profit partners to offer media arts and green job readiness training with wraparound services, the Center prepares youth for jobs in the entertainment or green industries.
The Center features four soundproofed media and recording studios, offices, a dance studio, a secured reception area and a spacious central area for our mobile computer lab. The Center is dedicated to harnessing the power of art and creative expression to promote healing, personal and community empowerment, and a pathway out of a life of violence and jail. Many youth leaders who have participated in the Center are peacemakers that become spokespeople for social justice movements.
United Roots works with marginalized youth in socially innovative ways. The Center offers leadership, arts, and media programs that engage issues of social change aligned with green environmental justice movements and movements addressing the digital divide.
Galen PetersonRead More
Galen Peterson is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of United Roots. He is a long-time community educator and music producer in Oakland, CA. He is also Co-Founder and Director of the Turf Unity Music Program and a co-founder of Art in Action.
Galen produces music and art events in the Bay Area with a coalition of youth and social justice organizatoins. He also did work with the Men’s Story Project¬†to confront sexism and patriarchy in society, and explore ways to redefine masculinity in our communities. And, he worked with the Y-Step collective which does racial justice work with white youth in the Bay Area.
Galen has over 10 years experience doing direct service with youth, and he has coordinated numerous urban environmental justice and violence prevention programs in the Bay Area community.
Simmy MakhijaniRead More
Simmy Makhijani is Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of United Roots and member of the Art in Action collective. She also serves on the board for the American Musical Heritage Foundation. She has completed her Ph.D. coursework in Anthropology and Social Change. Her previous degrees include an M.A. in Asian Studies in Religion and Philosophy and a B.A. in (Music) Journalism.
Simmy has been an advocate for violence prevention, primarily in local South Asian diaspora communities, most notably domestic violence intervention work with Narika and the Asian Women’s Shelter. She has also been a contributing feature writer for several newspapers and magazines and has an extensive professional background in development, marketing, and publicity having worked in the music, performing arts, and publishing industries. In 2002, she left the San Francisco Opera as Associate Director, Annual Fund to return to graduate school. Having finished doctoral coursework in a rigorous social justice program, she brings a social equality analysis paired with a resource development vision as a way to support youth-led local struggles for social and political change.
Simmy has written and performed poetry, been a vocal contributor for music projects, and has been a creative adviser and narrative and editorial consultant for both independent feature films and documentaries.