USSF Tech Team Training Durham, NC – July 26-31, 2010 – During six days of intensive training a new generation of younger social scientists, cartographers and community organizers of color from across the nation worked together under the guidance from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice to learn the tools and skills of creating fair political boundary lines, how to work together across disparate disciplines and diverse cultures to support the redistricting needs and interests of grassroots communities of low-wealth and of color, and the legal principles and political considerations necessary to create successful plans at the congressional, state, county and municipal levels.

The Southern Coalition, based in Durham, NC, spent the past year working with a diverse multi-discipline Advisory Board to design and implement the challenging task of training this younger generation to bend their respective crafts to be expert witnesses in redistricting litigation, create plans based on the values, standards and benchmarks of redistricting, and to enable communities to be effective on the political playing field to create fair plans.

The Southern Coalition, led by Atty. Anita Earls, consultant Anthony Fairfax and social scientist Dick Engstrom, each an experienced practitioner, were driven by the urgency of building a new generation of motivated, skilled people to undertake the complex elements of redistricting. There are only a few such people of color active in redistricting today who understand and are responsive to the needs and interests of grassroots communities.

Southern Echo Executive Director Leroy Johnson and Senior Organizer and Training Coordinator Mike Sayer were on the Southern Coalition Advisory Board and part of the training staff for this week-long process.