[Photo of three large purple sea stars and 3 smaller orange sea stars. The orange ones and two of the purple ones are on top of rocks at the water's edge. Visible in the water is the other purple sea star and a dense bed of kelp in shades of light green and olive green.]

keystone species (noun): a species of plant or animal that produces a major impact on its ecosystem and is considered essential to maintaining optimum ecosystem function or structure.
“Keystone.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster,

Instead of a traditional staffing structure, SOIL created a hybrid model through the use of what we are calling, Keystones. We have intentionally kept our staff small, so that we can use those resources to support groups and communities with whom we are in relationship. We want to grow a transformative justice ecosystem, rooted in relationship, interdependence and sustainability, that understands our interconnectedness with each other and all work for justice and liberation. 

SOIL Keystones are individuals who play key roles in projects we are collaborating on with our strategic partners. Individuals or organizations selected as SOIL Keystones will receive a stipend to support their work over the course of a year. 

SOIL's Keystone hybrid structure allows us to support local leaders who are building TJ in their communities. This hybrid model does not remove or recruit key leaders away from their communities and groups, but instead supports them where they are to continue the vital work they have been engaged in building. In addition, the keystone funds that groups receive is unrestricted, meaning that those funds can be used for whatever they need, without the burden of reporting. 

This model allows us to cultivate a transformative justice ecosystem, keeping critical leaders in their communities and groups, while supporting groups who are actively invested in transformative justice across different movements, thereby strengthening their and our collective work for liberation. 

2023 SOIL Keystones:

The Firecracker Foundation and The Democracy Lab South worked in collaboration with SOIL to lead our TJ Parent Network, one of SOIL's mycelium networks.