In the past three years we have focused on exploring alternative futures in Jamaica. Myself and Georgia Love started this experiment together.
In June 2010 we started a crazy experiment in providing “alternative creative events and music”in Kingston. We responded to the general frustration that we and our peers felt about the dearth of interesting alternatives to standard, commercially driven formulas for entertainment. We agreed that we needed to create more spaces, products and services that could foster and harness politically compelling ideas that could push Jamaican music, art and culture in more diverse direction.” So we called ourselves SOUNDS OF LIFE or SO((U))L for short. We operate from THE SO((U))L HQ. The HQ is a small place we’ve identified in the hills of St. Andrew, just outside of Kingston at which we plan to host most of our events and activities. Though close to the city, this place is located in a beautiful and lush part of Jamaica. The type of place that we hope persons can feel safe exploring new ideas and challenged to discuss neglected social and cultural issues.
We want to create models that are inclusive and sustainable for others who are interested in maximizing the full social potential of music, art and culture. We want to create spaces for other young women like us to feel brave and confident enough to truly create the change, difference and revolution that we so desperately need in Jamaica and the world.
We did many things through the HQ we learnt many lessons and we made many friends with people who were doing similar things where they were. The vision was always to create more spaces across Jamaica and outside of Jamaica. With some more faith we launched into the second project, Di Institute for Social Leadership.
Di Institute for Social Leadership(ISL) was started in December 2014 in Kingston Jamaica. It provides learning opportunities and social support services for Youth and Adults. Social Leadership is an idea that we have been exploring from our work with the HQ. Social Leadership means accepting responsibility as individuals for actively creating communities which support the growth and development for all its members. We discovered social leadership in our work on activism and we found that activism particularly in Jamaica was reactive. It (activism) ask us to change. We found that rather than ask for change we should encourage individuals to lead or be that change.
We think that education is crucial to this process. We think that education in Jamaica has been focused on job and career development and that opportunities for learning are restricted to those who attend Universities which is approximately 10% of the population. Having benefited from higher education we understand how important it is to expand the minds of individuals. we personally place a high value on reading to discover the world and reading to explore new possibilities. The idea is to create a space which brings those opportunities for learning to everyone. Education is the platform on which we engage and teach Social Leadership.
In our previous experience working with youth and adults we learnt how important it was to create spaces to help address some of the harshness of the reality of living in Jamaica. We encountered children and young adults who witnessed very violent acts in their community or school and did not have the support to deal with those experiences. We also understand that youth and adults face many challenges in growing up and living life based on the dynamics of where you come from and who you are in Jamaica. This can pose challenges which will restrict your learning. Supporting the individual benefits the community.
Art is the vehicle that we use to bring the ISL to life. The ideas that we think are valuable and the way that we imagine the space emerging is driven through a creative and artistic approach. We play, we experiment with the things we want to create. We try to be flexible and fluid in our methods and we learn quickly so we can change quickly.
Both projects have brought us closer to an understanding of what community building requires. It has also given us a deeper understanding of the dynamics of our own communities and the importance of space and alternative institutions to supporting any transformative or alternative futures project.
Both projects are ambitious and require resources that we don’t always have, but fundamentally we believe in what they teach us and what they can represent and create for a generation to come.
We want to share our experiences to help us create more spaces and expand our community beyond the physical boundaries of Jamaica. We believe that this broader definition of community is important to our project, that of charting a clear course for alternative futures.
FOOTAGE- POLITICS COMMUNITY AND SPACE in Kingston, Jamaica
Footage is a conversation with community about community and finding ways to negotiate the creation of alternatives. It is an audio-visual presentation and conversation on the politics of living and being in Jamaica, building community and creating space. We offer our perspective as creators of space as well as observers and participants in the Kingston urban space.
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