United Virgin Islands Kwanzaa Schedule 2015-16 | GrassrootsVI: Help us build, heal & celebrate our United Virgin Islands

The Story Behind Moods and Colors

Looking forward to INjoying Andie’s Nu Musik this Kwanzaa Eve! The literal prelude already has me anticipating yet another masterpiece of sound(s).

Thoughts of Reginald Cyntje

I remember watching my first sunset and being amazed at the colors in the sky. Growing up, the vibrancy of life excited me. The Rastafarian colors, the carnival colors and the shades of skin tones painted a story. The message was far deeper than words could express. The colors around me captured emotions.

The year 2015 has been filled with great professional accomplishments but reeked of pain due to the suffering of people who look like me. Color in many countries can mean the difference between life and death. Colorism within my community can have a negative impact on the soul.

In October, I decided to capture my personal feelings about color and challenge some deeply rooted beliefs in society. As I sat there and began composing music, different thoughts came to mind. I thought about how listeners created their own meanings for my previous compositions. The mood of the…

View original post 412 more words

Doctor Wendy V. Coram Vialet Home to Help Heal through Nature and Education

Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet in the UVICES Demonstration Garden appreciating Medicinal Plants

Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet in the UVICES Demonstration Garden appreciating Medicinal Plants            Photo ©DaraMonifah

Since 2001, Native Doctor, Wendy V. Coram Vialet, N.D. returned home to the U. S. Virgin Islands after medical school to help using her appreciation and education of nature’s healing abilities. Respectful of the wisdom passed down from grandparents, traditional culture bearers and natural healers, Dr. Coram Vialet is also knowledgeable of the need to educate the community on cautions in order to prevent accidental toxic reactions.

Born and raised on the island of St. Thomas, she attended local public and private schools then continued to obtain her Bachelor degrees from the University of the Virgin Islands and Syracuse University in the Biological Sciences. In 1996, she learned about Naturopathic Medicine, realizing her life path as a healing facilitator. She graduated in June of 2000 with a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and in March of 2001, she became certified in Naturopathic Midwifery.

“I returned home to assist the people of the Virgin Islands in achieving a better quality of life through optimal health and wellness measures,” she said.

Listen to more about Dr. Coram Vialet:

Since there was no legislation for naturopathy in the Virgin Islands, at the time when she returned, Dr. Coram Vialet served as a Naturopathic Medicine pioneer and was instrumental in passing legislation (V. I. Code: TITLE TWENTY-SEVEN Professions and Occupations Chapter 4. Naturopathic Physician Licensing) to license naturopathic physicians in the territory.

Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet in the UVICES Demonstration Garden with Medicinal Plants

Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet in the UVICES Demonstration Garden with Medicinal Plants        Photo ©DaraMonifah

According to her LinkedIn profile, Dr. Coram Vialet is currently the Associate Director of the Institute for Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness at the University of the Virgin Islands. Prior to running for political office in 2014, Dr. Coram Vialet was also employed as the Director for the University’s Center for the Study of Spirituality and Professionalism. She has been most endorsed by her LinkedIn networking community in the areas of leadership, teaching, higher education, public speaking, research and community outreach.

While serving in her roles at the University, Dr. Coram Vialet also provides office hours at her practice in two locations on island. As stated on her Facebook about page, Corvia Natural Healthcare Services is, “an established family health and wellness office serving the V.I. community blending scientific medical expertise and traditional healthcare approaches.”

In addition to her professional studies, Dr. Coram Vialet also enjoys performance arts. She learned her favorite quote, “Nothing is so complicated, that it cannot be simplified by hard work,” during her years as a student in the Rising Stars Steel Orchestra. Also enjoying pageantry, she held the title of the first Miss University of the Virgin Islands in 1988.

For more information on Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet and Corvia Natural Healthcare Services visit www.corvianhs.com email info@corviahnhs.com or connect with her on Facebook page.

Liquid Chlorophyll Consumption in the VI: Superfood or Kryptonite


Chlorophyll Infographic CNHSThe local drink called chlorophyll in the Virgin Islands is similar to a blended iced tea. Made from extracting the chlorophyll out of plants and tea bushes, through the process of blending and straining of the excess bulk of the plants, what remains is a light iced tea flavored beverage usually served cold. Many who make it locally use guinea grass as their base ingredients, and then add lemongrass and other medicinal plants.

Found normally in health food stores, vegetarian restaurants, farmers markets or at some pharmacies, both forms are readily available for purchase in the Virgin Islands. The medicinal properties of either can vary depending on their ingredients.

Dr. Wendy in office at Corvia Natural Healthcare Services

Dr. Wendy in office at Corvia Natural Healthcare Services

According to Dr. Wendy V. Coram Vialet, of Corvia Natural Healthcare Services (CNHS), “the international version is made from a species of alfalfa, while the local version is usually made from guinea and or lemon grass.” Both guinea and lemongrass grow wild in the Virgin Islands.

Dr. Wendy went on to explain that in cases of iron deficiency anemia, chlorophyll is used to help with blood building as well as oxygenation. She said that, “it is a good source of energy and provides adrenal and immune support.”

A post on Pinterest shared much of the same information plus the benefits of chlorophyll with increasing red blood cell formation, blood purification, and blood pressure regulation even to helping with bad breath.

She continued saying that it is also used in some forms of cancer, is a good source of nutrients, can be used for general health maintenance and in cases of fasting due to its mineral and vitamin content.

A cup of liquid Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands

A cup of liquid Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands

Just as they both have benefits; there are potential risks from overconsumption, or in some cases, consumption period, from those who have reactions to various herbs. “The main concern is the overuse of any herb or supplement that renders it non-effective over time or induces harm to the patient,” said Dr. Wendy.

“There are no regulations in place to ensure that the product is the same every time it is made,” she added, expressing a concern more related to quality control specifically to how the herbs are grown and prepared.

In search of information concerning other concerns, a tweet from Wellness Wednesday stated,“This was concerning RE: Risks of Liquid Chlorophyll” and shared a link to a Livestrong.com article that shared concerns from allergic reactions to digestive tract disturbances as well as that some of the plants used when making liquid chlorophyll could potentially expose consumers to,” heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins from the water or soil. Pesticides can interrupt hormone function, damage the nervous system or cause cancer”.

Another tweet stated that, “The green chlorophyll also produces compounds called glycoalkaloids, such as solanine, that are toxic.” Researching further on the subject, one can find a scholarly study of the toxic hazard that might be associated with the consumption of green potato tops.

Jahweh David drinks chlorophyll at sunset, "because of its healing properties," on John Brewers Beach.

Jahweh David drinks chlorophyll at sunset, “because of its healing properties,” on John Brewers Beach.

Classically trained chef, who became an executive chef at the age of 24, food and lifestyle blogger Christopher Stewart shares in her post, why she drinks liquid chlorophyll. “I drink chlorophyll because of its healing properties,” said local artist, Jahweh David, who grew up learning about herbs from her mother (just as her mother learned from her grandmother) as well as local herbalists, also mentions similar reasons.  “It tastes great and is refreshing,” she added.

With an increasing number of people in the Virgin Islands learning about and consuming liquid chlorophyll, the need for more education has become apparent and there are those knowledgeable about and interested in helping the community by cooperating with each other. In addition to physicians, local researchers like Toni Thomas, Extension Agent at the UVI Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES), known for her book on Traditional Medicinal Plants in the Virgin Islands, is willing to help with educating the community with research-based information.

Affectionately known in her hometown within the Virgin Islands as Dr. Wendy, she is available at CNHS on Wednesdays between 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm and the third Saturday of the month in suite 104 at the Foothills and also has office hours at Synergy, in Red Hook. CNHS is an established whole family health and wellness office serving the Virgin Islands community using the principles and practices of naturopathic medicine. For more info visit www.corvianhs.com, email info@corvianhs.com or call (340) 774-0224. Stay connected on Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/corvianhs.

Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands as sold at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop and Juice Bar

Chlorophyll made in the Virgin Islands as sold at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop and Juice Bar with a UVICES book on Tropical Fruit Nutrition

Carroll Family encourages V.I. Fathers to Support their Children on School’s First Day


Fathevi father's marchr and son team, James and Jamaal Carroll continue their personal mission of empowering and supporting young men in the community with the Virgin Islands Fathers March this September 8, 2015 starting with a rally on Saturday, August 29th.

As an attorney, judge and most recently having previously been appointed by the Governor in the position of Virgin Islands Attorney General, James Carroll III, has what is considered to be an expert perspective on what kinds of things are needed to help young people succeed, both in school and life in general.

Judge Carroll states,”Research shows that children whose fathers take an active role in their educational lives, earn better grades, score higher on tests, enjoy school more and are more likely to graduate from high school and college.”

“This has a real objective to get the fathers to go back to school with their children,” he continued.

Having gone through the experience of losing his own son to gun violence has helped to make it one of his personal purposes to affect change in the community by being an example for young men and providing opportunities for them to have better chance at succeeding.

James’ son, Jamaal Carroll, currently holds the position of Anti Violence and Peace Initiative Coordinator at the University of the Virgin Islands. This position gives Jamaal the opportunity both to support some of his family’s initiatives as well as those directly related to the University’s students.

In addition to the V.I. Walk/Run Against Violence and Peace Walk, another of their initiatives is the VI Father’s March where they collaborate with other organizations to encourage fathers to take their children to school on the first day as well as support them throughout the school year. In preparation for the March, they hold a public barbeque and community event where they give out certificates, vouchers for free haircuts, t-shirts and other giveaways at a precursory Rally for Father’s March. They have the fathers say a pledge, committing to support their children on the first day of school and beyond.

This year, the Rally will take place on Saturday, August 29th, from 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the Emile Griffith Park and on September 8th, fathers will go to school with their children as part of their V.I. Fathers March.

For more info connect with the V.I. Walk Run Against Gun Violence facebook page, website or contact Jamaal VI James Carroll or Celia Carroll.

 All images used with permission from the Carroll family.
VI Fathers March 2015 AVPI Banner with Walk Run Banner Carroll Family with McGruff at Walk Run fathers march 2 fathers take pledge peac walk

Empress PJ Crosby: Transforming VI Youth through Expressive Arts

Empress PJ Crosby, poet, playwright, director, is transforming Virgin Islands youth, through the arts at Pistarckle Theatre each summer on St. Thomas. Born in London, England and raised in Long Island, NY Empress PJ Crosby has been working with the youth since she was a youth and is an active outreach teacher of spoken word and poetry.

Over the years, Empress PJ has repeatedly travelled with her programs to St. Thomas where she teaches children during the summers at the Pistackle Theatre. Since 2012, she has returned annually to teach her leadership program. Funded by a grant from the V.I. Department of Labor, “Stopping Crime Starts at the Roots!!” her youth playwright camp is now in its fourth year.

PJ has also taught at Kidscope Inc., which serves child victims of abuse, neglect and sexual molestation on St. Thomas. She says that what strongly influenced her interest and drive for working with youth was active involvement with organizations such as the Student Government, Campus Women’s Collective and the Honor Society during her college years.

Empress PJ Crosby Performing at The Rock Lounge

Empress PJ Crosby Performing Freestyle Poetry and Advertising her Youth Leadership program, at The Rock Lounge on August 14, 2015

Released on January 22, 2011, A Journey With Empress PJ is her debut solo CD. As an active freestyler, writer, poet, public speaker and mentor, while on island, she also continues to use her talents while performing at The Rock Collective’s The Rock Lounge or mentoring youth in the Virgin Islands and abroad.

Photos by DaraMonifah Cooper and from Empress PJ

Photos by DaraMonifah Cooper and from Empress PJ

For more information on Empress PJ, visit her artist page or email her at romanticpj@hotmail.com. To learn more about the program watch this video and read this article.

UVICES Supports Sustainable Agriculture through Innovative Youth Initiatives

Agricultural Enrichment Summer Camp logo

Agricultural Enrichment Summer Camp logo

Organized by the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (UVICES) office, in collaboration with other agencies, the UVICES held the Agricultural Enrichment Summer Camp (AESC), officially merging two types of agriculture related youth organizations (Future Farmers of America and 4-H) for the first time in the territory. The camp took place at the UVICES office on the University’s St. Thomas campus and was lead by their staff as well as junior counselors from various high school FFA organizations.

Earlier in the year, the FFA Hunger Drive and School-based Farmers Market held their collaborative activities in support of encouraging youth in agriculture while promoting general community agricultural awareness. The summer program was yet another experience for youth to engage together around the theme of agriculture education.

“This experience ‘kinda like’ opened my eyes. It gave me an opportunity to really not only look into just agriculture itself, but myself,” said Jonisha Aubain, AESC camp Junior Counselor and Charlotte Amalie High School FFA organization Treasurer.

Due to financial restraints, their regular 4-H summer camp has not been offered in the past two years. UVICES staff decided instead of waiting hopeful for renewal of funding, it was time to find a way to create another program for youth. The success of the program can be attributed through local partnerships with the Departments of Labor, Human Services, and the Virgin Islands University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities.

“From the perspective of our partners, they were hoping to connect these young adults, from their unit especially, with job opportunities,” said Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr. Ph.D., UVICES Assistant Director of Agriculture & Natural Resources. “The success in this case is that we were able to make a partnership, a connection, with the Mahogany Run Golf Course who indeed accepted to have one of our youngsters, after coming to the program, work with them.”

The camp finished as of their closing program on Friday, August 7, 2015. The parents and general community were able to see for themselves what the youth gained at the camp closing ceremony which showcased presentations by the students that reflected their summer experiences while working directly with a diversity of agriculture professionals, including crop and livestock producers, landscapers, agricultural instructors, inspectors, enforcement officers, etc. during the six week program which began on June 29, 2015.

Ashlely “Ashanti” George, Albion “Chico” George and Dr. Petersen as well as other UVICES staff lead the youth camp during the six weeks. Photos were captured of all activities, guest speakers and field trips and can be found on the UVICES facebook page. An exploration of career topics in agriculture included:

  • Horticulture
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Livestock and poultry science
  • Landscaping

Irrigation and water usage activities and field trips included:

  • Ivanna Eudora Kean High School aquaponic farm
  • two local landscaping & plant nurseries
  • tool safety & usage demonstrations
  • Introduction to 4-H & FFA Organizations
  • UVI Marine Science Center boat trips
  • US Customs and Border Protection canine inspection demonstration
  • plant propagation exercises
  • local farms
  • plant Identification exercises
  • seedling production
  • irrigation system assembly

About the Agricultural Enrichment Summer Camp
Dr. Petersen
reflects on the experience and shared that the six-week summer program successfully increased knowledge and created awareness of career and work opportunities in the field of agricultural science both for the youth and their parents. The second objective was also successful in equipping the participants with job preparation skills through classroom presentations, practical exercises, and field activities. One camper has gained employment at a position at the Mahogany Run Golf Course, a junior counselor is now employed at St. Thomas Adventure Tours with other potential job placements still in negotiation at other locations. As networking continues throughout the year, other students are expected to be connected to local businesses or organizations.

UVICES staff will stay connected to students throughout the year and will include them in other activities including the 31st Caribbean Agro-Economics Symposium happening on St. Croix from Monday, August 10. At the conference, FFA and 4-H students will present collaboratively on what we have been doing regarding the aspects of production, promotion through social media, and the actual market site. They also will share their success in the indoor systems they have used used a model for the issue of climate change mitigation.

The community can assist through volunteering their time and mentorship support, sharing the news of the activities as well as simply being present at various public activities to congratulate and further encourage the youth.

“We’ve had no 4-H program for two years, the public has been calling and we just responded to that need. So we like to pride ourselves, as we said, to responding to the changing needs,” he continued.

A partnership between the federal and local governments through UVI, at UVICES they pride themselves on their slogan Extended Knowledge; Changing Lives.

“That is exactly what we have been doing for the six weeks. We also like to pride ourselves on responding to the changing needs of the community,” said Petersen, as they have shown in providing a successful and effective youth camp.

To contact Dr. Petersen and the staff at UVICES, email lpeters@uvi.edu, call 340-693-1080 or visit ces.uvi.edu. Connect with them online via social media @uvices.

Youth Service Experiences Reinforce Life Skills

Luke and Denali Miedema made St. Thomas their home for two years and through volunteer practices of their faith, they and other members of the Bahai National Center on St. Thomas have been serving the Kirwan Terrace Housing Community for many years.

They actually met in the Caribbean when they were in Dominica. Then they moved to New York shortly after for Denali to go to grad school.

“We really wanted to find a way to come back if possible so it was pretty cool that this door opened for us,” Denali stated.

Coming from New York City, they lived in the Bahai National Center on Crown Mountain Road because Luke was working as the property manager there. Denali worked as a middle school teacher at Antilles.

They both say that they learned a lot from the junior youth. Luke said, “They just taught us a lot about the potential of that age group to really inspire others to transform themselves and to do what they can to improve their neighborhoods. They really worked a lot as a group to better themselves and their neighborhood and be positive influences on the children.”

Julia Armbruster, a retired teacher and another member of the Bahai community has also helped with the Junior Youth Group over the years. She feels that the most influential lessons were learned within small groups of your own environment.

“That’s why it’s a Kirwan group. Kirwan Terrace group, not a island-wide group, because, island-wide is harder to relate to,” she said.

Luke and Denali said they left with many wonderful memories, especially the service projects including trips to The Humane Society, making smoothies to sell and sandwiches for children in the neighborhood while learning the importance of being an example for other children in the neighborhood. Other activities included bake sales, participating in the island wide clean up and their group sleepover at the Baha’i Center was a good memory also. They ended with a final time out of their many trips to the beaches.

“We’re here at the airport getting ready to go. But, ah, our hearts are staying here. That’s so cheesy, but it’s true,” said Denali. “We’re sad to go. It’s a hard place to leave. I think it really found it’s way into our hearts and um, y’know when you leave a place you start to reflect on just all the things about it that were such blessings.”

For more information on the Junior Youth Group, visit http://www.bahaivi.org/html/junior_youth.html

VI Youth Organizations and Garden Clubs Promote Agriculture

On Saturday, June 20, 2015, two local youth related organizations on St. Thomas held agriculture related activities at Plaza Extra and the Lockhart Elementary School to combat hunger and promote agriculture awareness. With a food drive being conducted by students from the Ivanna Eudora Kean High School Future Farmers of America (FFA) Chapter and UVI Cooperative Extension Service office staff, as well as a school-based farmers’ market with Lockhart Elementary and Bertha C. Boschulte Middle school members of the V.I. School Garden Cooperative on St. Thomas, youth had a day of collaboratively calling attention to and gaining support of agriculture and our V.I. youth-based farming organizations.

FFA Hunger Food Drive USVI ImageLast publicized in February regarding their award winning participation at the local news during the 44th Agriculture and Food Fair of the U.S. Virgin Islands on St. Croix, local FFA youth have been making a name for themselves all throughout the territory.

Texting pictures and updates with each other throughout the day, the FFA youth groups on both St. Thomas and St. Croix, held food drives out in the community at their respective Plaza Extra shopping centers to be where the people are at while the younger students stayed at their school lead by teachers and staff, with students coaxing the people in traffic to come visit them from along the roadside with a banner.

Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., the Assistant Director with the Agriculture and Natural Resources program at the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, is also the District Advisor for FFA.

“FFA is all about the youth and agricultural education. Teaching our young adults about the career opportunities in Agricultural Science, but as well teaching them about being sensitive to the needs of others when it comes to those who need food,” he stated.

According to the National FFA Organization blog, “The FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge is a national, year-long program that will donate 2.5 million meals across the country before the 88th National FFA Convention & Expo this fall. FFA members use a “See It, Solve It, Share It” approach to learn about and tackle hunger issues. The FFA Hunger Heroes Challenge is part of the National FFA Organization’s “Feeding Our World – Starting At Home” movement that is compelling students to understand the issues and effects of hunger.

Students then take action to support the human right to safe, affordable, abundant and nutritious food as a means of reducing hunger at home and abroad, starting with a look at the U.S. The first step is to educate teachers and students about domestic and global food insecurity. The second is to organize hunger relief efforts that give FFA members opportunities to apply what they have learned to fight hunger and promote food security for all.”

For more information on both groups send contact them at their respective email addresses: ffausvi@gmail.com and juelishodge@gmail.com. Visit ces.uvi.edu or call 340-693-1083 for the UVI Cooperative Extension Service office. You can also stay connected at their respective Facebook pages: