With a new location, The Rock Lounge, a monthly poetry and open mic creative expression event on St. Thomas, had about 40 people in attendance on Friday, June 12, 2015 at the recently opened E’s Garden Teahouse and Things. Found just beyond the easternmost point of Charlotte Amalie’s backstreet, at the bottom of Bunker Hill, the teahouse ads color and a new energy to the area of Garden Street and The Rock Lounge enhanced it even more.
No matter where it’s located, the same can be said for the experience according to Jahweh David, the event co-host.
“The Rock Lounge is an exciting space and place in each and everyone of us that is always ready to be nurtured, where our creativity can be cultivated, and community can be supported,” she added.
In addition to poetry, all types of creative expression is featured and the audience ranges from creatively energetic school children to teachers and senators. What’s special about the event, based on the audiences that attend, is the openness of the crowd and how that helps to promote and motivate those who never even considered writing, much less sharing their feelings and experiences in public. The hosts always encourage the crowd to show support for everyone that steps up to the mic, no matter the message or the method of expression.
Local musical and poetry performer Akingtafari, shared his thoughts about the over a decade of memories created as a member of the group that organizes the event.
“Being one of the original members of The Rock Collective has enabled me to use my creativity to be satisfying to my soul,” he stated.
The tea shop also prepares food, has drinks and is currently an art gallery space. Owner Judith Edwin had long envisioned a place where she could sell teas and things, hang art as well as other ideas before contacting Rock Collective members about having their event at the location.
Held only every second Friday monthly, the organizers have found a way to keep it very simple and easy for anyone to feel comfortable. Using only text messages, their Facebook page posts and word-of-mouth grassroots advertising, their normal location at The Frenchtown Deli usually only has standing room only by the end of the night.
The next event will be held on Friday, July 10, 2015 again at the Teahouse. To get notified monthly by mobile text as a Rock Lounge event reminder, send a text message with your name to 340-642-5851 asking to join the reminder list.
GrassrootsVI News – Savan’s Caretakers Returning Home to Organize
By DaraMonifah Cooper
Off-island ‘Savanero’, Iffat Walker walked through areas of Savan taking photos, video, talking to anyone and recruiting support both within and from around the community as part of the initial research stages for a clean-up and revitalization initiative set to initially kick-off in July. Her passion for her Virgin Islands’ neighborhood, and all of the family that still lives there, keeps her coming home regularly to visit and help build.
In addition to the research work done within the neighborhood itself, she also met with agencies and individuals who agreed to partner with the initiative in general support of re-building the community’s self-pride. After the first community meeting and a few initial networking meetings, including those with the Enterprise Zone Commission at the VI Economic Development Authority Director, Nadine Marchena Kean, and the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service’s (UVICES) District Supervisor, Dr. Louis E. Petersen, Jr., Iffat is further encouraged to continue with her research and outreach efforts.
Knowing that it takes a village, Iffat sought out the assistance of others who are already known for having similar or related missions. “It’s not my intention to reinvent the wheel. People here have already been doing this work and I’m just trying to help them work together better,” she stated. As one of the suggestions from young men in the neighborhood interested in having a community garden, Iffat also met with Albion “Chico” George of the UVICES office who is known for his work with starting up various community and school gardens.
Also seeking youth insight and support, she reached out to the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative and was able to appear on their radio show as well as have footage taken and donated by their youth media team.
With challenges ranging from individual to organizational, she noted that there are a range of potential support systems needed and Iffat is determined to do whatever she can to use her community organizational, networking, professional and personal skills to rally others to give it another try collaboratively.
“Some have given up hope or were basically discouraged to continue due to a number of challenges, so we’re seeking that information as well as intend to be creative with forming solutions to those previous and current challenges,” she continued.
As one of the managing administrators for Community Action Now, Inc., a Georgia based organization; this is more than just another project for Iffat. She has a personal vested interest in the Savan area. “Many of the people walking around in Savan are my family,” she noted, also mentioning the need to change the negative impression some have of the area. “With Savan being the neighborhood in basically the center of Charlotte Amalie town, it would benefit the entire community to have it restored to better reflect its original reputation. The historical significance of Savan spans decades of stories with it being the first organized neighborhood for local businesses and activity,” she added.
Iffat noted that many Virgin Islanders are interested in returning home both to visit and to live, but like her, they are doing what they can from off island to help restore it first. With regular initiatives like the Department of Tourism’s territory-wide clean ups and all other organizations and individuals who regularly make their contributions on island or online, the air of hope and determination are building. With the assistance of those both on and off island, the Savan area and the Virgin Islands is prepped to becoming a cleaner, safer and more productive environment for residents and visitors alike.
For more information on this initiative, contact Iffat Walker at email@example.com or check out the Proud to Be A Savanero Facebook group page and the main organization’s website based in Georgia. Photos are available here.
Branford Marsalis Parker came to the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) as an exchange student from Chicago with the intention of building his photography and videography portfolio. He ended up being the main recruiter for students in the University’s Communications area and WUVI student radio station.
When he originally moved into the dorms on UVI’s St. Thomas campus, Branford’s initial personal goal was to work on his mission of building his own digital media resume. Instead, when his website class got cancelled, he ended up enrolling into a radio production class. Not really being interested in broadcast journalism, Branford found himself redefining his purpose and recreating his mission. He would use his new personal connections with the Communications students and radio club to give himself more practice with his craft.
His motivation quickly increased while merging efforts with Michael “DJ Temp” McFarlane, who Parker credits for getting him involved with the radio station and Communications program. As time passed, he forced himself to be more social and started speaking to people that he normally would normally not have approached, with his common random question, “Do you wanna join the media club?”
Soon, he became the President of the WUVI 4-H Collegiate Media Club, recruiting students into the media club, radio station backup crew and Communications Department at every given opportunity. He was then offered the position as the WUVI Student Radio Station Production Manager. Combining his new responsibilities, he saw opportunities unfold not only for himself, but for fellow classmates, non-communications major students in the club as well as collectively as a student radio station.
Parker was largely responsible for organizing, hosting or assisting with on campus social events that helped to make the student population more aware and supportive of the Media club and radio station. His largest organizational accomplishment, and quite possibly the most well attended student event for the semester, was having a standing room only event called ‘Wildin’ Out‘.
As Production Manager, Parker’s responsibilities included editing and finalizing all radio audio prior to airing, assisting with social media posting. He created commercials, promos and edited shows for uploading to the WUVI SoundCloud digital archive site.
As if being the on call photographer, videographer and President of the club, adding audio editing seemed to round off all of the digital media work he had originally hoped to build on. His mission redefined, Branford Marsalis Parker unknowingly worked himself into being the MVP of the University of the Virgin Island’s WUVI Student Radio Station.
Yes, I know that heading is totally non-representative of my grammatical skills, yet it does let you know that I have a sense of humor and am an artist. It also let’s you know that I’m a non-conformist and a Kreative out-of-the-(What Box) thinker. Goal reached.
So… I closed my eyes, held my breath, clicked the buttons and now I’m actively an online student in Full Sail University‘s New Media Journalism program. Y’know the online school thing I was deathly afraid of doing? Yeah, well I’m doing it and it feels GRRRREAT! (I wonder if Frosted Flakes has that copyrighted?)
Don’t ask me how much it cost. A lot. How I’m paying for it? Still figuring that out and making it up as I go along… yes I did fill out the scholarship, financial aid and loan documents, but I’m determined to find ways of paying it without worrying. so far, so good.
What am I learning? How will it affect me? What good will it do?
Stay tuned… I have all the answers I need for now.
So will you.
Check out my nu twitter bio for now and follow me @DaraMonifah:
***Also like the website’s Facebook Page whenever it’s approved: DaraMonifahDotCom
it takes a village… our music (art, goal, dream, mission) is sometimes that child.
Our greatest challenges often lead to our greatest realizations, exponential inner growth and thus, many of our greatest successes.
As I think of all the creative ideas and people who dwell in my immediate local community, I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the blessing of witnessing so many miracles of Creation.
My only hope, for us to learn to work together collectively and economically to rise ourselves even higher on a holistic level. It will take sacrificing time, commitment, growth, creativity, determination, maturity, professionalism, trust and faith.
The time is now… it takes a village