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.
About sixty–five persons relaxed to the smooth sounds of local jazz by the sea at the Fat Turtle Restaurant, Sunday afternoon, during one of the multiple open air free music events on the island of St. Thomas. Located in Yacht Haven Grande, Fat Turtle now features the “Sweetlife Jazz Band” from 5:00 – 8:00 pm on Sundays for “Jazz by the Sea” as part of something new and different for local or visiting jazz lovers.
At around 3:30 pm, Hughley Prince, the band’s drummer arrived and began setting up. “We’ll be here every week and start at 5:00 pm,” he stated. “We used to play from four to seven, but then realized that the crowd arrives later,” he added. Encouraging people to stay and listen, he shared a little more about the band who one by one starting arriving.
Soon afterward, you could hear the keys on the piano played by Louis Taylor, a retired school music teacher and well-known local jazz master. Next, bass player Rhett Simmonds strolled in followed by the band’s lead singer Jerry Harris, also known for his performances around the island.
Performing classics like Lean on Me; Loving You; S’Wonderful; and other crowd favorites, it did not take long before they had thae crowd singing and swinging along. Even though the four have been playing there on Sundays since right after Easter, people are still only just finding out. Ayesha Morris, who was in the area and just passed by to have a drink, shared her thoughts.
“A friend texted me that it happens every Sunday, but tonight was my first time experiencing it first hand,” she said. “The music was light and soothing,” she continued.
Located just a five minute walk away from Havensight Mall and cruise ship dock, all throughout the year there are yachts docked right over the restaurant’s side which also overlooks the Charlotte Amalie harbour. Near an open seating area that joins other neighboring restaurants in the duty free retail village, Fat Turtle is a popular favorite among travellers and locals alike featuring seafood, salads, gourmet pizzas, and exotic frozen drinks.
For more information on the Sweetlife Jazz Band, go down and check them out on Sunday afternoons at the Fat Turtle in Yacht Haven Grande.
On Saturday, April 25, 2015, parents, facilitators and young boys at the Family Resource Center Youth Intervention Program celebrated the closing ceremony of their Boys Rites of Passage program. The gathering allowed parents to see the various character building experiences and growth their children achieved during their months together as participants of the program. The free program is funded by the Department of Human Services, and starts in January and September annually.
Learning emotional and spiritual self management Tai Chi with Calvin Dallas students start the day off doing Tai Chi and Chi Gung to balance and center themselves with self discipline and focusing techniques outdoors facilitated by Calvin Dallas. Dallas is one of the four adult instructors at the Boys Rites of Passage Program on St. Thomas, VI under the Family Resource Center.
Photo Caption: Calvin Dallas bringing it in with the boys after a Tai Chi morning session
Teaching self pride and respect through cultural literacy, Dr. Celia Victor uses methods like The Virtues Project along with modern and basic history instilling a sense of accomplishment and possibilities in the young men.
Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Art Teacher Leba OlaNiyi teaches ecological arts and crafts to the boys along with African drumming. The facilitators at FYCIP understand that listening first, then sharing non academic methods of training encourage the boys to express themselves creatively and also become more considerate problem solvers.
Students display their vision boards with their mentors
Reginald Cyntje, a musician and educator from the Virgin Islands, uses artivism to help support those who he interacts with, listens to his music or reads his blogs. As a multi-media and nu media journalist in training, I too choose to use artivism and social media to share the pride we have in home here in the United Virgin Islands.
Historically from a background where the griot tells the story, which then becomes the history and fabric of a place, many artists use their genres to continue in the tradition simply out of the pure love for doing so.
Trombonist, educator and activist, Reginald Cyntje, shares his angle of being a Virgin Islander and what experiences helped him become who he is and continue feeling the pride in his cultural heritage and love of music, children and Virgin Islands history and culture that moves him to share his story with the world through his music.
Sharing experiences he’s had with people who’ve come to love the VI that weren’t initially from here, he often travels to the Virgin Islands, sometimes bringing along with him other musicians who are amazed by the natural beauty of the environment and everyday warmth of Virgin Islands people.
He tries to return home often and meets with young music students, giving them hours of lessons in his parents’ home. He feels that his mentoring of the youth helps them become better prepared for their potential futures as professionals in music and or in school.
Through an initiative that he initiated called the V. I. Movement for Change, Reginald has used visits to schools and his writings to find ways of impressing upon students and other people that they can use their skills and strengths to uplift the community at whatever level that they are at.
Taking his cues from successes in history and the wisdom of elders, his latest album entitled, Spiritual Awakening, shares some of the steps in the process of tackling problems. Wherever he resides, he encourages communities to use collective work and responsibility and cooperative economics to help solve their challenges.
Healing… educating… local musician Reginald Cyntje hopes to continually share with others a little of what the Virgin Islands essence perpetuates. A spiritual awakening unlike any other, he uses music, education, outreach and artivism to promote and welcome you to his home.
Author’s Note: When I was contacted by a fellow Virgin Islander about being one of the main local faces or supports for Pay it Forward USVI, my main concern was how much I would be overwhelmed with putting into it. Random acts of kindness are so regular in my experience that to now be responsible for documenting and sharing when they happen, immediately felt like a full time job. Similarly, when Reginald contacted my about being part of the V.I. Movement for Change, I had to explain my concerns of into being able to be a dependable contributor. As he reminded me, in reality, so many of us already naturally do these things daily without thinking twice about who we’ve helped or what we sacrifice. There can never be too much of us doing it and we continue to encourage by any means possible the random acts of kindness that continues to spread what Virgin Islanders and together our Virgin Islands are naturally about.
Commonly duped as their #1 ‘friend-raiser,’ the proceeds from today’s University of the Virgin Islands Afternoon on the Green (AOTG) successfully raised thousands of dollars for student scholarships. Extremely successful in so many ways, the event brings out hundreds of people who, “Come for the food,” and “Stay for the fun,” as the event’s theme suggests.
Hundreds of people flocked to the University’s Herman E. Moore golf course where several tents were filled with people serving food, drinks, taking raffles, distributing food and drink tickets or sharing information about what their area provides at the University. Between the large numbers enjoying the food and drinks, live music, entertainment, youth activities and academic tent, the common phrase for the afternoon was that this year’s event was ‘the best ever.’
Leslyn Tonge, of the University’s Provost office worked on the grounds from the day before the event. “I think that the event was really a successful one. It seemed like there were a lot of people still coming in when I left which was before the end,” she said.
As a member of the committee, her primary responsibility is organizing the academic tent because of her job at the office of the Provost, which always handles managing the academic tent. “I like the fact that the students came out and showcased what their different organizations and clubs are about. It (AOTG) is primarily for students, so putting myself in the place of a potential donor, I’d like to see what the students can do.”
“It was also a tool for recruitment so every aspect that was on display was part of the grander scheme of recruiting with the ability to see the different programs that we offer,” she added. “We had the psychology club, Greek organizations, student government, multi-cultural East Indian association and other student associations.”
Ms. Tonge, with the assistance of youth from the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative, was able to prepare the area for the event. The students took a break from their weekly radio show, on the campus radio station, walked across campus and helped set up the tables and chairs under the academic tent. “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” shared Majestik, one of the youth co-hosts, as they all nodded with excitement, reminiscing all of the previous AOTG activities they participated in from the years before.
Just as in the previous years, other numerous children had continuous fun in the bounce house, rolling down the hill in huge transparent soccer balls, playing Frisbee, getting their faces painted and more. Simultaneously, not far from the children, their parents were able to enjoy the open social environment sitting on the bleachers, standing and talking or dancing to the live bands perform on the stage under the entertainment tent.
Even though there were so many entries, all of the donated food was purchased hours before the event ended, so the grill line stretched tens of people long.
“We don’t mind waiting, because the music is good, our children are safe in the youth activity area and we’re enjoying ourselves just talking and catching up with friends.”
Among the winning entries, is WUVI student radio station’s faculty advisor Dr. Alex Randall whose Shepherd’s Pie won one of the prizes for getting the most votes. This year’s blue ribbon will be added to the others at the WUVI studio as this isn’t the first time the station was awarded for obtaining the most votes. Each year, as soon as the dish is registered, the entry number to text in votes is blasted out to the community using the radio airwaves as they air the event live. This is accompanied by a word to mouth campaign throughout the afternoon as well as via instagram, facebook and other WUVIAM1090 social media accounts.
The UVI Mocojumbies lead the parade with the Addelita Cancryn Jr. High School Drumline Marching Band and a Vintage Voltswagen and Mustangs following behind. On the entertainment stage, the E. Benjamin Oliver Steel Owls Steelpan Orchestra opened up the fair followed by the Flip Switch band, Bertha C. Bochulte Middle School’s Flambo Combo band with their dancers and the Mungo Niles Cultural Dancers. Cool Sessions Brass ended the event long after closing hours as the crowd continued to dance to their music.
The lead organizer for Afternoon on the Green, Liza J. Margolis shared that there is always a need for more help with organizing the event. As the Senior Coordinator of Donor Relations and Special Events, she is mainly responsible for managing the organization of the event every year. For more information she can be contacted at 340-693-1053 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’ve never been to an Agriculture and Food Fair, hailed as the largest in the Caribbean, consider attending the 44th annual Virgin Islands AgriFest held on St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands February 14 – 16, 2015. “AgriFest gives you a snapshot of not only agriculture, but the possibilities that we can do with our Agriculture industry by adding value to our products. It also celebrates our culture and things that you normally don’t see throughout the year, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to see and purchase,” Clarice Clarke, UVICES Public Information Specialist and VI AgriFest Coordinator of Promotions interviewed on What’s Going on @UVICES (Weekly Radio Show).
Sponsored by the V.I Department of Agriculture, University of the Virgin Islands (UVI) Cooperative Extension Services (UVICES) and the V.I. Department of Tourism, the theme of Agrifest 2015 is “Agriculture: The Heart of it All.” In a St. Croix Source story, UVI President Dr. David Hall describes the AgriFest as, “a family-oriented, community engagement activity where we can renew and widen our circle of friendship, begin cultivating networks, and celebrate the cultural diversity represented.”
Gates always open at 9:00 am and close at 6:00pm with an opening ceremony that starts at 10am on the Saturday morning. People from near and far attend the fair to take advantage of it’s vast array of agriculture education, fresh local food, local produce, live music and other entertainment, children and family activities, shopping opportunities with so many vendors being available in one place and it’s consistently low cost. The entry fees remain affordable at only $6 for adults, $4 for senior citizens and $3 for children.
Centrally located on the Rudolph Shulterbrandt Agricultural Complex at Estate Lower Love, across from the Albert A. Sheen St. Croix campus of the University of the Virgin Islands, the fair always takes place during the 3-day President’s Day weekend. Three stages in the various areas of the fair provide simultaneous ongoing entertainment throughout the day with one of this year’s highlights being a Calypso show focused on Lord Kitchener and his music. Youth groups including the Superior Court Rising Stars Youth Steel Orchestra, St. Croix Educational Complex Marching Band and others. St. Croix Heritage Dancers and other adult performers also share Virgin Islands culture with the viewing audiences.
“We will reach a day when everything we eat is produced here in the Virgin Islands.” ~UVI President Dr. David Hall, from the VI Source Feb 15 story.
About 48 farmers from St. Croix and other islands occupy about 70 booths, 88 vendors sell t-shirts, jewelry and other items. In addition, fair goers can visit the livestock pavilion, food pavilion and farmers market to check out locally raised animals, grown and prepared food. “We sell only the local food, no alcoholic beverages or sodas whatsoever,” Clarke noted proudly on a radio interview.
UVI components will be participating in the exhibits by displaying their products and the services offered to the community according to a press release on the UVICES website. A centerpiece of the fair, the UVI Tent has numerous programs showcasing their services, lead by UVICES, which focuses on the fair theme and showcases plants and fruits that promote healthy heart eating. The new UVICES publication, “Tropical Fruits of the Virgin Islands and their Nutritional Values,” also highlighted and on sale, which is available along with their other educational publications year-round at UVI bookstores on both campuses.
“Travelers to the fair include people from the other Caribbean islands visiting us who always look forward to coming and participation,” Clarke shared.
Native Son is the official AgriFest ferry and Seaborne Airlines helps get people there from neighboring islands. Major sponsors include Innovative, V.I. Department of Tourism, V.I. Lottery, V.I. Port Authority, DaVybe 107.9 FM, Water and Power Authority, V.I. Waste Management Authority, Choice Communications as well as the men and women of the VIDOA and UVICES for their annual management and organization of the AgriFest.
Local media coverage of the fair is always expected and for more information about the fair from it’s committee members, the AgriFest 2015 Bulletin publication is sold all three days at the fair and made available afterwards as a pdf on the ces.uvi.edu website or connect with their social media pages @uvices. The official AgriFest website is www.viagrifest.org.
History rewrites itself this Black History Month as a new set of students learn the ropes while helping to promote cultural awareness at the University of the Virgin Islands (UVI). As a standing committee of the University’s Student Government Association (SGA), “raising awareness and promoting African Heritage on campus and abroad” is what they are charged to do according to the school policy.
The University of the Virgin Islands “Black” Heritage Committee is a student-based organization charged with the responsibility of raising awareness and promoting African Heritage on campus and abroad. According to Article VIII Section 11 letter F of the UVI SGA Constitution, the “Black” Heritage Committee shall be responsible for planning and implementing programs of “Black” cultural awareness.
From on the UVI website, in 1986, the United States Congress named UVI one of America’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU); therefore, it holds the distinction of being the only HBCU outside of the continental United States. HBCUs are a source of accomplishment and great pride for the African American community as well as the entire nation.
The BHC serves as an integral part of the University’s effort to share with it’s students the rich culture of the Virgin Islands, Caribbean as well as African American and African history. A past Professor of the University and co-chair of the BHC, Gene Emanuel lead hundreds of students on historical and environmental nature tours while sharing stories of local historians who helped to influence global world leaders such as Edward Wilmot Blyden, Marcus Garvey, Dr. Ben and others.
The Virgin Islands has a number of people and things that makes it unique even today, but historically, many reasons exist that have paved the way for a ‘magical and healing experience’ to many that travel here, even if only for a day. For history lovers, here are a few facts:
- the first jurisdiction under the U.S. flag to be emancipated by slavery
- the first successful slave rebellion in the Western Hemisphere on St. John in 1733
- the only state under the U.S. flag with the distinction of having over three quarters of the population of African ascendants
These and more are lessons passed down from past and some current UVI faculty, including Professor Emanuel who joined the UVI faculty in 1981, when the University was still the College of the Virgin Islands (CVI). Searching online, one can find statements by the then Governor of the Virgin Islands as well as the University President hailing the work and principles that Emanuel stood for. “Throughout his career, Professor Emanuel stressed that learning involves more than acquiescing to the status quo – that the consciousness of students must actually be raised. An avid Pan-Africanist, Professor Emanuel’s passion for Afro-Caribbean history and culture was always evident.”
If they don’t know how great we were, then they can never be expected to realize how much greater they can be. Going back through the timeline of events with the BHC, there is much to learn and even more to teach. The students will continue to change, but the history will always remain the same.
To be continued…
The UVI SGA “Black” Heritage Committee, Sankofa Saturdays & the Pan African Support Group presents #Blackhistory #MOVIEnights 6-9pm #FRIDAYS at the University of the Virgin Islands #CHASEauditorium
“We need to grow more seller than buyer… cost of living get higher,” Selah Ranking singing on stage at the #VIBordeauxFair2015 #SUPPORTviFARMERS
Heads bopping, feet shuffling all around the fair pavilion and the dance floor flooded with happy feet, young to old, as the Lion SoulJahs band soothed souls starting the live reggae concert during the second and last day of the 18th annual Bordeaux Farmers Rastafari Agriculture and Cultural Vegan Food Fair on Sunday, January 18, 2015. The second day of a two-day celebration, the Virgin Islands community was blessed for another year by the Bordeaux farmers in celebration of agriculture with the theme, “Know your farmer, Know your food.”
The fair ran from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. all weekend with ongoing fresh produce, cultural craft and vegan food, farmers market, educational presentations, demonstrations, DJ music, poetry and various other forms of entertainment.
We Grow Food, Inc. and the Bordeaux farmers work tirelessly all year long, with regular markets on the second and last last Sundays, but the annual fair is the time to really celebrate the beauty in their natural Rastafari and farming community. This is when they’re busiest, doing more than just feeding our stomachs, but truly feeding our souls holistically showing the community what their community does on an everyday basis.
Farmer of the Year, Derick “Alpha” Hodge was awarded for his work over the past year as a Bordeaux farmer as well as at the Department of Agriculture where he is a heavy equipment operator. The V.I. Department of Tourism also received a special recognition award for their repeated support of the annual fair.
Some of the educational presentations throughout the day were shared by: Small Business Development Center, University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service (Tropical Fruits of the VI Book), Heru Ofori Atta (Hemp), Herbalist Ras Bobby Olivaccee (Health, Wellness and Rastafarianism), VI Energy Office, Camp Umoja Sister Djabana (Anna Wallace-Francis) and Sister Benita (We Grow Food, Inc.) and more.
Farm tours ran throughout the day exposing the community to drip irrigation, terrace making and bee keeping. Some of the farms included tours with Eldridge “Sparks” Thomas, We Grow Food, Inc. President as well as the Greed Ridge Guavaberry family farm.
Artistic performances included a spiritual dance by Princess Selam, steelpan music by the Rising Stars Pan-Round-de-Neck group, the Bertha C. Bochulte Flambo Combo band and more. During ‘Koniyah’s Poetry Corner’ poets from The Rock Collective and others throughout the community performed a number of pieces on a range of topics including culture, history, politics, community, thankfulness and more.
The family activity center there were ongoing craft stations featuring clay, planting, face painting, coloring, unity art projects and much more organized by Empress Iria who travels to St. Thomas from St. Croix to manage the youth with the assistance of community volunteers. Some of the activities included pictograph painting, “turn your trash into treasures” picture frames and jewelry making as well as fabric painting with plant based materials and basket weaving.
On Sunday, the activities continued with recycling natural and man-made materials to create art, jewelry making with our local seeds and coco palm painting with Sista Djabana of Camp Umoja and the Environmental Rangers.
Performers during the live reggae concerts included: Lion SoulJahs Band, Selah Ranking, Ras Martin & Itege, Jah Sekemnah, Kaida, Inner Vision, Dj Dilli Fingas, Unity Band, Empress, Nuby Dan…
KWANZAA365’s HabariGaniVI January 2015 Newsletter | Letter from the Editor
Locally-created organizations, KWANZAA365 and Sankofa Saturdays used their multi-media skills to continue assisting with educating, promoting, organizing and documenting the various activities.
First, the VI Kwanzaa Schedule, focused on providing an accessible list of Kwanzaa gatherings, activities and/or education was compiled and shared with local, national and international media sources and organizations. As a result, more people were able to learn, share and attend Kwanzaa events within the Virgin Islands.
KWANZAA365 also created and shared audio sound bites on Kwanzaa principles and celebrations with various radio stations which reached even more people who were able to learn about Kwanzaa, the various organizations that come together for annual activities as well as be informed about where the local events would take place.
An Ujamaa & Ujima (Cooperative Economics and Collective Work & Responsibility) meeting was held at the Natural Livity Kulcha Shop Lounge with grassroots organizations and business owner, hosted by KWANZAA365 and Sankofa Saturdays. Strategic planning was done collaboratively and an action plan put into place that will assist local grassroots organizations and businesses.
The Sankofa Saturdays youth documented the various events using photo, audio and videography and assisted with putting together a report of the Kwanzaa Season, which was then shared on heir weekly youth radio program on WUVI AM 1090 so that those who were unable to attend, were able to experience some of the events via photo, video and audio documentation.
Publicly speaking at all of the Kwanzaa events, sharing Kwanzaa education, contact information and inviting volunteers to assist with the Sankofa Saturdays Youth Cultural Education Initiative, the organizations are proud to end another official Kwanzaa season having educated, informed and obtained contact information list of volunteers for Sankofa Saturdays.
Some of the intended next steps or products include an annual calendar of cultural Sankofa Saturdays events in the VI, a directory of supportive grassroots individuals, organizations and businesses, a Saturday school as well as the organization of a collaborative grassroots media and communications network.
For more information or to view pictures, videos and listen to audio recordings, visit www.KWANZAA365.vi and www.SankofaSaturdays.com and their corresponding social media accounts:
Facebook | Twitter | Youtube
“Born, bred and fungi-fed,” from designing and wearing her own dresses to writing and singing her own song, the new Miss St. Croix Carnival Ambassadorial Queen, AnuMaat Davis-Kahina re-introduced herself to her community and was selected to represent them as their new Miss St. Croix on Sunday, December 21, 2014 at the Island Center for the Performing Arts on St. Croix, Virgin Islands.
With the theme of, “creating cultural memories through an international dream,” contestants showcased their intellect and beauty as they shared their various talents ranging from singing/spoken word, steel pan playing an Asian sword fighting as well as African drumming and dancing.
All of the platforms were presented with passion and purpose ranging from autism awareness to embracing healthy living. AnuMaat’s platform was actually a sample of the non-profit which she created some years ago, LIVEUP.
LIVEUP, an acronym for “Living Inspired as Virtuous Edified and United Princesses (and Princes),” is the youth health education, inspiration & life skills component of NUWOMANRising that is the inspirational creation of Princess Anumaat Davis Kahina, Peer Facilitator and Counselor of Per Ankh Khamniversity Institute.
As mentioned in her introduction speech, through LIVEUP, AnuMaat has already far surpassed needed community service hours by the thousands. Then came the swimwear, platform speech, cultural wear, international costume performance, evening wear, question and answer.
For AnuMaat, answering the question was a great blessing for her as it spoke to topics that are current in the community today. She didn’t have to think long in order to respond as this work she does at various schools and with a number of organizations helped her to be impromptu with giving the presentation that blew the competition wide open for her.
More to come…
Sometimes all you have to do is be yourself… eventually, everyone else will catch on
Poised with an innate passion for serving her family and her people, newly crowned Queen AnuMaat Davis-Kahina prepares to share her life journey with the world through yet another platform. Affectionately known as Maat to family and friends, Maat is already a public speaker, talented songstress, dancer, clothing designer, educator and peer leader. Now she can add the title of Ambassadorial Carnival Queen to her list of accomplishments.