By Alaina Mathew
When I first started as an intern at the Create Caribbean Research Institute, we were made aware of the final project due at the end of the school year. Dr Esprit constantly advised us to browse through the topics on the carisealand site and review previous topics, in order to familiarise ourselves with the work ahead. Everything that we have learnt from the Digital Humanities course; from the DH tools, to analysing websites and articles, have led up to this moment. Presenting on our project of choice.
As a scuba diver, I have always been interested in marine life, so naturally I gravitated to the topic: Marine life and Global Earming. I was eager to combine my diving experience and knowledge with my skills and create a project that I was passionate about. Though I was excited to tackle this topic, it was later brought to my attention that there were no available spaces left for the topic. I decided to settle for The Economic and Political Impacts of Climate Change. I was saddened as this topic did not interest me in the slightest. And because of my lack of interest for the topic, I found it rather difficult to gather my thoughts and formulate a project title. I had no idea what exactly I was going to do. It was stressful and my mind was clouded with doubts.
After seeking out Dr. Esprit for guidance, she helped me figure out the direction in which I wanted to go, and so, the title “The Cost of Living in the Age of Climate Change” came about. With this topic in mind, I chose the community of Salisbury as my area of study. Salisbury is a community known for its farming as the village is built on agriculture and its economy is highly dependent on it. I chose this topic of research as I am a resident of the community. I believe that I can bare witness to the hindrances faced economically due to climate change. This project will highlight the farming grounds and commercial property affected by Hurricane Maria in 2017, and how they impact the economy of Salisbury.
Then another problem came along as I did not know how to represent my collected data. I was not quite sure which Digital Humanities Tool was best suited to represent my information. I spent a few days searching knightlab and spark in order to find the perfect software. I first found juxtapose from knightlab interesting and I wanted to compare the before and after the hurricane using a side by side image of the community. It was difficult to do this as I was unable to get the perfect images of the before and after. Then I concluded that storymap would be the best option for me to pinpoint the location of the farming grounds and damaged buildings. I started using storymap, however it became stressful as I was unable to locate specific places in Salisbury. The software only allowed me to select the general location of the community on a larger scale. This is where I had a mental breakdown and thought that I could not do this project. I thought that I had to change my topic and start from scratch, however Dr. Esprit saved the day yet again as she suggested an alternative method to present my data. Google maps. She showed me how to use it, and from there it was smooth sailing.
Overall, though I was not too impressed with my topic, and faced many challenges in the preparation I enjoyed researching and testing my skills. I found out many things about my community that I had not known before. I learned how much of an effect the businesses and agriculture has on Salisbury’s economy. And that year after the hurricane, along with research made me realise how important it is.