Here I AM

By Abiyomhi Joseph

As of January 2018 I became an intern at the CREATE Caribbean research institute. At first I thought that it was only limited to researching, only limited to the advanced or “nerds” of the school. I came quickly to realize that it wasn’t just that. My interest in the institute first sparked as the result of one of my friends telling me about a historical research trip. This fascinated me because I love history and believe we have to know where we are coming from to know where we are going. Also, I grew to understand that this institute is very much involved in the community and that is a large part of the person I am. In the first instance I also mistake the institution for a club but was corrected quickly by Dr. Esprit, the coordinator. To be accepted into the institute you first must do an interview where you are questioned about yourself. When I was told that I had to do an interview my mind ran and I wondered about all the possible questions that I could be asked. Approaching the interview my stomach left my body but still I remained calm and here I am today.

Abiyomhi Joseph

As the new guy, one would expect to feel out of place or try their best to ease in but as soon as I overcame my interview I was welcomed by Gael and Alina. They guided me to what I should and should not do and have aided me in the past weeks. As the weeks have passed by I have been involved in a lot of different projects including Carisealand and different topics which include environmental law etc. These past few weeks have been very packed and I have had the opportunity to meet and socialize with a lot of people through CREATE. So far my proudest moment was receiving my CREATE Caribbean shirt which means I am officially part of this institute.
After receiving my shirt the next achievement for me was getting a project to work on which is Public Health and Solid Waste Management. Apart from getting this topic I also have helped others in projects I am interested in as well, such as Environmental Law. My goal is to become an engineer and these projects give one a lot of insight into these topics. Growth is an important part of the human life cycle and being a part of CREATE has so far helped me to grow and develop in different areas of my life. This has been one of the most influential and active group of young people I have worked with and to grow in that kind of environment is the best. At CREATE the environment is open and allows constructive criticism which in turn brings only positive feedback and a charismatic atmosphere.
Being in CREATE has taught me a lot since I have been a part of it and I am proud to be a part of this institute and all the people who develop and shed a bright light on it. I hope to continue to work on bigger and better things so that we continue to grow and develop.

And that’s where I am.

The Now

By Ashfred Norris

“The hood made me realize that crime succeeds because crime does one thing the government doesn’t do: crime cares. Crime is grassroots. Crime looks for the young kids who need support and a lifting hand. Crime offers internship programs and summer jobs and opportunities for advancement. Crime gets involved in the community.”- Trevor Noah Born a Crime

Roseau (After Hurricane Maria)

Trevor Noah, in his book ‘Born a Crime’, detailed his life of living in the era of apartheid; a law which basically defined the premise of racism in South Africa. With the use of short stories, Noah showed the world what his life was like growing up as a child in a time where his black mother and white father had to pretend that this mixed child doesn’t belong to them whenever they were out in public, and if the police found out that a black fraternized with a white, how the black could go to jail, the white goes scott free and the mixed child could end up in a child services system. In essence, Noah depicted the state and condition of the lives South Africans had to endure, while revolving the subject matter around one main constant; poverty.

My partner and I , on our topic on the Carisealand project; Environmental Justice, Human Impact and Poverty, plan on going along the same lines of Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime, but instead of using short stories why don’t we use digital storytelling, and instead of using apartheid, let’s use Climate Change.

Dominican citizens in Roseau (After Hurricane Maria)

When we first set out to begin the project, we were faced with our first obstacle; having to answer a pressing question. A question that would dictate the rest of our journey, and deem this project a success or failure. A question, if answered correctly, could set us out on a path to redefine the entire concept of poverty and its relationship with Climate Change and alter everyone’s perception on the subject matter. A question which said… what now? What do we do now? Where do we go? Who do we speak to? What should we read? What should we listen to… what now? After we were able to remove ourselves from our doldrums, we had a clear idea of what we wanted our project to look like… The Now. Now, this may sound weird, and I should probably be sued for the amount of times that I’m saying the word ‘now’ in one paragraph, but the accuracy and relevance of this statement; especially given our current climate and circumstance having recently survived a category 5 hurricane, is of supreme importance to the viability of the project.

The Now says, this is what we’re currently going through. Here are the challenges that we are being faced with in the present time. This is what environmental justice looks like, this what poverty has evolved into, and this is how it affects the community; the human.

Trevor Noah was able to meet the demand on informing the public on how apartheid made South Africa fall apart, and even after its decimation, how it still affects the South African populace, even today. My aim is to show how climate change has reconstructed the laws which once governed our environmental justice. How its impact births a new type of poverty and the implications that all of this has on our communities. This is The Now.

Process and Progress

By Gaël Thomas

Create Interns

Whenever you begin something new, it is always important to note that you have to come up with several ways to complete it before finding one that works. My partner, Alina, and I were given the topics Agriculture and Food and Water Security for the Carisealand project. I decided to separate my project concepts into five sections; Farming, Livestock and Fishing under the broad topic of Agriculture, Food Security and Water Security. For each of these, a video will be produced taking a humanistic approach into issues(s) or questions to be addressed.

We were called upon to be first-time directors, script-writers and even on-screen reporters which seemed like a daunting task. However, there is truth in the saying ‘Don’t knock it unless you try it’ as my partner and I, along with our other colleagues, have begun testing out our skills in these areas.

At Create Caribbean, creative liberty plays a big part in the development process of our content. This means that I could direct a video about anything related to my topics. Given the broad nature of these topics, I didn’t know how to begin. Brainstorming and idea mapping were my best friends for zooming in on the project focus. With a little nudge in the right direction from our director, Dr. Schuyler Esprit, I was able to produce a script centred on the next generation of farmers versus the current slowly-decreasing, older farmer population. From this angle, the video will highlight the trends in the population of farmer (past, present and future), review reasons (historical and cultural) for the decline in the farmer population as well as the gender and age disparity and discuss methods of increasing and pulling more persons in the younger generations towards the farming industry.

Thus far, two interviews have been conducted with students at the Dominica State College who major in agricultural science. These initial interviews prompted a series of other questions which further proved the point that ‘You can never know what you’re making until it’s complete’ in the field of Digital Humanities. It is safe to say that many of the aforementioned ideas and video projections are subject to change as the project takes its own shape.

My partner and I are looking forward to following the self-steered path of the video and will not resist any changes that need to be made to ensure the project reaches its full potential. Interviews are already scheduled with an agricultural officer and a historian which will seek to further unravel the mystery that is the decrease in farmer populations as well as produce meaningful solutions to address the issue(s).

This video in particular will feature a local farmer and his success this far. A specific focus will be placed on the opinions and worries faced by the current farmers and the effects on Dominica’s economy if farming were to die down.

All in all, by trusting this process, I hope to make some remarkable progress and deliver the first video of the series that will be meaningful and informative and perhaps even set a standard for those to follow.

Elleen the Creator

By Elleen Commodore

Becoming an intern at Create Caribbean had been an ambition of mine for quite some time. As a newly graduated high school student and freshman at the Dominica State College in 2017,  when the opportunity arose I leaped at it. My initial experience was cut short by the passage and subsequent devastation of Hurricane Maria. However, upon my return to Create Caribbean a metaphorical band aid was placed over the wound, that was the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

This year, on Good Friday, we were asked to reflect on the theme “Small is Beautiful”.  As I cogitated on this as well as my time as an intern with Create, I resolved that my current small and seemingly insignificant contributions will go toward the greater good, that is, the betterment of my school and home community, region and by extension the world. In this way, I will be taking steps toward being less of a passive bystander and more of an active citizen.

 

In part, I feel that my experience as a Create Caribbean intern can be likened to that of a brand new pencil in a pencil case; freshly painted and sharpened and ready to be used for the growth and progress of the institute. As I continue to flourish at Create Caribbean, I begin to acknowledge and recognize my scuffs, scrapes and dents.  Interestingly enough, I have never been so proud of my flaws before. I think that I am most appreciative of these disfigures because I know that day by day and hour by hour (pun intended), they are shaping me into a better intern, student and wholesome individual.

 

Presently, we are working on a regional project called “Carisealand”.  As a new intern, I was eager to begin my work and research on this topic.  And this keenness has never faltered throughout my exploration. My time spent on the Carisealand project includes, but is not limited to researching natural resources of islands in the Caribbean, with a focus on Martinique. This broad and seemingly obtuse topic has indeed taken me on a journey. While gathering information on this topic and achieving the desired aims, I am faced with many hindrances, the main one being that my island of choice is a French isle.  This is by no means due to any lack of admiration of the French but instead, it is because this language barrier poses a bit of strain in obtaining information. Despite this stumbling block, I continue to candidly work on my appointed assignment.

 

Ultimately, I make reference to an eminent quote by the late Maya Angelou which I feel summarizes my personal thoughts and feelings about being a Create Caribbean intern:

 

“The ache for home lives in all of us,

the safe place where we can go as we are

and not be questioned.”

An Unlikely Match

By Alina Esprit

I joined Create Caribbean this summer not even knowing what it exactly was. I always thought it was just a group of nerds doing a ton of work who never sleep. I had no interest in this Internship programme whatsoever. I guess you can say that it is really funny how much the tables have turned. I became one of these ‘nerds’ during my second year at the Dominica State College and I can safely say that it was one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

I used to think that I have no place there or that I would not fit in seeing that the interns have already established a bond and grew together to some extent. I was afraid that I could not blend in or be a part of such an important group of individuals. Every one of them has some special ability or talent which contributes to this group and I am yet to figure out my niche. I told myself that I had nothing to contribute. So what could I possibly help with? But I had to learn to put aside all of these thoughts and make the move that would contribute to my future in a major way.

Being a new intern has taught me a lot of things but the most important to me was that challenges are a good thing. Make a way instead of an excuse. Also I learned to think it ALL the way through. Think before you act and stand by what you believe.

Hurricane Maria affected every one of us in some way or the other. Some more deeply than others but everybody felt it. As a student, I was deeply concerned about my academics and how long it would take before Dominica State College reopened. I came to realize that although it was an important thought, it wasn’t necessary at the time. My main focus should have been ensuring that my psychosocial state was okay. Luckily, school opened one month later and with the help of psychosocial sessions we were able to get back on track with our academic lives.

In terms of our latest Create Caribbean project, we are looking at how we can recreate certain communities so that there is planetary responsibility, sustainable living and community accountability. We chose Mahaut as our first community. Gael and I have collaborated on the topic, ‘Agriculture, food and water security’ and have begun looking at possible characters for our human interest story. We have already started doing interviews to help with our research.

 

 

Achieving the Goal despite the Changes

By Precious Peter

Returning to Create Caribbean  has been a pleasure despite the catastrophe, great losses and agonizing pain following Hurricane Maria. It has been sort of an escape from all the chaos and changes happening presently. Create Caribbean itself has been going through a few changes but nothing that we cannot work through.

Although we were not fully operational due to the passage of hurricane Maria, Create Caribbean has been quite busy acquiring information and using limited resources for our most current project ‘Carisealand’. What is Carisealand? To be brief, this project is a BETA emanating from the Caribbean region which is intended for collaborative knowledge-sharing, with the aim of sustainable development. It provides not only students, but the general public including persons in prominent positions such as governments, with a digital platform to access well researched information fixated on the environment and preservation.

Under Carisealand, the topic which I was assigned to work on is “environmental laws and Justice”. My partner Rhea Xavier and I are already in the process of gathering data, which relates to how environmental laws in the region may be contradicting/conflicting, or how the malpractices of individuals pose threats to the preservation of the environment.

To dig deeper into the topic on environmental law, the comparison ‘legislature vs policy’ will arise. This proffers questions like… “what is the difference between the two? why does one often tend to contradict the other? who should enforce environmental laws? What are the consequences for breaking or disregarding an environmental law? Are the consequences for disregarding a policy as grave as disregarding a law? How can we increase the awareness of the importance of environmental laws and issues?”.

So many questions to be answered and so much information to be processed. In addition, it is important to look at the wrongful practices of individuals that are harmful to the environment as it may affect us as humans.

In hindsight, every member of the Create family faced manifold challenges including having limited to no internet access as a result of no electricity and the cost of data became expensive with little efficiency. Also, traveling from afar to be present at Create meetings was definitely a challenge for a few of us. There were certain parts of the country where roads were impassable and everyone was forced to walk to wherever their destination was. Of course, our greatest challenge was finding a suitable and centralized location for work, as our previous workspace was totally destroyed.

Thankfully, we Create members have came a long way from having brief meetings due to an effective curfew, to having more relaxed, lengthier and productive meetings. I personally hope that our goals for the year 2018 will be achieved irrespective of what greater challenges come our way. With the support of each other, the right resources and endless perseverance, Create Caribbean AND Carisealand will indeed be successful.

Where do we go next?

By Tonilia Eli

After the passage of Hurricane Maria, life in Dominica paused. The question “where do we go next?” echoed in the minds of the people who saw their life change in a matter of hours. I personally did not know how to move forward, I just knew that I had to. The destruction of the Create Caribbean work facility was unbelievable and the question echoed again, “where do we go next?” It was almost impossible to feel hopeful after seeing such damage. Thankfully, Dr. Esprit was able to instill hope into her interns by reminding us of our purpose. She was not prepared to let the destruction of the hurricane hinder our progress.

We were introduced to Carisealand; our new project and a gateway to many opportunities. Carisealand focuses on the impact of climate change in various categories ranging from the environment to an economic standpoint. As an economics major, I felt it beneficial to me to look into the effect climate change has on the economy of a country; especially since the passing of Hurricane Maria. The economic damage was massive and the entire country was set back at least 10 years in development. Businesses lost stock and infrastructure, thus lost profits and had to let go many of their employees. Prices rose to make up profit and consumption declined. It was a whole cycle of economic decline. However, there are efforts being made to restore normalcy in the economy.

My part in this project brings me further in the analysis of all these problems and their possible solutions. There are some areas of the project that I am still skeptical about but as I dig deeper, the more I learn. Gathering information for the project has been an extreme challenge because of the absence of electricity in many areas of the country and seeing that so much was lost during the hurricane, it has been a struggle to find a productive environment. Also, with the recommencement of school, time is much more limited than before. Moreover, contacting other Caribbean countries for information has been a challenge since many islands were faced with Hurricane Irma just a few weeks before Hurricane Maria. Regardless of all these challenges, I am excited to see the outcome of this project. I know that it will be great and I hope that people, after presented the project, will appreciate the information and take precaution of the rapid and life changing effects of climate change.

Create is Change

By Rhea Xavier

If I had to describe the last few months in an adjective, it would have to be perplexing. In the past few months I’ve gotten the learnt so many new things about Humanities, Research and the human and social aspect of every question I ask. In many ways I would like to think that this period can be described in the quote

“All that you touch
You Change.

All that you Change
Changes you.

The only lasting truth
is Change.

God
is Change.”

-Octavia E Butler

This is an excerpt of The Parable of the Sower which was a book we were assigned to read in November 2017. In many more ways than I expected, I see this quote applicable in areas of my life especially that which encircles my internship at Create Caribbean.

Unfortunately, one of the changes is that I must bid SPAT Memory Project farewell for what I hope is a relatively short time and start a working on Carisealand. Although I have deeply enjoyed the skills I learnt through SPAT, I am also equally excited by the prospects of this new project since it will incorporate my skills and knowledge as not only a Digital Humanist but also as a Scientist. I must admit that I am intrigued as to just how both disciplines will collide in a forum where I will not be mainly focused on the impact of an environmental issue on the world or the impact on society, but, how society and the environment work together in unity for a sustainable future.

Currently there is a lot much buzz surrounding sustainability in general from the media. But what really does the general public understand by this? There are so many questions which can be asked about the broad topic, sustainability, but it is imperative that we not only understand the impact of this globally but primarily on a local and regional perspective. In light of all the recent regional effects of global warming, I believe a timely question we can now ask would be ‘How can we create an alternative future in relation to the current global challenges?’ We must not only ponder on this question but be both a proactive and reactive society by working with sustainable development as a joint goal.

I am incredibly grateful that I have had the opportunity to continue my internship at Create Caribbean while I am on the quest to both asking important questions and getting them answered. Strangely, I’m also thankful for change because despite being a double-sided sword, it has given me the ability to meet the people I can call my Create family and I am ecstatic to see what we can build together in 2018.

We are Finally Back!

By Breidy Santiago

This new semester has been quite interesting and I don’t want to say frustrating, but tiring. We lost out Create Caribbean building. We still haven’t found a permanent place to work; however, we have met a few times at Dr. Esprit’s home and at Convent High School. During those times we were able to plan and talk about what is our next step. There is no internet connection and I am still unsure when I will be able to get internet at home to work on the different projects. But, DSC now has internet connection, which we are trying to use to do our project. Unfortunately, the internet is not so reliable because most of the time it is not working.

I am happy to see that as the New Year started things are getting back in place. The topic I am working on, alongside side Tonilia Eli, is economics of hurricanes and its impact on tourism. Dominica was devastated after Maria and it will take a long time before we get back to how it used to be. Many of our business places are gone and the employment level is really high. The tourist sites are destroyed, as well as, the hotel that accommodate the visitors. In this project, we are trying to compare Dominica to the other islands. It can be seen that the other island are recovering faster than us, for example, St. Martin. That is because they still have a “mother land” on which they can seemingly rely and get help from while in the other hand Dominica is independent and has to get back up on its own.

Our topic is part of the larger project we are working on, which is Carisealand. Carisealand is a user friendly platform that allows the sharing of projects, art and information with focus on the environment in the Caribbean. For this project we are trying to add more information to the site.

Ready, Set… Maria

By Ashfred Norris

In September 2017, a new school year began- which means I finally became a 2nd year Create intern! This symbolizes that I’ve successfully gotten through the probation period, did my fair share of mini projects as a first year student, and can now work on the ‘big-kid’ projects like Carisealand. I will admit- there’s prestige in being a 2nd year intern, but there’s also pressure… more pressure. Unlike the introductory mini projects we’re given to work on in the initial stages of our internship, working on the bigger projects; the stakes are higher, the quality must be superb and there’s absolutely no room for errors- actually feels like being a Digital Humanist. Quite unfortunately, the buzz and thrill from the pressure and prestige all had to be suspended thanks to the passage of Hurricane Maria. Sigh…

I wish I could say we conquered it; I wish I could say we survived. But the fact of the matter is that a hurricane isn’t a natural disaster until it has caused damage and devastation to its victim- which was exactly what Maria sought out to do. I used to say, that the worst part was waking up the next morning and not recognizing a place I’ve lived in all my life and called home. It’s not. The worst part is living, or at least trying to, after the disaster; or during it. Nonetheless, whether we want to or not, we have to persevere and we have to survive.

However, in our first and last colloquium class in 2017, we set out to further develop one of our ongoing projects (Carisealand), and make it the ultimate alternate Caribbean reality.  To be quite honest, there isn’t any one way to describe this project and what we want to create out of it but, in my opinion, it’s a multi-faceted undertaking which sets out to visually construct a sustainable Caribbean future. Like I said before, the project has many parts and my responsibility is to deal with the Environmental Justice, Poverty and Human Impact, and this is what I plan to do.

Whenever we speak of Environmental Justice, it basically speaks about any individual regardless of the age, sex, nationality, beliefs, sexual orientation, race, origin, income (anything which may differentiate one person from another), regardless of those differences, it shouldn’t determine the way in which they are treated, or how they are involved and engaged in relation to environmental laws, policies, and regulations. An example of environmental injustice would be someone who’s a part of a minority group, being forced to live in an air polluted area- other than someone who’s not a part of the minority group. I plan to get to the bottom of this problem. Why is it that certain people live in certain areas and others don’t? And especially after hurricane Maria, how does this affect it? How does poverty tie into all of this? Are poor people forced to take residence in poorly aeriated vicinities? Not only does it have to do with their right to fresh air, but what about their water supply and land distribution? Do certain groups or “types” get cleaner, treated water than others? Is climate gentrification, or gentrification of any kind going to be a problem? And in the end, how does all of this affect the individual, the victim; the human.

All in all, I’m very optimistic of what the future may have in store; especially since this project is my first time taking a seat at the ‘big-kids’ table.