Atlantis 2012: LEKOL & ABQ Earthship Update

Mural in Albuquerque, NM, by Jon M. Sisson

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Salutations!  Much has been happening since the last LEKOL (in conjunction with Earthships) update in January. During February, I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans to attend a ‘Cultural Organizing and Disaster Response’ workshop presented by Arts & Democracy (http://www.artsanddemocracy.org/), The Urban Bush Women (http://www.urbanbushwomen.org/) & Alternate Roots (http://alternateroots.org/)  on a scholarship. There were several parallels as you can imagine between the catastrophe in Haiti during 2010 and the one in New Orleans (NOLA) during 2005, including the unaided community response and self-organizing that community members exhibited, which was grossly understated by the media. We were supplied with tools to facilitate organizing and connecting as well as engaged in strong dialog that supports and empowers our movement (more details soon in a separate blog post).

During my visit to NOLA, I was also fortunate to connect with The Community Book Center (http://www.communitybookcenter.com/)  and the Free People of Color Museum (http://www.lemuseedefpc.com/) , which created an opportunity to meet and speak with an artist who has inspired our work for some time: Ulrick Jean-Pierre (paintings pictured below). Ulrick had an exhibit at the museum, only blocks away from where I was staying. Beverly McKenna, the owner of the museum (and of the New Orleans Tribune… http://www.neworleanstribune.com/) was nice enough to give me a personal tour of the space and the historical art it housed. I made her aquaintence through Mama Jennifer, one of the managers of The Community Bookstore, who also connected me with Michele Jean-Pierre, Ulrick’s wife and the Director of the Ellis Marsalis Center For Music (http://ellismarsaliscenter.org/) in the 9th Ward’s Musician’s Village. All of this community power led to my face to face meeting with Ulrick and his guiding me through the exhibit of his own historical art, pieces illustrating different  scenes from the Haitian Revolution and connecting them to New Orleans heritage. The exhibit was called “The Ties That Bind”.

During our conversation, Ulrick expressed interest in the idea of decolonizing Haitian history, as he had unknowingly been a part of inspiring our production of Lekol events. We agreed to stay in touch and have been in communication since.

On returning back to NYC, I started looking for possible venues to host our next major Lekol event, which is planned to take place in December of this year. It will be centered on the art of Mr. Jean-Pierre and documentation of the construction of an earthship that is currently happening in Estancia, New Mexico, 57 miles from Albuquerque, where I am writing  you from now.

As far as the Earthship build in Haiti, there were some complications regarding the land in La Gonaive and in Leogane where the build was planned, so it looks more like it might happen in Jacmel now. I received news from Marita (the main producer of ‘The Haiti Projects’ who has been in Haiti for the last 5 months) that many of the 30 interns from the construction of the model Earthship that was built near Port au Prince last year are now foreman and are working to create their own businesses. * video of the Earthship tour from last year.

We will begin our documentation of the Earthship build here in New Mexico today and begin posting about it on Monday, September 10th, with smaller events leading up to our major Lekol event in December once we return to NYC. Our goal is to better understand the process of building an Earthship structure and to help you, our community, better understand. We will create more opportunity for our friends and families to be involved in hands on sustainable solutions that will not only build a new, more environmentally balanced society in Haiti, led by Haitians, but will once again facilitate the process of the people in Haiti leading the world in another move towards global change.

As a result of our recent event fundraisers (the two house parties we hosted in Brooklyn), we were able to send Schneither and Peterson Nogaisse, the two brothers from Delmas 75 who have given us so much information about the situation that so many young people are facing in Haiti since the quake, another $180, which will allow Schneither to get a driver’s license and find work as a driver for an NGO. Peterson was able to finish the year at his high school thanks to the money we sent back in December. We look forward to continuing the activity of connecting our community directly to those in Haiti who have been supplying us with primary source information about what the community is experiencing. This has allowed us to circumvent the mass media sensationalism that so many have bought into and to work hand in hand with community members in Haiti to build sustainable solutions.

Please stay tuned, get involved, and stay strong.

Respect.
Oja

^ link to Ulrick article
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