Mile Gully Cultural Education Workshop

On November 5th the Manchester Parish Development Committee hosted a Cultural Education Workshop in the culturally and historically rich Manchester community of Mile Gully. The workshop focused on preserving tradition and fostering community development through local and traditional culture. The workshop was attended by local primary and secondary teachers and an SDC representative. It was held at Mile Gully Community Centre and was facilitated by Amina Blackwood-Meeks of the Ministry of Education.

Several key points from the workshop and presentation by Ms. Blackwood-Meeks were as follows:

  • Community builders must be selfless, self-audits are a useful means of determining progress
  • There are many contradictions in culture – culture is fluid and can be difficult to define. Key aspects of Jamaican culture and aspects of Jamaican communities were brainstormed and included: team players, historically aware, environmentally aware, ‘curious’ people, resourceful and entrepreneurs. We can also define a culture by what it is not.
  • Culture is the context in which we practice community development
  • The place of tradition in modern development was discussed; it was agreed culture is very dependent on the economic and political context of a community/country
  • Culture can be used in education to foster social transformation, and as a basis for knowledge and pride
  • Community cohesion in terms of culture is difficult to achieve. Every community has different needs and resources – it is important to determine what is ‘unique’ about your own community and celebrate it
  • How do we unearth the cultural uniqueness of our community?

The attendees were divided into three groups and discussed 1) What an idea citizen of Mile Gully would look like, 2) What resources are needed to achieve this and 3) Ideas for community events or programs to achieve these goals. A few of the responses were:

1) A ideal citizen of Mile Gully would be: driven, confident, culturally aware, socially aware, committed and passionate
2) To achieve these traits, the community could make use of: Human resources for education and skills training, raw materials (ex. for craft making enterprises), new technology (ex. computers to store historical information and advertise community tourism to foreign tourists)
3) A few events and projects brainstormed were: A Food Festival comprised of people from surrounding communities showcasing specialties (with taste contests and demonstrations), a storytelling day in which the elderly would visit youth, Emancipation Day and heritage celebrations, community tours with local guides of nearby sites such as a cave in Oxford, an Unsung Heroes ceremony, a re-enactment of Manchester’s formation (which took place in Mile Gully) and the clean-up and reconstruction of notable monuments.

The community of Mile Gully is home to the “Mile Gully Tour Loop”, a tour designed and operated under the commercial arm of the Manchester Parish Development Committee. The workshop was made possible by funding provided by the Inter-American Development Bank as part of its 2013 Cultural Development Program.

Take a look at some pictures from the workshop below:

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