So my last blog was quite dark and negative. I spent the weekend basically isolated at a friend’s home in the community. We had amazing food, played games and tried to make sense of the culture around us. (She is from Seattle so she understands much of how I see things.) It was a weekend of rebuilding my broken ego and rejuvenation. I had the most American thing I can think of this weekend, Bloody Mary’s. I love them more than anything else and I miss them the most. In a country with bars all over and juice for almost everything, tomato juice and Bloody Mary’s are hard to come by and they are typically not great when you do find them.
Last week a firetruck drove up and down the road looking for a house fire that they could not find because, oh right there are no street signs and the few we have people have been destroying. On Sunday morning my friend drove out to help fix her tractor, some men came up to her and told her that the police could not find a home to respond to an emergency call because there were no street signs. They told her about how upset they were that there were a few who sought to discourage group efforts. These men were a small voice that told us that it is not all of the people here who do not want help or change. These men were the small voices in the darkness that keep moving us forward when everyone else seems to be telling us to quit. These men helped inspire me to continue to try again. These men represent relationships that I was not even aware I/we had made. These men may have just saved my service. Sometimes all we need is a bit of validation, everyone needs it.
This week is a huge week for Jamaica. Today is Emancipation Day, the day we celebrate the slaves being given their freedom. (See more information on Emancipation Day here.) Today is also the day that a Tropical Storm is supposed to hit us. On the 6th it is Independence Day here. Much like our Independence Day, it is a celebration of self-rule. Unlike ours, there was no war to be fought, the British gave up rule of the island and Jamaica gained full independence in 1962. Since this time there have been two parties JLP (Jamaican Labour Party) and PNP (People’s National Party). These two parties are harder to find a unity than the Democrats and Republicans in American politics. This is where my issues in my community generally fester.
I have not talked about this much, but it is apparent that I must address it. The scheme land used to be part of the Industry Plantation land. The plantation owner sold the land at a very cheap or free price (I am not certain the transaction details) to be used to help the members of the community gain land access. His dream was that it would remain farm land. Much of the scheme land is now owned/occupied by returning residents or by people from outside of Three Hills. The fact that people refer to it as the scheme and not Three Hills is a major flag that there is division in this area. I often hear that a person is a born-to, which means they grew up here. They show a great love for the area but appear to show negative feelings toward the influx of outsiders. I equate this to gentrification in America, when an area is depressed and has a poor economy then people with money come in and drive those original people out by increasing land sales and value and create an economy that is too expensive for those original people.
The small piece of farmland is also not necessarily occupied by outsiders, some is some is not. In fact the farmer’s are not really farmers in the way we think of farmers at all. They are people on the land hoping to one day get title to the land. Not that they do not grow food back there, but they do not see the land the way a real farmer see the land, as a source of life and connectivity. Some do, most do not. Much of the persons who have lived here for a long time and have farmed see the good farmland turned into housing and this also causes negative and hurt feelings to fester.
Going back to the politics of the area. There is a great division in the area. Much of the original occupants, or those politically active ones, are PNP. Persons that have come in from the outside are often viewed as JLP or not steadfast PNP so this creates an issue with unifying the community. Often my work because my supervisor is viewed JLP is considered some type of political ploy. This is a perception that much like my negative outlook in the past month is hard to overcome. I would never make a good politician, I am afraid, because I just do not care to argue political points. I cannot spend off my time defending my motives continually. It is a basic human need to find a basic ground of trust and confidence in each other. My motive is as transparent as I can make it, I want to help you succeed, please tell me how, in a way that builds us all up?