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5 Money and Life Lessons That I Learned From My Superhero Antiguan Grandpa

April 18, 2014

:: by Kara Stevens :: 

tumblr_mrbxj4ENvs1rvhk4ho1_500At the end of every school year, before the school doors could even close, my mother had my brother and me with luggage packed, sunglasses on, and boarding passes in hand, destined to Antigua to stay in my father’s father, Raymond “Power” Stevens. Grandpa Stevens was a pharmacist. He opened up his own pharmacy after retiring from being one of the lead government pharmacists for Antigua.

From a kid’s perspective, Grandpa was a cross between a giant and a superhero.  He was well over six-feet tall. His superhero uniform consisted of tight high-water, bell-bottom pants, pointy shoes, crooked spectacles, and shirt jackets.  His super power wasspeed; he drove super fast, especially when we had to go to church, and parked anywhere.he.damn.well.pleased. I mean, anywhere—thanks to a little determination and his front and back bumpers.

His second super power: the yell. From what I remember, he always seemed to be quarreling about something or telling somebody what to do.

He never scared me because I knew he loved me. He would call me his little vagabond and every night, when he came home from the pharmacy, I would help him count all of the money that he had earned that day.

Without realizing it, my grandfather became one of my earliest and most influential financial and business mentors.  Here are five of the life and money lessons that he instilled in me during my summer visits to Antigua.

1. Carry Yourself With Pride. Do you remember in the 90s when those half-shirts with horizontal stripes were in style? And you wore them with your baggy jeans and Janet Jackson Poetic Justice box braids? Well, I took it upon my fifteen-year old self to wear my little shirt that exposed my flat, sexy waistline and baggy jeans into town to visit my grandfather. And as soon as I walked into the pharmacy, he yelled, “You come to tell me that you come into town in bra and panty?” By the time I got home to change, the story had completely changed. My grandmother and Jackie, the housekeeper, met me at the door to see what possessed me to go into town completely naked.

Even though I did not like being yelled at and certainly knew that a cut-off shirt and jeans were far from being a bra and panty set or being butt-naked, I understood what he was trying to say: dress in a manner that highlights your beauty, but not objectifies your body.

2. Land Never Spoils. My grandfather owned a lot of houses and land by the time of his passing, which he was able to leave for his sons and daughter. He created this generational wealth by living as a disciplined spender, an avid saver, and as a man that invested his money in things that appreciated in value.

3. People Equate Value With Price, So Never Lowball Your Products or Services. My grandfather told me the following story: He would come to New York to shop for custom jewelry, one of the many things he sold in his pharmacy beside prescription drugs.  (You know how us Caribbean folk do!) On one trip, he came across some beautiful earrings and statement pieces and decided to sell them in the pharmacy. He wanted them to sell fast so he thought that he would price them at a discount but only a few people bought them at that price. So, he decided to slash the prices again, thinking that a deeper discount would promote sales, but still, even fewer pieces sold. So he got the idea to jack up the prices. He doubled and even tripled the prices… and I guess you know how the story ends. He was making money hand over fist.

4. Stop Grinning So Much. You Are Not a Clown!  There is a constant pressure on women in general, and black women in particular, to smile… at inappropriate times or for no reason whatsoever. Ask the average black woman how many times have they gotten the smile-you-look-so-mad comment from some random person while walking down the street. My grandfather taught me that it is not my responsibility to make other people comfortable around me. I have more important things to do with my time. This piece of advice remains valuable and one that I work on as a burgeoning entrepreneur and a woman that is coming into her own.

5. Invest in Your Education So You Can be Self-sufficient. This is a no-brainer, but worth repeating. Grandpa had five children, each of them having pursued advanced degrees in medicine, law, and pharmaceuticals. Even though he would be HIGHLY upset to hear that one of his grandchildren did not want to go the traditional route, he would still insist that we receive the best training for your field. He would insist that we increase our knowledge base in our preferred industry with a mentor, a certificate course, and self-study.

My grandfather has been gone for close to fifteen years.  Up until his final moments, Grandpa Stevens was giving everybody and anybody “the business”- he spoke his mind unapologetically; he took no shortcuts; he pushed; he pulled; he demanded excellence.  He died a multi-millionaire and a visionary. And because of him, so will I (sans the superhero costume).


meinthecaronmyweddingdayKara Stevens

Kara is a proud Antiguan-American writer, speaker, and blogger. She is the founder of  the personal finance and lifestyle blog The Frugal Feminista where she teaches women about financial empowerment, girl power, and juicy living. Connect with her on Twitter @frugalfeminista

Support Youth Research on Grenada. Only 2 days left!

April 7, 2014

:: by David Hanson ::

Island Vulnerability

In 2004 and 2005, Grenada was hit by hurricanes Ivan and Emily that caused major damage to the agricultural sector. The island is also susceptible to several pests and diseases. To this day Grenada, formerly known as the world’s largest exporter of nutmeg and mace, has yet to fully recover from these disasters. Most recently, the islands of St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Dominica- which share similar physical, social and economic attributes with Grenada, suffered considerable losses as the result of torrential rain. With agriculture being the main economic activity of many rural peasants on these islands, their livelihoods are constantly at the mercy of environmental hazards. This makes agriculture a very risky endeavor!

My project explores how Grenadian small farmers are vulnerable and resilient to the impact of environmental hazards such as hurricanes, pests and diseases and torrential rain. Therefore, I am proposing a 14 day exploratory research trip to Grenada in April. This trip has 2 main goals (1) to meet with several stakeholders such as farmers, government officials and researchers at the St. George’s University (2) to perform personal reconnaissance of rural Grenada. These goals are driven by the need to gain firsthand accounts of the impact of disasters and what is presently being done in terms of national agricultural policy, community-based and household strategies to mitigate these impacts. Additionally, I will explore the island to identify communities that are relevant to the study at hand.

Donate @ at my Rockethub campaign. My goal is $2000US, I’m at 52% currently!

Only 2 days left to reach the goal! 

The donations will fund my trip later this month, where I will lay the foundation for my dissertation field work in Grenada- which runs from June through December. This coincides with the start of the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. In January 2015, I will return to the Gainesville to write up my results and conclusions. That summer, I will present the results of my work to the farming communities, Ministry of Agriculture officials and local NGOs. I would also present my work at regional conferences.

With the limited opportunities available to fund exploratory work like this, I am looking to you to help make this project a reality. Big or small, any donation will be accepted. This trip is crucial to the successful completion of my dissertation research- so I am extremely determined to see it through.

More information about my project can be found on my RocketHub campaign. I invite you to share in this experience with me. Feel free to spread the word or donate. 


GooglePlusDavid Hanson

David Hanson is a Trinidadian-born doctoral candidate in Geography and affiliated with the Tropical Conservation and Development program at the University of Florida. His general research interests lie at the intersection of social vulnerability, political ecology and agricultural development.  He enjoys playing rugby, football and weight lifting. David also coaches the women’s rugby club at the University of Florida. His best friend is an energetic black lab mix named Onyx. Twitter @MaccaHanson

Grenada Masjids Welcome Women

April 6, 2014

:: by Fatimah Jackson-Best ::

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Last week a work-related research project took me from Barbados to the beautiful Caribbean island of Grenada. The lush and scenic country has 2 mosques that both admit women, but I could only attend 1 due to time restrictions. I made my way up to capital city’s Masjid Ahlus-Sunnah where 3 men sat awaiting the afternoon prayer. Unsure of how the space worked I greeted them and asked if there was a separate entrance for women, to which the Imam responded that there was 1 door for everyone. Right away I knew that this would be the kind of space I could really enjoy and take in.

The prayer hall is one large room with a window overlooking the city’s gorgeous careenage. The Imam, Br Sulayman, showed me to the curtained off area for women. But when it was time to pray he came over and explained that the women push the curtains to the side if they prefer to see the prayer in action. It was an amazing experience to pray in congregation with the option of how I wanted to stand before God rather than these choices being made for me.

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After prayer Imam Sulayman fielded questions from a couple brothers and then asked where I was from and what brought me to Grenada. Turns out that he once lived in Toronto and knows many of the Caribbean Muslims in the city! Small world. We also discussed mosque politics and women’s exclusion from mosque spaces in places like Barbados. Imam Sulayman said that the Quran and Hadith clearly speak against this which is huge detail that others have seemed to overlook.

One of the best parts of the afternoon was meeting his energetic Jamaican-born wife Umm Muhammad who held nothing back when discussing women’s space in the mosque and rights in Islam. These two individuals and 2 other Muslim-born women I met later that day showed me that there are other dynamic Caribbean Islams, and Grenada is an example of this.

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If you are ever in Grenada visit Masjid Ahlus-Sunnah on Green Street in St George’s. You will definitely be welcome.

 


562005_10150628563060753_662808_nFatimah Jackson-Best

Fatimah Jackson-Best is a Barbados-based writer and researcher. While studying for her PhD in public health science at the University of Toronto, she relocated from the city of her birth to the island where she traces half of her heritage: Barbados. Her PhD research project focuses on Caribbean women’s maternal health; however, her interests also include the health of Muslim communities. Fatimah is passionate about supporting local farmers, active lifestyles and clean living. She believes that we all have the right to good physical, spiritual and mental health. You can read more of her work on Aquila Style Magazine  Catch up with her on Twitter @FinallyFa, Facebook fatimahjacksonbest and Tumblr HijabiRevolution

Jumbie

April 5, 2014

:: by Lisa Allen-Agostini ::

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Photo Source Unknown

I’m on a writing residency. Every single person who hears that asks, “What does that mean?” Except for the writers and artists, who say, “Congratulations!” Because they know it means I get to do the one thing in the world a writer should be doing: I get to write. I get to sit and write, every day if I want to, all day, if I want to. I have a housekeeper to do everything except my laundry; and I get three square meals a day cooked and served to me in a restaurant. For five whole weeks it has been my job to sit my ass down and write.

Which sounds great but in reality was harder than it should have been.

When I was a little girl, a teen, a young adult, I wrote all the time. I mean, ALL THE TIME. I would run away from whatever my mother wanted me to do and I would either have my head in a book reading or I’d be writing. I wrote in the morning before school. I wrote in the maxi or on the bus on the way to school. I wrote in school, at recess, at lunch, after school. At night, I’d lie in bed and write poems by the glow of the streetlight outside my window. I’ve written poems while walking to classes on UWI campus.

I used to write all the time.

And then, about fifteen years ago, I stopped.

Okay, I never stopped. Even when I consider myself to be “not writing”, I’m really writing, just maybe not the kind of writing I want to do. I’m a journalist and editor and I write PR for a living, so anyhow you spin it, I write pretty much every day anyway. It’s just that there’s a huge, a helluva huge difference between the writing I do for money and the writing I’ve been focused on since January 26 when I got to Grenada.

It’s been interesting.

One of the first things I noticed about having all this time just to write whatever I wanted was that I had lost the knack of it. It wasn’t easy for me anymore. I had to concentrate, to really try hard to get into that place of mindlessness and vacancy that would allow the characters to speak. Part of the reason for this is because I was out of practice, but another reason was that I had been trying for most of the past 15 years to shut them up.

I hate being alone because in my head there are always these voices, these stories, these lines running. I dream in Technicolor, big dreams with complicated plots and subplots and most nights I’d rather not. I’d rather just sleep, thanks. I’d rather have dinner watching TV so that these characters don’t take over my brain. I described my reading the other day as “white noise” to cover up the chatter.

Because I’ve been almost utterly alone, almost all day, almost every day for the past five weeks, it’s been a struggle to keep those characters contained. And then I realized that that was what was wrong. I had to let them out.

Now I can’t stop writing. I woke up on Sunday, ran to my computer and started typing. It was the first time that I didn’t bother to ritualize it—make breakfast, drink my tea, have a long shower—which is the routine I’d established over the past month to begin to write again. Such rituals can be important. You’ll hear writer after writer say that they make themselves write every day; whether what they write is any good or not, it’s the habit that’s important. Well, I’m back in the habit for sure. Sunday morning, at 5.22 am, I just jumped at the computer and wrote and wrote for about two hours.

I posted on Facebook the other day that I must have been one strange child, because to get to this place where I can write like that I find myself staring off into space and being completely blank, practically drooling on myself. I catch myself doing it in public and it’s embarrassing. I feel I look like an idiot. But now I remember that that’s what I have to do to write like this. I had completely forgotten.

Writing is a jumbie. It’s riding me again and I love it.

 


20140129_0015Lisa Allen-Agostini
The inaugural Dame Hilda Bynoe Writer-in-Residence at St. George’s University, Lisa Allen-Agostini, writes and edits for the T&T Guardian. The author of the teen action-adventure novel The Chalice Project (Macmillan Caribbean, 2008) and co-editor of the anthology Trinidad Noir (Akashic Books, 2008), she was shortlisted for the Hollick Arvon Prize for  Caribbean Writers in 2013. She founded and chairs the not-for-profit organisation The Allen Prize for Young Writers.

Grenadian Book Launch Tonight #GrenadaRevolution

April 4, 2014

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You are specially invited to attend the St. George’s Book Launch of Ewart Layne’s “We Move Tonight: The Making of The Grenada Revolution” which will be held on Friday April 4th 2014, at 6:30 p.m., at the Marryshow House Theatre, H.A. Blaize Street, St. George’s.

The activity is being organized by the Grenada Revolution Memorial Foundation (GREMFO), a non-profit company registered under the Companies Act, which is the owner of the copyright in the book.

GREMFO is a non-partisan organization dedicated to achieving an informed, fair and balanced assessment of the impact of the Grenada Revolution; to preserve the positive memories of the Grenada Revolution through educational, cultural and social welfare work; and to contributing to the process of reconciliation of the Grenadian people.

Grenada’s Community Library Needs You!

March 27, 2014

Can’t YOU commit $10.00 per month… towards employing two youth or women in Grenada? We aim, with Mt Zion Library, Homework and Reading Center, to show how important a library (and educational support) is, and to provide an example of a desirable career option. Help us to offer training and create a salaried position for a Head Librarian and a part-time Children’s Librarian.

Please donate: Click HERE or Call (473) 404-1609!

Remember to SPECIFY “Mt Zion Library.” SELECT “Make This Recurring (Monthly)” and we will send you a profile of the person whose life you will improve, and updates on our human capital developments.

Volunteer Rosemarie with librarians Kerrisha & Ayisha (Groundation Co-Director)  
Photograph by Arnaldo James

Right now, volunteers are cataloguing and sorting books onto shelves… thank you for your support to make this all possible so far. Our pace is slow but so is the challenging situation of high unemployment and less value for the services of a library in the face of tv/digital entertainment.

This is a documented collective action for literacy and public access to books in Grenada. Our General Collection and Children’s Library will be responding to members requests for relevant texts and services, and you are a major part of this when you donate!

WE THANK YOU!

Oonya Kempadoo on the behalf of the Mt. Zion Library Committee

 


RealGroundationLogo_Transparent

Groundation Grenada is a youth led social action collective, founded in 2009, which focuses on the use of creative media to assess the community’s needs, raise consciousness and act to create positive radical growth.  We pursue our mission online, through Groundationgrenada.com, and this year began expanding to live events and special projects in collaboration with local, regional and international artists and activists. Groundation Grenada’s website supports both local and diasporic voices, acting as an interface to connect youth who are hungry for innovative change.

 

Separated by water and a forty minute flight (Arnaldo Week 1)

March 26, 2014

:: Reflections by Arnaldo James our visiting artist resident ::

Time in Grenada is one rapid immersion, my intention has been to gain a sense of Grenadian life apart from tourism endeavours. At its root this exploration is a visual exercise that’s grounded on observation, but as that began conversation has overwhelmingly enveloped the time here. The Grenadians I’m surrounded by have many informed perspectives and are open to sharing them. The politics of race, sexuality, privilege and exploitation have been what my conversations are governed by. This has been great for me as I’m constantly identifying and analysing each is of these in my life and creative works.

Part of the process for this creative journey involves limiting secondary information sources until on-site residency completion. I arrived with a nugget of information that  shaped my interactions with the space but by relying on my Trinidadianess as a frame of reference I intend to discern difference in cultural practices between these two multi-island nations. Interpretations and assumptions about European colonised and ex-enslave African English speaking Caribbean heritage spaces that inherited and negotiate ideas of commodification, service, faith, progress, acceptance, identity expression, mass  education, foreign aid, tourism and travel, constitutes the nugget of knowledge I arrived with. Now that I’ve written my points of reference I recognise the complex ways these notion integrate and a sensation of share dread comes over me fearing that the work produced will not be well articulated or make significant contribution to any dialogue about the space. Deep breath.

Other general observations I’ve made are subjective sentiments of personal encounters thus far and are not meant to be an unchanging definitive of the entire space. Both the commercial urban capitol and the suburban residential space I’m in are significantly quieter than Port of Spain, urgency in public spaces appears relegated to matters of vehicular transit. Polite interactions of protocol occur frequently on the streets, daily greetings involving a head nod and eye contact often in unison occur creating a sense of friendly community. The buildings surrounding the ruins of St George’s Anglican Church are of particular interest to me, it’s an area of rich visual texture with commercial purpose integrated, this visual interest of mine continues to The Carenage. Harbour towns are unfamiliar spaces to me, by comparison one can be in Port of Spain or many parts of Trinidad and get little to no visible reinforcement of our relationship with the sea, which in my opinion is a critical component to the notion of islandness. Refocusing on Grenada, in Springs, a number of homes have façades that distinguish the lower and upper levels, this design trend is pulling my creative attention somewhat, ideas of development and dichotomy come to mind.


Often it is quite difficult for me to internalise occurrences and identify factors for particular manifestations of behaviour as I’m observing or participating. On this residency I’ve given myself the added task of generating work influenced by this Grenadian journey which has me in a somewhat jarred state. In future anticipate another reflection about experiencing the unexpected, resources and wining men. Picture time.

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 Come out Friday March 28th 6pm  ‘The Conversation with Arnaldo‘ at the National Museum

 


photo-9Arnaldo James
Groundation Grenada Artist Resident Mar. 2014  
Arnaldo a 26 year old from Trinidad & Tobago, is currently completing a postgraduate diploma in Arts and Cultural Enterprise Management at the University of the West Indies, where he received a BA in Visual Arts. An educator, freelance photographer, graphic designer & visual artist who works with youth from his community and beyond partnering with agencies to expand dialogue and access.

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