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Collaboration Beyond Borders

June 25, 2013

:: Director’s Note ::

“Without community, there is no liberation.”  ~Audre Lorde


Oonya Kempadoo, Holly Bynoe, Yasmine Espert, Myself and Nadia Huggins

Earlier this month I had the incredible honor of working on a collaboration that flourished into much more than I could have envisioned (Have a look at the video below to get a taste of what went down). In late April, Holly Bynoe & Nadia Huggins, co-founders of ARC Magazine, approached us about partnering on an event to mark the launch of the 7th issue of their limited edition print publication. ARC Inc. is a not for profit print and online publication and platform founded in 2011, that seeks to fill a certain void by offering a critical space for contemporary visual artists to present their work while fostering and developing dialogues and opportunities for crucial points of exchange. They were going to be attending the 38th Caribbean Studies Association (CSA)  conference in Grenada during the first week of June and wanted the launch to coincide with this meeting of the minds. Richie Maitland and I (co-founders of Groundation Grenada) were both working on our own presentations for the conference and recognized that collaborating with ARC presented a unique opportunity to connect the many scholars and artists who would be visiting the island with the creative and critical communities developing on the ground here.

Despite the fact that I was off island in Brooklyn for the month of May, Nadia & Holly were at home in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and Yasmine Espert (doctoral student at Columbia University and co-curator of the films that night) was in Harlem, we managed to pour our energies together to pull off one powerful event on June 6th 2013. In fact, the experience of planning and, more importantly, taking action, with this powerful group of women was almost more amazing than the launch itself. Instead of getting weighted down in endless meetings and useless memorandums of understanding between us, we dug our heels in and got to work. Holly set up a shared document on Google Drive we plugged in our tasks and started knocking them off the list. We added notes and archived the necessary contact people for each aspect of what we aimed to do.  There was also an incredible spirit of initiative, if someone saw something that needed to get done, they did it and reported back. One person would draft a document then we would collaboratively edit it in real time on Drive. With this determined and passionate energy, we managed to reach out to individuals and organizations in order to borrow most of the audio visual equipment that we needed for the night. There was a deep sense of solidarity from the community and excitement about such a unique event.



The night was a huge success, not only because over 100 people attended, but because of the range of people: students, writers, academics, local & regional artists and folks who lived just down the road. Anyone who has been to an ‘art’ event in Grenada knows what the crowd usually looks like. Thursday is the usual live music night up at the Clarke’s Court bar in the cool tunnels of Fort Matthew so there was a later crowd of people who unexpectedly stumbled upon our engagement with this old colonial space. We had filled the tunnels with film installations and also had a screening set up on the courtyard. We showed the work of 12 Caribbean filmmakers and I am humbled to be counted among them, screening a piece that I created while at Fresh Milk as an artist resident in January 2013. The list of all the film titles and filmmakers can be seen in the credits of the video below.

Before the screenings we started the evening with Oonya Kempadoo, who read an excerpt from her third novel, All Decent Animals, which was just released at the end of April 2013. After the reading, Oonya spoke about her creative practice and the social development work. That night was truly a moment which positioned art as social practice and artists as community organizers. I want to extend a special thank you to Kimalee Phillip and Ayisha Sylvester-John, who now make up the Groundation Grenada team along with myself and Richie. Also thank you to our youth volunteers for the event, Rhonasha Frank & Sharifa Lowe.  Have a peek at the launch through this short video compilation shot by Chrislyn Lashington & edited by To’kra!

This was truly a collaborative effort, an exercise in building community through commitment and creative action.




Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe - Director of Groundation GrenadaMalaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe
Co-Founding Director  Groundation Grenada

Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe is a Grenadian contemporary artist and activist. She is director of public relations at The Grenada Goat Dairy Project. She is also co-founder of Spice Harmony Yoga Studio in Calivigny St.George, Grenada. Malaika is a certified yoga teacher, holds a BA in Studio Art from Smith College and is pursuing her MA in Cultural Studies through University of the West Indies.

Twitter: @malaikabsl Instagram: @malaikabsl

4 Comments leave one →
  1. krisstalina permalink
    June 26, 2013 4:23 am

    It all looks fabulous, well done you guys, wish I could have been there. Kriss Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2013 21:40:28 +0000 To:

    • Groundation Grenada Action Collective permalink*
      June 28, 2013 10:19 am

      Dear Kriss,
      You were missed! Don’t worry there will be more events to come so we hope to see you then.


  2. June 28, 2013 3:41 am

    Thank you for the blog post, Malaika. The ARC/Groundation Grenada event sounds like it was fantastic. I also wish I could have been there, but had to miss CSA this year (newborn was too new!).

    • Groundation Grenada Action Collective permalink*
      June 28, 2013 10:20 am

      Those new newborns with their needs! Congrats! Hope you can make it to Grenada another time and/or stay engaged online.


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