Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What I'm Doing at Work - Summer of the Arts and More...

Well, hello there 'Sunrainors' .... it's been a long long time!!! I have ummed and ahhd about what to do with this blog - should I start posting again? Should I stick to my 'studio' blog? Well, I don't know, I have a little love affair with this old blog - it brought me through some amazing times of growth and though my following was never huge (except for a little while in the Hurricane Tomas times) you all were such good company along the way. So I've decided I'll start up SunRainOr again. And I'm going to start by telling you about what I'm doing at my Day-Job at the moment - and yes, let me be up-front...I am asking my old friends for a little help along the way...

My New Job
So, some of you may know that I left my self-employment of 18 years and now work at the Cultural Development Foundation in Saint Lucia: I am the Director of Business Development & Marketing. The CDF is Saint Lucia's Arts & Culture organization and I joined last year October - along with a few others - after the organization had gone through a whole reorganization and reorientation.

Since then, things have been madly hectic! I joke (half) that if I'd had any idea how much work this job would entail I would never even have applied!!! But in fact, although it is incredibly challenging; I am happy to be involved. Like most things in my life, I see the growth opportunity I am be privileged to have - if I am willing to rise to the challenge!

The Work of the Cultural Development Foundation
Assumption Knights Steelpan Group
We at CDF are attempting to do great things and Saint Lucia's culture needs the work we want to do. Saint Lucia needs the opportunities that the CDF is working hard to bring to the table - training and development programmes for all levels of need, in communities around the island (none of this North - South divide stuff!). You see, this organization (a statutory body) used to really spend most of it's time and money running our various cultural festivals - that in and of itself was a good thing and done pretty well, but the development aspect of the work it was supposed to be seemed always to have to take a back seat: limited funds, limited resources. Now we have solved one part of the challenge - the Human Resource has been expanded and reorganized...but, the limited funds and other resources remain challenging to us.

Like all countries, we are not at all immune to the economic crisis - Saint Lucia has had to breathe in and tighten our cummerbunds. But CDF, even in this time of hardship, recognized the immense role that Culture and Arts could play - creative expression, self-employment, alternative occupations, support product for the crucial Tourism Industry, voice for the disenfranchised and the youth, etc, etc. But it is a challenge.

Indiegogo - Crowd Funding

Part of my job - though the title doesn't say - is to raise funds for the organization - discretionary (ie tied to specific uses) and non-discretionary (for us to apply as and where needed). This we traditionally do by reaching out to our relatively small local corporate sector and they respond as best they can. But my department wants to take it further afield - and not just for cash donations - yes, those are crucial and pressing in the immediate term - but also for in-kind. For the cash though, we've launched our first crowd funding campaign...we have $20 so far!!! Here it is https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/summer-of-the-arts donations start from $5 if you'd like to bump up our total a bit!!!

And oh! we do have some pretty nice perks to thank you too - our photographers and writers, 27 at last count - pitched in and donated gorgeous photos and a wide variety of short stories, poems and opinion pieces for us to create digital wall papers, calendars and an ebook, so the perks are nice too!



Creating a Movement
We want to develop a movement across the globe - a gathering of people who for whatever reasons - have an interest in supporting the CDF's work in developing the arts and culture of Saint Lucia - from pure creative expression for enjoyment and personal growth, through to the business end for employment and income generation.

What would this 'movement' do? Well if it turns out to be a real movement, it will actually define it's own work! But we see possibilities for partnerships across the globe - exchanges; input of skills - training, workshops; mentoring - artists residencies, business and industry insights; promotion - word of mouth, tell-a-friend support for our activities and fundraising, sharing info on what's going on in the arts & culture world in Saint Lucia and so on.

Kickstarting it
Well aside from launching our Summer of the Arts Indiegogo campaign, which is off to a slow start, and I'm hoping you'll help with getting moving a little faster by popping over and dropping a little $$ in our till - we're also getting going with one of my favourite things...

Supporting Free Speech
We're gearing up to launch our website's blog! Again, we reached out to the community, to people we know are passionate about the arts and culture, and asked them to consider blogging for us on our website www.cdfstlucia.org ; on any topic relating to arts and culture that inspires them.

We now have 6 persons on-board and I think you'll find that blog turns out to be quite interesting. We hope that a lot of very free discussion will happen there - we will not be doing much moderation (except profanity, overtly political or likely to put us in court stuff, and of course the annoying spam). So check that out - drop us a line if you'd like to contribute as a writer. Subscribe to the blog (we should have that in place by later today!)

So....I hope you'll pop over to our Indiegogo Campaign and see if it's something you'd like to support and spread the word about. And I hope you'll join us on our blog as we get going there too...and yes, I hope you'll be staying here with me too! It's good to 'see' you all again!

Monday, November 25, 2013

An Insightful Post about Poverty and what it can do to a person..

I've been pretty 'poor' temporarily - but not without the help and comfort of family not too far away...but even with that, I can easily understand this description - it's easy to say 'Oh I know people who were poor and didn't do this or that" but truth is many find it hard to find that spark or opportunity and instead just find criticism and closed doors all the time - if we just stop and think how much we get upset at little hardships or when we feel we're done wrong by, unfairly criticised...but we go home to comfortable lives...imagine if you knew you were worth more but were caught in this cycle...kudos to her that she's getting an education and great that in all likelihood this article will be her break - but more importantly, read and see if you can empathise with some people you may have been judging...

Linda Tirado writes:

"There's no way to structure this coherently. They are random observations that might help explain the mental processes. But often, I think that we look at the academic problems of poverty and have no idea of the why. We know the what and the how, and we can see systemic problems, but it's rare to have a poor person actually explain it on their own behalf. So this is me doing that, sort of.
Rest is a luxury for the rich. I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full course load, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 12:30AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I'm in bed by 3. This isn't every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork. Those nights I'm in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won't be able to stay up the other nights because I'll fuck my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can't afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn't leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn't in the mix.
When I got pregnant the first time, I was living in a weekly motel. I had a minifridge with no freezer and a microwave. I was on WIC. I ate peanut butter from the jar and frozen burritos because they were 12/$2...
Read more here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-tirado/why-poor-peoples-bad-decisions-make-perfect-sense_b_4326233.html?

she blogs here too: http://killer-martinis.squarespace.com/

Monday, September 2, 2013

Learning to be Diplomatic Over and Over...and Over Again!

Just re-read my post from a year and a half ago about how you have to keep on learning new ways to make change happen - learning that what you think is diplomacy or being clear about what you are saying, may not be good enough...

Once again I find myself in the thick of trying to be diplomatic AND make a very important concern and challenge clear to the persons I (and others) are criticising for something said. It has been a learning experience!! Once again learning that when you are talking to people who 'speak your language', what you're saying is often easily understood....but that sure doesn't mean that others will get your point - especially if you happen to be criticising them - everyone gets a bit sensitive when they're criticised - me included.

So what have I learnt this time round - well, here are 10 Things, plus 1 extra for good measure

1) Assume people will not get 100% of what you're saying - you're not as easily understandable as you think you are!

2) Go back over, and over again to remove any potentially inflammatory parts if you're writing - if understanding is what you seek, inflaming the situation will not take you that route, it will cause useless anger and distress

3) If you are faced with the other party spewing out inflammatory stuff...step back and decide if you can respond in a way that will calm and be productive - are there issues in that tirade that you need to address? If not, walk away...if there are, then breathe first and try to respond calmly

4) Your 'private' wall on Facebook is not really private - once you are a public figure, your wall is a representation of you even if you restrict who can see it - especially in a small community like Saint Lucia where everyone knows you...you are never separate from your professional self, so what you say there 'in private' you actually say very publicly - be open to the responses

5) Assume people will not get 100% of what you're saying - yes, again. Be prepared to find a different way to explain

6) Find a different way to LISTEN - recognize the other party isn't 'speaking your language' and see if you can hear without your own preconceptions...can you

7) Give the benefit of the doubt and interpret what was said as not meaning to be as damaging as it seemed.

8) What's your aim? To be right or to improve a situation? Get off your own high horse before you ask anyone else to

9) Know that some people are not ready to be wrong - leave them be; don't dismiss them as unimportant - as I recently was reminded - everyone is your customer...potentially... and everyone is certainly your PR person...potentially but if you piss them off, the PR they'll be doing is 100% bad, bad, bad ...as in this recent discussion involved a PR Professional (who shall remain nameless for their protection) but who now has secured theirself about 10 persons who went from discussing using their services to advance our own offerings, to now probably serving as bad publicity for the PR Pro...all because the PR Pro was only able to dish criticism and not take the same in return and dissolved into a viscous rant involving demanding we 'pull up our panties' ... it'd be funny if it wasn't so bad. I still hope bridges will be mended with understanding at some point, but hey, y'all already know I am Utopian ... I am unapologetic for this character trait.

10) Shut up...know that you always will have to keep trying to listen differently - that new way you found in step 6) is already getting old -it's an ongoing, ongoing process...don't I know it! So quiet down, breathe and listen again...

One extra) Be kind - to the other party as well as yourself - that doesn't mean you have to lie down and be a doormat or hide your true feelings - that would be counterproductive and dishonest - be honest but seek to do the least damage and achieve the most positive outcome possible - for all.

K, finished being preachy now (note - I am always preaching to myself in these blogs as well as to you the reader :) Now, let me see if I can live up to these suggestions!

Thanks for reading - it helps me know if I'm on the right track when I get your feedback, so do feel free to drop a note about how you see all this kinda thing!

Last year's post - here if you'd like to read

Sometimes you have to look East to see the beauty of a Sunset 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

LIAT Bashing - what are we really asking for?


The way I see this LIAT / Caribbean travel issue is, apparently different to many…I have travelled on LIAT a good number of times – I’ve had bad delays a few times – and what I call ‘bad’ are delays that are more than 1hr or so, because, I’ve had 1hr or so delays on many airlines over time, and it’s my understanding that

  • If it’s something technical, it’d be hard to get it fixed in less than 1hr
  • If you miss your slot for taking off, (about 15mins – half hr) most times, you got to wait another slot before you can go…

I’ve also watched LIAT staff heroically handle large crowds of pissed off customers who, in many cases are berating and physically menacing the front desk staff….who, poor jabs…are not the ones responsible for the delays, lost baggage etc, but have 2,3,10 people often physically coming at them all at once

I wonder about people who demand LIAT be more efficient and stop ‘losing taxpayers money’ … what is it they want really? They want cheap flights, nice airports, and I assume, safe airports, safe planes, well paid and not overworked pilots, pleasant cabin crew, lots of choices of times to fly….well….Houston, we may have a problem with that…
  • Take-off and landing are costly … much more costly than flying the plane when it is at ‘cruising altitude’ …. I don’t know if many people have noticed, but LIAT  has to take off and land a damn heck of a lot – with sometimes just a mere 20-30 minute flight in-between
  •  Airport taxes…call me dumb, and aside from our governments not using money for what they’re supposed to now n then, but… isn’t maintaining a safe and comfortable, well-run airport…umm…costly? Shouldn’t the people that use the airport pay for it?
  • Did you know …. A plane uses more fuel the lower it flies….well, guess what? Flying the teeny-tiny hops between most of our islands, LIAT flies LOW – add that to the fuel cost of taking off so many times….taking off uses a LOT of costly fuel.
  • When LIAT did the obvious thing to improve efficiency/cost of running the airline and cut back flights so they flew less planes with 1/10th occupancy, people get mad! “Whoy! Now they not even providing flights!!!!” Well ‘DUH!!!!!’ Granted it costs more in fuel to fly a heavy (full) plane than an empty one, but the administrative costs are the same – ramp costs the same….and they put those empty, costly flights in the air ….for whose convenience again? Oh yes, the same LIAT-bashing passengers.
  • LIAT never gets to cruise at high altitudes where air is thinner and so fuel consumption (and costs) are less
  • LIAT has no long-haul routes to run at higher profit margins
I wonder how many people are aware how much subsidy Caribbean Airlines gets? What? You didn’t know they’re heavily subsidized by the Trinidad & Tobago Tax payers? Seriously? You really just thought they could snap their fingers and run cheap jus’ so? And they also have long-haul….but they still can’t even come close to making a profit. They say they are 'planning to phase it out over the next 3 years...'

We subsidize other airlines to come here….and why do we do that? Yes, for the same reasons we subsidise LIAT – because it is an economically unviable route to fly and we NEED the airlift for our economies to survive. Its not a new concept!!! Public transportation is subsidized the WORLD over OR you pay HIGH prices to travel and/or get "rationalized routes' - ie less flights, less direct stops etc – it cannot work any other way.

Now, about the ‘service’ LIAT staff provides – yes, I will agree there that there is need for better management policies that govern how situations are dealt with and there needs to be staff training on-going…noting that those COST money…but, but, but, I have to say….in comparison to the service I get all around the Caribbean, from service personnel in MUCH less stressful situations…I can’t say that I find LIAT staff all that bad! Yes, there could definitely be better protocols in place….same with most restaurants, shops, government offices…and the list would go on…and Lucians and I assume other islands…have we forgotten the ‘pleasure’ of flying with American Eagle? Regularly cancelled, regularly losing baggage, flight attendants and ground staff that treated you like a pest they wished they could just spray Baygon all over?

Really. I am so tired of the mob-attitude LIAT bashing that is going on. I am NOT saying nothing is wrong with the airline or that things have not gone horribly wrong lately, or that it couldn’t do with much improvement –but I am saying that people need to stop and think, not just a little bit – a LOT about the realities of regional travel and its inherent costs and challenges and THEN make some sound statements – perhaps even ones that give solid, not mocking foolishness, options for ways in which our governments and LIAT or any other travel provider could better balance the challenges of costs vs service for us and those who come here and travel in our region.

I for one find it hard to do that. But maybe I’m not seeing something – so, who has some good sound proposals that will help us all out? Anyone?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Walking Saint Lucia - Anse Lavoutte to Esperance

A 2.5 hour walk along part of the northern East Coast of Saint Lucia - beautiful walk...makes you wish they'd preserve this area for the Nation - all the way to top of Cap Estate...lovely.

Red Puff Plant .... I'm sure it has a real name :-)
Wild(?) Donkeys - were very curious to see us near Comerette
'The Beast' stalking its prey... Comerette
One of the many 'Morning Glories"
Still thinking about whether they should follow us or run...
Looking back on Comerette
The Huts at Comerette
Some trees ...
grass
looking back over Comerette
textures
twisted
Twisted sister
Anse Lapins
Beach Art
The River mouth
Looking back down Anse Lapins
Island off Anse Lapins
Morning Glory again
Textures - purple flowered ground cover and sea grape and sea

The Grassy Path

Coming in to Esperance - the original safe harbour way back when
A tree
textures

Textures - flotsam and jetsam and all sorts of sam...
 
the rocky shore
twigs textures
round the bend
in need of water lilies
on the path
Hut at Esperance
The Conch Road
watch where you step - little orange centipede
Chubby the Heron
Old Mill Wall
Old Mill Wall
River Crossing
The River
Purple Puff Balls...who I'm sure have a real name too....
Lots of white, through pink to red berries around

What looked like a parasitic plant on a tree
Back to civilization - 'the English Garden'

This walk was about 5 1/3 miles - gentle ups n downs some muddy areas (rainy season) some loose stones, some grass with rocks hidden - walking sticks are good, water and snacks too - enjoy!!!















Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Travellers of life

Haven't written in a while - lots has been going on and my thoughts and experiences of how life works have been going on too...I've been spending time, investing time, I should say, and my energies into bringing the true Finola to the fore - the last 5 or so years especially, have been a serious road of personal growth and it has not been easy, but it has been a lot easier than the preceding 10 years where I realize now, I allowed myself to get lost somewhat - running here and there away from this and to that, never quite being able to get my voice to say what it needed to, far less be heard; never quite getting my ears to hear what they needed to, far less to be able to sing along with the sweet undertones of life. Living in dischord with myself and those around me. Thankfully, the upside of that has been learning how to live better - I chose mindfully and heartfully to walk away from that road on to a truer path.
Colours of a Dawning - psychedelic :-D

So, many times I've written about the rollercoaster of life and the ride and the fluid balance that I find I not only have mostly come to terms with, but actually grown to appreciate and enjoy, savour even - savour feeling, savour the challenge to ones self and senses, spirit and heart.

Riding Calm Waters
I've been learning more and more how to not just forgive (for they - truly - know not what they do), but to start to allow people to be human and faulted, stumbling and frail, forgetful, careless and blind and not to be angry about it, but to understand that I perhaps, sometimes, am lucky to be able to see more, do more, be more, but at other times will also still stumble, forget, not see and more. There is no perfect person.

I am fortunate to be able to see a bit better than before - and am so grateful I can enjoy the beauty of being at once, more at peace and more energized with life and myself and this I believe comes in quite large part through the choices I have made...

Recently, I've been focusing more on our choices - yes, I've written quite a bit about that before too, but it is ever more present a force in my life and those around me: we really do have the final say here on earth, as to what we choose - people and circumstances may influence us - in some cases, drastically and almost beyond our control, but in the end, it is a truly rare case when we are not able to choose where next to place each foot - make a bad situation worse, or step out of the mire and onto firmer land...
An unexpected place to rest?

A post on Facebook wrote about how our path is just that, ours, no-one elses... and I felt that strongly. Though we often also find ourselves sharing a path, and sometimes try to influence another's path too, in the end, we must accept responsibility for just our path, and take charge of our path as true to our heart as we can, and let others do the same - take their own responsibility and charge. Doesn't mean we can't 'be there' for people and them for us, but in the end we walk our path, they walk theirs. At least, that's what I feel, yeah, that's my path - is it yours?

Anyway, I wrote this earlier today:


Sometimes life can feel like the waters in a river, carrying us along, a bit out of our control, with circumstances and people like the multitude of things that affect the course of a river - the diversions and obstacles that cause the river to slow, stop, gush, rush forward, change direction this way or that - persuading us, pushing and pulling us despite ourselves...
But we are more than the water, we are travellers, we don’t have to just go where the flow takes us –natural, or on a path made by the influence of others in our river…we can pick up our canoe and go overland if we need to: whatever it takes to ply our course.
Cul de Sac River - Black and White

So all said and done, this is how I see life - not sure how you see life...do you think how I describe it makes sense to you or do you have lessons that you've learnt that I too could learn from? 
Pure Gold