Diners’ Debates

There’s a new page on this blog, for those of you who didn’t notice.

It’s a page that links to another page that shares podcasts from a new-ish venture of the School of Social Sciences of the College of The Bahamas.

Diners’ Debates is a monthly series of lectures, held by courtesy of the owners at MOJO’s restaurant, West Bay Street, Nassau, every third Thursday of the month. We discuss current affairs and issues that concern the general public, but we try to do so with more than simply opinion at our disposal. We try to offer up philosophy and fact to provide context and spark discussion, inspire critical thinking and mining for solutions.

The thing that keeps democracies honest and keeps them healthy (ours currently is neither, I’m afraid) is a strong, active civil society. But civil society cannot work for change if it is uninformed. Diners’ Debates seeks to inspire conversations that build democracy.

Nuff said. If you’ve been missing the debates till now, you can listen to them — we live broadcast them and then archive the broadcasts as podcasts you can listen to at your leisure. No promises about the quality of the recordings, though — it’s a bustling locale and sometimes the discussion is lively (by which I mean incoherent).

Check them out, here.

Treasures

Among the objects I discovered in my father’s study–a place which had not been explored, I would imagine, for about 20 years–are (in no particular order):

  • the music he selected and used in 20-odd years of directing the Nassau Renaissance Singers, including some of his own arrangements and those of other choir members
  • memorabilia from the various CARIFESTAs he attended during his time as Director of Culture
  • notebooks with drafts of chapters of his thesis
  • notebooks with notes from a psychology course he took in England when he was there
  • a stash of various sublegal substances & risque publications (yep, he was a rebel)
  • some really cool posters from Cuba
  • notes and minutes from various official meetings, including the doodles he made during the discussions
  • documents showing what Sammie Swain cost to put on in 1985 (our recent revival CERTAINLY didn’t keep up with the cost of living!!!)
  • an early draft of what would become Winston Saunders’ masterpiece, You Can Lead A Horse To Water–a draft called You Can Take the Horse to the Well
  • slides from 1960 to 1990
  • reel-to-reel tapes of the interviews he conducted for his master’s thesis
  • some 16mm films … no idea what’s on them
  • a screen and a projector for those films (but we’re advised NOT to play them until someone can digitize them)

So … wow.

  • Cost of Sammie Swain, 1985

 

New Year’s … resolutions?

So it’s 2015, and millions of words are being generated around the world about what people plan to do with this new year. I don’t normally engage in that activity. I usually have far too much going on and it’s a bit like swimming in a crowded pond: keeping my head above the weeds is about all I’m aiming for.

But this year is significant for a number of reasons. One of them is that my focus has become more personal, less political. I’ve been packing my parents’ home for the past almost four years and it has been a journey of a very particular sort, and part of me wants to document it more fully than I have done so thus far.

Another is that the College of The Bahamas will become a university this year and this may have some impact on my academic career, but not if I don’t pay attention to it. Another is that the research that I’ve been doing has its own ramifications that have opened some interesting doors for me, and the last is that packing my parents’ lives and finding the treasures that have surfaced has made me very aware of the fragility of one’s contributions to the world. My parents were nation-builders, as was my uncle (whose archive/belongings we have also inherited), and their stories are important as we continue to try and develop a sense of ourselves as unique inhabitants of a wide and busy world. But they were also so focussed on attaining important goals not just for themselves but also for the nation that their contributions were lost in confusion. They were both well aware of the importance of archiving their work and they did not throw very much away, with the result that the past four years have been an exercise in discovering, sorting, packing, tossing, and saving, but sharing those stories takes organization, time and energy. It also takes resources that I don’t currently have. So my personal solution is to rent their home to help generate some income, and to continue to sort, examine, read and catalogue their possessions and papers over the course of this coming year.

Goals

I’ve got two main personal goals for the year. As an academic I have to outline my professional goals, and I’ve done that. First, to expand my research, which has now started to follow two trajectories: research into the Bahamian Orange Economy, primarily through my study of Junkanoo economics, and research into the development of the Bahamas, primarily through my link with the Sustainable Exuma project. Second, to further solidify my creative career, through the submission for publication of my poetry collection Mama Lily and the Dead. And third, to apply for promotion. But that doesn’t really come before me now. That is all in train, and is in the hands of the college. My personal goals are as follows:

  1. Finish packing and renovating our parents’ house and get it on the rental market (ideally, this goal should be to get the place rented in 2015, the earlier the better)
  2. Help with the development of new work for theatre

Of these, the most important is the first one; the second can wait.

Projects

  1. Start cataloguing and organizing our parents’ documents
  2. Finish drafting at least ONE of the plays I’ve got on the drawing board

Thoughts

Thoughts. Well, here’s the big one. We need a new vision for our country. This has been said so often that it’s just a silly refrain. We need more than refrains now though. We need actions and we need different actions, different solutions than we’ve been trying so far. So this year I’m thinking about possibilities. One person can’t make much difference, other than writing down ideas and hoping that they catch fire, but if that’s all I can do this year, that’s all I’ll do.

So people: happy new year!

Nicolette Bethel's Blog