Surviving Storms | CCC UK Symposium 2022 @Goldsmiths
On the 7th of November 2022, a rainy Monday morning, we gathered into a classroom in the Professor Stuart Hall building at Goldsmiths University for the UK Symposium for the Surviving Storms | Caribbean Cyclone Cartography project. In the room from Dominica were project collaborators Kaila Ann Guiste and Gibran Espirit (research interns), along with Yuanne Stowe (Project Manager) from Create Caribbean Research Institute in Dominica, sporting Create Caribbean shirts, looking ready to present and represent.
Also, travelling from Jamaica were Dr Ava Maxam (Co-I) and Gabrielle Abraham (Research Associate, from Dominica) of Mona Geoinformatics Institute, University of the West Indies. Among other attendees were Ron Abraham (a retired Dominican media leader), Goldsmiths scholars Barby Asanté and Dr Kiran Grewal, as well as CCC advisory board member and former Director of Research at Goldsmiths, Tracy Duffus. UK based project team members, Dr Annabel Wilson (research associate & project manager) and Abibat Kareem (project administrator), as well as current and ex-students and other members of the Goldsmiths community were. Others were invited to join online via live chat on YouTube and the project twitter and Instagram handles @CCCProject767, which due to a train strike and wet weather, was a welcome consideration.
Hosting the session was Dr Adom Philogene Heron, the project’s Principal Investigator, with team members presenting their contributions from each workstream.
Adom began by explaining the structure of the project, how it is divided 6 streams like tributaries to a river, each with their own distinctive focus, method and course.
The 6 streams can broken down into 3 orientations:
- Past – Learning how communities survived past storms and built houses with the hurricane in mind.
- Present – Sharing stories of life and repair in the wake of Hurricane Maria and other storms.
- Future – Locating hazards and sharing knowledge of adaption in a warming world.
The day was broken into sessions each focusing on a work stream from the project
I. Introductions. The first session kicked off as an introduction to the project and website – notably the archive map, that holds many stories of Dominican repair, gathered during the course of the project. Attendees were invited to partake in an ice breaker that familiarised them with the map and how to use it. They had to find Shadi, a Dominican artist, locating his film, which was shot and produced by Dominican film maker Michael Lees as part of the Creative Repair workstream.
Then the rest of the day played out as follows:
II. The Ti Kai Project by Adom Philogene Heron (Past)
III. Mapping Hurricane Resilience presented by (Future)
IV. Dominica Story Project by Kaila Ann Guiste, Gibran Esprit + Adom Philogene Heron (Present)
V. Surviving Storms Past: Women Farmer Oral Histories presentation by Cecilia Green + NEWAM films (clips: Judith’s Film, edited by Sam Sweeting) (Past)
VI. Surviving Storms Past: Archive Internships by Kaila Ann Guiste + short film by Anouk Whitting Ferrolho (Past)
VII. Creative Repair. The UK premiere of film Michael Lees’ Creative Repair series & virtual Q+A with film maker. (Present)
After the close of the sessions, the group moved into the Weston Atrium for a Wine reception and exhibition displaying a taster of the work and QR codes linking them back to the website.
Reflecting back on the London Symposium + trip
Having worked on the project throughout 2021 and then travelling to London from Dominica for the week, project intern Gibran shared the following commentary:
“My name is Gibran Esprit, I was an intern on the CCC project and my role on the project was videoing interviews on the Dominica Story Project. The most exciting thing for me about the symposium was the Surviving Storms Past archive film from Anouk, which she had to create from archival details; as well as the Dominica Story Project because, as you know I get to see my work being displayed. As for what was my favourite thing about the trip overall, it was the behind the scenes visit to the Natural History History (with Senior curator Patrick Campbell) which was new for me. First to look at a wide variety of specimens which I’d never saw in my life, as well as all the different things on display like the dinosaurs etc.”
Yuanne Stowe, Create Caribbean Research Institute Project Manager and Lecturer in Sociology and Law at Dominica State College, added:
“My role on the project was to act as a facilitator on behalf of Create Caribbean. My favourite aspect of the symposium was the interviews from the Dominica Story Project. There may be a bit of bias here, but I believe capturing the experience of those affected by Hurricane Maria is important.
I think sometimes people’s stories get lost in the data. Preserving their stories is essential, not only for the lessons learnt but to be reminded that these were real people and real impacts. Moreover, it reminds us of the collective trauma that emerges from natural disasters. Overall, I enjoyed meeting the people behind the work”
Gabrielle Abraham (below, left), MGI Research Associate, who created post-disaster maps of recovery and adaptation, recalled her part on the project “I strategically mapped vulnerable areas to the Hurricane and assessed what a four-year post-hurricane recovery scenario looks like. You cannot look at how resilient a system is and should become if you don’t understand how vulnerable it was, or still is”.
For Gabrielle the most interesting interesting aspect of the symposium – “besides being able to present what I have been working on for the last two years” – was “looking at the films and session with Michael Lees. As a map maker, I am a visual person, so I always appreciate and am intrigued by seeing experiences displayed on screen, as well as seeing the research in pictures”.
Of the overall visit to London she added, “I was happy to learn so much about and get to visit Goldsmith’s university; as well as the networking opportunities which the trip provided, which may enable the work that we have done to be expanded and provide further longevity”