Heads-up: May will be Haitian Cultural Heritage Month

Glencoe Online has a web page up in preparation for Haitian Cultural Heritage Month in May. The site is aimed at young people and provides a wealth of information, including an animated timeline of Haitian culture, images of Haitian art, recipes, special dates, and an interview with Eveline Pierre, the president and co-founder of a proposed 60,000 square-foot Haitian Heritage Museum to be built near Little Haiti in South Miami.

Jacob Lawrence and the Toussaint Louverture series

The blog Art for a Change recently ran this post on Jacob Lawrence, an African-American painter who, in 1938 at the age of 21, produced a 41-panel series depicting the life of Toussaint Louverture.

At least one of the links in the original post is broken, so here are some other links to biographies of Jacob Lawrence and to images of the Toussaint series:

* 15 color prints from the series.

* More images from an exhibit at the Wadsworth Atheneum.

* An extensive list of Jacob Lawrence links at World Wide Arts Resources.

* Biographies at AfricanAmericans.com and the University of Maryland Art Gallery.

* A9 collection of other images online.

Wikis in the news

Once we’re really rolling, a major focus of The Louverture Project will be to educate users about blogs and wikis: what they are, how to use them, and why they’re important. That’s why I like to post news about wikis alongside items of interest to the Haitian community. Following are links I’ve been collecting over the past couple of months that I just haven’t had time to post. This is an attempt to catch up. Most of these I came across in my normal newsreading, but if I’ve forgotten the original source of the link, I do apologize…

* Gadgetopia pointed us to this wonderful screencast (big Flash file) by Jon Udell which traces the life of a wiki article over a two-year period. It’s fascinating to watch the article’s evolution, especially the unsuccessful attempt to vandalize the page.

* Thomas at Smart Mobs links to a Washington Post article which notes the increasing use of emerging technologies — especially wikis — on college campuses. Seems that wikis can be a good way to collect and organize knowledge. As if we at TLP didn’t know that. 😉

* Slashdot reported that Google had offered to donate bandwidth and servers to Wikipedia. According to the Wikimedia Project page on the subject, this is not a done deal, and there are several other offers on the table as well. More at Dirson’s Blog.

* Wikipedia is not, apparently, invulnerable. According to Netcraft, the site was knocked off line for a short time last month due to a power outage.

* One thing that many agree Wikipedia does very well is documenting current events and breaking news. That strength led to the development of Wikinews, a free-content news source. The announcement spawned controversy, as critics questioned the site’s ability to present accurate, factual, and unbiased information as a matter of course. It’s a bit hard to read, but a log of an IRC chat about the site can be found here. Joi Ito noted the chat on his blog, and has a few notes as well.

* Dan Gillmor has some notes on Wikipedia, Wikinews, Google, etc.

* Boing Boing links us to an excellent refutation of Robert McHenry, a former Editor-In-Chief of Encyclopaedia Britannica who attacked Wikipedia in an online opinion piece. Author Aaron Krowne, in fact, does more than just demolish McHenry’s arguments; he does a good job of explaining to the beginner just what Wikipedia is and why it works as well as it does.

Haiti Travels

I received a couple of very nice emails recently from the folks at Haiti Travels, and I wanted to mention their site. The company offers guided tours of Haiti and an impressive range of services — from transportation and lodging to translation and custom-made Haitian clothes and shoes.

Haiti Travels maintains a focus on history, too, with tours to places like former sugar plantations and colonial-era forts. From their website:

bq. We have also developed a specialty called the “Road to History” tour which involves an intense personal historical experience through visualization techniques and some theatrical reenactment.

They also have ambitious plans for a permanent interactive park called “The Memory Village.” Again, from the website:

bq. The Memory Village is envisioned as a living interactive historical village where people from all over the world will have the opportunity to relive the three main cultures of the transatlantic slave trade from before the turning point of 1492 through the ensuing 500 years either by vicariously experiencing or by observing the historical reenactment of capture, selling, shipping and enslaving African people up to the time of the revolution and the 200 years following the victory of independence in Haiti.

There are plans and a budget online, and lots more about DOA/BN, the organization that runs Haiti Travels. I encourage you to visit the website and learn more about this unique company.

Site update – March ’05

I apologize for the lack of posts lately. I’ve been distracted with a job search for the last month, so I just have not had any energy left over at the end of the day. Fortunately, a very nice job offer came through, and a few freelance clients turned up, besides. I’ll still be busy, but I should be able to get back to a more regular posting schedule now. Whether that means every couple of days or every week remains to be seen, but just keep checking back… the site’s not going anywhere!

In other blog news, I have several updates that I’ve been wanting to get to, but haven’t had the time, including adding links to Haitian history resources on the sidebar, adding an email link for feedback, actually creating an about page to link from the top menu, and so on. I’m hoping to do this now that my schedule is a bit more predictable.

I finally had a chance to upgrade the wiki with the latest security patches today. Currently, the site is running on version 1.3.11 of MediaWiki. The developers are cranking away on 1.4, so we’ll be upgrading to that version whenever it’s out of beta and running stably for a while.

I’ve had to restore a few pages on the wiki over the past couple of weeks. Don’t know why someone would go in and blank a whole page. I suppose it could be malicious, or it could be an innocent mistake. There was one spam attack a few weeks back, where the main page was replaced with links to a couple of dodgy commercial sites. The good news is that I was alerted to the errant changes within 30 minutes by an RSS feed from the Recent Changes page, and was able to restore the previous version of the page within minutes.

I continue to get good feedback from folks who are discovering the site. A critical step in the development of The Louverture Project is the building of a community of readers and editors. Please feel free to dig in to the wiki and experiment, and let others know that we’re here. It’s your participation that will make a difference.

Thanks for visiting. More to come soon…

Happy Birthday Haiti

A reminder popped up on one of the mailing lists today about a terrific CD – Happy Birthday Haiti, featuring Kiskeya: The Haitian Orchestra and the voices of Ossie Davis, Dannie Glover, Carole Alexis, Susan Sarandon, and many more. The mix of songs and spoken word tracks give tribute to Haiti’s revolution and to the country’s subsequent struggles.

Preview the tracks and order the CD at CD Baby.

A Tribute to Ossie Davis from Haiti Progres

With full credit to “Haiti Progres”:http://www.haitiprogres.com


* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
March 2 – 8, 2005
Vol. 22, No. 51

FEBRUARY 28, 2005:

A TRIBUTE TO OSSIE DAVIS
by Milton Leblanc

Ossie was a friend of mine.

Ossie was a friend of all of us who fight for justice and dignity for
every human being.

This kind a gentle man was able with his soft demeanor to affect
monumental changes in the world.

He eulogized the great Malcolm X, after his brutal assassination on
February 21, 1965. He then eulogized Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, after
his assassination on April 4, 1968. There are no eulogies left for
Ossie.

He gave us the best that can be found in any man. He lived a life of
struggle, with his lovely queen, Ruby Dee, he walked the walk and
talked the talk.

For those of us who had the pleasure of meeting him, he left an
unforgettable mark. For those that experienced his presence through
films and other public appearances, he always portrayed the honest
and the good in all us. He left us an incredible legacy… that of a
sensitized man who championed the cause of the less fortunate.

The quintessential “artiste engagé,” he participated in the major
struggles of the 20th century. He ranks among those who attain a
privileged and popular place in society but never forget their roots:
the roots of poverty, discrimination, apathy and abuse performed by
those who have material means at their disposal against those who do
not have those means.

Ossie will be missed. It is so hard to fill the shoes of one who
accomplished so much and meant so much too so many. He was a tireless
worker. He engaged all his faculties and all his artistic talents to
bring change where change was needed. He opposed despots and despotic
measures that impede human progress.

It was in that capacity that he graced the Haitian people and the
Haitian struggle when he hosted for the Haiti Support Network (HSN)
the New York premiere of Raoul Peck’s film “Man by the Shore” on
January 25, 1996. Along with his lifelong companion Ruby Dee, he
joined other hosts of the evening including Ramsey Clark, former U.S.
attorney general, Michael Moore, the noted documentary filmmaker,
David Dinkins, former mayor of New York City, and other freedom
loving people in support of the Haitian cause.

Our paths crossed again when Ossie spoke at an April 7, 2004 rally at
Brooklyn College organized by the HSN and the International Action
Center to protest the February 29, 2004 coup. There, Ossie spoke
about his childhood interest in Toussaint Louverture and Jean-Jacques
Dessalines and about the Haitian revolution as an inspiration for his
own life and of the pride that he felt speaking about the first
successful slave rebellion in the world.

Ossie identified with Haiti and Haitians because he knew that
injustice against and indifference to Haitians and Haiti meant the
same injustice against and indifference to all people who fight for
justice everywhere.

Ossie knew that the same oppressors responsible for the Haitian
debacle were the same oppressors that are responsible for abusing the
materially poor peoples of the world. From Ossie, we learn that
Haiti’s current struggle reflect the struggles against slavery and
against world domination by the remaining “superpower.”

The people of Haiti have lost a great friend, someone who understood
our struggle,who lived our struggle, and who walked comfortably in
our shoes as if they were his own. We lost one of us.

Ossie was one of our most prominent soldiers. We have lost a true
warrior, and we are poorer because of it. But we march on because
this great man, this great advocate of freedom, always marched with
us and for us.

Thank you Ruby. Thanks Ossie. Brother, you will be missed.

All articles copyrighted Haiti Progres, Inc. REPRINTS ENCOURAGED.
Please credit Haiti Progres.

Big News from Danny Glover

Danny Glover, star of the Lethal Weapon series and numerous other movies, yesterday announced the formation of a new production company: Louverture Films. The new company will focus on films that have “historical relevance, social purpose, commercial value and artistic integrity.”

Most interesting and exciting for readers of The Louverture Project is the announcement that:

bq. Glover will direct Louverture’s historic action epic _Toussaint_, based on the Haitian Revolution (1789-1804) and the life of Toussaint Louverture, a former slave who rallied blacks.

Glover and longtime collaborator, director Jonathan Demme, have reportedly been interested in shooting a film based on the life of Louverture for some time, but have not been able to get the project off the ground. We wish Glover much success and will be watching the new company with keen interest.

Read the full AP article at News24.com.