Posts Tagged ‘St. Helena Island’

Gullah/Geechee Nation Springs into Saturday Celebrations!

April 3, 2018

Cum jayn de Gullah/Geechee Famlee een GA and SC disya April ebee Satdee!  The Gullah/Geechee Nation will be welcoming guests from all over the world this April as they host these annual spring celebrations each Saturday:

Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 10 am to 3 pm “Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival” at the St. Helena Island Community Market

This event will be a celebration filled with food, music, and family fun.  Come out and enjoy dancing to music by DJ Kwame Sha of All Mobile Productions™ (AMP™) while dining on traditional Gullah/Geechee rice dishes prepared by Gullah/Geechee Chefs Benjamin Dennis and Carolee Holmes Brown.   There will be a number of other Gullah/Geechee crafts items, books, CDs, DVDs, clothing and more on sale.   There will be traditional games for the entire family.  Cum fa jayn we fa de fuss “Gullah/Geechee Rice Fest” and yeddi bout de richness ob who de #GullahGeechee be!

Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival 2018

Saturday, April 14, 2018 from 11 am to 5 pm “Coastal Cultures Conference 2018”

This is the annual conference sponsored by the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank.” This year the conference returns to Hunting Island, SC and will be a living laboratory focused on emergency preparedness and cultural heritage continuation.  There entire event is interactive along the shoreline including engagements with the Gullah/Geechee Fishing Association members.

Coastal Cultures Conference 2018

Registration is required in advance at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/coastal-cultures-conference-2018-emergency-preparedness-and-cultural-continuation-in-coastal-tickets-41538499771

Saturday, April 21, 2018 “The Gathering at Geechee Kunda

This annual event at Geechee Kunda is for the entire family.  Cum jayn we!

The Gathering at Geechee Kunda

• Saturday, April 28, 2018 “Gullah Research Day

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) is a member of the Gullah/Geechee Sustainability Think Tank.  They will host a celebration with the Gullah/Geechee community on Johns Island to share the research outcomes that they have had.  The entire day is free and there will be food and fun for the family.

Gullah Research Day Invitation Flyer

www.GullahGeechee.net

www.GullahGeecheeNation.com

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Penn Center Community Relations Committee Host 2nd Meeting

March 22, 2018

Penn Center Community Relations Committee Meeting

 

Penn Center, Inc. has begun a Community Relations Committee (CRC). The Community Relations Committee is a standing committee of the Penn Center, Inc. Board of Trustees. It was established on December 8, 2017 in order to improve and enhance the relationship between Penn Center and the community it serves.

The CRC meets on the third Wednesday every two months at 6 pm in Frissell Hall at the Penn Center National Register Historic District.   The group was launched in January 2018. The Community Relations Committee will host at a minimum, 1 Community Forum each quarter and will also provide leadership and coordination for the Community Sing Program.    On March 21, 2018, the second CRC meeting was held which provided the community with feedback from the Penn Center Board of Trustees and staff on the community recommendations from the January meeting.

Penn Center Community Relations Committee FeedbackPenn Center Community Relations Committee FeedbackPenn Center Community Relations Committee Feedback

 

The community was introduced to the new staff members at Penn Center.  Penn is accepting applications for a number of additional employees, especially for the welcome center and summer youth and feeding programs.

The executive director provided an overview on the building projects that are still underway.  The next major building project will be the installation of a football field and area for volleyball and tennis behind the child care center.   Penn Center will also begin being fenced in before March ends.   A fitness & wellness center with two pieces of fitness equipment will soon open in Frissell Hall.  In addition to these things, staff is completing plans for a number of programming activities at the historic site in order to engage the community.   Included amongst the things that will be forthcoming in the next two months will be the completion of the farmer’s market which will provide spaces to local crafts artists on one day a week for free and the other days will be for farmers and seafood.

In addition to hearing the staff and structural updates, the community did a prioritizing exercise on 17 recommendations that had been made during the first meeting that no action has been taken on yet.  The responses to those items will be made available during the May meeting.  After the May meeting, the CRC will be structured and the actual power of the group will be determined.    A primary objective of the Community Relations Committee is to establish and maintain two-way communication between Penn Center’s board, staff and community members.

The next CRC meetings will be held at 6 pm at Frissell on:

• May 16
• July 18
• September 19
• November 21

www.PennCenter.com

Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival on Historic St. Helena Island, SC

March 21, 2018
Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival 
on Historic St. Helena Island, SC
St. Helena Island, SC is the home to a thriving Gullah/Geechee community.  It is one of the largest contiguous Gullah/Geechee communities in the Gullah/Geechee Nation from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL.  Many of the families on St. Helena Island can recount stories of rice fields that were planted and harvested by their elders and their ancestors.  Last year, Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) who is a native of St. Helena Island was presented with rice seeds by the Carolina Gold Rice Foundation and Dr. Francis Morean.  She was able to grow rice where her grandfather last grew it decades ago on the island.
Queen Quet is returning to Trinidad and Tobago in March on the “Save the Sea Islands World Tour” in order to provide a keynote address at the “TnT International Hill Rice Symposium” where she delivered a keynote in 2016.   From there, she will return to her home island to host the “Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival” in conjunction with the St. Helena Island Community Market on Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 10 am to 3 pm at the Dr. Martin Luther King Memorial Park at the intersection of Highway 21/Sea Island Parkway and Dr. Martin Luther King Drive on St. Helena Island, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  This event that is being sponsored by the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island CoalitionSt. Helena Island Community Market, and All Mobile Productions™ (AMP™) is FREE and open to the public, but they do request that attendees obtain passes on EventBrite at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/gullahgeechee-gold-rice-festival-tickets-33639130545.
Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival 2018
The “Gullah/Geechee Gold Rice Festival” will celebrate the history of rice amongst the Gullah/Geechee.  Traditional Gullah/Geechee rice dishes will be on sale along with other Gullah/Geechee crafts, books, CDs, and DVDs.  There will be music provided by All Mobile Productions™ (AMP™) at this festival celebrating cultural heritage and the historic legacy of the Gullah/Geechee.  Bring de famlee and jayn we!  Cum nyam pun wha we nyam pun mongst de Gullah/Geechee.

Fighting for History-The Fort Fremont Story

January 20, 2018

During the annual members meeting at the landmark St. Helena Branch Library, the Friends of Fort Fremont premiered the documentary, “Fort Fremont: The Last Bastion in the Defense of Port Royal Sound 1898 – 1912.” This is the untold story of our local historic landmark and Beaufort’s role in the Spanish-American War.

Friends of Fort Fremont Documentary Premiere

Interestingly enough, the film also provides brief insight into the US Civil War and the role that St. Helena and Hilton Head Islands played in it.   This allowed the Gullah Statesman Robert Smalls to be mentioned within the context of how the naval operations came to be located in Beaufort County, SC in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  Unfortunately, the Gullah/Geechee men that ultimately built the fort were not mentioned in this initial film which will enhance the visitor experience prior to tours of Fort Fremont which is located on historic St. Helena Island, SC.  The Friends of Fort Fremont begin a monthly tour of the site from the St. Helena Branch Library on the final Saturday of each month at 10:30 am.

The Friends of Fort Fremont have raised thousands of dollars which will be used to create an interpretive center at the Fort Fremont site.   They have received a number of approvals for this and have the support of the county to proceed.   So, they continue to seek members and volunteers that will assist with site maintenance and enhancement and with handling the visitors that will be coming to learn of this part of the history of the Gullah/Geechee Nation‘s coast.  For those that would like to be a part of the battalion of historians that are continuing to fight for Fort Fremont, attending the tour and/or one of the coming film showings is a great starting point.

As one of the people that fought to keep the property of Fort Fremont from being a site for a planned unit development (PUD), it is wonderful to see the progress that has been made by people coming together to fight for this part of St. Helena Island’s history.   I salute the Friends of Fort Fremont for the outstanding effort!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)


Queen Quet is a Friends of Fort Fremont

Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com) is the first Gullah/Geechee to become a member of the Friends of Fort Fremont.  She was one of the Beaufort County historians that initially fought to have the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Board purchase the site to prevent it from destructionment.  That board and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust purchased the property to keep it public in perpetuity.  The Friends of Fort Fremont have since provided kiosk and brochures so that visitors will understand the history of the site beyond the historic markers that sit outside the fence as they proceed inside.

The organization accepts membership dues and donations at www.FortFremont.org.

Penn Center and the Gullah/Geechee Community

January 18, 2018

On the cold evening of January 17, 2018, Gullah/Geechees of St. Helena Island and a handful of newcomers to the area made their way into Frissell Community House at the Penn Center National Landmark Historic District.  The gathering was not unlike those that most of us that are native to the island grew up attending.  Folks blocked the doorway as they signed in with hugs and “good ednins” gwine on.   The smiles and “Happy New Year” greetings set the tone for what needs to be a new phase of the direction that this historic institution takes.

 

Penn Center Community Relations Committee Meeting

 

Penn Center, Inc. originated as “Penn School” in 1862 when it was founded by northern missionaries that did not have an understanding of the Sea Island community to which they came.  To that end, they did not respect the local language and felt it was their “calling” to educate the people that attended the school which included insuring that they would not carry on their own language except when it would be done in songs which entertained the potential donors that visited the campus.  These singing sessions continued when Penn closed as a school and became a non-profit organization called “Penn Community Services” and remains under “Penn Center, Inc.”  These sessions are called “Community Sing” and are held on the third Sunday evening of each month.

The Gullah/Geechee family of St. Helena Island seemed to be singing in harmony once again during this first gathering of what is the Penn Center Community Relations Committee (CRC).  The CRC is a standing committee of the Penn Center, Inc. Board of Trustees. It was established on December 8, 2017 in order to improve and enhance the relationship between Penn Center, Inc. and the community it serves.

Interestingly enough, the improvements and enhancements that were stated during the working group sessions at the first meeting included people stating that the institution should not disrespect nor misrepresent Gullah/Geechee culture and that the local language needs to be continued.  The latter is definitely not the duty of the institution.  That is the duty of those that were the native Gullah/Geechees in the room and the others throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  However, the institution’s administration and board are being directed not to go back to what the past was when people on the campus is to denied the existence of our unique culture and our language and degraded the people that spoke Gullah fluently.  This is no doubt a concern given that fact that the institution that had a long history of being operated by Gullah/Geechees that volunteered at the space and Gullah/Geechee staff no longer has this.   The Board of Trustees for Penn Center, Inc. have heard numerous concerns about what this has caused in regard to relations with the local community and their guests that come to St. Helena Island and to that end, the CRC has been formed to address these concerns and more.  The community articulated their concerns via work sessions and came up with this list:

Penn Center CRC 1st Meeting Stop Notes

The community also provided input on what should continue or be kept at Penn as well as ideas on what things should begin there:

This input will be compiled and provided to the board at their next board meeting in order for their feedback to be returned to the community at the next CRC meeting.  A primary objective of the Community Relations Committee is to establish and maintain two-way communication between Penn Center’s board, staff and community members. The Community Relations Committee will host at a minimum, 1 Community Forum each quarter beginning January 2018, and will also provide leadership and coordination for the Community Sing Program.

The community encompasses the locality of St. Helena Island, as well as surrounding areas; anyone who is interested in the mission of the Penn Center, Inc. has an open invitation to participate in Community Relations Committee activities. The Committee is scheduled to meet at 6 pm in Frissell Community House on Penn’s campus on the following dates in 2018:

• March 21
• May 16
• July 18
• September 19
• November 21

This is an outstanding opportunity for the community to loan their voice to the future of Penn in order to insure that it will be improved and be supported for another over 150 years.  The fact that the first meeting was held two days after the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was no doubt Divinely Order since he, too, had gatherings of the community in this community house.   Now it will take those that gathered in the house and reasoned together to keep the house standing and to decorated it in a way that will truly honor our Gullah/Geechee ancestors that attended there and that literally built the buildings that stand as a historic treasure in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  Tenk GAWD fa all hunnuh chillun wha taut um not robree fa be een de numba!  Keep gwine on!

by Queen Quet, Chieftess of the Gullah/Geechee Nation (www.QueenQuet.com)

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Queen Quet is not only the founder of the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition which has supported numerous programs of Penn for over 20 years and brought hundreds of volunteers to the campus to donate to and work on the campus, she is also an advisor to the Penn Center Board of Trustees.  Queen Quet has received numerous awards for her community work including the “Women of Distinction Award” from Penn Center, Inc.  From 2013 to 2015, she proudly co-chaired the annual Heritage Days Celebration which is a homecoming for St. Helena Islanders and a major fundraiser for the institution.  Admission to that event will be FREE for 2018 according to an announcement made by the Penn Center Executive Director during the first meeting of the Community Relations Committee.