September 14, 2010
SVG College Lecturer speaks at International Arts & Enviro. Conference

Tue, Sept 14, 2010

Vonnie Roudette, Art and Design Lecturer at SVG Community College made a presentation to writers, literary critics and university professors at an Arts and Environment Conference at Cara Lodge Hotel in Georgetown, Guyana on September 4-5.{{more}}

The conference was organised by Research Fellow Dr. Michael Niblett and his colleagues from the Caribbean Studies Department of UK’s Warrick University and was attended by over 40 scholars, environmentalists, community activists and Guyanese literary artists such as Ina McDonald, Oonya Kempadoo and Pauline Melville. The Arts and the Environment Conference aimed to explore the ways in which art, particularly literature, registers and engages with environmental concerns. The context for the conference was the contemporary debate over ecological crises and sustainability; and aimed to unveil new approaches and perspectives the arts offer for thinking about and dealing with these issues.

Roudette’s presentation took its title from her recently published book “The Nature of Belonging” and focused on eco-psychology with particular reference to the work she has been doing for over 17 years in St Vincent in creative education. She presented five aspects of how the arts and design can offer alternative approaches to social and environmental challenges of a small island developing state, with emphasis on youth involvement in sustainable development projects.

The presentation met with a standing ovation and great enthusiasm for the methods being demonstrated in St. Vincent. As an outcome, Roudette has been asked to deliver further talks at the University of Guyana, Warrick University UK and to collaborate on an Indigenous Peoples’ community project in Guyana.

Roudette stated that: “We must actively cultivate the human-nature relationship in Caribbean islands- because the decline of that relationship on a global scale has lead to ecological crises that formed the context of the conference. The challenge is to find the catalyst for problem solving and motivation – particularly among the youth who are the ones who will have to confront these issues head on- and the arts can provide that catalyst. We can employ our creativity to develop workable solutions to environmental and psycho-social problems. My presentation in Guyana dealt with some perspectives the arts might offer for shifting perception and acting upon critical issues of environmental sustainability.”

Roudette claims that the preservation of intangible culture is critical to developing sustainable solutions, and strengthening of identity of our youth to feel a commitment to their homeland. This can be facilitated by practical interaction with the natural environment, as well as with elders in the communities. “Our cultural heritage is key to understanding our human and environmental resources as a basis for sustainable development”, she states. The focus of Roudette’s work with young people is to aid in their creative developement; she felt very encouraged by the response to her presentation in Guyana and intends to use the experience to further inspire and inform young Vincentians.