Monthly Archives: January 2015

The allotment (black perspective)

I was listening to and reading discussions relating to black people leaving cities in the USA and being pigeon holed into the suburbs and countryside, with not much idea of how they can work the land,  and it made me think of my own background in the UK and the Caribbean.

My parents both Jamaican, would farm small plots of land as children, with my family on my mums side beings live stock and vegetable farmers, selling crops and stock to the market in Savannah La Mar or Negril in Westmoreland, Jamaica. Though this is happening less and less in the village or neighbouring villages where she comes from due to the increasing US materialism influence plaguing the West Indies.

In the UK as a child I grew up seeing all my older relatives having allotments in the north and regularly spending Sunday afternoons in green houses attempting to grow some jamaican and caribbean vegetation with mixed results. My parents still grow vegetation in their garden as I’ve noted previously my parents garden having a wide variety of fruits and vegetables on a small plot of land.

The issue here is the older generation are not encouraging younger people to grow food. My aim when I leave the south east of the UK is to have an allotment and to grow most of my foods using the sciences and knowledge which I have gained from the older black people I have been around. This was a given that most older black caribbean people grew their own food as young people and in the UK as adults with skills they learnt as a child.

In a climate of food being less organic and more expensive this is important. Inner city folk are less likely to have space or the capacity to grow food but some vegetables can be grown using plant pots. The more we remain reliant on the system for food the more vulnerable we become even if growing our own food is to supplement our diets we can learn to eat seasonally and know how to use the soil for our nutritional benefit.

The one thing I learnt is horse manure and sawdust are great for compost. My dad carries runs of this in his boot in the summer pulling it outside the house preparing it to be used to fertilise the ground. If planting food has another benefit it keeps you fit digging up the garden.

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Technological development

Recently I have been working with technology and attempting to (largely successfully) repair and take apart and reconstruct technological devices.  It lead me to think about how technology is consumed by the black community but is not repaired or created by us.

I am in the process of going back to a childhood hobby of fixing electronic devices. Though I have been in the last year undertaking a level 3 qualification in electronics, I am specialising in another area related to this.

I find that young blacks people even older young black people do not consider going into repairs as a feasible profession even though, we use and consume them at a high rate.

There is a thought that it’s not lucrative or that there is much maths and some people are more practical than others, plus there’s the viewpoint that it’s not lucrative and as straightforward as other industries.

This is true to a certain point though it must be considered that there is some money to be made but just a steady income and its a unique skill being able to fix things. I am still seen as a technician in my family and friends say if something breaks or is not working. As a kid I could tune TV’s and VCRs, build speakers, fix VCRs which weren’t working correctly,  know why a TV wasn’t working simply from watching my dad or technicians who came to fix things and know how to rewire a plug or test the voltage on a plug socket at age 7.

Despite being in my early 30s and gone down a project route I still feel useless unless I can fix something and have decided to go down the technical route. I would like to see more young black people go down this route rather than the knowledge economy as I feel our communities would be stronger as a result and it would in turn create fellow black citizens who can contribute to rather than just consume the technology.

The maths aspect is true to a certain point but only when looking at voltage and resistance, in some repairs. The practical side is important, but many people have this skill, but may look at making an easier living (like I have in the past). The importance is that if you like the aspect of problem solving and are practical then why not. Besides, technological shops make up 25% of black dominated areas high streets in the UK.

This is important for the younger generation to look at more and more as technological reliance increases, technological know how and mechanical expertise growth within the black community should be on the increase too. Me I just want to make sure Im still in tune with how current technology works.