Discuss culture and traditions
#32874
Hi.
I just posted a long and heartfelt petition on my facebook wall and felt that perhaps it would be good to share here as well. Partly to touch on some elements of my deeper feelings towards how I feel about this art that we all share together with my peers and colleagues and partly to inspire others to contribute or stage campaigns of their own to support the communities that are driving your progress. Without further adieu. Here is what I shared today.




Hello people. If you know me well, you know that I don't really get into the holiday thing. I do appreciate the social shift towards giving and generosity, although I sometimes wish it were more of an ingrained ethic that followed a more gradual consistency throughout the course of our lives. That being said, now is a moment where I feel that a call to action can have a great response.

If there were any chance that you were considering me in your gift list on any level such as a card or coffee or a snack box or whatever, I would like to divert your funds. Please simply contribute to this Go Fund Me campaign. Contribute $5 or $10 or even a sizable donation if you are so moved.

There are many reasons that this has value for me and is something I would like to see gain support. Ballet Saamato is an organization in Conakry where there is a complex history regarding what a West African Ballet, is and why it exists, how is it funded and who is/ can be involved. What I see there is a symbiosis of many things in my life that I have cared about, bridging the arts with a forward thinking process that could inspire the world were it simply articulated correctly. The area where these artists practice is located in a country where for the better half of the 20th century they were relatively blocked from the rest of the world in terms of economics, media, 'growth'. And for them this is/was a multi-pronged blessing and a curse. While all the African nations have many ethnic identities lumped inside their western boarders guinee has a particularly broad and diverse set. As we all know, there is a commonality in African history where ethnic tensions simmer, boil and easily erupt into extreme violence and tragedy. While Conakry (and Guinee as a whole) is not completely immune from this phenomenon, there is a significant difference in how diversity is commonly seen in the modern psychology of the greater population. (I apologize for sounding like a text book. I do appreciate your reading all of this.) In no short part I would attribute this to the type of thinking supported by their Lenin inspired socialist dictatorship during the first era of the countries independence. I am not defending any viewpoint here, simply pointing to some of the complexity in why often times Guineans are Guinean before they are _______ (fill in ethnic identity e.g. Sousou, Malinke, Peul, Guerze, etc).

One manifestation of this thinking can be seen in the structure and culture of Sa'amatto, which in some ways is more of a YMCA on steroids than anything that may resemble to you what first comes to mind when you hear the word BALLET. Sa'matto a private ballet and by that I mean it is not funded by or suportted by OR influenced by the government. Their sustenance is of their own creation.
Sa'amato is also a place where everyone is welcome. Any age, ethnicity, ability or background. Young people fill this space everyday to listen to Tamadou, and Ziggla speak to them and teach them the arts derived from the first National Ballets. This includes moral and ethical lessons as well as the Dancing and Music. It is free for them, yet they all contribute their time and love and energy towards keeping it alive and exploring new frontiers with their art and in their lives. Their actions speak true to this. When someone is sick from the group they all come together with funds to help buy medicine. Repeatedly I saw this entire family of artists walk en mass to visit the house of the family whose kid was sick to donate money. From themselves who are not getting paid to study all day everyday. they still came together with what they had and with their time to help each other. Here, these kids are safe. They are looked after and they are taught how to look after each other.

Today there are many people who have visited the space where Ballet Sa'amato practices in G'bessia-Conakry. It is shared with other ballet groups as well as many other community organizations. So replacing this floor and improving the space is more than just about comfort and safety dancing. It is about proving the value of this space to it's own community. It shows the world that protecting and supporting the arts is a way for their neighborhood to encourage young people to do good things with their lives. It is about you and me supporting the ongoing use of this space to all the good that will come out of it in the future.

So please. Send your money here. It will mean more to me the next time I visit this place than anything you could possibly give me that I will consume or hold. If you don't feel moved to contribute, please share this on your wall, or with someone that you think may feel connected with this. It is only through our networks that we can achieve the strength to do this.

Thank you.

Gregory Evans.

If you are interested in supporting this specific campaign please follow and share this link:
http://www.gofundme.com/saamato
#32975
Hey folks.

work on this space has begun... not without drama, but all in all it's moving along great. we are still looking for about $600 to cover everything including rebuilding the broken toilets. Please consider any level of contribution.

Thanks!
#33004
hey folks. I'm not sure if posting this here generated any additional support, but I'm still happy to have this story here. I'll post some pictures soon and share more about the space as well. This hall and others like it are where this music is surviving and thriving. without constant maintenance there is a certain possibility that one day the space will no longer be used for music. that being said, I would like to announce that the goal is nearly reached. at the time of this writing there is only $60 left to raise. It will be easy to get there and I am not worried. this means that there will be enough to fix the bathroom, which was a sanitation hazard. there is enough to feed all the people working. the good concrete is already down and tile has been laid. essentially the project is almost finished as soon as it's funded. THAT is how motivated these artists are.

So. Thank you for your support. even if its just a matter of thinking about how you can help other projects like this in the future.

-g