Interviews

Interview with Hansen von Shneir, the operator of the non-profit Jamlink

Written by Xavier Murphy

This week we interview Hansen von Shneir , the operator of the non-profit website and organization Jamlink.com. Hansen is very passionate about Jamaica and hence organization’s motto “Jamaica Matters Here”. He has spearheaded numerous projects to assist individuals, schools and churches that you will never hear about in the mainstream media. He is not about talking about Jamaica but getting things done there.

How are you connected to Jamaica? 

Maroon blood runs through my veins brother.  On a spiritual level though, my inherent connection to Jamaica is rooted in the cultural context and in the realization of self…the need for purpose and a sense of obligation to Jamaica.

How often to do you visit Jamaica? 
Not as often as I had imagined but with the current Sligoville Initiative, I should be on the “Rock” shortly.

Do you still have family there? 
I hope so, but as you already know, we are part of one Jamaican family. However, my own generational roots are in Sligoville.

How did you come up with the idea for Jamlink.com? 
I purchased the domain from a previous owner.   I thought the name “Jamlink.com” would work well with my vision for keeping our global family connected and engaged – we have seen where over a single generation, the web and digital media have remade nearly every aspect of modern culture, transforming the way we work, learn and connect in ways that we’re only beginning to understand. 

What was your main goal? 
My main goal is to serve as a catalyst in developing the future of our homeland; and to utilize this incredible tool as facilitator in a wide range of social, economic and cultural areas.

Do you encounter skepticism or do you encounter the mentality that because you are a foreigner (farrin mind mentality) door open?
I am generally offended by those seemingly without the capacity to discern fact from fiction.   Still the door swings both ways so that the skeptics can also include themselves in big picture when they are ready.

Who has been the biggest help to getting Jamlink.com projects done in Jamaica?  Like you and Jamaicans.com, I believe we have to synchronize and collaborate where philosophically and materially appropriate. And that’s been the role of Jamlink.com over the past 5 years – working primarily through third-party organizations and other local individuals.   Everyone has been equally supportive.

Can you tell us some of the challenges you have faced trying to assist Jamaica and Jamaicans?  
The frustrations in dealing with the general state of indifference, I suppose. I believe the “a so tings go” mentality has been a disservice to our people, making us increasingly suspicious.  A greater commitment to our own affairs I believe could alleviate some of the symptoms of stress and strife.

Can you tell us a story of one of the families or organization that you have helped that has made a tremendous difference based on the feedback you have received?  Jamlink.com and friends recently assisted a family of seven with housing arrangements in Knockatrick, Manchester.  I think the experience was liberating and that there was a consensus of heartfelt pride among all the contributors, later amplified by the letter of gratitude we received from the family.

Tell us the typical projects that your organization does? 
Jamlink.com is committed to advancing the prospects for all Jamaicans and supports any approach towards nation building.

Tell us about your latest project for a multimedia center in “The Sligoville Initiative”? 
The Sligoville Initiative is a collaborative project with the Sligoville All Age School to implement a local multimedia hub for promoting community development and cultural entrepreneurship.  Serving also as a technology lab, the hub in Sligoville will empower local residents with new media applications to further engage the global Jamaican community.

When do you hope to complete this project?    
We are currently raising the necessary capital with for implementation by the end of the year.  Sligoville as you may already know is Jamaica’s first established free village and a rich source of cultural content.  So the Initiative in Sligoville will remain a work in progress for narrowcasting multi-media content such as live audio and video; facilitating training and workshops and serving as production studio for a neighborhood newsletter.

How can someone help?
The projected cost of the Sligoville Initiative is US $50,000.  To raise this necessary capital we are asking for tax-deductible contributions to the “Jamaica Matters Fund” (JMF) – a funding program established to increase our capacity throughout Jamaica.  Additionally, we have created the “virtual yard” an advertorial platform for offering advertising sponsorships.

 
What is Jamlink.com biggest accomplishment so far? 
One most notable is our increasing sphere of influence.

Outside of Jamlink.com what do you like to do?
Play Golf and listen to my iPod.

If you had a magic wand and could change one thing about Jamaica what would it be? 
I would like my people to become more cognizant in seeing themselves as a part of big picture… to know without doubt that within each of us, is a unique talent… and to accept the responsibility for including ourselves in this magnificent creative process.

There are wild card (if you do not follow any of these topics no need to answer)

Who do you think will win the 2010 World cup?
Germany

Be our music critic for the day. What is the best reggae album you listened to in the last year?
It is a reggae-themed compilation titled “Playing for Change” which pays tribute to Marley’s music.  Out of one small plot of land called Jamaica we have borne valiant sons and daughters, who made their mark on world cultures; be reminded of our great national heroes and our numerous modern day heroes; our music, our beauty queens, our educators and great thinkers; Garvey, Bolt and Ottey… just to name a few; I am reminded that Jamaica’s greatest potential and still the most precious resource, is our people; deserving of progressive approaches which serves to empower them.

If you were allowed one Jamaican meal for the year, what would it be?  
Boiled green bananas with salted fish, cooked with tomatoes and scotch bonnet peppers in coconut sauce – I do not refer to it by its original name because I think I have managed to create my own unique recipe for ‘run down” (with other undisclosed ingredients).

Thanks for the interview. Do you have any closing thoughts?
Yes. I believe if we are honest and deliberate in what we do… the universe will adjust accommodate us.

About the author

Xavier Murphy