Interviews

The Container Project Jamaica

Written by Xavier Murphy

The Container Project is a Not For Profit Community Multimedia Centre providing basic computer training including digital music and video production computer repair and maintenance literacy and numeric competence and accreditation for those who wish to use the centre as a platform for further education and the development of their creative talents. Visiting Artist and facilitators offer socially integrated training in ICT and creative workshops. The objective of the project is to give those young people new hope and new options through self-discovery and the acquisition of marketable skills. We interview, Mervin Jarman, the man behind the vision for this project.

Q: What is the container project?
The container is a community multimedia center providing access to underprivileged marginalized members of the community in the first instance. This does not however mean that it is exclusive to this group as the container has a no bar rule so anyone that want to use the space to improve their knowledge or be sensitized about the whole culture of computer technology.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?
It was in response to a need specific to marginalized communities of which I am a product! We in my estimate did not need more football clubs nor more stage show promoters, I wanted to get the community moving in a direction that was conducive to global trend. I was and still am doing these interventions around the world (yes a little bad boy from Palmers Cross) and thought why not here in Jamaica, how could I cultivate more global ambassadors straight out of the grassroots of Jamaica.

Q: What are the main goals for the project?
The objective of the project is to use ICT/Multimedia Technology as a tool to assist the hard-to-reach, at-risk and socially excluded youth to increase their personal educational levels, increase their income generating capacity, and enhance their ability to contribute meaningfully to the development of their community and others in their environment.

Build a Multimedia Lab, which appear familiar and un-intimidating to the target group. The lab if mobile as was my intent would offers an inexpensive method of moving technology workshop from street to street from city to city in any crevice and corner. Embracing the recycle-to-produce-a-better-environment concept whilst demonstrating that even trash can be morphed into something as gracious as an orchid.

Q: Why was Clarendon chosen for the first container go?
I have my roots in Palmers Cross with the limited resource at my disposal a familiar place where such an unfamiliar initiative was going to be implemented was essential. It really was about finding the most fertile soil to allow the project to take on form. Like I said I am a product of the streets the container is a street initiative.

Q: Where is the next stop for the container?
The container has taken on various dynamics its case studies have been used far and wide to improve community development and productivity. In some instances the communities being informed is in a more advantageous position then Palmers Cross however the need to continue to reach out to the marginalize and hardcore street who continue to be attacked as the perpetrators of the societal ills still need to be addressed and this may see the container project as a concept taking on other forms to embrace this target group!

Q: Since this is a traveling container do you think the knowledge will be retained as you leave each town?
This was meant to be mobile but lack of resources has made it a Palmers Cross Institution this is not to say that we wont build another mobile lab, but like I said it may take on other forms also. Interactions are usually articulated person to person and so the ability to retain is greater, the concept behind the project is this great sharing inspiration so all our recipients are immersed in the ideology of sharing because it only in giving that you will receive in a meaningful way.

Q: Are there plans to have more than one container traveling across the island?
The idea was to do one that would leave behind multi labs for the community to continue to use. This is still the method most likely to be pursued in whatever evolution that the project takes on!

Q: Can you tell us about the some successes of the project?
Successfully trained more than 100 young people to HEART accredited standards.Partner with local and international organizations to develop community engagement practices.

Pioneer the Caribbean Internet radio portal for the Caribbean multimedia community centers. We have delivered several multimedia workshops “skilling” up other community organizations. For example the Communities Without Border program implemented by ICT4D Jamaica and its partners. We recently completed a successful music production workshop and now have several young men building rhythms and producing their own cd’s.

Q: What are your personal beliefs in computer education?
In so far as Jamaica: I think the current educational system is not making best opportunity of what the technology has to offer. Computer education needs to be widen and unhindered this is to say not to be subject to teachers insecurities as it relates to teacher student relationship. My teacher confessed that I thought him a lot more than he thought me; this was because he was not afraid to admit that he did not know it all!!

Q: Do you believe we could build a formidable hi-tech workforce that could eventually get contracts from North America?
We don’t need to be looking there! We can build create produce our own catalog of creative contents. This is a multi billion-dollar industry that requires no external plugins. We need to step away from the technology consumerist mentality and become producers of our own technology instruments that is sort after globally!!!

Q: Your core focus seems to be computer graphic design. Is there a reason for this?
I am an interactive multimedia designer graphics is a small component of this. Social interaction and engagement through the use of technology is my focus.

Q: Are you trying to partner with the $100 Personal Computer non-profit organization, One Laptop per Child?
I am acquainted with the developers of the $100 laptop technology and in time will be eliciting their services!

Q: Do you have any partnerships with schools in the area where the container is located?
Cross Primary and Junior High School is one of my alma mater they are exactly opposite our current location and enjoy our full involvement and participation; Vere Technical is another recipient of the project. In addition to this all the “schoolers” from the various schools have unlimited access to the project.

Q: What is next for the container project?
We are coming up to our 5th anniversary – incident free and have enjoyed great community partnership we are looking to host an international media arts exhibition after which we will sit with our partners to discuss where we take the project. But where ever or whatever direction we take the community and its underprivileged young will be at the heart or our modus operandi.

For more information on the Container project see their website at: http://www.container-project.net/

About the author

Xavier Murphy