Friends Publishes “Here, St. John” — A Cultural, Historical And Natural Audio Tour of The Island
Press Release St.John, US Virgin Islands, January 12, 2021
Friends of Virgin Islands National Park publish Here, St.John: an oral history about Virgin Islands National Park and St. John that serves to give voice to the heritage, culture and natural history as told by born St. Johnians and resident scientists. These stories recall historical details of the people and the natural life of the island that shape this place.
“On St. John much of the cultural heritage practices, traditions, and arts are deeply connected with the natural resources including the use of local plants and animals and the physical spaces now defined by the park,” said Tonia Lovejoy, Executive Director of Friends. “By better understanding what the impacts on culture are when the relationship with nature and native land is changed, we may begin to better preserve cultural heritage on St. John and forge a healthier partnership between the Virgin Islands National Park and the local community.“
The many voices and stories in Here, St.John include tales of growing up in Cruz Bay and Sieben and childhood stories from the 1930’s through the 1990’s by Eulita Jacobs, Faye Fredricks, Dr. Hadiya Sewer, Paul Thomas, and Elroy Sprauve. A history of Queen Brefu and the Slave Revolution including its repercussions across the Caribbean told by Kurt Marsh Jr. Eulita Jacobs talks about bush medicine, the main medicinal plants of St. John, and recalls life as a local herbalist over the past many decades. Eleanor Gibney tells of her journey to becoming a St. John naturalist and discusses St. John trees like the Bay Rum. Resident scientists Jeff Miller, Dr. Caroline Rogers, Adren Anderson and Willow Melamet give voice to coral reefs, mangroves, and turtles.
Here, St. John was made possible by a grant from the National Endowment For The Humanities and was produced by Outer Voices who specialize in creating audio documentaries.
“St. John is a place that is much beloved by thousands of people from around the world. However it is not common to hear about the place from the perspective of the people who are from here. In creating Here, St .John we hope to take a small step towards changing that,” said Stephanie Guyer-Stevens, Outer Voices Executive Producer.