Ska Online: Swift River Jamaica

Swift River, Jamaica, located at the foot of the Blue Mountains has had a string of bad luck stretching as far back as the late 1930′s. Massive floods and hurricanes brought the once busseling village to the brink of extinction several times since 1937. But things have been looking up for Swift River lately, according to Greenstar, a US non-profit that helps rebuild poverty stricken towns around the world.

Greenstar is very cool, as far as I can tell. They have a very keen take on promoting culture, as well as commerce, education and agriculture. They find towns that are down on their luck and bring in Portable Community Centers:

“Using solar power generated by large photovoltaic panels, the center can drive a water purifier, a small clinic, a vaccine cooler, a classroom, a digital studio and a satellite or wireless link to the Internet. We work with the people of each village to develop an ecommerce website, employing local musicians, teachers and art professionals to record the voice of the community. Greenstar packages the materials for various markets, both direct to the consumer, and through licensing to businesses.”

This helps bring in money for the town, and gives them a way to show their cultural distinctiveness to the whole world.Greenstar has photos, art and music posted on their site. In fact the main reason I’m posting this is to point a few of you to the great collection of mp3′s. The people of Swift River have passed on the musical traditions of Mento and Nyahbinghi music through the generations. Here are a few from the Greenstar mp3 page:

- Mento tune, Banana
- Nyahbinghi version of Nobody’s Business
- Swift River child gives some solid advice, No Drugs
- A capella toasting from a local man, Skatel

Check out these and others at the Swift River, Greenstar site.

If you want to support this town, bring your business to it. Not far from Swift River is the Rio Vista Resort. An alternative to the sheltering Club Med style resort, Rio Vista is locally run, with authentic cooking and proximity to rural Jamaican life.

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