Archive for Ft. Augusta

SET Journal, 07/18

The SET team started off the week with a farewell, as friend and teacher Wayne Marshall went home on Monday morning. We were determined to make sure that the lessons he began teaching would be continued, though, and headed to Ft. Augusta later in the afternoon. We taught the ladies the basics about setting up a microphone for recording, including how to manage levels, filter out background noise, and do a sound check. Then we reviewed the basics of multitrack recording and basic sound editing. Everyone had a pretty good time, and the ladies left excited and ready to work on their digital storytelling skills.

Today, the SET team visited the Ft. Augusta again to attend their weekly meeting. There were so many persons that we had to meet in the chapel instead of the SET computer lab, which is a great sign!

First, we had the good news that, thanks to the efforts of Superintendent Stone, the lab has been open everyday, allowing the classes to continue steadily. This is great news and we are very grateful to Supt. Stone for her firm support.

Next, the SET president led the welcome and the opening procedures. The agenda of each SET meeting –even the format!–is determined fully by the inmates, and at Ft. Augusta each meeting includes a reading of the scripture, a welcome, a prayer, a vocabulary word, and a different inspirational thought of the day. After these, Christina gave a quick explanation of the spelling bee and went over basic spelling strategies, common word roots, and so on. Then we launched straight into a very interesting discussion about the day’s topic (chosen by inmates)–abortion.

The inmates had a lot to say about abortion, and their opinions were all over the map. It was fascinating to hear them debate with each other over the moral issues and practical consequences of abortion, and everyone was forced to think about situations that they had not necessarily taken into consideration before. The debate eventually shifted to the differences in the way Jamaican society deals with boys and girls, and how homophobia was directly causing Jamaican boys to be more aggressive and violent. The long discussion eventually wrapped up, and the meeting was concluded by the traditional Ft. Augusta SET farewell.

As much as we miss Wayne already, we won’t be alone for long because Oliver, Dan, and Christopher of Antenna Alliance are coming in tonight for a 5 day tech run. We’ll keep you up to date on all the work they’re doing!


SET Journal, 07/12

SET usually leaves Tuesdays and Thursdays for office work, but today was special–Mr. Wayne Marshall (not this one, but this one) is gracing us with his presence for the next 4 days, so we made the best of his time here and took him with us to Ft. Augusta.

The meeting today focused on audio production training for the inmates. Last week, Ft. Augusta had held a “Parent’s Day” for the juvenile inmates where the juvies performed self-written skits, sang, and danced for their visiting parents. Kevin was very impressed by the skits, so it is our hope that the Ft. Augusta ladies will learn how to do basic audio production and do some digital storytelling for broadcasting on SET FM and Kevin’s program “Unchained” on Roots FM.

While Wayne installed the necessary software on a computer, Christina went over the reasoning behind the upcoming spelling bee with the inmates. She explained that this year’s spelling bee will focus on words with Greek and Latin roots so that the participants will learn not just how to spell, but also where the words came from and what one can learn about the definition of a word from its spelling. The inmates seemed interested, and the logistics of the spelling bee were decided.

Then it was Wayne’s turn. He introduced the inmates first to Audacity, a free and open-source audio editing program that they could use to record their voices and mix different audio together, and much more. He recorded one SET member’s voice and used it to demonstrate techniques about maintaining levels, adding background music and sound effects, and dubbing vocals over an instrumental track. The inmates were visibly excited about this program and admired its power and simplicity.

Wayne then moved on to Fruity Loops, a professional riddim-making software. The inmates were even more excited about this program, especially when Wayne gave a small demonstration of how to build Techno, Calypso, Reggae, and Hip Hop beats. We are planning to go back next week for a follow-up, but there should be plenty of new software and excitement to tie the Ft. Augusta ladies over for the next few days. Hopefully, you’ll be hearing the fruits of their labor soon on this blog, so stay tuned!

SET Journal, 07/11

Today, Kevin Wallen, Lecia Gordon, Christina Xu, Larisa Mann and Wayne Matthias went to both Tower Street and Fort Augusta.At Tower Street, Wayne and Christina spent some time working on the radio station’s problem with recording, which appeared to be partially fixed. The SET executive board met with Kevin, Larisa and Lecia in attendance (and occasionally Officer Johnson).

The SET secretary kicked off the meeting by sharing with us the minutes from the previous meeting. In the ensuing discussion, there were technical concerns and organizational concerns on everyone’s mind: some pointed out that the transmitter was not reaching all of the prison equally, and it was agreed that work would continue to focus and direct the transmitter. In addition, many were concerned about the inmates who don’t have their own radios, and thus couldn’t hear SET programming. One solution suggested was installing speakers or possibly asking about the use of the existing PA system so that inmates who do not have radios could also listen. The Station Manager and the news team raised another concern: they were having some difficulty getting access to newspapers from which to derive the daily news headlines. There was also some discussion about the need for systematic and reliable communication within the SET hierarchy about new projects, and also about more of this among the DCS officers and between SET and the officers.

Turning to the next in a long series of events SET has planned to develop the skills and build the characters of all involved, the SET executive board agreed on some timelines for organizing the spelling bee that will occur at the end of the month. Kevin also announced that later this week we would return with our latest intern, here for only a week, Wayne Marshall of Boston, who would train interested members on the FL Studio music production system.

Next Kevin Wallen &Co went into the recording studio to observe inmates working on mixing a sweetly sung song that had been recorded previously. During this time Wayne Matthias finished installing some programs on the radio station computer and the studio and helping the inmates on editing skills in the studio as well

We arrived at the Fort Augusta facility in the afternoon, perfectly timed so as to coincided with a new associate of SET, Colleen Diedrich a psychologist. Walking past the puppy keeping watch over the guard house, we made our way to a meeting of the SET-Fort Augusta, consisting of several inmates and one officer, in the chapel.

Today the SET-Fort Augusta meeting focused mainly on building rapport through conversation on a chosen topic. Here, the chosen topic of the day was “What is good parenting?” The SET members, a wide range of ages and experience, but nearly all mothers, shared many interesting opinions and experiences from their own lives, and invited those attending to contribute as well. Christina, Larisa and Lecia shared their thoughts as non-parents, while Kevin gave a father’s perspective. Psychologist Colleen was particularly in demand as SET members asked about dealing with children’s questions about sex or other intimate issues, and the main agreement and theme of the discussion all along was “communication and respect” – take the time to listen to kids’ questions and answer them honestly -particularly about sex, do not be shy but explain the facts simply and directly. Otherwise, they will learn elsewhere, and may get the wrong idea.

Over the sea breeze blowing in the chapel door, Kevin described the importance of linking up SET Fort Augusta with SET Tower Street and SET South Camp – the main way to do this would be through timing events that would occur simultaneously at all three facilities. The SET- Fort Augusta members agreed to shift their schedule to synchronize with what was happening with the other facilities. The meeting ended with the joining of hands between SET members and visitors, and the recital of the SET motto: “From darkness to light, From evil to good, from ignorance to enlightenment.”