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6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

In response to Superstorm Sandy, much has been written about what we need in our “go bag” to prepare for the next disaster. Cultural knowledge is an often overlooked but a vital addition to the list of “must haves.” At this symposium, we’ll invite audience members to join in a discussion with artists and humanities scholars about traditional ideas, practices and arts approaches to managing the trauma of natural disasters. 

Presenters include:

  • E. Wayne McDonald (Director, Caribbean Cultural Theatre) speaking on island folkways of preparedness
  • Gabriella Dennery (Director, Grace Drums) on drumming the storm
  • Ethnomusicologist Lois Wilcken (Director, La Troupe Makandal) on Sandy in Haiti
  • Folklorist Pat Jasper (Houston Arts Alliance) on story collecting with displaced survivors of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
  • Jordan Fletcher, an attorney, multimedia journalist and producer for the Sandy Storyline project a participatory documentary that collects and shares stories about the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our neighborhoods, our communities and our lives. Sandy Storyline recently won the award for best transmedia project in the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.   
  • Jenny Romaine (Artist and founding member of Great Small Works) on Sandy, Sandy, Sandy, a fantastical form of journalistic soap opera created and performed within weeks after the storm
  • Musician Keith Johnston singing his song Sandy
  • Ellen McHale (Executive Director, New York Folklore Society) on a statewide documentation project and on rebuilding after Hurricane Irene in Schoharie, NY
  • Marie Lily Cerat (Co-founder, Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees; PhD Candidate in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center) on Haitian local knowledge about water
  • Dr. Kathleen Ruiz (Integrated Arts, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute) discussing FLO: The Watershed Project, an artistic, scientific and educational game simulation project about the vital importance of water, specifically in the New York City West of Hudson Watershed
  • Climate change philosopher Dr. Christine Cuomo (University of Georgia) on adaptive strategies of native Alaskans.  

Do you have a question, comment or story you would like addressed at the symposium? Submit yours for the panelists in advance by emailing Put Sandylore Symposium Question in the subject line of your email.

Presented by BAC in association with The Actors Fund Arts Center. This event is supported by a grant from New York Council for the Humanities.


Moderated by BAC Folk Arts Director Kay Turner. 

Marie Lily Cerat is an educator, writer and storyteller. She is co-founder of the community-based organization Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees, which was founded in 1992 to respond to the human needs of Haitians refugees and immigrants arriving in the United States after fleeing persecution. Cerat is currently pursuing a PhD in Urban Education at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and her research focuses on Haitian Creole-speaking immigrant learners. Her writings have appeared in the Journal of Haitian Studies, Rethinking Schools, among other publications. She is also currently at work on a novel, In the Light of Shooting Stars.

Christine Cuomo is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Georgia at Athens. Cuomo has written extensively on climate change and she is part of a long term study in Alaska to assess adaptation practices of native people near the Arctic Circle, where glacial melting has threatened a way of life thousands of years old. Dr. Cuomo will participate in our Sandylore symposium, discussing cultural knowledge and adaptation philosophies in the face of climate change.

Gabriella Dennery is a percussionist, composer, arranger who believes in the healing joy of rhythm. In 2010, she founded, Grace Drums, a Brooklyn based percussion & vocal performance group of 6 spirited women of African descent, with the singular mission of making joy contagious across all societal lines using traditional West African percussion instruments such as djembe djundjun. For Harborlore, Gabriella is part of the panel “Sandylore Symposium: Cultural Knowledge as a Resource for Response to Natural Disaster”, exploring group drumming as a tool for building community in times of crisis. Also, her all-woman drumming group, Grace Drums, will perform at Brooklyn Bridge Park for Harborlore’s closing event on June 15.

Pat Jasper is a folklorist who has worked in the public sector for thirty years. She is the Founding Director of Texas Folklife Resources and she is currently Director of the Folk Arts and Folklife Program at Houston Arts Alliance, where she is at work on a sister project to Harborlore called “Working the Port.” With folklorist Carl Lindahl, Pat initiated the Surviving Katrina and Rita in Houston Project to help New Orleans hurricane survivors displaced to Houston tell their stories. She will discuss the particulars of this project, especially the question, “who owns the survivor’s story?” for Harborlore’s “Sandylore Symposium.”

Keith Johnston leads the Brooklyn-based, five piece reggae band Widdayah (we de yah) which is Jamaican patwa for “we are here; we are fully present; we are in the moment.” Widdayah, founded in 2008, pays tribute to reggae trail blazers by bringing the traditional rhythms of classic reggae from Jamaica to Brooklyn. For Sandylore Symposium, Keith will sing “Sandy” a calypso he wrote after the superstorm hit New York in October 2012.

Hailing from Jamaica, E. Wayne McDonald, Artistic Director of Caribbean Cultural Theatre, is a knowledgeable and effective traditional storyteller and performer of Caribbean cultural traditions, creole and dialect languages, and literature. For Harborlore he will serve as a panelist for the Sandylore symposium presenting on island culture and disaster survival. 

Jenny Romaine is a performer, puppeteer, designer and director, who is also a founding member of the OBIE winning Great Small Works (GSW) theater collective and music director of Jennifer Miller's Circus Amok. Romaine was instrumental in creating and directing Sandy Sandy Sandy, a fantastical form of journalistic soap opera which uses a cast of salty undersea characters to chronicle the experiences of people directly affected by the storm. Providing immediate artistic response to the storm, Sandy Sandy Sandy was first performed on November 19, 2012, just weeks after the storm hit NYC and NJ. The work will be performed again as part of GSW’s annual Toy Theater Festival running June 14-23, 2013 at St Ann’s Warehouse in Dumbo. 

Kathleen Ruiz is Associate Professor in Integrated Arts at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She has produced an art work and game using simulation technology titled "Flo: The Watershed Project."  "Flo" offers a rare opportunity to create a unique bridge between the digital and natural worlds. Here one experiences what it may be like to "be" water.  Not only an artwork, this project has educational components in the form of mini-games that address water pollution, sustainability, and ecofriendly practices. Kathleen lives upstate south of the Ashokan Reservoir, and her community was devastated by Hurricane Irene. She will recount her experiences of surviving that storm.  

Martin Urbach is a jazz drummer born in Bolivia. He participates in numerous bands and side projects, and teaches as well. He recently released his first recording Free Will. Together with Erika Kapin, Martin created the video work “Mamacocha,” a musical improvisation performed on Coney Island in May and inspired by Sandy. Mamacocha is the Quechua word meaning “mother ocean.” The video will be viewed at Harborlore’s “Sandylore Symposium.”

Lois Wilcken is trained as an ethnomusicologist. She is an expert in Haitian traditional music and lore associated with vodou. She is the Director of Brooklyn’s La Troupe Makandal, founded by the master drummer Frisner Augustin, who died in 2012. Lois and Frisner together were active in many aspects of Haitian recovery from the devastating earthquake. For Harborlore’s “Sandylore Symposium,” Lois will address the impact of Sandy on Haiti; the storm hit there first before making its way up the Atlantic seaboard. 



Harborlore Festival
Where the River Meets the Sea in Brooklyn’s Folk Imagination

Dance, Music and Storytelling 

May 10 – June 15, 2013

It’s no secret that Brooklyn is surrounded by over 50 miles of water from Greenpoint to Canarsie, and is also home to thousands of immigrants hailing from coastal locales across the globe—Jamaica, Bangladesh, Italy, Guyana, Egypt—where water is omnipresent. These immigrants, especially the artists among them, have brought cultural traditions to Brooklyn that capture the beauty, meaning and vulnerability of living at water’s edge.  For Harborlore Festival, BAC presents a series of free concerts, panel discussions and performing arts events exploring the role of water in the artistic traditions of Brooklyn’s diverse immigrant and diaspora communities. In post-Sandy New York, Harborlore Festival signals the importance of learning new respect and reverence for the power of water.

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Harborlore is sponsored by TD Bank.

BAC Folk Arts is sponsored by Con Edison.

Major support for Harborlore is provided by public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council. Additional support is provided by New York Council for the Humanities. 

Promotional Partner: Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance. Media partner: WNYC Radio.

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