NOTE: This is my first Spoken Word creation, delivered at the 11th anniversary celebration of Chewstick, 3 January 2014. Outside of my comfort zone, to be sure, but done because of the tremendous respect and admiration I have for this movement.
Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be. You have grown into a positive, culturally rich and profoundly relevant movement.
In a colonial territory that has not yet rid itself of its divisive isms and schisms, through your own presence and through your activism you have transcended so many barriers. You embrace our differences and turned them into positive energy to make a better Bermuda. Black—white, gay—straight, rich—poor, young—old, religious and those without, you Chewstick, have taken us beyond the patronizing concept of tolerance to a point of embracing and celebrating our differences. This can only makes us stronger.
Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be. Chewstick embodies what Gramsci calls an organic movement: you come from the people, you are of the people and you have remained grounded with the people. You are bottom up, not top down and you have helped re-shape our social fabric. You have done this by giving everyone a voice to express themselves. Your door is as wide open as your hearts. If only more of us could follow your lead.
Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be. Mired as we are in the invective of talk radio, the callous, cowardly comments of anonymous bloggers, and, yes, the at times petulant, political posturing in parliament, against this backdrop, Chewstick stands apart without pretense and prejudgment. You give space to people to share their views and it is done so openly and within a zone of mutual respect. Bermuda needs to get to this zone...and Chewstick plays a critical part.
Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be. By showcasing local artists you validate the abundance of talent we have on this little rock and provide a foundation on which they can grow. You recognise, you celebrate and you encourage. And as much as you showcase local talent you also embrace a commitment to globalism and show how working with artists beyond our shores can both enrich and enlighten us all. Thank you for this.
Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be. The small acts of collaboration with people from every walk of life; the learning sessions; the griot interludes and the tapestry of talent you have nurtured, show us the potential that can be created in Bermuda, on this rock. For this we should all celebrate you. For truly indeed, Chewstick is Bermuda, as Bermuda is meant to be.