Friday, October 2, 2015

A Papal experience

Excerpt from Observer column by Jean Lowrie-Chin - 28 September 2015

William Beard Jr (right) with fellow members of the Washington DC Choir

Our family members were very proud when my brother-in-law, William Beard Jr, auditioned and was selected for membership in the Washington DC 90-member Elite Choir for the Papal Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. 

People arriving at the Basilica

I asked him to share the experience and he sent me this moving account: “I have to go back to 1964 when the Beatles first came to Washington, DC to recall the level of local hysteria that accompanied the arrival of anyone to my beloved town.  Not even the first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009 rivaled the passionate outpourings of my fellow citizens as did the arrival of Pope Francis. Let’s face it, everyone loves Pope Francis and wanted to be part of his visit. My good fortune was being selected as a member of the Papal Mass Choir.  It’s still hard to believe that I was one of a select group of singers afforded the opportunity make music for Pope Francis. I know this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I’m still pinching myself that I made it through the auditions. All the composers, conductors, singers, and musicians felt an enormous weight of responsibility for making every note perfect for a Mass of this magnitude. We knew the world would be watching and we needed to execute every pitch and every rhythmic nuance precisely. 
“Nothing really prepared me for the overwhelming feelings of joy and excitement upon the Pope's arrival at the spectacular Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. We (the Choir) heralded his arrival with “Tu Es Petrus” (You Are Peter, a reference to the Apostolic Succession) as the crowd slipped into respectfully passionate shouts of “Papa,” “We love you” and other joyful exhortations. 

“The entire experience remains fresh as if it happened only seconds ago.  It’s as if each moment of my Papal Mass journey is being replayed on a constant loop in my mind.  Every rehearsal, all the challenges mastering the volume and difficulty of music, and all of the joy creating a new community of fellow musicians in Christ is seared in my brain and, hopefully, with me forever.”

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Massive Open Online Course - Climate change: a question of justice? Lectures are online now!

Received via Joan 'Joy'  Cummings and Mariama Williams

Dear colleagues,

The first five video lectures of our Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on "Climate change: a question of justice?" are now online! Have a look! The course is open to all, free of charge and comes with no obligations. Over the next eight weeks, there will be a total of 34 short video lectures online for you.

Just in time for the UN climate summit (COP-21) in Paris in December, the Interdisciplinary Distance Learning Programme in Environmental Sciences (infernum) at Hagen University, Germany has produced a massive open online course in collaboration with the Department of Political Science at Lund University in Sweden. The course has been funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

The MOOC focuses on social science perspectives on climate change and features well-known experts and activists in the field of climate justice, for example Nnimmo Bassey, winner of the Right Livelihood Award from Nigeria. Topics covered include the role of non-governmental organisations, the European emissions trading system, land-grabbing, divestment and degrowth.

Anyone on this climate-L list is welcome to discuss with our speakers and our students in our online discussion fora during the course.

The video lectures of the course started yesterday and run until 23rd November. Students who complete a multiple choice quiz after taking the lectures can get a certificate of participation free of charge.

To see the trailer:

Anyone interested in participating or just curious can register here:

Please forward this e-mail to anyone who might be interested in participating in this course - to your colleagues, your students, your friends. Thank you.

Warm regards from Hagen and Lund,

Dr. Angela Oels, Sara Becker and Daniel Otto

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Dr. Angela Oels
Visiting Professor
Department of Political Science
and Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies (LUCSUS)

Postal address: P.O. Box 52, SE-221 00 Lund, Sweden

Visiting address: Paradisgatan 5H (House: Eden), room 359

Internal mail: Hämtställe 35 (email)


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tony Wong's Red Moon photos

My friend June Wong shared these photos taken by her husband Tony on Sunday night. They travelled to Hollywell in Jamaica's Blue Mountains to enjoy the beautiful coincidence of a Harvest Moon and Lunar eclipse.

Monday, September 28, 2015

What a great Jamaica we can build!

by Jean Lowrie-Chin
Observer column for MON 21 SEP 2015  
Their Excellencies Governor-General Sir Patrick and Lady Allen cut the ribbon for the opening of Phoenix Central while our daughter Anita Chin looks on.
As our family arrived at a significant milestone last week, I am sharing some of the steps we took to get there. This was the opening of our first real estate development project by that distinguished couple, Governor General Sir Patrick Allen and Lady Allen.  Hubie and I, the children of humble folks, have surprised ourselves with this audacious journey.
I thought back to 1978 when by happenstance I bartered meals for needy children with then Pegasus Marketing Manager the legendary Carrole Guntley, offering to do publicity for the hotel.  She agreed, and the photos were featured in a full-page newspaper spread.  Carrole then asked me to do freelance work, and introduced me to their extraordinary Food & Beverage Manager Susan Campbell of blessed memory.  Susan and I became close friends, and she encouraged me to start my own business.  She suggested that I propose exchanging my services for an office in the hotel, and organised a meeting with then manager Peter Westbrook, who confirmed an agreement on November 29, 1978.
Our family: our children Noel and Anita Chin, Mother Maisie Lowrie, yours truly Jean, Sister Sandra Lowrie, Hubie Chin
Thus was born PROComm, with the slogan ‘follow through sets us apart’.  The business grew faster than expected, and in 1981 we found a quaint but derelict old house on Kingsway with a ‘seventies’ price tag.  My enterprising mother, Maisie Lowrie oversaw the renovation on a shoestring budget. 
I think that is when those endless childhood hours of playing ‘Monopoly’ kicked in. We extended the building, providing office space for ourselves and three tenants, saved the rent, and cleared the modest mortgage (thank you Jamaica National).  We were keen on legacy for our children and so, as the rent accumulated, we used the funds to pay down on a place at Phoenix Avenue in 1988, which was leased for all these years.
Phoenix Central professional complex - Collin Reid photo
By 2013, our children had completed tertiary education and were in the PR-ad business, but they explained that they felt no great passion for it.  We created PRODEV, revived a development plan we had on the back burner, and they threw themselves wholeheartedly into this first project.
Although Hubie’s and my parents were humble folks, their faith and tenacity were the inspiration for our $280 million project. I looked back on the actions of my widowed mother with four small children and a little shop at 2 Rose Street in Savanna-la-mar.   She sewed vestments and altar covers for Father Knight at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, and bartered groceries for our fees at the best private school in the town, St Mary’s Academy, run by the Mercy sisters.
She took us on a journey of diligence and prayer, and later married the unforgettable Joscelyn Lowrie.  We moved with him to Kingston and were referred by the Sisters to Alpha on South Camp Road. Our father, stricken with a rare form of arthritis, bravely continued his accounting practice at home, retaining most of his clients until his death in 1977.
19-y-o Hubie and 17-y-o me
Meanwhile, young Hubie Chin worked along with his devoted parents, Ralph and Ruby Chin.  Theirs was a lively Franklin Town grocery and bar where Bustamante and his friends would meet over drinks. Hubie lived “shop-life” until he was 17 and described the late night clean-ups, the ever open side-window on Sundays and public holidays.  His parents emphasised education and Christian living, and their fine children of whom my husband is the youngest, have made them proud.
Although Hubie went to St. George’s College, he was a couple of years ahead of me, so we never met until his best friend Horace ‘Natchy’ Campbell invited him to Mass at our Catholic Mission in Pembroke Hall.  They liked to brag that they were “CAST men” – engineering students of the College of Arts, Science and Technology, now UTECH – meaning that they were more grounded in the practical rather than theory.
How right they were.  When we decided to grow our family, Hubie joined PROComm in 1988 so we could manage our family time better. He was the one who was able to make sense of the digital revolution, attending courses that his engineer’s mind could easily absorb, helping us to continue on the path of efficiency and productivity.
Good business practice
This is an important point.  Regardless of the business you are in, you need to be computer literate.  With smartphones becoming so affordable, even the smallest of enterprises should be embracing the use of email, text and various Google and Facebook apps if they wish to move to the next level. 
PROComm Team membersenjoy doing 5Ks together
And so, we created certain processes in our business which to this day we continue to fine-tune.  We also have fun traditions for our team, as we know that the most important factor in business is the human factor.  We have a strong board that insists on corporate governance, although we have to say that the string of new taxes introduced in recent years have created challenging moments for us.  My sister Frances Beard who holds a Master’s degree in organizational development from Johns Hopkins, has been invaluable in helping us to develop best practices.
We are committed to pro bono work for various worthy causes, especially the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) and have a scholarship fund administered by the Stella Maris Foundation for children in Grant’s Pen.
The PR business has allowed up to see up close, the drive and determination of our clients – working with three generations of the Hendricksons at National Baking, and the dynamic Denis O’Brien led Digicel, has fired up our enthusiasm for enterprise.
The power of prayer
Every birthday is celebrated at PROComm
We start every meeting with prayer, because we draw strength from that awesome power that only the Almighty possesses.  This gives us the confidence of which Marcus Mosiah Garvey wrote – that confidence that makes you a winner before you have even started.  This is not hollow pride, because as we proceed with our meetings, tasks are reviewed, assigned and recorded. Indeed, confidence and diligence go hand in hand.
As our beloved Governor General Sir Patrick Allen said at our opening, success requires, “ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration”.   For us, the closeness of our family and our team and the trust we have for each other have sweetened our labour, because we know that we are building a legacy and creating employment. 
To my fellow Jamaicans therefore I say, do not be daunted by the negative news.  Look at your beautiful children and promise them that you will use your energy for positivity and perseverance. You will walk with Divine guidance, plan, save, and do everything in your power to bring security to your loved ones, even as you share with the needy.  This is a God-blessed country – let us have the will to make it great.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sidjae says 'It's your ship!'

Message from Sidjae Walia  ...

Good day leaders,

Valuing Your Team

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending a keynote address by Mike Abrashoff, author of the bestselling book It's Your Ship! Mike shared his strategy and leadership style that transformed one of the least battle-ready ships with one of the highest turnover rates in the Navy into a Spokane award-winning ship for battle readiness with a near perfect retention rate. His 'magic bullet' was to have conversations with each member of his 310 member crew to better understand their goals and to see how he could help them to achieve them. Each crew member was treated with respect and dignity and reminded that rank does not make anyone more important than another. He further instilled a sense of ownership among crew members to take care of the ship, be diligent about their duties, and not be tied to only their tasks. When individuals are valued, they are willing to go the extra mile for you. When individuals take ownership, they are willing to go the extra mile for the organization.

What conversations have you had with your team in recent times? How have you demonstrated that you value their input and you are interested in their goals? What steps can you take to help your team members take ownership of their responsibilities and be willing to go the extra mile?

To Your Unlimited Possibilities,

Sidjae Walia
Training that expands your mind and life
"The mind, once expanded to dimensions of bigger ideas, never returns to its original size" - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Twitter ID:
(647) 927 9289

*If these nuggets ring true for you and your team, please contact me to assist you. I provide training and coaching in leadership development, team building, and sales. I am also certified to administer the MBTI for individuals and groups. Give me a call if you are interested in learning how your personality impacts your work, team, and personal life.*