Roots ‘en’ Route Takes the Next Step: Completing Trail and Documenting Cultural Stories

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Team members of Roots ‘en’ Route during one of their many planning sessions. 

 

PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — Roots ‘en’ Route, a collaborative project created by Foresee Foundation and Stichting St. Maarten Utrecht (SMU), announces its transition to the next phase. This milestone marks the completion of the trail and the documentation of cultural, historic, and iconic stories connected to the island’s heritage.

Intending to establish the official Roots ‘en’ Route hiking trail, connecting both sides of the island and linking to the renowned European walking trail, St. Martin of Tours Route, the project has conducted numerous interviews which form the basis of over 20 portraits, capturing the essence of the island’s cultural richness.

Individuals responsible for preserving and enriching the island’s cultural legacy were interviewed, with their collective knowledge and insights to be showcased in a series of videos. The project’s mission is to archive this invaluable cultural heritage and share it not only with the local community but also with Europe. These interviews will be accessible on the Foresee Foundation’s YouTube channel and various social media platforms every week starting on Monday, February 19th.

To celebrate this achievement, a preview of the project will be held at Axum Café on Saturday, February 17, starting at 5:00 pm. This free event, titled “Culture Chat,” promises an immersive experience filled with storytelling, poems, songs, cultural connections, and a fusion of European and St. Maarten/St. Martin influences. Attendees will have the opportunity to delve into the nostalgia of historic and folkloric tales deeply rooted in the Caribbean, curated by Roots ‘en’ Route and Soualichi Stories, another project under Foresee Foundation.

Funding for the “Roots ‘en’ Route” project was provided by the Fund for Culture Participation and the Prince Bernhard Culture Fund Caribbean. The initiative aims to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of our communities’ identities while celebrating our shared past, present, and future in a meaningful manner.

At the core of the project are Theatre-maker Tjerk Ridder, along with local counterparts Sjorensly Valies and Darin ‘King Vers’ Hodge. Their journey around the island, documented through video, music, and connections, highlights the diverse cultural makeup of St. Maarten/St. Martin.

Reflecting on the journey, the project team members were constantly amazed by the curiosity of the youth engagement and the eagerness of senior citizens to play their part in observing and sharing their knowledge.

The project’s partners, including the National Institute of Arts (NIA), Seagrape Tours, Environmental Protection in the Caribbean (EPIC), and Seaside Nature Park played a crucial role in making this project a success.

Looking ahead, Tjerk Ridder aims to incorporate his St. Maarten/St. Martin experiences in his performances in the Netherlands and beyond, fostering a lasting Caribbean connection. Additionally, SMU is exploring the inclusion of the Caribbean St. Maarten/Saint Martin route in the Saint Martin of Tours Cultural Route of the European Council.