Di Institute for Social Leadership(ISL) was started in December 2013 in Kingston Jamaica. It provides learning opportunities and social support services for Youth and Adults. Social Leadership is an idea that we have been exploring from our work with the SO((U))L HQ. Social Leadership means accepting responsibility as individuals for actively creating communities which support the growth and development for all its members. We discovered social leadership in our work on activism and we found that activism particularly in Jamaica was reactive. It (activism) ask us to change. We found that rather than ask for change we should encourage individuals to lead or be that change.
We think that education is crucial to this process. We think that education in Jamaica has been focused on job and career development and that opportunities for learning are restricted to those who attend Universities which is approximately 10% of the population. Having benefited from higher education we understand how important it is to expand the minds of individuals. we personally place a high value on reading to discover the world and reading to explore new possibilities. The idea is to create a space which brings those opportunities for learning to everyone. Education is the platform on which we engage and teach Social Leadership.
In our previous experience working with youth and adults we learnt how important it was to create spaces to help address some of the harshness of the reality of living in Jamaica. We encountered children and young adults who witnessed very violent acts in their community or school and did not have the support to deal with those experiences. We also understand that youth and adults face many challenges in growing up and living life based on the dynamics of where you come from and who you are in Jamaica. This can pose challenges which will restrict your learning. Supporting the individual benefits the community.
Art is the vehicle that we use to bring the ISL to life. The ideas that we think are valuable and the way that we imagine the space emerging is driven through a creative and artistic approach. We play, we experiment with the things we want to create. We try to be flexible and fluid in our methods and we learn quickly so we can change quickly.
Di Institute is an extension of the SO((U))L project a commitment to creating alternative community spaces all over the world starting in Jamaica.