Coming home and giving thanks

It’s all too easy to concentrate on the negatives in Cayman of late but there is a huge amount to be positive about.

That’s the message of the inaugural Cayman Thanksgiving Weekend, which takes place from Friday 2nd to Sunday, 4th December.

It’s the brainchild of Caymanian social entrepreneurs Samuel Rose and Luigi Moxam, who, along with a host of other characters including Hopscotch Studios, have called the community to come together for a weekend of inclusiveness, fun, hospitality and celebration of life.

“It kicks off on Friday, 2nd at Pageant Beach with the Cayman Homecoming concert,” says Rose.

“Three outstanding bands of Cayman will be performing, all of whom have completed album projects of late: Swanky Kitchen Band, ThE iZ and Thanks & Praises. These three genres and fanbases are also coming together and this is a different kind of concert.”

Indeed, the high level production values are testament to what talent can do; these acts are of international quality, work very hard and are worthy of top-class treatment. It is possible to do great things in Cayman, explains Luigi Moxam.

“It’ll be one bold step for man, one giant leap for Caymanian artists; this standard and quality of production is balanced out with quality performance. The vision is that young people will be inspired by what is possible in the performing arts; they need a platform, and we want to send out the message that if they work hard this could be them on stage in the future.”

Each act this year will be affiliated with a charity – Big Brothers Big Sisters, Meals on Wheels and the Cayman Aids Foundation. Raising awareness of these issues is paramount, say the organisers.

Saturday, 3rd December, is the day of volunteering; the idea, said Moxam, is encouraging people on-island – Caymanian, ex-pat, visitor – to get out in the community and volunteer.

“This could be organising beach cleaning, or getting involved with an organisation. But it is important to look at what you can do for your community.”

The onus is on the individual – and his or her neighbours – to come together and do something positive, plus use the opportunity to purchase local produce for the innovative Sunday idea of Caymanian Thanksgiving.

“We want to change the national conversation and see a re-commitment and enhancement of community values. This is a grass roots, apolitical approach. This whole idea is about bringing people home to Cayman who are Caymanian or ex-pats who have lived on the Island and want to come back and see us.”

Local meal
Caymanian Thanksgiving , which is mooted for Sunday, 5th December, is intended involve making a traditional, local meal with local ingredients. And like the volunteering day, there are no formal ‘events’ taking place – simply-speaking, it’s all about community values.

“We challenge Caymanians to invite a non-Caymanian to their home for food,” says Rose. “We want to bring back mutual respect and mutual understanding through interaction of people from different places all over the world. It will take a collective effort but these are the authentic reasons people love Cayman: hospitality, a feelgood vibe and interaction.”

This could also boost local producers, grocers, merchants and restaurants as well as the tourism implications, says Moxam.

“Everyone can get their piece of the cassava cake, although one of the hardest things to do in Cayman can be selling something Caymanian. But Thanksgiving is an opportunity for everyone to celebrate the best parts of Cayman. We see it as bridging the divide between Caymanians and non-Caymanians, young and old and the dining table is the strongest bonding tool there is.

“Regardless of where you come from, you still can have insight into Caymanian culture, lifestyle and heritage. It is an opportunity to develop pride in national identity and contribute to the community.”

Ultimately, says Rose, this weekend is all about people; the concert is the catalyst but the Thanksgiving weekend invokes everyone’s sense of community.

“It is important to have a spirit of thankfulness. We are better off than the previous generation and people come here for opportunities to have a better life. Sometimes we can get bogged down in looking at what’s wrong, and of course we need to address that, but we should never forget that it’s also important on focusing on what is going right, too.” WH