Grounded in the recognition that the humanities and the arts possess healing qualities for vulnerable and at-risk populations, St. Croix Foundation’s “Healing Humanities Project,” seeks to develop a creative cultural arts center and a thriving economic hub in the heart of Historic Downtown Christiansted in Sunday Market Square. This very intentionally conceived vision for Sunday Market Square will offer our Community a designated place for creative expression through visual, performing and healing arts venues and economic activity centers. The long-range goal of the project is to awaken the social consciousness of our youth and our people to nurture social transformation in our blighted town centers.
Building upon a Powerful Legacy of Place and Culture
As the nexus of our Community Revitalization efforts, the rich history and compelling story of Sunday Market Square (affectionately referred to as Times Square) has informed our Vision for the future. Serving as a center for trading among enslaved Africans back in the 1700’s, the Square was a designated convening space where the enslaved were allowed to trade goods, connect with loved ones and socialize in the marketplace on Sundays- their only day off from work. Through the years, Sunday Market Square remained a popular meeting place for residents.
Today, the properties are home to low income apartment units, the VI Police Department Bicycle Patrol (rent free for over 20 years), commercial rental space for both private sector businesses and, a growing number of nonprofits in the aftermath of the 2017 devastating Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
According to cultural activist Robert Bedoya, placekeeping is somewhat of a revision of placemaking, defined as “a call to hold on to the stories told on the streets by the locals, and to keep the sounds ringing out in a neighborhood populated by musicians who perform at the corner bar or social hall.” This might include preserving the aesthetic of existing neighborhoods, their vibrant storefronts, and murals or holding community workshops to collect oral histories of a neighborhood. Very similar in intention to placemaking, placekeeping makes existing aesthetics—and most notably the people responsible for them—visible. https://www.usvieda.org/sites/default/files/resources/St.Croix_ASP_2018.pdf