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The Greater Portmore Coffee Table Book

( A Look At Moorish-Sephardic Retentions and Physical Cultural Usage)

By Basil Fletcher,
Greater Portmore,
St.Catherine,
Jamaica

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Table of Content
Forward;.......................................................................................................................3
Section 1, The Homes As They Were Handed Over....................................................5
Section 2, Moorish and Sephardic Influences As Seen On Grills And Side Walk
Designs......................................................................................................................15
The Greater Portmore Post Office.............................................................................34
The Greater Portmore Anglican Church Takes The Form Of A Synagogue..............40
Some Homes..............................................................................................................42
Greater Portmore Residential Grills and Tiling Continue.........................................48
The Greater Portmore Shopper Fair Supermarket.....................................................78
Private Homes............................................................................................................80
Section 3, Side Walk Gardens....................................................................................86
Side Walk Gardens in East Cumberland, Portmore.................................................100
Side walk gardens in Greater Portmore Continue....................................................110
Municipality Managed Park....................................................................................154
Municipality Managed Storm Drains......................................................................155
Storm Drain Fruit Farm...........................................................................................166
Side Walk Gardens Continue...................................................................................189
Community Made Parks..........................................................................................223
Section 4, They Started Here...................................................................................230

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Forward;

Coffee Table Books are generally seen as means by which particular cultural artifacts,
environmental features, historic and or biographical information and ideological views
can be shared in a format is easily accepted and processed by the reader/ viewer of the
Coffee Table Book.

The Greater Portmore Coffee Table Book invites readers and viewers to first and fore
mostly to examine what the residents of Portmore have done with the standardized
housing units they purchased. Here is worth nothing that they could have either be
satisfied with the units which they received or they could have spent their time
complaining about the bad design of the structures, the leaking roofs etc, however the
residents of Greater Portmore, the teachers, police men and women, nurses, civil
servants, secretaries etc understanding that the amount of money they used to purchase
was far from being enough to purchase the homes of their dreams and thus took on as
their task the job of using the standardized units they received to make the homes of their
dreams.

The Greater Portmore Coffee Table Book invites individuals to look at how the people of
Greater Portmore have used their access to Sephardic-Moorish architectural legacy with
other architectural forms to create a community is democratic in architectural forms and
in creating such an environment left space for those property owner who are contented
with the housing units in the form that they were handed over by the developer. The
resulting mosaic of forms is a community which is not Georgian, Moorish-Sephardic or
Socialist Utilitarian but a mixture of all. Emphasis in this Coffee Table Book is on the
sharing of the Moorish-Sephardic as they are presented.

The third purpose of the Greater Portmore Coffee Table Book is how the people of
Greater Portmore, faced with bad environmental conditions resulting from a lack of urban
forests or green areas, which promotes high surface temperatures, dust and breathing
problems for some, in addition to high prices of fresh vegetables and staples, have used
the limited available land resources at their disposal to create a more human-children
friendly environment while adding beauty to their community.

If is hope that not only Jamaicans living in other similar communities will be inspired to
utilize their local resources, skills and talents in making their communities places in
which they are proud to live, but also that readers in urban and sub-urban United States
and the United Kingdom, faced with the threat of increased marginalization may be
further encouraged to mount effect resistance to the forces of marginalization by the
adding of value to their communities and counter the Ghetto building forces.

Of importance here, is also to point out, that while the units received by the people of
Greater Portmore were intended for nuclear families, many of them have been convert

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into housing stocks for extended families, thus a daughter or a son on graduating college
is not pressured into finding a home for him or herself but rather can start his or her adult
life in his or her parents home, thus reducing the costs living, reducing the cost of
utilities, reducing the cost of furnishing and ensuring the provision of supervision for
young children while at the same reducing the costs and time required to deal with the
needs of aging parents. This type of savings are of critical importance in assisting
families in maintaining a middle class lifestyle and standard of living in the face of
declining real incomes, monies which would have been spent on house rental can be used
to ensure that the young graduate is able to purchase his or her own motor vehicle, even
as savings are made for the purchase of his or her own home; thus the young graduate is
able to skip completely the rent paying stage of life.

Perhaps my very good friends from Ethiopia many of whom are led by the belief that
revolution demands armed struggle and the shedding of blood, may perhaps find some
value in going through this the Greater Portmore Coffee Table Book. The people of
Greater Portmore equal to the other sections of the Municipality of Portmore are
revolutionary by any definition, yet they are not involved in any form of armed struggle
with anyone, but rather utilizing the opportunities provided, the will to delay
consumption and to work hard in addition to mobilizing the community to achieve
common goals and to attain individual objectives. Their struggle is not to become
wealthy but rather to live decent acceptable lives and to be comfortable with themselves
and others.

Please enjoy reading and of course come and visit with us in Greater Portmore, St.
Catherine, Jamaica.

Basil Fletcher
Greater Portmore,
St. Catherine,
Jamaica W.I.
March 2017

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Section 1, The Homes As They Were Handed Over

The photographs below, show the homes as they were handed over. The owners have
made very limited or no changes to the basic structures. These homes are of importance
for several reasons, among these reasons are (1) they give the visitor or reader of this
Coffee Table Book an understanding of what the community looked like in the early and
mid 1990s , (2) they act as a type of datum against which changes can be measured and
(3) they are essential in the preservation of cultural and architectural democracy in the
community and in doing so prevent the emergency of an architectural type of bipolarity
where the community is seen as the arena in which Moorish-Sephardic building styles
are in contest with Georgian and neo-Georgian building styles. Those units as they were
delivered are within the Socialist Utilitarian Architectural School as applied to
Jamaican conditions.

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This is a two bed room unit, the one bed room Qud is about the size of that section of
this house where the door is. There are also three bed room units which are marginally
larger than the two bed room units.

The rear of the unmodified two bed room unit showing the wash room and wash room
sink.

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Please note the Neo-Georgian styled home standing directly these two homes which have
persevered un-modified the Socialist Utilitarian Architectural form in which they were
delivered. The lot sizes are the same.

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A Mosaic Of Styles As Seen By The Backyard Of An Unimproved Unit

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Photograph of an unimproved studio unit (A Quad)

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Box Gardening By The Storm Drain

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Section 2, Moorish and Sephardic Influences As Seen On Grills And
Side Walk Designs

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The Greater Portmore Post Office

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Floor and wall tiling at Greater Portmore Post Office

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The Greater Portmore Anglican Church Takes The Form Of A
Synagogue

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Some Homes

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Greater Portmore Residential Grills and Tiling Continue

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Sidewalk/drive way tiling

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It is very unfortunate that this photograph of such a beautiful house was taken at an angle.

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The Greater Portmore Shopper Fair Supermarket
The Floor Of The Greater Portmore Supermarket, Note The Inlaid Pattern

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Private Homes

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As seen at dusk

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Section 3, Side Walk Gardens

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Side Walk Gardens in East Cumberland, Portmore

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Note that ackee trees are elements in this side walk garden

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Side walk gardens in Greater Portmore Continue

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Sidewalk garden 7 East, note that it is a decorative border to a storm water run off drain,
effectively preventing plastic bags etc from the street to enter the drain while preventing
the uncontrolled erosion of the sides of the drain.

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A garden on the bank of a storm drain, preventing soil erosion and aiding in the
absorption of storm water

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A side walk garden on the banks of a storm drain

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The children have found a place to shade away from the sun

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Municipality Managed Park

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Municipality Managed Storm Drains

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Municipality Managed Mini Park, note the infestation by weeds

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Municipality Managed Storm Drain

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Storm Drain Fruit Farm
Citizen grows fruit trees by the side of a storm drain (no garbage seen and the absorptive
capacity of the drain is increased as a result of the trees

The
start of
another
storm
drain
fruit farm

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A storm drain garden

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Side Walk Garden in Rieds Pen, Greater Portmore

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Storm drain farming in Reids Pen

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Storm Drain Farm on Old Braeton Road

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On The Bank of the storm water drain

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Side Walk Gardens Continue

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Note The Storm Drain

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Neighbours Sharing The Fruits

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Community Made Parks

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A mini park

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Section 4, They Started Here

The homes and gardens shown are owned in the main by the lower and middle-middle
classes, nurses, teachers, police men and women, hospital employees, trades men, small
business operators, sales persons, factory workers, individuals employed in schools and
colleges, Civil Servants, Medical Doctors, Lawyers, lecturers at Community Colleges
and Universities, technicians among others.

The housing units, which they started out with were developed by the West Indies Home
Contractors Company Ltd and their construction financed by the National Housing Trust
and the financial arm of the West Indies Home Contractors Company Ltd, both
organizations providing mortgages with the bulk of the mortgages coming from the
National Housing Trust, a state managed institution which is financed by deduction from
the salaries of all employees who earn above the minimum wage. It is the stated mission
of the national Housing Trust to provide affordable houses for its contributors the
majority of whom would not be qualified for mortgages from the traditional building
societies or banks.

The Greater Portmore Coffee Book shows what can be accomplished by the ordinary
citizen if provided with the most simple of starts. It shows the will and determination of
the people of Greater Portmore to create a community in which they are proud to live and
glad to invite others to visit. Perhaps mot remarkable, it shows that, the people with
through their own efforts can create an environment which is relatively safe and suitable
for the rearing of children and for family life.

Compared with many most other communities, Greater Portmore is relatively safe and
when and where criminal activities take place in the community non-residents are most
frequently involved. One reason for this relatively low level of crime, stems from the fact
that the residents of Greater Portmore are among the most educated in the English
Speaking Caribbean, many have visited and even resided in other countries, and
compared with other communities in Jamaica, unemployment levels are relatively low.
Here one should also point out that there is no major technical project on going in
Jamaica in which a person from or who has very close ties to the Municipality of
Portmore and Greater Portmore in particular is not involved.

Greater Portmore shares with the other communities in the Municipality of Portmore a
very high level of social organization and citizen government over the community. Within
this type of organizational environment, elected politicians are not seen as being above
the community or leaders of the community, but rather as community co-developers and
representatives of the community at the Municipality level and at the Parliamentary level.
This at times might make it a bit difficult for many a politicians who have been trained or
got their initial political experience in other parts of Jamaica where the politician is seen
as shepherd and the people as flock; here in Greater Portmore the primary leaders are the

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citizens and the politicians helpers. A political manifesto of any of the two political
parties which is not in keeping with the interests of the people will be voted against, this
was the experience of Mayor Lee, the founding Mayor of the Municipality who was once
voted out of office and later returned as Mayor.

Perhaps, the most valuable thing that the residents of Greater Portmore have to offer to
you and other readers or visitors is the evidence that hard work, commitment to family,
sacrifice and continuous are the keys to individual and community development.
Let us look back at the point where they started:-

A two bed room as was handed over by the developer

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A studio unit (A Quad)

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May the traditions and values of the founding fathers of this our country, the Sephardic
Jews and the Moors continue to live in the genes and sub consciousness of the people of
Greater Portmore, and guide them in all their doings. May the Peace and Protection of
the God of Israel be with you always.
End

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