The U.S. Embassy and 51% Coalition Invite Jamaican Youth to View First U.S. Presidential Debate

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face-off Monday Sept. 26, 2016, in their first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. It is the first of three debates between the Republican and Democratic candidates. (Carlo Allegri, Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters )
Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will face-off Monday Sept. 26, 2016, in their first debate of the 2016 presidential campaign. It is the first of three debates between the Republican and Democratic candidates. (Carlo Allegri, Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters )

The U.S. presidential election campaign (and what a strange one it is) is now in its “tun up” phase – to use a current Jamaican phrase. The first Presidential Debate is tomorrow evening, and the U.S. Embassy in Jamaica is partnering with the 51% Coalition, and Panos Caribbean as implementing partner, for a live viewing and discussion. This will be the first in a series in which the partners plan to seriously examine democracy issues in the United States and their relevance to our own Jamaica. Please see today’s press release. 

Please follow @51Coalition on Twitter for live tweets from the event, throughout the evening! (6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Jamaican time).

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U.S. Embassy, 51% Coalition Partner on “Dinner and a Debate” Series Ahead of U.S. Presidential Elections

JAMAICAN youth will have an opportunity this Monday evening (September 26, 2016) to share in the cut and thrust of the first United States (U.S.) Presidential Debate ahead of the 2016 elections.

 

They are to gather at the ProComm building at 2 Phoenix Avenue in Kingston, where they will participate in the live viewing of the debate action.

 

12647131_911172462302464_5295014484911515649_n-2Monday’s viewing is the first in the “Dinner and a Debate” series of the United States Embassy in Kingston, brought to the public through collaboration with the 51% Coalition, with Panos Caribbean as implementing partner.

The series forms a part of a larger initiative to raise awareness and advance understanding of the U.S. election process, with an examination of lessons and implications for Jamaica and the Caribbean, in the interest of responsible and democratic governance.

 

logopknew1“The United States and Jamaica have been partners for centuries,” said Counsellor for Public Affairs Joshua Polacheck. “And with this historic election, we approached the 51% Coalition to ensure that the Jamaican public has an opportunity to understand the issues facing the American voter. We’re even bringing officials from the two major political parties to explain their respective party platforms.”

Three other debate viewing events, which will target a variety of stakeholders, and two public education fora involving speakers from the two U.S. political parties are also a part of the suite of activities under the initiative.

“The initiative represents an opportunity for all Jamaicans to be engaged on a dynamic and intriguing political process that is teeming with issues of relevance to the island and to the Caribbean as a whole,” said Panos Caribbean Country Director Petre Williams-Raynor.

“The 51% Coalition looks forward to the next few weeks, eager for the sharing and learning they will afford and trust that our people — women and men, young and old — will support the effort,” she added.

ABOUT THE 51% COALITION

The 51% Coalition is an alliance of women, women’s organisations and partners that formalises collaboration that has been taking place over a number of years. The 51% Coalition seeks to promote gender equality on boards and in decision-making as a means of ensuring that Jamaica has her best chance at national development. The Coalition is working to secure quotas to advance women’s participation in decision-making and more broadly to press for the effective implementation of the National Policy on Gender Equality and the achievement of Vision 2030.

For more information, contact: Ms. Adene Chung, Panos Caribbean. Email: adene@panoscaribbean.org  Tel: (876) 920-0070

#GoatIslandsSaved, Please Pardon Mr. Garvey, and the PM Live From New York: Jamaica on Sunday, September 25, 2016

Prince Buster's funeral at the Central Masjid in Kingston yesterday. Often called the "Godfather of Ska,"Cecil Bustamante Campbell was born in Orange Street, Kingston in 1938 and  died on September 8 this year in Miami. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)
Prince Buster's funeral at the Central Masjid in Kingston yesterday. Often called the "Godfather of Ska,"Cecil Bustamante Campbell was born in Orange Street, Kingston in 1938 and died on September 8 this year in Miami. (Photo: Loop Jamaica)

September has been a hectic month for me – but today, being Sunday, I am slowing down a little to admire our garden. It is flourishing for the first time in the entire year, after a series of afternoon thunderstorms this week brought heavenly rain! Give thanks. It’s been a “mixed bag” week but I have several things to be hugely thankful for, including…

An egret meditates, while Brown Pelicans ponder their next move at Old Harbour Bay. Beyond the mangroves in the background are Goat Islands, now no longer threatened by the development of a mega shipping port.

An egret meditates, while Brown Pelicans ponder their next move at Old Harbour Bay. Beyond the mangroves in the background are Goat Islands, now no longer threatened by the development of a mega shipping port. (My photo)

#GoatIslandsSaved: As noted in a previous post, Prime Minister Andrew Holness shocked us all (in a good way) the other night by tweeting his response to a question in New York on the fate of Goat Islands, in the Portland Bight Protected Area (PBPA), which for over three years now has been hanging in the balance. Once again, I congratulate Diana McCaulay and her team at the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), who were in the vanguard of the #SaveGoatIslands campaign. There were many other supporters of course, and in particular I want to commend the work of Ingrid Parchment and all at the Caribbean Coastal Area Management Foundation, who work so hard every day in their management of the PBPA, the largest protected area in Jamaica. They are doing an excellent job. The Gleaner muddied the waters somewhat, just a day or two before the Prime Minister’s tweet, by suddenly waking up to the fact that the logistics hub has been mentioned in every Jamaican Government Letter of Intent to the International Monetary Fund for years now. The latest was dated August 30, 2016 (do read it, it’s got a lot of information in it). So, the Gleaner reported that the Government was to go ahead at Goat Islands. Ah! Since then, the Prime Minister visited the area. Perhaps someone omitted to remove the language in the IMF letter, who knows. Listen to the audio of the Prime Minister’s announcement in New York here.

For those who are trying to catch up on the Goat Islands issue, I would refer you (once again) to JET’s excellent website, and to many earlier blog posts I have written over the past three years. The website includes documentation and information on alternative locations (the subject of a study), which many have asked about. The work has been done!

Crime is scaring us: The murder rate has reached new and perilous heights – especially in the parish of St. James, but other parishes (Clarendon in particular) are reeling. Even quiet little Portland has had a few killings. What is happening? I agree with Opposition National Security Spokesman Peter Bunting that we should have a high-level summit on crime, to try at least to understand and to come up with a multi-stakeholder action plan. This should include not only the private sector (including the tourism sector, which is getting nervous) and the below-mentioned Economic Growth Council (EGC) – which has addressed the issue of crime in its new report – but also of course civil society, including youth and women’s groups. The Police Commissioner has been communicating, the Minister of National Security not so much. The Minister has, however, called out the national reserves. Neither of them support a state of emergency, but curfews have been imposed in some St. James neighborhoods. We, after all, do not have personal bodyguards. What happened to Mr. Bunting’s Unite for Change program – which I believe showed promise? Well, perhaps the opening of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) office at the U.S. Embassy will help. We are biting our nails.

Michael Lee Chin heads the Economic Growth Council, and we expect great things from them. (Photo: Forbes.com)

Michael Lee Chin heads the Economic Growth Council, and we expect great things from them. (Photo: Forbes.com)

Nice report, now for some action! Jean Lowrie-Chin kindly tweeted the September 25, 2016 report of the EGC today. It makes for a good read and is beautifully designed, etc. But as Jean notes: “Now to get it done”!

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announces Jamaica’s ratification of the ILO Convention C 189 (also known as Domestic Workers Convention) during his participation in the deliberations on a report by the United Nations High Level Panel on Economic Empowerment of Women at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, September 22. Seated behind the Prime Minister is Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Ambassador Courtenay Rattray.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness announces Jamaica’s ratification of the ILO Convention C 189 (also known as Domestic Workers Convention) during his participation in the deliberations on a report by the United Nations High Level Panel on Economic Empowerment of Women at UN Headquarters in New York on Thursday, September 22. Seated behind the Prime Minister is Jamaica’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations (UN) Ambassador Courtenay Rattray.

Big Apple PM: Well, apart from the Goat Islands announcement, Prime Minister Andrew Holness seems to have done rather well in New York – and his social media team did a great job of publicizing it. Live tweets, live video on Facebook and simple photo ops (including one with Barack and Michelle Obama) flooded our social media timelines. Although some people seem to find this kind of engagement a little over the top, most appreciate it (I certainly do). You can read the Prime Minister’s speech at the UN General Assembly here. Another big gold star for the Prime Minister in New York was the ratification of the ILO Convention C 189 (also known as the Domestic Workers Convention). This is a tremendous moment for Ms. Shirley Pryce of the Jamaica Household Workers Union, who has worked so hard for this cause, with the support of the 51% Coalition. “We are committed to the protection of rights of the most vulnerable among us and to ensure the welfare of domestic workers within the framework of our determination to promote a decent work for all,” the PM said.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right), listens as Dr. Julius Garvey, son of National Hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, addresses a town hall meeting in Queens, New York, USA, on September 22. The Jamaican Government is making a big push for the Obama Administration to grant a pardon to Jamaica's National Hero. (Photo: JIS)

Prime Minister Andrew Holness (right), listens as Dr. Julius Garvey, son of National Hero, the Right Excellent Marcus Mosiah Garvey, addresses a town hall meeting in Queens, New York, USA, on September 22. The Jamaican Government is making a big push for the Obama Administration to grant a pardon to Jamaica’s National Hero. (Photo: JIS)

Pardon for Marcus Garvey: It would be an incredible achievement for both President Barack Obama and our Prime Minister – but most of all, a victory for the Jamaican people – if our National Hero Marcus Garvey could be posthumously pardoned by the U.S. Government for his wrongful 1923 conviction for mail fraud. We wish this could happen before President Obama steps down. The Holness administration is really pushing for it. “The time has come when he should be exonerated…and that time is now,” the PM said. Here there is clearly the influence of former Prime Minister Bruce Golding’s son Steven, President of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) in Jamaica. You can sign and share the White House petition link here.

This system is approaching the Caribbean, and is likely to "develop" into something like a storm within five days or so.

This system is approaching the Caribbean, and is 90 per cent likely to “develop” into something like a storm within five days or so. You should monitor it on the National Hurricane Center website.

The media became completely distracted by the sudden death of a schoolboy footballer in the early moments of a football match. Dominic James, the 19-year-old captain of St. George’s College football team, collapsed and died, apparently from heart failure at a televised match against Excelsior High School at Stadium East in Kingston on Tuesday. It was a very sad event and there was an outpouring of condolences and sympathy – followed by a burst of moral outrage after one journalist over-zealously tweeted a part of his death certificate, showing that he died of heart failure. Mr. Abka Fitz-Henley of Nationwide News Network did apologize.

Ingrid Brown, late of the Jamaica Observer, was a true professional and a very good writer.

Ingrid Brown, late of the Jamaica Observer, was a true professional and a very good writer.

Another sad death this week was that of journalist Ingrid Brown, aged only 39. Ingrid was a sweetheart, and an absolute professional. I always enjoyed working with her; she did great coverage of HIV/AIDS and women’s issues and was an excellent writer.

At least 15 people were killed in and around the “tourism mecca” of Montego Bay in the past week! Many of these murders took place in broad daylight, on main roads, etc. – including the murder of a school bus driver in the town, when two students were injured. Some schools sent children home early. I have not captured all the names of the victims here, I realize. We can put it down to gang activity and scamming – yes, but we have to tackle the root causes of these activities. Meanwhile, my heart goes out to the families and friends of all these Jamaicans who have passed. And this is an incomplete list, tragically…

Unidentified man, Sir Florizel Glasspole Boulevard, East Kingston

Oral Palmer, 35, Effortville, Clarendon

Conroy Nelson, 33, Effortville, Clarendon

Winston Palmer, May Pen Market, Clarendon

Unidentified man, Hellshire, St. Catherine

Unidentified man, Port Henderson Road/Portmore, St. Catherine (mob killing)

Alvin Clarke, 44, Creek Street, Montego Bay, St. James

Keith Morgan, 21, Church Street, Montego Bay, St. James

Bobby Clarke, Ironshore, Montego Bay, St. James

Franklyn Lawrence, 43, Union Street, Montego Bay, St. James

Adrian Anglin, 32, Spring Mount, St. James

Robert James, 35, Mt. Salem, St. James

Kemoy Nelson, Mt. Salem, St. James

Conroy Campbell, 49, Cambridge, St. James

Ricardo Nelson, 27, Long Bay, St. James

Michael Smith, 24, Long Bay, St. James

Unidentified man, Green Island, Hanover (killed by police)

Desmond Ferguson, 44, Main Street/Lucea, Hanover

Asan Anderson, 43, Drapers Heights, Portland

Leroy McCoy, 48, Drapers Heights, Portland

Joan Patterson Fitzgerald, 51, Hope Bay, Portland

Javelle Bakers, 31, Orange Park/Golden Grove, St. Ann

Kelly Robinson, 48, Higgin Town, St. Ann

Cecil Taylor, 46, Highgate, St. Mary

Unidentified man, Santa Cruz, St. Elizabeth

Crime scene tape in sleepy, rural Drapers in Portland, where two men were shot dead. This is virtually unheard of in this quiet district - and in a parish which has a very low murder rate in general. (Photo: Gareth Davis Sr., Gleaner)

Crime scene tape in sleepy, rural Drapers in Portland, where two men were shot dead. This is probably the first time such a thing happened in this quiet district – and in a parish which has a very low murder rate in general. (Photo: Gareth Davis Sr., Gleaner)

 

Small Islands, Big Ambitions for Better Land, Water and Biodiversity Management: UNEP’s Largest Ever Caribbean Project

On the coast of Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth. (My photo)
On the coast of Treasure Beach, St. Elizabeth. (My photo)

I am a little late in sharing this September 19, 2016 press release from our friends at the United Nations Environment Programme – Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP-CEP) about a very important project that opened very  recently (on September 20-21) in Kingston. Topics such as International Waters, Land Degradation, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Forest Management are of critical and urgent importance to our region. The project in Jamaica that falls under this program will focus on biodiversity in the Negril Environmental Protection Area – which certainly needs some attention. I look forward to hearing more about this. You can find this article online here.

IMPORTANT: I should also let you know about the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Small Grants Programme (SGP) Call for Concepts. Grants will be made to a maximum of US$100,000 of matching co-financing (cash and kind), to registered NGOs and CBOs for projects. Kindly note that the deadline for the submission of project concepts is Friday, October 14, 2016 @ 4:00 p.m.These concepts should be submitted in word format (no pdf) to: E-mail: gefsgp.jam@undp.org. For further information please contact the GEF SGP at 978-2390-9 ext. 2030 or visit their website at: http://sgp.undp.org. HURRY – THE DEADLINE IS CLOSE!

Community consultations in Chateaubelair, St. Vincent. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

Community consultations in Chateaubelair, St. Vincent. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

The natural beauty and friendly climate of the Caribbean are the envy of many, and the pride of our people. Yet, our Small Island Developing States (SIDS) are very vulnerable, due in part to our small size, vulnerable economies, heavy dependence on external energy resources, and rising populations. Unsustainable and, often unplanned, development is rapidly degrading much of our natural environment and Climate change is expected to further accelerate these negative impacts.

Over 60 representatives from participating countries, partners, and implementing and executing agencies of the Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystem Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF IWEco) Project, will gather for its Inception Workshop, 20th – 21st September 2016 in Kingston, Jamaica.This project is being financed to the tune of almost US$ 21 million by the Global Environment Facility (GEF).

GEF IWEco is a new regional, 5-year, initiative to promote a more integrated approach to water, land and ecosystems services management in Caribbean SIDS. It is a multifocal project that will implement activities under four GEF Focal Areas: International Waters, Land Degradation, Biodiversity, and Sustainable Forest Management. This wide approach is based upon an assessment of the threats and barriers within natural resources management which was carried out in consultation with national and regional stakeholders.

IWEco’s primary goal is the implementation of an integrated approach to water, land and ecosystems services management. This will be supported by policy, institutional and legislative reforms, and implementation of effective appropriate technologies and community-based solutions. The project will assist Caribbean SIDS in meeting their global targets on safe and reliable water supplies and improved sanitation, and contribute to improved ecosystem functioning in the Caribbean.

The Hellshire Coast, Portland Bight Protected Area. Natural barriers will protect the coastline much better than concrete walls.

The Hellshire Coast, Portland Bight Protected Area. Natural barriers will protect the coastline from climate change and sea level rise much more effectively than concrete walls.

This new project builds upon previous initiatives such as the GEF-funded Integrated Watershed and Coastal Areas Management Project (IWCAM) Project, implemented from 2006 – 2011, which made significant contributions to address gaps for in and coastal water resources management, and associated land and biodiversity resources management issues, in thirteen participating countries, most of which are now participating in IWEco. While the GEF-IWCAM Project and other interventions have contributed to improvements in natural resources management governance in the region, there remain significant needs, particularly in the mainstreaming of policies into national development frameworks and identifying and broadening investments in sustainable technologies, solutions and approaches.

Eleven Caribbean countries are participating: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Eight national sub-projects will replicate and upscale innovative solutions for water, land and biodiversity/ecosystems management, including sustainable forest management. These include a project in Jamaica that will support biodiversity mainstreaming in coastal landscapes within the Negril Environmental Protection Area, one in Saint Lucia that will address problems of land degradation and ecosystem degradation in the upper reaches of the Soufriere Watershed, and one in the Dominican Republic that will promote integrated management of the biodiversity, freshwater and land resources of the Higüamo River watershed and its associated coastal zone, including mitigating climate change impacts.In addition, GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) will contribute to the development of community-based livelihood initiatives around the main national interventions of the Project with a total of two million dollars.

The project is being co-implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and co-executed by UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Partnerships are an important part of IWEco, which will work with several international, regional and national organizations to further the Project’s objectives. In the area of research for instance, the Center of Engineering and Environmental Management of Bays and Coasts (CIMAB) based in Cuba, and all three campuses of the University of the West Indies (UWI)) are partners. The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) and the Caribbean Community Secretariat (CARICOM)are among partners for governance matters, and PCI Media Impact and Panos Caribbean are among partners for public awareness and education. Two additional support partnership groupings will focus on resource mobilization and private sector participation.

According to Isabelle Vanderbeck, UNEP Task Manager for the IWEco project, based in Washington DC, “the project is the largest ever implemented by UNEP in the Caribbean – while a challenge – it is also an exciting opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of Caribbean persons.”

Sustainable, bountiful harvest on Sarduy Farm, Cienfuegos Watershed, Cuba. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

Sustainable, bountiful harvest on Sarduy Farm, Cienfuegos Watershed, Cuba. (Photo: UNEP-CEP)

About UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP)

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) established the Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) in 1981 under the framework of its Regional Seas Programme. It was developed taking into consideration the importance and value of the Wider Caribbean Region’s fragile and vulnerable coastal and marine ecosystems, including an abundance of mainly endemic flora and fauna. A Caribbean Action Plan was adopted by the Countries of the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) and that led to the development and adoption of the Cartagena Convention on 24 March 1983. This Convention is the first regionally binding treaty of its kind that seeks to protect and develop the marine environment of the WCR. Since its entry into force on 11 October 1986, 25 of the 28 Wider Caribbean Region countries have become Contracting Parties.The Convention is supported by three Protocols:

  •   Protocol concerning Cooperation in combating Oil Spills, which entered into force on October 11, 1986;
  •   Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW), which entered into force on June 18, 2000;
  •   Protocol concerning Pollution from Land-based sources and activities (LBS), which entered into force on August 13, 2010.In addition, each Protocol is served by a Regional Activity Centre (RAC). These centres are based in Curacao (Regional Marine Pollution Emergency Information and Training Centre for the Wider Caribbean, RAC/REMPEITC) for the Oil Spills Protocol; in Guadeloupe (RAC/SPAW RAC for the SPAW Protocol and in Cuba, Centre of Engineering and Environmental Management of Coasts and Bays and in Trinidad & Tobago, the Institute of Marine Affairs, both for the LBS Protocol. As they endeavour to protect the Caribbean Sea and sustain our future, we look forward to their continued effort to preserve our Caribbean Sea by facilitating the implementation of the Cartagena Convention and its Protocols in the Wider Caribbean Region. The Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP-CAR/RCU), established in 1986, serves as the Secretariat to the Cartagena Convention and is based in Kingston, Jamaica.

    CLME+ Project

    The UNDP/GEF CLME+ Project is a 5-year project (2015-2020) implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The CLME+ Project is executed by the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS), in close collaboration with a large number of global, regional and national-level partners. The regional Project Coordination Unit is located within the IOCARIBE Offices of the IOC of UNESCO, in Cartagena, Colombia.

    IWECo Project

    The GEF IWEco Project is a 5-year project (2015-2020) co-implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and co-financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The IWEco project is co- executed by the UN Environment Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CEP) and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). The regional Project Coordinating Unit will be located within UNEP CEP’s offices in Kingston, Jamaica.

    To find out more about the UNEP CAR-RCU, the Cartagena Convention and its Oil Spills, SPAW and LBS Protocols, please visit the http://www.cep.unep.org. You may also contact Mr. Christopher Corbin, Programme Officer for AMEP/CETA sub-programmes, at UNEP CEP by telephone: 1(876) 922-9267-9,Fax:1 (876)922-9292, Email: cjc@cep.unep.org. We can also be found on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/UNEP-Caribbean-Environment-Programme and Twitter at: https://twitter.com/UNEP_CEP as well as Youtube at: https://www.youtube.com/user/CEPUNEP/featured

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Jamaica Environment Trust Welcomes News About Goat Islands Hub

Boating around Goat Islands: My photo from September, 2013.
Boating around Goat Islands: My photo from September, 2013.

For me personally, this is probably the biggest and best news of the year! Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Andrew Holness tweeted the following to Diana McCaulay, the CEO of the Jamaica Environment Trust from the Town Hall meeting he was holding in Queens, New York. Here is JET’s press release of September 23, welcoming the news, after years of campaigning…and of course reminding the Prime Minister that there are “matters outstanding”… We look forward to hearing more from him, but meanwhile: Thank you, Mr. Holness, for listening.

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The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) welcomes the statement from Prime Minister Holness that the logistics hub port will not go ahead at Goat Islands, due to the environmental damage it would cause. The Prime Minister mentioned other sites were being considered and we look forward to receiving further information in the coming days. A great deal of the concern about this project stemmed from the lack of information that was provided – JET hopes that a more transparent approach will be used in the future regarding this and other large investment projects.

JET encourages the Prime Minister to hold a press briefing on his return to Jamaica on the major environmental decisions that are pending. We would like to hear about the status of the declaration of boundaries for Cockpit Country, followed by closure to mining – a very long outstanding matter. We note Minister Mike Henry’s statement yesterday on the question of the coal plant in Nain, but would like to suggest that the energy source for an aluminum smelter and industrial park is something that would have to be settled at the outset, before deciding that the project is viable, and cannot be taken at a later date. JET has been concerned about the damage caused by the North South Highway link to property and quality of life in some communities as well as the serious impacts on the marine environment on the north coast. Similarly, Jamaica’s problems with solid waste management are all too obvious – we request information on the status of discussions about a waste to energy plant for Jamaica, recycling, waste diversion and reduction and other management measures to reduce the impacts of one use packaging.

JET will continue to monitor developments in the Portland Bight Protected Area, including the natural gas floating platform required by the Jamaica Public Service Co. Ltd. and any other developments which may threaten the natural resources that have been protected by law.

JET thanks everyone who supported the Save Goat Islands campaign.

Contact:

Diana McCaulay
(876) 469-1315

Paulette Coley holds up an aloe plant, abundant on Goat Islands. (Photo: Robin Moore)

Paulette Coley holds up an aloe plant, abundant on Goat Islands. (Photo: Robin Moore)

Thousands Volunteer for International Coastal Cleanup Day Jamaica 2016

ICC volunteers with the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust clean up the Montego Bay coastline. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)
ICC volunteers with the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust clean up the Montego Bay coastline. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

The good people at Jamaica Environment Trust seem very happy with Saturday’s International Coastal Cleanup Day. Here is their initial overview – a detailed breakdown from all the cleanup sites will follow.

September 21, 2016

On Saturday, September 17th the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) led 98 groups to stage over 140 beach cleanups across the island marking International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day 2016. An estimated 9,000 Jamaicans volunteered their time and efforts to clean beaches and waterways across the island on ICC Day this year. Started in 1985 by the U.S.-based NGO the Ocean Conservancy, International Coastal Cleanup Day is the largest one day volunteer event in the world, taking place in over 100 countries annually. JET is the National Coordinator of ICC activities in Jamaica, which have been funded by the Tourism Enhancement Fund since 2008. Last year, Jamaica ranked as having the 14th largest ICC volunteer turnout in the world, and the largest in the English-speaking Caribbean.

Volunteers at JET’s flagship cleanup also ventured out onto the Port Royal main road to collect garbage. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

Volunteers at JET’s flagship cleanup also ventured out onto the Port Royal main road to collect garbage. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

In 2016, the biggest cleanups were coordinated by JET on the Palisadoes Strip in Kingston; by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), which partnered with the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) to clean up the Hellshire coastline in St Catherine; and by the Montego Bay Marine Park Trust (MBMPT), which partnered with the Rotary Club of Montego Bay to clean the coastline of Jamaica’s second city. Over 2,500 volunteers assisted JET in their flagship cleanup on the Palisadoes, and over 1,000 volunteers attended both the NEPA/UDC and MBMP/Rotary Montego Bay cleanups.

Volunteers with the Rotary Club of Montego Bay clean up Freeport in that city. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

Volunteers with the Rotary Club of Montego Bay clean up Freeport in that city. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

“We are awaiting the data from the other 140 cleanup sites which we expect to come in over the next few weeks,” said Suzanne Stanley, JET Deputy CEO. “The volunteer turnout and effort this year has been exceptional and is truly encouraging.”

JET’s flagship cleanup on the Palisadoes was sponsored by TEF and Recycling Partners of Jamaica, along with in-kind support from several other corporate sponsors. The JET cleanup included three main sites, the Fort Rocky Beach, end of the stone revetment and the Port Royal main road in the vicinity of the end of the airport runway. Initial estimates suggest over 1,000 bags of garbage were removed from those sites, weighing an estimated 16,000 pounds. Special guests at the JET flagship cleanup were Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Clyde Harrison, Executive Director, TEF and Allison Schutes, Senior Manager of the Trash Free Seas Program at the Ocean Conservancy who was attending a Jamaican beach cleanup for the first time.

Left to right: Entertainer Toni “Bella” Blair, Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Executive Director of TEF Clyde Harrison, Senior Manager at the Ocean Conservancy Allison Schutes and JET CEO Diana McCaulay at the JET cleanup of Fort Rocky marking ICC 2016 – Saturday, September 17. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

Left to right: Entertainer Toni “Bella” Blair, Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Executive Director of TEF Clyde Harrison, Senior Manager at the Ocean Conservancy Allison Schutes and JET CEO Diana McCaulay at the JET cleanup of Fort Rocky marking ICC 2016 – Saturday, September 17. (Photo: Jamaica Environment Trust)

“KMT” Moments, Crocodile Feasts, and RIP Countryman: Sunday, September 18, 2016

Our feathered "winter visitors" are arriving - migrants from the north. These are always the first in our yard - the American Redstart or Butterfly Bird as we call them in Jamaica. You can't miss them. The one above with yellow markings is the female; the black and orange is the male. Welcome back to Jamaica, pretty ones!
Our feathered "winter visitors" are arriving - migrants from the north. These are always the first in our yard - the American Redstart or Butterfly Bird as we call them in Jamaica. You can't miss them. The one above with yellow markings is the female; the black and orange is the male. Welcome back to Jamaica, pretty ones!

I am not good at the “kmt” thing. In Jamaican social media slang this means “kiss my teeth” – a sound of irritation made when the tongue meets the front teeth. There were several occasions this week when I did a mental “kmt.” However, the cooler weather – bright sunny mornings and rainy afternoons – is suiting me just fine. The garden is looking really green, for the first time this year; and I just saw my first winter migrant – a female American Redstart (the “Butterfly Bird”). So, thank goodness for sweet Mother Nature.

Reverend Merrick "Al" Miller says "We are here to serve" and that he will continue to help wanted men. (Photo: Gleaner)

Reverend Merrick “Al” Miller says “We are here to serve” and that he will continue to help wanted men. I sense discomfort on the part of the JCF? (Photo: Gleaner)

“KMT” moment #1: The Reverend Al Miller, who was found guilty of attempting to pervert the course of justice, received a J$1 million fine (the maximum fine – one that he paid immediately). In July 2010, Reverend Miller drove a man wanted in the United States, Christopher “Dudus” Coke, in disguise into Kingston, purportedly to turn him in to the U.S. Embassy. Despite trying to elude the police, they were caught.  A second “KMT” was when fellow clergyman Bishop Herro Blair decided to get in on the self-serving act, weeping outside the court room after Rev. Miller’s sentencing, and telling journalists that he was also asked to intercede with Coke – before Rev. Miller – and “it could have been him.” Please give me a break, Bishop Blair!  For me, the whole episode reeked of hypocrisy, but I am told Rev. Miller performs great services for Jamaica, so perhaps I am being uncharitable. His many supporters have been praying for him – and hey, the prayers worked! No prison time for Al. One quite perturbing detail in this case (Rev. Miller was found guilty in July) was that then Commissioner of Police Owen Ellington did not testify in the court case. As for the whole business of clergymen working with the police to bring in wanted men – I truly have my doubts about this. Let the suspects turn themselves in with their lawyer. Following Bishop Blair’s tearful outburst, the current Commissioner of Police is planning to meet with him and other reverend people, to discuss “ambiguities” in the police-churchmen relationship, and to develop “protocols.” Yes, there are ambiguities, all right!

Talking of extradition… Fourteen extradition requests from the United States are now pending; eight Jamaicans appeared in court on September 13, having been indicted in North Dakota on 48 counts of wire fraud, 15 counts of mail fraud, and one count each of conspiracy and attempting to commit wire fraud. More to follow…

Tweet from @PSimpsonMiller: I want Cde @LisaHannamp to know that she has a bright future ahead in the PNP. She did well and her time will come.

Tweet from @PSimpsonMiller: I want Cde @LisaHannamp to know that she has a bright future ahead in the PNP. She did well and her time will come.

“KMT” #2: Today is the second day of the People’s National Party’s (PNP) annual conference. The results of the first day were predictable: PNP President Portia Simpson Miller was emphatically returned as the leader of a party that may possibly remain in opposition for some time to come. The “contest” between her and Dr. Karl Blythe, who had wheeled himself out of semi-retirement from the public eye to challenge her, was really a non-contest from the start. The real drama was the Vice President elections, in which Mayor of Kingston Angela Brown Burke, Tourism Spokesman Dr. Wykeham McNeill, the former (disastrous) Health Minister Fenton Ferguson (who got the most votes!) and former Local Government Minister Noel Arscott were elected. The “renewal candidate” Lisa Hanna was soundly beaten, apparently because Region Three headed by Phillip Paulwell voted against her.The results were met with varying levels of derision and disgust by many of my Twitter friends. Some younger comrades appeared mortified. Simpson Miller gave Hanna an unavoidable hug (do those hugs mean anything?) and told her “her time will come” (when? Ten, twenty years’ time perhaps?) She also commended Dr. Blythe for his “bravery.” Was the Opposition Leader being sarcastic?

Positive noises: The Economic Programme Oversight Committee (EPOC) seems happy about tax revenue, which it says continues to do better than expected – about $7 billion above the amount targeted in the budget. The Tax Administration of Jamaica appears to be doing a good job. The most notable performers were General Consumption Tax (GCT), PAYE and company taxes. The NIR is at $2.5 billion, which is encouraging for the end of September’s target, says EPOC’s Richard Byles.

A third cellular license: There is some controversy over the award of a third cellular license to Symbiote Investment Limited, as announced by the Prime Minister on September 13 – despite a negative report from the Office of the Contractor General in 2009. I must read up more about the history of this  but I am trying to understand how and why this happened.

Smoke (or smog) appearing to emanate from the Riverton City dump, seen this week. (Photo: Facebook)

Smoke (or smog) appearing to emanate from the Riverton City dump, seen this week. (Photo: Facebook)

Privatizing garbage collection? I’m not sure if this is the way to go, but Local Government Minister Desmond McKenzie says this is still on the cards. More garbage trucks are expected early next year, meanwhile. Those living in the hills around Kingston have noticed quite a bit of smoke over the general area of Riverton dump over the past few days. What’s going on there? Is there any movement on the planned waste-to-energy project now, Minister McKenzie? We need an update.

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (3rd right), converses with workmen involved in the road expansion project by the National Works Agency (NWA) on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, during a tour of the area on Friday. (Photo: JIS)

Local Government and Community Development Minister, Hon. Desmond McKenzie (3rd right) with workmen involved in the road expansion project by the National Works Agency on Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston, during a tour of the area on Friday. The road works were an additional factor in the recent floods. (Photo: JIS)

Meanwhile, while touring the Marcus Garvey Drive area, where major flooding took place recently, the Minister in his sternest voice announced that anti-litter laws are to be strengthened and additional police officers are being trained to enforce said laws.

Bedward Gardens in August Town has been transformed into a dump, created by a construction firm working for the University of the West Indies. Charles Simpson, director of compliance and enforement at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), looks on as Audley Gordon, NSWMA chief technical officer, stands atop a section of the illegal dump site. (Photo: Jamaica Star)

Bedward Gardens in August Town has been transformed into a dump, created by an unnamed contracting firm working at the University of the West Indies. Here Charles Simpson, director of compliance and enforcement at the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), looks on as Audley Gordon, NSWMA chief technical officer, stands atop a section of the illegal dump site. (Photo: Jamaica Star)

I’m glad to know that the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) has identified the firm responsible for the illegal garbage dump in Bedward Gardens, August Town. Please name the firm, NSWMA, and prosecute them! Let’s see some real action in enforcing all our environmental laws! I know that some are being blatantly broken, especially in regard to protected species.

And talking of protected species: Is it true that weekly “crocodile feasts” are taking place in Westmoreland, apparently with law enforcement turning a blind eye? Well…?

The situation in Negril a week or so ago. (Photo: Facebook)

The situation in Negril a week or so ago. (Photo: Facebook)

Talking of flooding, the Negril River overflowed its banks recently and its contents flowed through the grounds of a high-profile resort and into the sea. The river is polluted. Trash blocking the drains has made matters worse, say government agencies; however, I’ve learned that the new road and sidewalks are also very poorly designed. What a mess!

Plans for Portland: The ever-cheerful Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett has announced great plans for the parish of Portland (just as I was about to write a separate post about the ongoing decline and decay there), including health and wellness tourism.” I have heard about a “Portland revival” so many times before that all I can do is heave a weary sigh. Let’s see what happens, but I’m not holding my breath.

Countryman in the film of the same name. I'm not sure of his real name…

Countryman in the film of the same name. I’m not sure of his real name…He passed away this week.

Do you remember Countryman? He was a real person – a Rastafarian fisherman from Hellshire, St. Catherine – who became a bit of a star in the 1983 film of the same name, directed by the late Dickie Jobson and produced by Chris Blackwell. You can watch the film on YouTube here. The opening scene, where he is fishing from his canoe by moonlight (with Bob Marley’s Natural Mystic playing) has always stuck in my mind. It might seem a little corny nowadays; but it would completely “sell” you on Jamaica, even if you didn’t smoke weed! I was very sad to hear that Countryman has died, in Hellshire. Is Jamaica the same as it was, in those gentler days? Certainly, Hellshire is not. Rest in peace, Countryman. You were loved.

There’s a special event coming up in Montego Bay (October 24 – 26) called FOROMIC XIX 2016. It describes itself as “Latin America and the Caribbean’s most important annual event on microfinance and entrepreneurship.” FOROMIC has a particular focus on microfinance, aiming to show “that serving low-income households and small businesses is possible, sustainable and profitable.” Over 41 countries are expected to attend as well as experts in microenterprise, small and medium enterprise, representatives from financial institutions, entrepreneurship associations, governments, NGOs, academics. This is an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) project now in its 19th year, this time with the support of the Jamaican Ministry of Finance and Planning. More details here.

Major big ups to:

Shomari (not sure if I got the spelling right), a young man I met at the University of Technology. He goes round the campus selling small packets of fruit, carefully wrapped, to students at $100 apiece. A piece of pawpaw and a banana, for example. If you see him, buy something from him. He is trying hard, and he knows a lot more about customer service than many of the bored receptionists and passive-aggressives salespeople I know. Great entrepreneurship!

"Think Visual": Seth Gitner of Syracuse University teaching multimedia storytelling at the U.S. Embassy/UTech workshop. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Facebook page)

“Think Visual”: Seth Gitner of Syracuse University teaching multimedia storytelling at the U.S. Embassy/UTech workshop. He was terrific! (Photo: U.S. Embassy Facebook page)

The U.S. Embassy, UTech and Seth Gitner: Seth (Associate Professor at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University) was presenter at two sessions on multimedia storytelling. I attended with PR practitioners, photojournalists, social media practitioners and a bunch of bloggers like myself. I learned a great deal about photography, video, vertical social media (SnapChat etc). and about all kinds of technology and new apps (we had fun in the Sculpture Park with a new gadget that does 360° video). I’m going to get more creative and try some video too…In fact, it may have inspired us bloggers, as my fellow blogger Dennis Jones is now doing Facebook Live sessions! Thanks a million to the U.S. Embassy’s Cleo Walker for organizing the sessions, which I would say were a great success; and to Andrew P. Smith of UTech’s Media and Communications Department.

Jamaica Yellow Pages love their beaches! At the End of Stones site on Palisadoes, Kingston yesterday. (My photo)

Jamaica Yellow Pages love their beaches! At the End of Stones site on Palisadoes, Kingston yesterday. (My photo)

Jamaica Environment Trust (for providing the energy, organization and inspiration in bucketfuls!) and all those organizations involved – service clubs, businesses large and small, non-governmental organizations, community groups, schools, colleges, even families – in the International Coastal Cleanup Day yesterday. As I noted in my earlier post, it was very encouraging to see so many young people involved, and working hard. One day a year is not enough, and we need of course to address the root causes of the problems (as a reader just pointed out to me!) However, the day offers an invaluable opportunity for the spirit of volunteerism to thrive – and for those involved to learn and understand more about our environmental challenges first-hand. Many thanks to Tourism Minister Ed Bartlett for stopping by, and congratulations to all!

Chevano Baker is the JN Foundation's Legacy Scholar. He has just arrived in the UK to study at Birmingham University. Here he is recently, being appointed as an I Believe Ambassador by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen during a courtesy call at Kings House. (Photo: JN Foundation/Twitter)

Chevano Baker is the JN Foundation’s Legacy Scholar. He has just arrived in the UK to study at Birmingham University. He was recently appointed as an I Believe Ambassador by Governor General Sir Patrick Allen at Kings House. (Photo: JN Foundation/Twitter)

Managing Director of Purity Bakery Anthony Chang. (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner)

Managing Director of Consolidated Bakeries Ltd. (Purity Bakery) Anthony Chang. (Photo: Ian Allen/Gleaner)

Businessman Anthony Chang, a former Fulbright Scholar and former President of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, who has always been very modest about his achievements and his contributions to “nation-building.” I am happy to see he will receive a national honor on National Heroes Day, next month. Mr. Chang also worked hard in helping to set up the Jamaica Debates Commission – what a pity the People’s National Party eschewed this option during the last election campaign.

Malgorzata Wasilewska, who is the new Head of Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica. She has worked in the field of conflict resolution and peace building. These sound like excellent skills, and I wish her all the very best!

international-week-of-the-deaf-2016logo

The Jamaica Association for the Deaf, who will be highlighting the importance of sign language during the coming week, which is International Week of the Deaf.

Police Commissioner Carl Williams. (Photo: Gleaner)

Police Commissioner Carl Williams. (Photo: Gleaner)

Commissioner of Police Carl Williams, who despite the enormous stress of his job and the at times almost overwhelming crime rate, has recently sought to raise his own personal profile and connection with the Jamaican public. I missed his recent “ask me anything” Twitter chat. This week, I think he did quite well in a one-on-one, nearly hour-long interview with Simon Crosskill on CVM Television’s Live at Seven.

Once again, our children are suffering from crime and violence on a daily basis. Recently, a six year-old girl was shot and wounded in March Pen, near Spanish Town. She’s now out of hospital, I am glad to say; but I cannot imagine the trauma. As for the Spanish Town Bus Park, at regular intervals we hear reports of shootings there. What is being done? Shouldn’t there be a police presence there at all times? Meanwhile the list of Jamaicans murdered in the past week is quite terrifying. My deepest condolences to all the many people who are mourning their deaths. When will it end?

Steve Allen (Frenchie), West Kingston (killed by police)

Unidentified man, downtown Kingston

Unidentified man, Church Street, Kingston

Cordettte Lewis, 69, West Street, Denham Town, Kingston

Shamahi Henry, 20, Oakland Avenue, Kingston

Maden Fraser, Parade Gardens, Kingston 

Waid Shaw, Duhaney Park, Kingston

Natalie Smith, 36, Central Village, St. Catherine

Humroy Bennett, 55, Reynolds, Clarendon

Wayne Nicholson, 34, Chapelton, Clarendon

Shakera Roberts, 16, Newcombe, St. Elizabeth

Ricardo Wallace, 26, Elderslie, St. Elizabeth

Brian Chambers, 24, Greenland, Hanover

Ricardo Morgan, 22, Greenland, Hanover

Michael Smith, 24, Long Bay/Barrett Town, St. James

Vinroy Drummond, 22, Barrett Town, St. James

Kingsley Williams, 33, Glendevon, St. James

Obrien Nelson, 23, Flamstead, St. James

Lincoln Atkinson, 23, German Town, St. James

Conroy Johnson, 24, Hampton, St. James

Conroy Jarrett, Adelphi, St. James

Dugal McLeish, 29, Anchovy, St. James

Warren Hodges, Wakefield, Trelawny

Rev. Delroy Bingham, Cardiff Hall, Runaway Bay, St. Ann

Wayne Henry, 45, Jeffrey Town, St. Mary

Members of the security forces keep watch as residents converge at the spot where Steve ‘Frenchie’ Allen was fatally shot by members of a police team last Monday. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)

Members of the security forces keep watch as residents converge at the spot where Steve ‘Frenchie’ Allen, an alleged gang member, was fatally shot by members of a police team last Monday. (Photo: Jermaine Barnaby/Gleaner)

Heat and Boulders: The End of Stones at International Coastal Cleanup Day

Volunteers of all ages. Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica! (My photo)
Volunteers of all ages. Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica! (My photo)

The surface of Kingston Harbour was like highly polished, dark blue glass early this morning. Here and there, a motionless figure perched on a tiny canoe, bent over a fishing line. Pelicans pretended to be statues, on posts near the shore.

On the rocks. (My photo)

On the rocks. (My photo)

International Beach Cleanup Day rolled around again (it seems to come round so fast) and I was volunteering with Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) at the “End of Stones” location on the Palisadoes spit that runs between the harbor and the open sea. The stones are actually huge boulders, dug out of the hills and piled up along the sea side. The stones are intended to shield the road between the city and the Norman Manley International Airport from storms, high winds and high tides. The stones have yet to be tested by a major storm. I suspect they will simply roll into the road when the next hurricane comes, pushed by wind and waves.

In previous years I have worked at Fort Rocky on the road to Port Royal – where approximately 2,000 volunteers were deployed today. At the End of Stones we had around 1,000 people, in large and small teams. There were family groups – the Chow Family were bright and early; corporate entities such as KPMG; students from the University of Technology and Kingston College; the teachers of May Pen Primary School; service clubs; government agencies such as HEART Trust; Japanese volunteers and civil society groups such as TransWave. To name but a few!

JET are good, good people. (My photo)

JET are good, good people. (My photo)

Walking round the End of Stones, where a huge pile of dusty grey sand had created a small mountain, one emerged onto the beach, which stretched down to the tiny white lighthouse on the Port Royal road at the end. The water was silky smooth and unusually calm, stroking smooth black and grey pebbles. The sky simmered in the rising morning heat, and only a faint cool breath came from the sea.

Zip FM disc jockey ZJ Sparks inciting a dancehall riot to round off the morning. (My photo)

Zip FM disc jockey ZJ Sparks inciting a dancehall riot to round off the morning. (My photo)

 

The volunteers stretched down the beach for at least a mile or two, bags trailing. There was plenty to collect – almost all of it washed up on the beach by the sea, much of it from the gullies and rivers, where some Jamaicans are in the habit of dumping their garbage. There were some huge industrial size objects, however, which may have come from a factory, or perhaps even a ship. As usual, plastic bottles were everywhere.

Admiring the view: Volunteers take a break on the Kingston Harbour side. (My photo)

Admiring the view: Volunteers take a break on the Kingston Harbour side. (My photo)

On the harbor side, we gazed at the flat water; the curve of the waterside around by the cement works; the spiky shapes of the ships at anchor; and one moving slowly out with a long, low blast of its horn. Behind lay the green mountains – very green, after all the rain – against a sun-bleached sky.

We had music from Zip FM. The rhythms carried us through the morning, as groups registered with us and asked questions about getting water and collecting their equipment.  We managed to hook up stray volunteers with groups, so they could participate. One group – the alumni of the Japan Exchange and Teaching program – were well organized with large igloos containing refreshments, folding chairs and floppy hats. They settled down at the end of our tent, after dutifully collecting garbage, to eat and drink. It got busy, then quieter again. The music started to hypnotize. The hot dog stand smelt good.

Minister Ed Bartlett knows about plastic. (My photo)

Minister Ed Bartlett knows about plastic. (My photo)

Minister of Tourism Ed Bartlett arrived, and was duly interviewed by the Zip disc jockey, ZJ Sparks (just a few minutes earlier she had been urging on a group of dancers What during a mini dancehall session). The Minister, looking cheerful as usual and wearing the appropriately branded T shirt and cap, was quite knowledgeable about the appalling levels of plastic in the sea. The Tourism Enhancement Fund is the major sponsor of the International Coastal Cleanup Day in Jamaica.

The largest piece of garbage ever collected? (My photo)

The largest piece of garbage ever collected? (My photo)

The volunteers were amazing, the atmosphere was friendly – and I believe everyone felt they were making a difference. Special kudos (above all) to Deputy CEO of JET Suzanne Stanley and the fabulous JET team; the Jamaica Constabulary Force, who kept traffic flowing; the St. John Ambulance, who had only two cases to deal with (one nasty cut on a hand, one case of dizziness and mild heatstroke); providers of water, ice and food; and Zip, providers of awesome rhythms. And to all those who turned out on a hot Saturday morning to help clean our beaches.

What more is there to say? Well, in the immortal words of JET’s campaign: Nuh Dutty Up Jamaica! It is far too beautiful. Far too beautiful. 

Volunteers working the beach. (My photo)

Volunteers working the beach. (My photo)

P.S. Something I really enjoy about the Jamaican beach clean up days is that our young people, who might otherwise still be lazing in bed (Friday night is a big night out in Kingston), always join in substantial numbers, every year, with the same enthusiasm. Today, as usual, they put their hearts into the cleanup work, laughing, joking, singing, working together in teams…and they still had a little energy in reserve for a mini dancehall session, before piling into their buses to go back into town. I don’t like to hear people denigrating our youth. I believe (I know) they are trying to do their best in an unforgiving world that has little time for them.

The sea says "thank you." (My photo).

The sea says “thank you.” (My photo).