Sharpen Your Keyboards! Second Jamaica Blog Day: May 23, 2014


Last year, two Jamaican bloggers came up with the brilliant idea of a special day where we focus on one issue of concern. Last year focused on human rights abuses by the security forces (which, interestingly, have declined steeply this year to date – perhaps the pen IS mightier than the sword!) This year’s theme is of great interest to me personally: “Environment vs Development” (but, is it really “versus”?)

I urge you all to sharpen your keyboards and get to work on May 23, 2014 (which is also Labour Day in Jamaica)! Share your perspectives. May all views contend!

SECOND JAMAICA BLOG DAY – MAY 23, 2014

JAMAICAN BLOGGERS ACT ON ONE DAY TO ADDRESS THE THEME OF “ENVIRONMENT V. DEVELOPMENT…?” IN JAMAICA

Jamaica Blog Day 2014
Jamaica Blog Day 2014

Kingston, JAMAICA May 19, 2014 – Following on the success of last year’s inaugural Jamaica Blog Day, the vibrant and still growing community of Jamaican bloggers will again engage in coordinated activity to blog together on one topic: the relationship between the environment and development in Jamaica. On May 23, 2014 for Jamaica Blog Day (also abbreviated as Ja Blog Day), Jamaican bloggers will publish posts under the theme: “Environment v. Development…?” The date for Ja Blog Day remains symbolic, a reminder of a pivotal moment in recent Jamaican history: May 23, 2010 then-Prime Minister Bruce Golding declared a State of Emergency in Jamaica. Over the next few days, it is reported that over 70 Jamaicans died. For the first Ja Blog Day, which focused on police and security force abuses, and for this year’s and the ones that will come after, Jamaican bloggers act with that historic day in mind to speak up and about issues that reverberate across the island and that affect all Jamaicans. Jamaica Blog Day is meant to empower Jamaicans to tell their own stories about the issues that concern our country.

The environment and its role or place in Jamaica’s development plans has been centerstage in many discussions during recent months. From the ongoing hot and complex debate about the fate of Goat Islands and the Portland Bight area (related to a transhipment Logistics Hub) to concerns about the impact and viability of the Falmouth Pier, many Jamaicans have wondered just how to balance our need for economic growth with maintaining the naturally beautiful vistas and beaches for which we are known.

On May 23, 2013, 21 bloggers participated (http://jablogday.tumblr.com/post/51181833688/ja-blog-day-2013-posts) and we anticipate even more activity on May 23, 2014 because the issue of our environment and development is a live one: from the near yearlong vigorous debate about the use of Goat Islands and the Portland Bight Protected Area for a Logistics Hub, to residents in Falmouth speaking up, again, about the damage a heralded pier has done to their communities, to drought that yet again grips the island and many Jamaicans choking on toxic smoke from the Riverton City Dump. Economists, politicians, environmentalists, businesspeople, the media, and “ordinary” Jamaicans on The Rock or in the Diaspora are all debating how Jamaica and Jamaicans should manage the environment in the quest for development.

All viewpoints from all kinds of Jamaicans are welcome. To participate in Ja Blog Day, bloggers are not given any directives about how they should post or present on the theme of the relationships or (perceived?) tension between the environment and development in Jamaica. The topic was chosen against the backdrop of the aforementioned vigorous debate, and as Jamaica faces a number of tough major decisions on coal fired plants, a new dam in the Bog Walk Gorge, mining for so-called rare earth elements, and – still – whether we should allow the Chinese government to lead the development of the Logistics Hub in a Protected Area, it is fitting that Jamaican bloggers will take an active role in helping to inform this debate.

“This issue has captured the attention of many Jamaicans for some time now. It’s not going away. Unhelpful comments from the media, for example labelling environmentalists as Luddites, or from politicians berating the concern over “two likkle lizaad” and casting those who question as elitists do not do justice to the need for careful examination and full debate about how Jamaica should best develop while taking care of our environment. Jamaicans deserve better,” writes blogger Alice Clare. She adds, “Isn’t it our beautiful country that has won us such acclaim and earns us money? Shouldn’t we be more careful stewards of our surroundings, not selfishly only for ourselves but for our children and their grandchildren?”

It is intended that the posts produced on May 23, 2014 for the second Ja Blog Day will widen dialogue on the issues related to the environment and development. The fact that Jamaica’s strong and growing community of Jamaican bloggers have chosen to speak up about this issue will bring attention to an issue that deserves some intervention.

“With this theme there are a myriad of issues that have captured public attention, and there are many opinions and perspectives to which we haven’t yet been exposed. Ja Blog Day will help us capture those perspectives in one space so that we can expand our thinking as we develop our own opinions,” says blogger Durie Dee.

The posts on Ja Blog Day are intended to be a campaign for raising awareness and more thoughtful action about Jamaica’s environment that is in Jamaica’s best interests. Except for the topic, there are no requirements for how Jamaica’s bloggers will tackle this issue and a wide array of posts is encouraged. Jamaica’s blogging community has been growing especially over the past 3 years; many have become go-to news and opinion sources for Jamaica’s increasingly digital population.

Given the history of this day, May 23, it is an appropriate day of yearly action and activism for Jamaica’s community of bloggers to focus the nation’s attention. Jamaica (Ja) Blog Day will continue to at least be an annual event for Jamaican bloggers. Each topic will be different but the charge will be the same: a day of action blogging together on an important issue in service to Jamaica. Jamaica Blog Day is the brainchild of two Jamaican bloggers: Annie Paul (blogger at Active Voice – http://www.anniepaul.net/) and Alice Clare (blogger at CucumberJuice – http://www.cucumberjuice.wordpress.com). For Ja Blog Day in May 2014, Durie Dee, blogger at T.H.I.N.K. Jamaica (www.thinkja.com) is also managing the event. Visit http://www.jablogday.tumblr.com, http://www.twitter.com/jablogday, http://www.facebook.com/jabl;ogday, for more information and continuing updates.

WHAT: Jamaica Blog Day on “Environment v. Development….?

WHEN: May 23, 2014, all day

WEBSITE: http://www.jablogday.tumblr.com

TWITTER: @JABLOGDAY #JaBlogDay14 #EnvVDev

EMAIL: JaBlogDay@gmail.com

Jamaican filmmaker and author of Jamaica's first environmental novel "Limbo" at work.
Jamaican filmmaker and author of Jamaica’s first environmental novel “Limbo” Esther Figueroa at work. Yes, many Jamaicans are writing about our fragile environment and the threat of UNsustainable development.

 

 


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