Categorized | Features, General, Local

Who Are These People? And is it true what other people are saying about them?

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

Who was it?, is what I would like to know!

Who was the person, or the group of sharp, progressive-minded persons who decided, or agreed that when visitors arrive in Montserrat’s Capital Town in 20XX and beyond, what would make the best, most positive impression on them, and at the same time, portray Montserrat in the most attractive, Montserratian light, would be a beachfront that looks like the set from a tacky, low-budget 1940’s Pacific Islands movie?
Replete with roofs of fake, plastic palm fronds, no less!
Marine village litle bay

Marine village litle bay

Who was it that decided or agreed that the best, and indeed the only feasible (critical) way forward for Montserrat, is a rehash of the time-worn, overused, unreliable and unpredictable tourism, not to mention the destructive and notoriously low-paying cruise ship tourism?
And who, pray tell, was the bright, creative light who put forward the notion that this uber-well-recompensed Lane Pettigrew banality is an exciting design for a really fabulously modern, Montserratian-friendly and beautiful new town, Portsmouth? for the people of Montserrat?
Who are these people? And is it true what so many other Montserratian people are saying about them?
A replica design of Little Bay town

A replica design of Little Bay town

As my American friends would expostulate, “Are you kidding me??!!” – to which I would respond, “I kid you not, my friends. This mediocrity is It. This is the New, Improved Montserrat.” And then my American friends and I would all agree that we have seen better-looking housing developments in South Florida!!

Several years ago, I spent some time at the Cultural Centre perusing the designs and models for Little Bay, and I held my peace, then. It made very little sense to me, and from what I overheard of the conversations going on around me, I was not the only Montserratian having that experience. I have been hearing that changes, modifications and adaptations are being made all along the way, and I am sure that’s true, although I do have to say, the ones I have seen so far, don’t seem any more suitable or intelligent than the originals. So, now, I speak my piece – and encourage every other Montserratian to do the same, whether you question the design and the logic, or whether you have no questions at all.
Over a period of twenty – or perhaps even thirty years – I have had some very deep and informal conversations about the Little Bay Development – many of them with the man whose vision had first made it seem a possibility. Even before, when we all thought that all was well with Plymouth and that Little Bay would be almost purely tourist-oriented, the then-Chief Minister and I disagreed about some important aspects of the proposed plan. We did agree, however, that it HAD to be Montserratians – Montserratian people, not The Government – who would own, control and direct the property, the businesses and everything else in this development.
We agreed that foreign investment would be desirable and necessary, of course, on the understanding that Montserratians would not be merely cleaners and servers, but would be trained to manage and invited to invest. We disagreed then, about dredging and destroying the coastline, but after the Montserrat Public Market fiasco, he was convinced to re-imagine his vision, though for reasons different to mine.
I am as certain as the next Montserratian that some directed development has to go on at Little Bay, and of course, we do need a Capital Town, I suppose, and a hodge-podge of scattered stores and offices really does not constitute that. And, yes, emphatically, YESS!! I do believe that we need a “gathering place”, an “evergreen tree re-visited”, a place where, if you sit still long enough, you will see everybody go by, who is on the island.
But, I – and just about every Montserratian that I have had the pleasure to engage in conversation with, on this topic, have questions.
So, help me – help us – get this straight: How exactly are Montserratians, in general, being engaged, included, made to feel party to this development? To what extent is the special nature of Montserrat, and the special natures of Montserratians being taken into active consideration in the development and actuation of the plans? Why is it that so very many Montserratians are feeling displaced and dispossessed?
And, what kind tourism?
You mean to tell me, to tell Montserrat, that after all these years and after everything that Montserrat has gone through, the Grand Plan still, really and truly is all about tourists and visitors? And that it now even includes the complete and utter destruction of the entire Little Bay/Carr’s Bay general area? Including the valuable and irreplaceable coastline? In favour of a fanciful marina and deep-sea harbour, with “docking facilities to handle cruise vessels up to 294 metres”?
Are there even as many as 294 metres of distance between Carr’s Bay and Little Bay? (But modifications continue. Fortunately?) And whose 294-metre cruise vessels will dock here? The Disney tours’?
And when the tourists on these cruise ships do come ashore, what are they going to tour, exactly? What are they going to do? Laud and praise the architectural artistry of Lane Pettigrew? The generousity of DFID? The sharp thinking of the MDC? The history-making of the Premier who was in Office? The business acumen of Syrian hoteliers? The easy spending of the Arab oilmen? (Has no-one approached the Chinese yet?)
Oh! Yeah! I forgot!! The volcano! The volcano! The tourists will all tour through Cudjoe Head (but will it still be there?) and up and down the picturesque and bushy winding roads, through the new and improved Cassava and Runaway Ghauts, to the Observatory to tour “The Volcano”. Nothing wrong with virtual touring, of course.
Or, more likely, the ships will simply anchor off-shore, as they are doing right now, pausing as they pass in the night, to observe from afar – which, generally, is the safest approach to active volcanoes – while travellers experience the thrill of dancing under the stars. Maybe even with the Captain!
And who are these careless and distracted sea-persons who would blithely dock their beloved yachts and sailboats in deep, roiling sea, with such great, natural, inlet-ed, hurricane protection just 30 miles away? Will the jetties anchored in deep water alleviate the roiling? Or will the sea just roil all over them? Memories of Hurricane Hugo, anyone!?
Breakwater? Pylons? “The island is bordered by a shallow submarine shelf of variable width, (maximum 5 Km around Silver Hills) that extends to a maximum water depth of ~100 metres. The Steeper submarine flanks of the island extend down to water depths of 750-1000 metres.” Insights from high-resolution seismic data, Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, briefly summarised based on previous work by Depuis et al., 2001; Le Friant et al., 2004; Feuillet et al., 2010.
Earlier Master plan

Earlier Master plan

And people are to believe that that little hill between Carr’s Bay and Little Bay, is going to hold twenty-some-odd homes? Or 150-200 condos?  And let us, please, just for the moment, leave the million-dollar villa thing out of this!
I didn’t actually go measure it out myself, but it seems to me that unless the plan is to reconstruct Gun Hill atop said molehill, there will be room for perhaps four or five very modest-sized structures. With the addition of Gun Hill, maybe seven! But perhaps these million dollar villas are going to be the size of the iconic Vue Pointe Hotel round houses! Then, of course, we might be able to get ten or twelve squeezed on.
Which million-dollar villas could possibly need grounds and gardens, after all! And, of course, which millionaires would not want to be able to step into their neighbours’ bedrooms straight out of their own, no stretching of legs necessary, at all!
Present town plan with port

Present town plan with port

And, who would buy a million-dollar villa or condo less than a quarter-mile away from a major commercial, working port? Unless that major commercial working, port were, maybe, Cannes, Hong Kong or Monte Carlo, for example! See below.

Monaco

Monaco

And, why have we not yet got away from the notion that when people travel they want to see the exact same things that they live every day? Why can we not imagine, or ask some people who travel, if they travel to see things and people who are different to what they encounter in their regular lives? Can we not wrap our heads around the idea that travellers, even cruise ship travellers, might crave some authenticity, and something truly beautiful, something better and different to what they just saw in twenty-five hundred other places?
So, why are we offering Montserrat as this low-budget, sea-side tourist byway? (reference: tacky, fake, plastic, palm-frond-roofed buildings and more) Have we no higher vision? No more expansive reservoirs of creativity? No other senses? Nothing better to offer?
“Montserrat is in the unique position to rebuild and redefine itself. But we have to be careful of misbranding ourselves and not being able to deliver on that brand. We could be “relaxation refined.” Or we could be what we really are. A tiny Island with an active volcano to explore, beautiful waters to navigate, jaw dropping views and the most amazing people who, once a year throw one of the greatest festival celebration(s) anywhere.” Theo Semper, MNI Alive September 24th, 2012.
Of course, the people in the know say that it will be many years – maybe even many, many years – before this South Sea Island Resort City of Little Bay charade could possibly come into being to any appreciable degree – if ever! – so perhaps this is all moot, and no sleep need be lost over it by me or by anyone else.
Nonetheless!
I really was not born cynical and untrusting. And I know about the whole tabula rasa notion, but I wasn’t born stupid, either. And, I suspect, neither were most Montserratians.  So, why are we being sold this bill of goods? And, more to the point, why are we allowing ourselves to be un-remonstrating party to said sale?
I will not much touch that “investment” idea. I shall say nothing about it, except to ask one question – the ROI?
The other questions to which I really want an answer include: is this whole Little Bay Development farce really a cover-up for some sinister and unsavoury thing going on right under our Montserratian noses, or is it merely a mediocre and mundane scam for the short-sighted accrual of financial gain to some few?
Am I the only one who thinks that, given the facts about Montserrat and the rest of the world, given what we know of tourists, shoppers, cruise ships and travellers; wine-bars, souvenir shops and restaurants; dive-shops, marinas, sailors and sailboats, and of millionaires and corrupt, inept and/or dull government-ers, this particular plan could only possibly be one or the other?
NO! I am not. I am most definitely not the only who thinks this.
Thinking Montserratian minds tell me that they fear it can only be “a scam” or “a cover-up”. Resident, working Montserrat bodies tell me they know of, hear of, have direct evidence of kickbacks and pay-outs and hand-wash-hand-ing and quid pro quo-ing and such. Montserratians, resident, domiciled and of other statuses tell me they do not see that it looks like it could possibly be anything more or better.
I hear of mis-directed monies in sums ranging from six thousand five hundred to eight hundred thousand and all the way up to five million. Dollars. Yesyes. Dollars. EC or US, you ask? Does it matter? Is any of this really true, I ask? Where there is smoke there is fire, my grandparents taught me. And even if the “smoke” is really clouds, it merits some attention. It would be in the interests of the rainmakers to explain the clouds.
So, a development plan! A development plan? For whom?
For a people whom the prime movers of the government, and other leaders, movers and shakers describe variously as a “bunch/group/country of limers”? –  and frequently, I have to surmise, having heard it reported by so many different people in so many and various situations! For a people who they say “don’t want to work”? Don’t know how to “do”? A people who have no initiative or ambition?
It seems unmistakably clear to me that whatever Montserratians are thought to be, this plan is not for them. A country, a people, my people, is not just a collection of buildings and roads and berthing facilities. A country, a people, my people, are a culture, are an anthology of traditions, borne of personal and collective preferences, spontaneous adjustments to nature, gathered wisdom and customs, personal and collective ambitions, aptitudes and abilities. It is organic, otherwise it is tenuous, vulnerable and dangerous, apt to decline and disintegrate disastrously.
It seems pretty obvious to me that this new and improved Montserrat Capital Town is not intended to be a country for the Montserratian people, else “the Montserratian people” would be enthusiastically sought out, allowed, encouraged and supported in designing, challenging, creating, living in, doing business in, deciding how it should be, who should be in it, what it should do, and their ideas and concerns would be actively included in the design, planning, construction and using stages. Showing already created models and designs or, as with Constitutions, having pretend discussions on radio do not fit the definition of “consultation and participation” and not of inclusion.
It is “the Montserratian People” who should create their new country and actively decide what the capital should look like and stand for. Elected to manage is not elected to ignore dismiss and override. Montserratians should be actively, aggressively and purposefully, supported and encouraged so that they come up with their own ideas for businesses, and they should be unhesitatingly facilitated in starting the agreed-upon ones.
Montserratians should be encouraged and allowed to design the buildings that they like, with paint and decor that speak to their aesthetic and reflect their traditions, and that serve the purposes of the businesses they will own, operate and invest or live in – in Little Bay. These are some of what will make of the capital a truly Montserratian town, and not, as is being proposed and promoted, a cheap, tropicalised, knock-off of some suburban housing, new-town development in the United States blended with tawdry, low-budget, 1940’s Hollywood South Sea Isles tackiness.
Development at this scale has to be accompanied by a “whatever it takes” approach to engaging the people. It is not in the interests of any entity involved to antagonise unnecessarily any other party – and the people of Montserrat are an essential party to this development plan.
“Montserrat intends to be an economically self-sufficient nation driven by a robust private sector. To achieve this we are adopting a highly selective investment strategy based on our natural assets and historic reputation”. (InvestMontserrat.com/Montserrat/)
Yet, the stories I hear are of “ordinary” Montserratians – the single, most valuable natural asset that Montserrat has and without which there can be no development – being sidelined, blackballed, excluded, and discouraged subtly and not so subtly from participating – because of course, Montserratians are just not up to this “big business” thing! They really just want to lime and live easy!
And, of course, that will be the reason given – is already the reason being given, actually – for giving the new Montserrat away. That is the reason being given for not providing Montserratians the training, support, and directed encouragement they need to help Montserrat rebound, to redesign a country according to themselves, to start-up, own and conduct businesses, to develop, assemble, fabricate, or pull together a Capital Town that is of themselves. Since Montserratians are just a bunch of lazy, inept, incompetent, un-businesslike, inarticulate, unambitious limers, then of course, Montserrat has to all be given to someone else to design, rebuild, create, manage, direct and OWN!
The level of contempt evident in all of this cannot be missed, dismissed or denied and makes my blood fairly boil. There is a degree of disregard that should by now be raising hackles, or very strong demands for truthful and verifiable answers at the very least. The disdain being directed at Montserratians – resident, domiciled and expatriated – with regard to the redevelopment and redirection of our island, by men who legislatively declare that they have the good of the Montserratian people always at heart, is disheartening, to put it mildly.
I have yet to speak with one Montserratian – resident, domiciled or expatriated – who truly understands the plans for the Little Bay/Carr’s Bay development, or who expresses any excitement about the development(s), whether planned or already executed. I have not yet had a conversation with any Montserratian – resident, domiciled or expatriated – who speaks with any confidence in the ability of the people who have charged themselves with the development, or who even believes these people when they speak. By and large, Montserratians – resident, domiciled and expatriated – seem to think these development leader people (and not just the Montserratian ones!) are liars and thieves, or worse.
That last, is what bothers me the most. You know, that old smoke-fire/cloud-rain connection thing! But all of this is stuff that we can deal with in any of a variety of ways. And I have absolute, unshaken confidence that we shall!
The thing we ALL need to do, I think, is TALK. Share. Communicate. Talk straight. Exchange thoughts, ideas and concerns. Address concerns, consider alternatives, include everyone and show some compassion. Put yourself in the shoes of the Montserratians who are not you.
How about it, then, Montserratians, MDC, GoM and politicians?
************************************

Comments are closed.

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

CXC HEADQUARTERS - Executive Search

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

Who was it?, is what I would like to know!

Who was the person, or the group of sharp, progressive-minded persons who decided, or agreed that when visitors arrive in Montserrat’s Capital Town in 20XX and beyond, what would make the best, most positive impression on them, and at the same time, portray Montserrat in the most attractive, Montserratian light, would be a beachfront that looks like the set from a tacky, low-budget 1940’s Pacific Islands movie?
Replete with roofs of fake, plastic palm fronds, no less!
Marine village litle bay

Marine village litle bay

Insert Ads Here
Who was it that decided or agreed that the best, and indeed the only feasible (critical) way forward for Montserrat, is a rehash of the time-worn, overused, unreliable and unpredictable tourism, not to mention the destructive and notoriously low-paying cruise ship tourism?
And who, pray tell, was the bright, creative light who put forward the notion that this uber-well-recompensed Lane Pettigrew banality is an exciting design for a really fabulously modern, Montserratian-friendly and beautiful new town, Portsmouth? for the people of Montserrat?
Who are these people? And is it true what so many other Montserratian people are saying about them?
A replica design of Little Bay town

A replica design of Little Bay town

As my American friends would expostulate, “Are you kidding me??!!” – to which I would respond, “I kid you not, my friends. This mediocrity is It. This is the New, Improved Montserrat.” And then my American friends and I would all agree that we have seen better-looking housing developments in South Florida!!

Several years ago, I spent some time at the Cultural Centre perusing the designs and models for Little Bay, and I held my peace, then. It made very little sense to me, and from what I overheard of the conversations going on around me, I was not the only Montserratian having that experience. I have been hearing that changes, modifications and adaptations are being made all along the way, and I am sure that’s true, although I do have to say, the ones I have seen so far, don’t seem any more suitable or intelligent than the originals. So, now, I speak my piece – and encourage every other Montserratian to do the same, whether you question the design and the logic, or whether you have no questions at all.
Over a period of twenty – or perhaps even thirty years – I have had some very deep and informal conversations about the Little Bay Development – many of them with the man whose vision had first made it seem a possibility. Even before, when we all thought that all was well with Plymouth and that Little Bay would be almost purely tourist-oriented, the then-Chief Minister and I disagreed about some important aspects of the proposed plan. We did agree, however, that it HAD to be Montserratians – Montserratian people, not The Government – who would own, control and direct the property, the businesses and everything else in this development.
We agreed that foreign investment would be desirable and necessary, of course, on the understanding that Montserratians would not be merely cleaners and servers, but would be trained to manage and invited to invest. We disagreed then, about dredging and destroying the coastline, but after the Montserrat Public Market fiasco, he was convinced to re-imagine his vision, though for reasons different to mine.
I am as certain as the next Montserratian that some directed development has to go on at Little Bay, and of course, we do need a Capital Town, I suppose, and a hodge-podge of scattered stores and offices really does not constitute that. And, yes, emphatically, YESS!! I do believe that we need a “gathering place”, an “evergreen tree re-visited”, a place where, if you sit still long enough, you will see everybody go by, who is on the island.
But, I – and just about every Montserratian that I have had the pleasure to engage in conversation with, on this topic, have questions.
So, help me – help us – get this straight: How exactly are Montserratians, in general, being engaged, included, made to feel party to this development? To what extent is the special nature of Montserrat, and the special natures of Montserratians being taken into active consideration in the development and actuation of the plans? Why is it that so very many Montserratians are feeling displaced and dispossessed?
And, what kind tourism?
You mean to tell me, to tell Montserrat, that after all these years and after everything that Montserrat has gone through, the Grand Plan still, really and truly is all about tourists and visitors? And that it now even includes the complete and utter destruction of the entire Little Bay/Carr’s Bay general area? Including the valuable and irreplaceable coastline? In favour of a fanciful marina and deep-sea harbour, with “docking facilities to handle cruise vessels up to 294 metres”?
Are there even as many as 294 metres of distance between Carr’s Bay and Little Bay? (But modifications continue. Fortunately?) And whose 294-metre cruise vessels will dock here? The Disney tours’?
And when the tourists on these cruise ships do come ashore, what are they going to tour, exactly? What are they going to do? Laud and praise the architectural artistry of Lane Pettigrew? The generousity of DFID? The sharp thinking of the MDC? The history-making of the Premier who was in Office? The business acumen of Syrian hoteliers? The easy spending of the Arab oilmen? (Has no-one approached the Chinese yet?)
Oh! Yeah! I forgot!! The volcano! The volcano! The tourists will all tour through Cudjoe Head (but will it still be there?) and up and down the picturesque and bushy winding roads, through the new and improved Cassava and Runaway Ghauts, to the Observatory to tour “The Volcano”. Nothing wrong with virtual touring, of course.
Or, more likely, the ships will simply anchor off-shore, as they are doing right now, pausing as they pass in the night, to observe from afar – which, generally, is the safest approach to active volcanoes – while travellers experience the thrill of dancing under the stars. Maybe even with the Captain!
And who are these careless and distracted sea-persons who would blithely dock their beloved yachts and sailboats in deep, roiling sea, with such great, natural, inlet-ed, hurricane protection just 30 miles away? Will the jetties anchored in deep water alleviate the roiling? Or will the sea just roil all over them? Memories of Hurricane Hugo, anyone!?
Breakwater? Pylons? “The island is bordered by a shallow submarine shelf of variable width, (maximum 5 Km around Silver Hills) that extends to a maximum water depth of ~100 metres. The Steeper submarine flanks of the island extend down to water depths of 750-1000 metres.” Insights from high-resolution seismic data, Montserrat, Lesser Antilles, briefly summarised based on previous work by Depuis et al., 2001; Le Friant et al., 2004; Feuillet et al., 2010.
Earlier Master plan

Earlier Master plan

And people are to believe that that little hill between Carr’s Bay and Little Bay, is going to hold twenty-some-odd homes? Or 150-200 condos?  And let us, please, just for the moment, leave the million-dollar villa thing out of this!
I didn’t actually go measure it out myself, but it seems to me that unless the plan is to reconstruct Gun Hill atop said molehill, there will be room for perhaps four or five very modest-sized structures. With the addition of Gun Hill, maybe seven! But perhaps these million dollar villas are going to be the size of the iconic Vue Pointe Hotel round houses! Then, of course, we might be able to get ten or twelve squeezed on.
Which million-dollar villas could possibly need grounds and gardens, after all! And, of course, which millionaires would not want to be able to step into their neighbours’ bedrooms straight out of their own, no stretching of legs necessary, at all!
Present town plan with port

Present town plan with port

And, who would buy a million-dollar villa or condo less than a quarter-mile away from a major commercial, working port? Unless that major commercial working, port were, maybe, Cannes, Hong Kong or Monte Carlo, for example! See below.

Monaco

Monaco

And, why have we not yet got away from the notion that when people travel they want to see the exact same things that they live every day? Why can we not imagine, or ask some people who travel, if they travel to see things and people who are different to what they encounter in their regular lives? Can we not wrap our heads around the idea that travellers, even cruise ship travellers, might crave some authenticity, and something truly beautiful, something better and different to what they just saw in twenty-five hundred other places?
So, why are we offering Montserrat as this low-budget, sea-side tourist byway? (reference: tacky, fake, plastic, palm-frond-roofed buildings and more) Have we no higher vision? No more expansive reservoirs of creativity? No other senses? Nothing better to offer?
“Montserrat is in the unique position to rebuild and redefine itself. But we have to be careful of misbranding ourselves and not being able to deliver on that brand. We could be “relaxation refined.” Or we could be what we really are. A tiny Island with an active volcano to explore, beautiful waters to navigate, jaw dropping views and the most amazing people who, once a year throw one of the greatest festival celebration(s) anywhere.” Theo Semper, MNI Alive September 24th, 2012.
Of course, the people in the know say that it will be many years – maybe even many, many years – before this South Sea Island Resort City of Little Bay charade could possibly come into being to any appreciable degree – if ever! – so perhaps this is all moot, and no sleep need be lost over it by me or by anyone else.
Nonetheless!
I really was not born cynical and untrusting. And I know about the whole tabula rasa notion, but I wasn’t born stupid, either. And, I suspect, neither were most Montserratians.  So, why are we being sold this bill of goods? And, more to the point, why are we allowing ourselves to be un-remonstrating party to said sale?
I will not much touch that “investment” idea. I shall say nothing about it, except to ask one question – the ROI?
The other questions to which I really want an answer include: is this whole Little Bay Development farce really a cover-up for some sinister and unsavoury thing going on right under our Montserratian noses, or is it merely a mediocre and mundane scam for the short-sighted accrual of financial gain to some few?
Am I the only one who thinks that, given the facts about Montserrat and the rest of the world, given what we know of tourists, shoppers, cruise ships and travellers; wine-bars, souvenir shops and restaurants; dive-shops, marinas, sailors and sailboats, and of millionaires and corrupt, inept and/or dull government-ers, this particular plan could only possibly be one or the other?
NO! I am not. I am most definitely not the only who thinks this.
Thinking Montserratian minds tell me that they fear it can only be “a scam” or “a cover-up”. Resident, working Montserrat bodies tell me they know of, hear of, have direct evidence of kickbacks and pay-outs and hand-wash-hand-ing and quid pro quo-ing and such. Montserratians, resident, domiciled and of other statuses tell me they do not see that it looks like it could possibly be anything more or better.
I hear of mis-directed monies in sums ranging from six thousand five hundred to eight hundred thousand and all the way up to five million. Dollars. Yesyes. Dollars. EC or US, you ask? Does it matter? Is any of this really true, I ask? Where there is smoke there is fire, my grandparents taught me. And even if the “smoke” is really clouds, it merits some attention. It would be in the interests of the rainmakers to explain the clouds.
So, a development plan! A development plan? For whom?
For a people whom the prime movers of the government, and other leaders, movers and shakers describe variously as a “bunch/group/country of limers”? –  and frequently, I have to surmise, having heard it reported by so many different people in so many and various situations! For a people who they say “don’t want to work”? Don’t know how to “do”? A people who have no initiative or ambition?
It seems unmistakably clear to me that whatever Montserratians are thought to be, this plan is not for them. A country, a people, my people, is not just a collection of buildings and roads and berthing facilities. A country, a people, my people, are a culture, are an anthology of traditions, borne of personal and collective preferences, spontaneous adjustments to nature, gathered wisdom and customs, personal and collective ambitions, aptitudes and abilities. It is organic, otherwise it is tenuous, vulnerable and dangerous, apt to decline and disintegrate disastrously.
It seems pretty obvious to me that this new and improved Montserrat Capital Town is not intended to be a country for the Montserratian people, else “the Montserratian people” would be enthusiastically sought out, allowed, encouraged and supported in designing, challenging, creating, living in, doing business in, deciding how it should be, who should be in it, what it should do, and their ideas and concerns would be actively included in the design, planning, construction and using stages. Showing already created models and designs or, as with Constitutions, having pretend discussions on radio do not fit the definition of “consultation and participation” and not of inclusion.
It is “the Montserratian People” who should create their new country and actively decide what the capital should look like and stand for. Elected to manage is not elected to ignore dismiss and override. Montserratians should be actively, aggressively and purposefully, supported and encouraged so that they come up with their own ideas for businesses, and they should be unhesitatingly facilitated in starting the agreed-upon ones.
Montserratians should be encouraged and allowed to design the buildings that they like, with paint and decor that speak to their aesthetic and reflect their traditions, and that serve the purposes of the businesses they will own, operate and invest or live in – in Little Bay. These are some of what will make of the capital a truly Montserratian town, and not, as is being proposed and promoted, a cheap, tropicalised, knock-off of some suburban housing, new-town development in the United States blended with tawdry, low-budget, 1940’s Hollywood South Sea Isles tackiness.
Development at this scale has to be accompanied by a “whatever it takes” approach to engaging the people. It is not in the interests of any entity involved to antagonise unnecessarily any other party – and the people of Montserrat are an essential party to this development plan.
“Montserrat intends to be an economically self-sufficient nation driven by a robust private sector. To achieve this we are adopting a highly selective investment strategy based on our natural assets and historic reputation”. (InvestMontserrat.com/Montserrat/)
Yet, the stories I hear are of “ordinary” Montserratians – the single, most valuable natural asset that Montserrat has and without which there can be no development – being sidelined, blackballed, excluded, and discouraged subtly and not so subtly from participating – because of course, Montserratians are just not up to this “big business” thing! They really just want to lime and live easy!
And, of course, that will be the reason given – is already the reason being given, actually – for giving the new Montserrat away. That is the reason being given for not providing Montserratians the training, support, and directed encouragement they need to help Montserrat rebound, to redesign a country according to themselves, to start-up, own and conduct businesses, to develop, assemble, fabricate, or pull together a Capital Town that is of themselves. Since Montserratians are just a bunch of lazy, inept, incompetent, un-businesslike, inarticulate, unambitious limers, then of course, Montserrat has to all be given to someone else to design, rebuild, create, manage, direct and OWN!
The level of contempt evident in all of this cannot be missed, dismissed or denied and makes my blood fairly boil. There is a degree of disregard that should by now be raising hackles, or very strong demands for truthful and verifiable answers at the very least. The disdain being directed at Montserratians – resident, domiciled and expatriated – with regard to the redevelopment and redirection of our island, by men who legislatively declare that they have the good of the Montserratian people always at heart, is disheartening, to put it mildly.
I have yet to speak with one Montserratian – resident, domiciled or expatriated – who truly understands the plans for the Little Bay/Carr’s Bay development, or who expresses any excitement about the development(s), whether planned or already executed. I have not yet had a conversation with any Montserratian – resident, domiciled or expatriated – who speaks with any confidence in the ability of the people who have charged themselves with the development, or who even believes these people when they speak. By and large, Montserratians – resident, domiciled and expatriated – seem to think these development leader people (and not just the Montserratian ones!) are liars and thieves, or worse.
That last, is what bothers me the most. You know, that old smoke-fire/cloud-rain connection thing! But all of this is stuff that we can deal with in any of a variety of ways. And I have absolute, unshaken confidence that we shall!
The thing we ALL need to do, I think, is TALK. Share. Communicate. Talk straight. Exchange thoughts, ideas and concerns. Address concerns, consider alternatives, include everyone and show some compassion. Put yourself in the shoes of the Montserratians who are not you.
How about it, then, Montserratians, MDC, GoM and politicians?
************************************