Sunday, August 13, 2017

Week 2 Facebook-Free and Dog-in-water-tank Drama

 This week was my first real full week off Facebook like last week, I found I had to pop in now n then to do something business or learning related and this week I took a different approach when I had to do this: I took a moment to scroll quickly though notifications to see if anything important was going on because personally, I have never seen wisdom in turning news about your community and world completely off: 

Frigate soars at sunset (fjc)
I know a cadre of guru-wisdom says that you should cut off the outside world and not waste your focus and energy on issues (like Trump, Brexit, Nuclear War, Pearl of the Caribbean) that you cant control. But this wisdom urges us to focus in a very self-absorbed manner, only interacting with the world in ways that directly align with the personal benefits you are channelling. For me, much of my success goals are about creating a life where I feel good, and this of necessity, entails a world where less strife and discord sully my days. I get satisfaction from investing some of my time in doing my little personal actions: they may not, in isolation, be much, but a river becomes powerful if fed by many small tributaries, right?

So, I kept an eye this week and sent private messages to those I felt needed action and left the rest to be responded to on my Sunday Facebook-wallowing session. But I found myself less and less keen to even pop on because I really was reaping the rewards of focusing inwards. Yessiree!


There is a lot to be said for at least an occasional stint as a hermit with a purpose.

But then some other aspects of the week had me looking forward to my Sunday Facebook time: I found myself enjoying a real small-island-experience as on top of the horrible heat and humidity, my water tanks ran dry due to weeks without supply from the water company and the repair bill on my 15 year-old car grew rapidly out of control! And to top it off, just as I started to post this, one of my 3 rescue dogs, the oldest and heaviest and stiffest of course, fell into the open underfloor tank! Oh lawdy, lawdy! I am now adorned with very minor scratches on my elbows, shoulders and knees from carrying, pushing, persuading her up the ladder I popped in the tank - ie taking each foot and manipulating it onto progressively higher steps while I tried to squeeze myself up through the rough concrete edges of the opening. Well she was terrified stiff! That is until she got out then she was all wiggly and happy and excited and I was left to 'lick my wounds'! Gotta love'em, right?!? Well, it was my fault really, poor thing, I had left a temporary cover and how was she to know it would give way? So I treated myself to a warm bucket bath, as you do when there's no water in your pipes...

So, back to this morning. Staying true to my schedule, post coffee and breakfast, I dutifully armed myself with a big smoothie and prepared for the soothing mud of Facebook to ease away the weeks stress and strains

Can I say I found it far from the promised land?

What I think Im finding is that if you have a couple thousand friends on Facebook, you cant just dip in once a week and have it work its usual soothing magic! It felt more and more like a disturbance to my vibe than the integral part of my vibe that the daily stop by the Facebook Cafรฉ’ normally feels like.

hmmmmm.

So as the month of Facebook Sabbatical progresses, well see how this goes. I suspect, like most things, moderation is the key...too much, too little and you're out of whack!

I know some of my other friends have taken Facebook sabbaticals, so Im going to check in with them and see if they can shed some light on how it worked, didnt work and felt to them and well share them later on in another blog-post.

Growth and More Insights, or maybe just questions...

What growth and insights has this Facebook sabbatical offered me this week?

Well I finished up the 21st Century Podcasts and added in a listen to the War of Art by Steven Pressfield of The Legend of Bagger Vance fame. Interesting book a bit too full of other-worldly-beings for me, but the essential message vibed: We have to overcome the many ways in which we suffer resistance to our calling.

Art for Art's Sake?

However, much else of what he said just set off an internal discussion in my head over the merits of focusing on artistic quality vs entrepreneurial art. This was echoed last weekend, by a friend posting an opinion piece from Ros Barber in the Guardian, where the author was all for the traditional seal of quality of getting a publisher or winning a Pulitzer and the commentors were rooting a bit more for the self-published, no gate-keeper team. 
  • To claim success, is the acclamation of peers, or that of paying fans, of more value? Is a life of poverty because youre being true to your art something worthy, or does it miss the mark?
  • Does writing, painting, making, need to be art, or is there an inherent and equal value in good craft? 
  • Does appealing to the masses, vs the critics or your professional peers, necessarily mean you are dumbing down your work? 
  • Is it snobbish or true to art to crave recognition by the established authorities?

Ok, enough esoteric stuff. But do chime in with your thoughts on this ๐Ÿ˜Š Meanwhile

Advice

If youre a trainer, please prepare for the level of learners and ensure you update for any new tools available!!!:

This week I persevered with my Coding Websites course: It was a test of determination, as one day I hit a wall where, try as I might, I could not figure out the scant instructions! I was so annoyed at the course I even looked to see if I could still claim a refund, because it skipped way too fast from a little instruction to youre all on your own and to boot, didnt have updated guidance that covered the method I was using (which they encouraged us to take advantage of). I did figure it out, with questions and help and research, and YES, it felt fabulous to figure it outbut I was also annoyed because a good course should provide realistic challenges after giving a sound groundingso I felt an entire day was unnecessarily spent, where it should have been a few hours well-invested.

And in other news...

I fell reeelly reeelly short of my aim to take on that new diet! I succumbed to being a taster for my friend whos trying to develop an improved recipe for a cakeoh the sacrifices we make!!! ๐Ÿ˜Š But I did manage to invest some more time in learning about what this particular challenge requires and in testing a recipe or twonothing yet worth a recipe-post though

In the Real World

Moonrise looking like sunrise courtesy my overly 'smart' camera (fjc)
I had a good few real-world wonderful meet-ups with friends and strangers this week - those are priceless! There were random, serendipitous and downright ok maybe theres something to the secret after all moments this week that did help to balance out those challenges and when I sit here now and reflect, its fair to say, I excelled at feeling far happier and more confident about the path Im taking.

And that, my friends, I think is about the best we can all hope for from one day to the next, isnt it?

Cheers now! And if I dont see you today online, maybe Ill see you on one of my Facebook mini-dips this coming week, or, or, or in person!!! Now wouldnt that be grand!



Sunday, August 6, 2017

Week 1, Facebook-free


Office inna Hammock
Well, technically only 3 Days Facebook-free, social media sabbatical, but


Coming back from my 7 months abroad has, not surprisingly, been a mish-mash of emotions and met and un-met expectations, ideas and hopes. First off, Id been less than eager to be here in Saint Lucia smack bang in the middle of the rainy season and that fear of being able to cope with the stultifying heat and humidity was not misplaced. Temperatures in the house of 34.8 and relative humidity of 65%+ have had my little ol brain struggling to string one sensible thought after another, far less sort out





  • Dealing with wildly overgrown, weed-filled, too-big garden;
  • 14-year-old car under major engine repair;
  • mosquitoes;    no-employment;    deciding how to chase down unpaid consulting fees;
  • hosting my 2 nieces on holiday (bless em, lovely young ladies);
  • deciding and beginning to finally learn to code websites;
  • keeping up with my Masters project;
  • cleaning up the accumulated sticky salt-air Sahara dust off belongings and studio;
  • leaking roof;      bust pipes;      catching up with friends;     missing Tupperware and tools;
  • miscellaneous requests for this n that help;        
  • deciding how active I want, and can afford to be, in agitating for better alternatives to  things like the DSH Development;
  • mulling the possibility for addressing funding needs of local NGOs;
  • posting photos of sunsets;     discovering the Instagram video story thingy (yes, late, I know);
  • engaging in various social issue discussions on Facebook and not least, deciding which Facebook Memory to share each day (I just peeked, and this one seems very appropriate from about a year ago 
"Out of Place"

So, not surprisingly, one morning last week, after a couple of migraine-disturbed nights, I woke up feeling categorically out of place.

I swiftly decided to have a Social Media sabbatical while I invested some time and focus in clawing my way back through the hot n stuffy jungle of my life to a place where something resembling clarity existed. I had a series of podcasts from the 21st Century Creative that I had not had time to listen to and another from Empowered Sustenance that equaled the podcasts in unopened-nessI hadnt written or created a thing. Wondered what the hell I was actually doing, going to do, wanted to do

A post shared by Finola Jennings Clark (@finola.jc) on

These few days of the first week have been 
absolutely wonderful.

Sure, I missed the camaraderie of Facebook and Instagram, but the decision to pull back and invest in clarifying what developing my assets again was, again, the best decision Ive made.

Lets be realistic, for most of us, figuring all this out take a mommatonn of time.

The Journey

But if you are anywhere on a journey like mine, I figure I can at least reassure you at this point, that it does get better as you keep pulling your focus back to what you need to do.

Whether youre a creative like me, or someone yearning to step out of your job and create your own business with your innovative ideas, or someone just looking to feel more in charge of your life and more fulfilled at the end, heck, beginning, middle and end of each day, Id highly recommend pulling back for a while and investing your time in yourself.

We all know the theory that no-one will take you seriously if you dont take yourself seriously. Well it turns out thats pretty nail-on-the-head!

My experience has been that once you start pulling back from social life, you will have some friends that resist and question why, what are you DOING, suggest youre depressed, start to come up with a slew of things you could do all with good intentions, granted. Some may even take it personally. It can be the hardest part of going on this path.

My advice, be gently firm, dont entertain those suggestions, dont feel you have to explain yourself. But DO be aware that you will need to keep in touch with the world out there now n again because this task of clarifying
  • what you really value,
  • what you really want to do and not least,
  • how in hell you can earn a living doing this

Help is Available!

Its not a walk in the park. Though walks do help sort an amazing number of things out and recent studies show Fores Bathing has genuinely therapeutic effects. Sea baths, river baths, a swim in the pond, all good too. https://qz.com/804022/health-benefits-japanese-forest-bathing/

DO use the services of a good coach and yep, there are a slew of them out there, and you, like me, may even be thinking you too want to be a coach.

If you have no idea where to start, here are a few people Ive had good sessions with and/or, Im currently testing out (and happy so far) (if you do use them, mentioning that I sent you there would be very much appreciated, xox).

Debra Ross Life By Choice Coaching, she helped me through one section of my path, helping filter through whats really important and along the way to defining goals and pairing up seemingly disparate ideas, desires, skills. https://www.lifebychoicecoaching.com/

Christine Caruso spiritualist, stone-reader, bars therapist, kundalini yoga teacher. I wont lie, I had to go with an open mind here but the results were amazing! Ive written before about her services and where I have an uneasy feeling about many people who say theyre energy healers/spiritualists, Christine felt genuine, so I gave it a go. Not everyone reports the same level of results and I think a HUGE amount of how this type of therapy works has to do with your own ability to let go and let happen. The power of belief is massive and the power of opening up to positivity is equally so. http://www.christinecaruso.com/

Mark McGuinness, poet and coach for creatives and leader of the 21st Century Creative. Down to earth advice and discussion and good coaching podcasts and personal coaching. http://lateralaction.com/

For physical issues, and many of us creatives and office workers alike, spend WAY too much time hunched over a computer, Ive had a session (and intend to have more) with a movement coach named Petra Fisher of Petra Fisher Movement   shes on my current list to get back on track with. http://www.petrafishermovement.com/

Many of us suffer sluggishness, digestive issues, tiredness, achy jointstheres a strong possibility that our bodies have become overwhelmed with the toxicity of modern environments and processed foods. There are many diets and plans around and Ive come some way, by adjusting my diet, in decreasing problems with gall-bladder issues, migraines and more recently, aches exacerbated by a bout of Chikungunya in my case, but not uncommon without that trigger anyway. I am currently gearing up to follow a sort of paleo/auto-immune diet, guided by Lauren Geerstens books, blogs and recipes.at Empowered Sustenance http://empoweredsustenance.com/

In Saint Lucia, I can recommend a few people / places for easing aches and pains

Sports therapist and anatomy expert, Donovan Polymise not for the faint-hearted it hurts, he goes deep, but he knows what hes doing and I found the result was very worth the deep steady breathing required to get through my session ๐Ÿ˜Š 721 1336

Kim Jackson sports therapist at Bayside Therapy Service a much gentler option, Kim has great ability to pinpoint where your issues are coming from and uses a variety of techniques to ease and adjust. Very good results and affordable rates. Bayside has a bunch of other treatment offers too, so check them out.

Ojas Spa, tucked away near Kims offices uses Ayuvedic techniques and acupuncture, in my case, using electrical impulses through the needles. They were recommended to me by someone who went to see them suffering stress and feeling very out of sorts with herself, down in the dumps, irritable and not her normal vivacious self she was super pleased with the results. Very knowledgeable staff will guide you on what treatments best suit you - these range from the more medicine-like such as the acupuncture, to delicious hot oil, herbal massages and other sumptuous treats. https://www.facebook.com/ojasspandwellness/  http://www.ojasspaandwellness.com/

Not last, TiKhan Health Clinic mother and daughter, both Gloria, ๐Ÿ˜Š, a team of ladies who give excellent reflexology and a variety of manipulative massages Gloria senior did wonders when life had pulled my jaw, collar bones and back out of placeagain, it wasnt so pleasant during the manipulation, but WOW, the result! 452 8475

So, thanks for reading! Are you also trying something like this? Do you have resources you'd like to share? Pop a note in the comments and do share in your favourite social media channels  ๐Ÿ˜Š

cheers n all that,

Fifi


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Saint Lucia National Trust speaks about the threat to the world's rarest snake



Choice TV Interviews Bishnu Tulsie of the Saint Lucia National Trust about the impending developments proposed for Pigeon Island which will destroy historical assets and natural assets to create a captive cetacean tourism experience against strong opposition from Trust members and local and international public and about the devastation on the world's rarest snake and the very rare Saint Lucia whiptail lizard which both live on the isolated Maria Islands nature reserve.

The Maria Islands Reserve is now being included in the Desert Star Holdings (DSH) development Pearl of the Caribbean - this development had already been greeted with dismay and protest when it was contained to a smaller site and included destroying a protected mangrove: the Government then agreed to take the mangrove off the project only to return with a massively expanded project that has multiple environmental impacts and will completely obliterate the nature reserves by linking them to the mainland with a 150-acre reclamation project that will also harshly impact reefs and sea-grass beds in the area and cause silting and other damage in a wider region.  Impact assessments have not been done - these impacts are what local environmental experts believe will be the outcome. The Trust has been shut out of discussions despite pleas to both the government and developers and rumours abound now that the subvention to the Trust is being cut by the government and the entire statutory body may end up in the garbage.

The DSH project apparently involves the sale of hundreds of thousands of Saint Lucian passports under the Citizenship by Investment programme - this is in itself unbelievable since the population of Saint Lucia is itself only 180,000 - the citizenships come with voting rights and the question must therefore be raised, would this not put the human rights of Saint Lucians under threat? Would it not compromise the sovereignty of the people effectively reducing them to an adult minority?

Many Saint Lucians are expressing feelings of helplessness and deep distress and depression over what they see as the high-handed way in which their national assets are being removed from their control without consent or any regard to their opinions - to the contrary, the message they are receiving is that they are out of line to speak out against these projects. My personal feelings run along the lines of the Saint Lucians I have described - I can't believe we are finding ourselves in this position and feel pretty powerless to make a difference - so at least I can write about it briefly here.

I am currently spending my days studying a Master in World Heritage & Cultural Projects for Development in Italy, learning about sustainable development, cultural and natural tourism, Man and Biosphere programmes for development in hand with environmental protection, while I watch from afar as my home country turns it's back on it's own heritage, environment and natural assets and it's people's sovereignty - the irony is not lost!

Well, if you have suggestions, please help by sharing expertise or thoughts with us - we will need all the help we can get - international focus/press coverage, funds for the Trust (www.slunatrust.org), signatories on the two petitions

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/100/724/416/say-no-to-building-a-causeway-to-maria-islands-nature-reserve/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/takeaction/249/031/518/

As we lay Sir Derek Walcott to rest this weekend - Nobel Laureate for Literature, we do not forget how he fought to save Saint Lucia's natural and historical assets and we hope that the lines of our National anthem remain true:

"Land of beaches, hills and valleys,Fairest isle of all the earth."
Saint Lucia National Anthem

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Development that Destroys

Today I am publishing a piece written by my sister Sarah George: it speaks about some of the impacts we can expect from the Chinese development project our government in Saint Lucia has signed away our rights to.
This project is supported by many in Vieux Fort where jobs are particularly scarce - Saint Lucia has over 22% unemployment and a lot of underemployment, so it's understandable that this glitzy mega-development seems like a diamond being handed to the people. However many of us understand that though the needs of the people in Vieux Fort are long overdue for attention, a project such as this comes with a price-tag that we can't  afford and the damage it will inflict will be a cost that has far reaching effects - not just environmental, but on our sovereignty and safety. And that the development - the benefits - will overwhelmingly be for foreigners (including those hundreds who will be granted citizenship as part of this deal) Our government has not consulted the people who voted for them, far from it, they have lied to the people, indicating environmentally protected areas would not be included while behind closed doors they signed away those same areas...to say I and many others are upset over this is an understatement - we are desperately trying to find ways to stop this catastrophe - it seems our laws, our signed international conventions, declarations etc, do not protect us. If you can help - please do - we need expertise, power and international attention. There is a petition to save the Maria Islands which is linked at the end - please, if you think we need a better alternative to this development, at least sign and if you have other means, please message - there is also a facebook group for campaigners https://www.facebook.com/helensdefenders/

Now my sister's article:

A Causeway for Concern
By:  Sarah N. George

I feel that I must voice my opinion on the recently unveiled Phase II proposals for the DSH Pearl of the Caribbean development.   I am a St Lucian marine biologist by training, and a fisheries and marine management specialist by expertise.   I can bring to the debate over 30 years’ experience working in the interest of national development as a member of the Fisheries Department and also with the OPAAL project through which the Government of Saint Lucia established the Point Sable Environmental Protection Area (PSEPA) under the Physical Planning and Development Act. This valuable site extends from Moule-a-Chique in the south to Pointe de Caille (just north of Savannes Bay), and includes Maria Islands, and the Savannes Bay and Mankotรฉ Mangroves as well as the reef around Maria Islands as legally-declared Marine Reserves (with the area being designated as a RAMSAR site of international importance). 
Given the valuable resources and ecological roles of the PSEPA and the way these support both existing and potential economic sectors and livelihoods, it is important that all Saint Lucians appreciate what will be some of the likely short and long term effects of building a causeway from the shoreline out to Maria Islands. 
Smothering of critical marine habitats and endangering livelihoods
First, let’s consider the effects of a causeway on marine resources and essential ecosystem services along our southeast coast.  Here we have Saint Lucia’s largest remaining area supporting three critical tropical marine habitats:  mangroves, seagrass beds and coral reefs; all functioning together in an interdependent way.  These three habitats are valued world-wide as the basis for productive tropical marine food webs and coastal fisheries.  They are also the source of the area’s clear and calm coastal waters which allow the reef and seagrass to thrive and give us valuable space for local and tourist recreation.  The PSEPA sustains some of our most important nursery and breeding grounds for marine fish species, for conch, sea urchins, lobster, crabs, and is also a key site for sea moss cultivation.
Creating a causeway in this area will end up burying large areas of the reef and seagrass habitats, resulting in loss of vital nursery, breeding and coastal fisheries grounds.  As happened when Pigeon Island causeway was built, the reclamation work involved in creating a causeway ends up smothering any reef or seagrass habitat within the boundaries of the causeway and in adjacent areas.  It also causes long-term sedimentation and reduced water clarity over a large area in and around the works because fine silt particles generated by the reclamation process remain suspended and carried around by waves and currents for many, many years.  Any settled silt is also easily re-suspended by annual storms and is added to by erosion that will naturally occur on and around the causeway as the sea battles against this artificial barrier placed in its way. 
Beach loss and erosion along the coast
Another serious effect of placing a causeway between an area of mainland and offshore islands is the disruption it causes to the natural process of littoral drift  (or “longshore drift”) which normally pushes sand gradually over great distances along the shoreline.  This is how beaches are created and maintained by nature.  A beach forms in a location where the particular shape and topography of the shoreline, the direction and nature of the prevailing wave action, and size and weight of sand particles available to the area all suit the formation of a particular size and type of beach in that specific site.   Longshore drift is driven by the prevailing wave direction, which feeds a continual supply of sand as beach material moves from place to place as part of this natural process. These large-scale nearshore dynamics determine which parts of our shoreline get eroded and which become built up with sand deposits.   A causeway not only blocks the littoral drift and thus starves all the beaches downward of it, but also causes oncoming waves to be deflected around the structure, and this ends up increasing the levels of erosion in some places along the nearby coast, while causing others to become silted up over time. 
Saint Lucia’s experience with the Pigeon Island Causeway and the Choiseul Fisheries Project has shown us, first hand, the massive and costly problems caused when such artificial barriers interfere with natural nearshore dynamics.  Significant loss of beachfront occurred for many years at Pigeon Island, in front of Gros Islet, and in the southern part of Rodney Bay.  None of these areas have regained their former beach volumes, despite efforts to put in place costly structures along the shoreline (seawalls, groynes, gabion baskets) aimed at preventing further erosion and protecting vulnerable coastal structures against storm damage.  Even replenishing beaches artificially has proven costly and short-lived as the sea constantly reclaims the added material to regain the natural balance of the area.
The loss of beach front caused significant loss of recreational space and caused collapse of what was a vibrant seine fishery in the Gros Islet area.  The loss of healthy reef and seagrass habitat in Rodney Bay also led to a decline in other forms of fishing due to an overall loss of fish habitat.    In the case of Choiseul, changes caused in the nearshore wave direction and longshore sand movement by  construction of the fishing port has led to continual trapping of silt and creation of stagnant waters within the port.    The walls of the “pond” inside the port prevent sand from moving along the shore or moving back out to sea.  Money has to be spent to dredge the port, with no effective long-term solution found.  Fishers remain frustrated and without a properly functioning port.
As part of the EIA process or during the project development stage of developments such as these, hydrological studies are usually done in the proposed site, funded by the investors.   These try to assess the nearshore dynamics of the area and factor this information into the way the reclamation and the proposed facility are designed.  However, because coastal dynamics naturally fluctuate both seasonally and from year to year, and doing extensive studies is both costly and time consuming, such studies usually only provide a snap-shot of what is really going on.  More often than not, they fail to accurately anticipate or prevent serious coastal impacts and long-term issues caused by the reclamation and the physical structures once in place.
Creating a coastal marine desert
The recently released concept for Phase II of the DSH development shows a large marine space becoming “semi-enclosed” by the causeway - essentially establishing a large artificial bay.  On the surface, this may seem like a benefit (i.e., new calm and physically protected coastal space for use in recreation or as a sheltered harbour).  However, the causeway construction will tend to cause reduced water quality in the enclosed area, creating a “semi-stagnant” coastal marine space.
Presently, a wide range of species including seagrasses and seamoss, coral reef fishes, lobsters and various hard corals are able to set up and thrive in the well- oxygenated, clear waters of the southeast coast.  If part of the bay becomes enclosed by the causeway, resources in the area become stressed by poorer water quality, high silt loads, and reduced flushing.    Inevitably, natural runoff from land will add silt and other chemicals to this space, and the causeway would act as a barrier reducing the rate at which they can be removed by wave action or wider coastal circulation.  These enclosed waters will also become less safe for sea bathing and water-sports.  We saw these sorts of problems in Rodney Bay after the causeway was built: declining water quality, higher sediment load within the bay, and die-off of seagrass, corals, fish and invertebrate populations. This led to a loss of coastal fishpot and seine fisheries, and loss of livelihood potential for local, small-scale businesses which could have developed to provide visitors with opportunities for high-quality snorkelling, diving, glass-bottom boating within the wider bay.  As is too often the case, a focus on the needs of large scale developments gets priority over local, smaller-scale but more sustainable enterprises that could keep a significant part of the tourism product and earnings in the hands and under the control of Saint Lucians.
Threat to the Maria Island endemics
Finally, let’s look at one of the site’s smallest natural assets, yet one highly at risk in light of the proposed causeway: our extremely rare endemic species, the Saint Lucia whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus vanzoi) and the Saint Lucia worm snake (Leptotyphlops breuli), with populations found nowhere else in the world except on Maria Islands.  These endemics exist on the two tiny islets because of the unique natural environment and the physical isolation the site has provided over hundreds of thousands of years.  These factors have allowed the endemic species to evolve, adapt and survive there – and only there.  The fact that an adequate stretch of sea separates the islets from the main coast of Saint Lucia has managed to prevent other animals and disease agents from getting to these rare endemics and destroying their eggs, their young or the adults.   Other rare endemic species around the world have been created by such physical isolation.  A causeway would remove this essential element of isolation.  Despite the best efforts of the Forestry Department and the National Trust to prevent other species becoming a threat, our rare Maria Islands endemics would be at severe risk of predation, disease and eventual extinction in the wild.  As a result, we would fail to safeguard some of the world’s rarest species and also fail in our commitments to international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity, among others.
Are causeways always a bad thing? 
Causeways have been built in many places for many reasons and with varying effects on the natural environment.  When a causeway or similar land reclamation project is built in an area where the marine system is a naturally dynamic, high-silt environment such as at the mouth of a large river system (like the Mississippi) or in an exposed, rough shoreline, they may not have a significant effect on existing species or habitats since the particular species present will already be those best suited to such turbid and dynamic environments.  In other cases, causeways have been built suspended above the sea, such as the road built to connect Prince Edward Island to mainland Canada.  This raised structure is designed to reduce the level of physical disturbance to the seabed and disruption of wave action and littoral drift.   But we must recognise that our southeast coast is not a high-silt, unstable environment, nor is the proposed causeway merely to be the base for a suspended road or one that will minimise impacts on natural coastal processes or our coastal marine habitats.  Our sensitive nearshore environment around Saint Lucia is not a suitable place for a causeway.
Moving Forward
I very much recognise the urgent need for us to develop job opportunities, sustainable livelihoods and better services for communities of the south, and that the outstanding natural beauty, coastal marine assets and available land in the south means that that tourism is going to be a major element in such development.   But as a country we must be able to strike a healthy balance that can provide viable, sustainable social and economic progress for all Saint Lucians while safeguarding our environmental assets.  Unlike larger countries such as the USA, Canada or China, Saint Lucia’s tiny size means that we have no room for environmental error; no room for easily moving from an environmental mistake to take up a “Plan B”.
The way forward in the case of the DSH project must be some form of compromise, and such compromise must be rooted in the long-term interest of Saint Lucia over and above any short-term interests driven by political debate or external interests. While the proposed project seems at first glance to be full of the promises of jobs for everyone, we must consider the damage it can do to our resource base and consider hidden costs that can arise as we compromise existing livelihoods and the quality of our environment.  We must take the time and care to consider other options, ones that would result in safer, sounder development for the south.
Whether you consider yourself UWP, SLP or no “P” at all, if you truly care about the future of Saint Lucia, I hope you can agree that the compromise we reach for development in the south must not include a causeway. 

The No causeway to Maria Islands Petition can be found at:

Further Reading
The following documents, which you can access via the internet, may help you get a greater understanding of the issues discussed here.   I have found that information, in-depth consultation, and then careful consideration  bring wisdom, and wisdom provides the foundation for meaningful, equitable progress.
A case study of effects of the Pigeon Island Causeway: http://www.irf.org/eiacasestudy_failure_rodneybay_stlucia_op-45a/  (Ed Towle, 1985).
Saint Lucia National Trust information page on the Point Sable Environmental Protection Area:

A report on the values and perceptions of the Pointe Sable Environmental Protection Area:

BIO
Sarah George worked with the Department of Fisheries in Saint Lucia from 1982 and 2012.  She was first a Fisheries Assistant, then a Fisheries Biologist, and ultimately served as Deputy Chief Fisheries Officer and finally as Chief Fisheries Officer at the Department.  From 2005 to 2009, she was assigned to the Environmental and Sustainable Development Unit of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).  She worked with the OECS Protected Areas and Associated Livelihoods Project (OPAAL) as Technical Expert and later as Project Coordinator.  Sarah has also served on a Marine Protected Areas Expert Working Group for the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Board of the Soufriere Marine Management Area,  and a number of other local, regional and international initiatives aimed at sustainable fisheries development and marine management.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

What’s Going On?

flickr.com/photos/sunlightrunes/15356398933
I’ve wanted to write about how Trump being elected has made me feel for quite some time now, but  there’s so much that it’s hard to figure out what to say and every day we see a next example of his hideousness.

I even spent some time searching to see if I could find enough explanations of things he has done, may do, is doing, that would give me pause and help me believe it’s not as bad as I feel it is. No luck so far.

So, I took a break and tried to step back from my frustration, disappointment and anger with those who put Trump in power. I know a few of you personally. I don’t know you as hateful people. I know you as people who believe you are caring, fair, just and I have heard your concerns, your personal struggles, your fears and I understand them even when I don’t agree with them on principle, or when I know I am able to see a bigger picture perhaps, than you. So I can see that it would seem you just don’t realise that you’re not in that bad a position, and a lot of the elements of your American Dream actually require YOU to make things happen for yourself. It may just be that your attitude and entitlement are what's holding you back, and now you’re following the age old habit of laying blame at the feet of those who have historically been exploited and denied the rights you relatively comfortably enjoy.

Yeah, I hear some of you crying, “No! That’s not me!” – I voted against the corrupt/non-functioning/whatever-adjective system of government, the cronyism, the Fed…ok. Fair enough. You chose to replace ‘bad and urgently in need of a serious reworking’ with lawless. Very Wild West. Actually, very  North Korea, very ISIS, very Marcos, Saddam, very Great Turkmenbashi – and please don’t say  the ‘Communist’ elements make him totally different – no, they do not, Stalin, Putin, Kim family, Trump family – there’s a lot more in common than you realise. Not so much with Fidel though, who was much more a man of the peoples and led his country to great levels of social and scientific achievements, or with many of your county’s other old Central and South American 'enemies' who’s legitimate governments, yours has long fought to depose through covert wars and replace with corrupt dictators who work to fill your corrupt power-mongers' pockets.
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I’m, of course, not an American, I don’t live there and I doubt I ever will. But I live in America’s back yard, in the small island states that number among the neighbours that America has historically enjoyed fucking with. So I have a genuine, valid, real, reason to have a say. I think the whole world does anyway since America anointed itself ‘Leader of the Free World’ – you don’t get rights without responsibility and if you pretend to being the greatest democracy in the world, then hey, we are voters. Those in America, who don’t see this, are just some of the (way too big), insular band of fools who need to go back to school, preferably in a country where they can learn about how the rest of humanity lives and little things like international relations, trade, world cultures…

I feel you getting indignant now. Good. Join the club. In your indignancy, please invest some time in getting to know your countrymen and women whose labour and effort made the life you enjoy possible. Of course if you are an out-and-out racist, then you believe slavery and Chinese labour were God-given rights to you - well I just hope you get a knock on the head that saves you from yourself. For the rest of you good people – please work on developing a bit more of a less arrogant  less self-entitled, and more of a ‘judge not, lest thou be judged’ ethos. You are not the only ones who matter. Get out, educate yourself and get to know and understand a few more of the many countries out there in the world that do a much better job of democracy than you do, that have granted, not perfect, but certainly functioning social welfare systems that require high taxes and yet somehow, wow, must be magical, don’t stifle business or people living wealthy, good, happy lives.

You, Trump voters, God help you. You have done a huge injustice to America, her neighbours, the world. You better hope this has the effect of waking up the rest of us and galvanising us into action to set things to right, because, yes, we are also at fault. We were asleep at the wheel it would seem – we let our ‘surrounding ourselves with light’ and our (rightful) pride in the progress we did make, to ironically, cause us to become a bit more like you; blind. We allowed ourselves to believe the tide was turning in favour of humanity and good. Well, you showed us didn’t you!

I, for one, am awake with eyes wide open.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WWI Centenary - Poetry Competition



British
High Commission
PRESS RELEASE
WW1 Centenary – Poetry Competition

The British High Commission in collaboration with the French Embassy and Alliance Franรงaise have been running a programme of activities since 11 November 2014 to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. As part of this year’s activities we are organising a poetry competition with the theme being War under the patronage of the Hon Sir Derek Walcott.

This competition is open to persons from the islands of St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Dominica between the ages of 16-35. Poems can be in either English or French and there will be a prize of an Acer Tablet in each language category in each island. Entries should be submitted to communication@afslu.org by 31 October 2016. Rules for the competition are available at www.afslu.com. The winners of the competition will be announced at a special ceremony on Armistice Day 11 November 2016.

The Armistice Day ceremony will also feature a special screening of an Imperial War Museum restored film 'The Battle of the Somme', originally produced and shown in 1916. The first day of the Battle of the Somme was probably one of the most striking moments of the First World War (WWI) as that day alone resulted in nearly 20,000 British deaths and 60,000 British casualties, still the worst day on record for the British Army.  But the battle was not just one day; it lasted until 18 November 1916 and involved not just Britain and Germany but took place on French soil and French troops held part of the line. It has also been estimated that there were representatives of between 30-60 nations, including the Caribbean, at the Somme.


An exhibition “L’industrie du rhum et la Grande Guerre” will also be launched at the ceremony. This exhibition will highlight the importance of the rum industry during WW1 and will run through the month of November.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Winds of change...

7 days from today I will be segueing back, or is it forward, into a life of freelancing. My contract at the Cultural Development Foundation is coming to a close September 30th and I have a few weeks vacation due, so that makes September 9th my last work day here.

road less traveled
Lots of mixed feelings...but mostly excitement because there are a few major reasons why I am choosing not to renew my contract - and thank goodness one is not that they said "Meh Fifi, we not taking you back" ;) 

Reason number 1) I came across an opportunity to take a 1-year's Masters Diploma in World Heritage and Cultural Projects for Development - it's part distance and part on-site in Turin Italy. Run by the ITC-ILO through the University of Turin...and it came with the possibility of a partial scholarship through the OAS...I got accepted and got the schol...so that begins very conveniently, on October 17th (Viv la Margewit!) 

Short story of perseverance with the application process...now, keep in mind I did my Degree in Crafts 24 years ago...and the college - Crewe & Alsager, has been subsumed into Manchester Metropolitan University via Manchester Metropolitan Polytechnic and my course no longer exists...and I never got a transcript...and Italy requires, I mean REALLY requires a bunch of legalized, translated, Declaration of valued documents or you may as well sit counting grains of sand while you wait to be accepted cos it just ain't gonna happen...

No matter that the online application crashed on the last page the Sunday afternoon I was completing it, (yes, of course it was the last day!!! sheesh...you know I procrastinate!) No matter the links to the explanation of what a 'declaration of value' was wouldn't work...no matter Google kept this secret from me despite my best searches...not sure why, but a twist of fate and test of my perseverance maybe? .... the thing is I decided if I wanted it, I would just have to persevere and make it happen...so I did and so, it did!

Do not give up. Do not sit back and will the universe to make it happen for you or pray for it - by all means do those things, but they do not work without you taking all and every action you can to forge your path!!! 

Reason number 2)
I miss the freedom of freelance...lord knows I have really appreciated the time I have spent at CDF - regular salary every month, staff camaraderie, comfortable air-conditioning ;) a chance to make a difference in the perceived value of arts and culture in Saint Lucia...and the unexpected hiatus from my creative work has actually given me the space to look at what I really enjoy, what really matters...that has been priceless. But I have long since used up my 'working double-time capacity' and so I've found I didn't have time, or energy really, to do my creative work...and I miss it profoundly...it is a very big part of who I am. I also miss being a trainer - yes, I've done some while here, but I miss being in the field and doing training and development work...I just do.

So there it is - I am hoping I can work out continuing some projects with CDF, but I am also moving back (and forward) to my creative work. It will be different from before: much more focus on the environment and recycling and reflecting my thoughts and feelings on life, hope, inspiration, enlightenment, peace, challenge and all that stuff.

And for those wondering if to leave the 9-5....well, you have to know what you want and make a reasonable path forward - it is not easy. I have been self-employed/freelance/micro-business for 25 years and so I can say, when you leave a job, you are leaving security, that's for sure. So know what you plan to do and work out how you will pay the bills and what you are prepared to trade off...it has been a real challenge to review what matters, what I am prepared to let go, not let go...don't under-estimate the rigours such a move to 'freedom' entails - not in the pre-planning, nor in the execution!

So, back to what I'll be doing - I will also be writing more - not just blogging, I will certainly be doing more of this - writing about my journey and travels and more, but also working on actual books - how-to guides, insights on life and overcoming challenges. 

I'll write soon about what I believe I can offer and what I would like to have you hire me to do, also...but don't let that stop you getting in touch if you think you have something I could work on with you - I'd love to hear!