Friday…end of the work week ‘bits and pieces’

HAPPY FRIDAY!

The work week is not yet over and for some of us it will include the weekend as well…(sigh). However just thought to post these quick shares in order to get through it all.

 

1. The ‘Jamaican’ influence. There is no dispute that as a country (and this is operationalized by the people of Jamaican descent)- Jamaica has an impactful global influence. Take this example from Nairobi, Kenya. Thanks Oral Campbell -BUPJ. However, sometimes I wish it was not for the wrong, nonsustaining, superficial reasons.

2. And here’s another one…… https://www.facebook.com/funnyordie/videos/10154059075898851/.

Shaggy’s ‘IT WASN’T ME.’ In case you don’t know here is a link to the song- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2g5Hz17C4is.

 

3. This videohttps://www.facebook.com/blakprophetz/videos/804198946290425/.

Led me to think that this can be replicated for so many other situations ‪#‎beingfat‬, ‪#‎bodyshaming‬,‪#‎beingblack‬, ‪#‎beingmuslim‬ ‪#‎beingrastafarian‬ ‪#‎beingnative‬ ‪#‎beinglocal‬,‪#‎beingyoung‬, ‪#‎beingawoman‬, #beingmisunderstood, ‪#‎notapartoftheindustrycrowd‬, ‪#‎notoneofthem‬,‪#‎beingdifferent‬, ‪#‎beingafirst‬, ‪#‎beingunknown‬ ‪#‎justbeing‬! ‪#‎stopthinkrespect‬.

Just keeping it real!

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Crying for our children and thinking about the future…

One of the item on the nightly news just now was the fatal road death of a 7 year old boy from a corporate area school in Kingston, Jamaica. Coincidentally, I also read the article in the Jamaica Gleaner 24/04/2016 entitled, ‘Secret Gardens’ all cried out-Monument to remember children killed across the island running out of space. The terrible feeling of sadness that engulfed me on both instances was so profound that I felt myself thinking what would I do if I lost my child. It is not an easy task being a parent, the kind that is involved and well-meaning. We are consumed with worry every day from the moment of their conception and gestation, birth and indeed throughout every spectrum of our children’s lives. We do everything humanly and legally possible to take care of them- to provide for them. Some parents have even selflessly participated in dubious life threatening activities to ensure that their children are fed, clothed and sheltered. It is therefore a most hurtful and hard to fathom / incomprehensible pain such parents feel when they lose their child/children in un-natural ways. (Natural ways are just as devastating but its perhaps a little more bearable…and for this I may even debate otherwise…but the point is made). My father, who himself died as a result of a ‘hit and run’ road fatality, always said he wanted long life so that he would be able to see his children ‘pass the worse.’ Then there is the old adage about, a parent should never have to bury a child. You love your child for life, if you are a vested parent.You love to death. To love and have sorrow for the same thing and at the same time is the hardest undertaking.

Photo credit:http://evenifministries.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/memorial-for-unborn-children.jpg

I remember the gut-wrenching pain I felt when I heard that my father had passed. That is incomparable. However I noted how I was a bumbling, snot nosed tearful mess when I had some scary pains in the early part of my pregnancy when I thought I was going to lose my child possibly by a miscarriage. Most poignant was also in June 2015 when my ever stoic child called me to inform me that a JUTC bus ran into the side of another JUTC in the Half Way Tree bus terminal – at the exact vicinity of the window where he was seated. He was asleep and woke to the shattered window and jolt produced by the impact….I was a crumbling mess after the confusing moments and the state of affairs was sorted out including sending prayers of thanksgiving. I bawled…just at the prospects …again….this time that I could have lost my teenager. I recount all these personal moments to indicate, while not over-simplifying, that losing a child is heart breaking and life shattering! It is not surprising that my heart weeps when I hear news of a child’s life being pre-maturely and senselessly taken. When you are a parent you can empathize with other parents. Their child did not get to have a future. We as adults have to protect them when we can and work as a collective to protect them overall. Look out for them on the streets, inquire of them when they look sad or forlorn….it [still] takes a village.

Reflecting on the future….Unfortunately, I was not able to leave the island for a thematic meeting on Habitat III in Toluca, Mexico. I blogged about that meeting in an earlier post…. Please read the article in Citiscope  https://shar.es/1e0rSA that offers an insight on the level of participation. As a point I made was mentioned in the article,this led me to consciously ponder on an ever-present thought- the FUTURE I WANT and the future I want for my child. Presently, some systems seem to be on a collision course… for example there is water scarcity, marine life overkill, ‘homelessness,’ erratic weather due to changing climate and the list goes on. In addition our children may not have a secure world to exist in as monopolistic and capitalistic ideologies continue to create situations  resulting in the displacement, destabilization and disenfranchised of peoples and states.To this end I remain resolute to participate in the development and environment sectors so that we will have a world with the same common pool of resources for them as we partook of when we were children….

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

 

 

 

While Waiting for the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry Report

This is important.

Right Steps & Poui Trees

May 24 will make 6 years since the 2010 joint security operation in West Kingston, which resulted in the death of more than 70 people, and by all indications the report of the West Kingston Commission of Enquiry will be submitted to the Governor General before then. It isn’t yet clear, however, when the report will be made public. It would certainly be fitting if that were to happen before May 24.

The last session of the Enquiry took place between February 8 – 19 (2016) and was to a large extent overshadowed by the political campaigning leading up to the general election on February 25.

The Commission held its first sitting on December 1, 2014 and held a total of 90 sittings over 15 months. It was presided over by three commissioners – Sir David Simmons (Chairman), Justice Hazel Harris and Professor Anthony Harriott.

The Enquiry had specific Terms…

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Planting trees, Paris Agreement and Protecting Mother Earth….the 3Ps!

April 22, 2016 was a very, very special day. Personally (and professionally too)- the day commemorates my completion of graduate studies from the noble State University of New York- College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). This institution continues to be highly ranked as having the best environmental programs in the USA. My intellect was enhanced by quantum leaps and my inclination as a ‘tree-hugger’ was officially solidified there.

The day also marked International Mother Earth Day. Quite aptly the theme for the day was ‘trees for earth’ and in the shorthand, social media application #trees4earth. PRAJAco partnered with the youths and planted seedlings donated by the Forestry Department. Trees

One of the seedlings- Blue Mahoe- planted by PRAJAco and OHBCYC. International Mother Earth Day, 2016.

The information below from the Earth Day network is very useful.

Why Trees?

Trees help combat climate change.
They absorb excess and harmful CO2 from our atmosphere. In fact, in a single year, an acre of mature trees absorbs the same amount of CO2 produced by driving the average car 26,000 miles.

Trees help us breathe clean air.
Trees absorb odors and pollutant gases (nitrogen oxides, ammonia, sulfur dioxide and ozone) and filter particulates out of the air by trapping them on their leaves and bark.

Trees help communities.
Trees help communities achieve long-term economic and environmental sustainability and provide food, energy and income.

(See more at: http://www.earthday.org/earth-day/earth-day-theme/#sthash.wmvLV5Ku.dpuf).

In addition, for many of us environmentalists and development specialists, it was also a most significant day. This was due to the fact that a recorded 175 countries signed the Paris Agreement for Climate Change in New York at the UN Headquarters. Our government in the person of Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith signed the agreement, on behalf of Jamaicans. It was also quite a symbolic gesture that Sen. John Kerry signed the agreement for the USA with his grand-daughter in hand. I thought that an illustrative declaration as the American Indian proverb states that, ‘we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.’

Climate change is a clear and present danger across the globe. All of us are affected and impacted. It is unfortunate that there are still persons who doubt the reality. The link below, as titled, is a very good presentation providing some great information for our Caribbean (briefly) and Jamaican context (specifically the impacts on biodiversity).

Dr. Dale Webber’s Presentation on Climate Change via www.nepa.gov.jm

The 1.5and below rallying cry and campaign leading to COP21, for which SIDS were the main stakeholders, is said to have had a huge impact because the evidence of climate change is already real for these countries. The combination of these events helped to increase my resolve to continue to avail myself to serve and to also encourage my partners to do the same. Its time for ACTION and PRACTICAL SOLUTIONS- now more than ever.

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226)

Habitat III …Refining and Redefining of agendas and goals.

Hellloooo my friends. It is a momentous time! So much is evolving nationally and internationally. There is a series of undertakings  including national governments reorganizing, regional and meetings and global development goals being detailed into actionable plans. One such is the Habitat III Regional Meeting on Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) currently underway in Toluca, Mexico. I was schedule to attend  but was however detained here by a pressing work matter. Notwithstanding I have engaged in an online platform for urban dialogue. Habitat III is the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development to take place in Quito, Ecuador, from 17 – 20 October 2016. According to Dr, Joan Clos the Secretary General -UN Habitat, ‘the Conference is a unique opportunity for rethinking the Urban Agenda in which governments can respond by promoting a new model of urban development able to integrate all facets of sustainable development to promote equity, welfare and shared prosperity.’

Great opportunities for practical action and ‘realistic ‘ dialogue abound! However forged partnerships is a crucial and decisive factor for successful implementation.

Question 1: What are the most pressing challenges and opportunities in achieving sustainable urban development in Latin America and the Caribbean? What are some good practices?

The views I succinctly outline is an extension of a previous blog post I wrote about the Caribbean and Latin America being an odd couple. Https://hilaryfsmithblog.wordpress.com/?p=19&preview=true.

Subsequently my urban dialogue input read.

The Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) region is an odd couple, if ever there was one. This non-contiguous region (in particular the Caribbean small island developing states) consist of 33 countries. Languages differences across the region is a notable distinction. The official language of the citizens of most of the countries in the Caribbean is British English whilst Spanish is the primary language in the Latin American countries of the region. Within the education systems second languages are offrerd in the curriculum however for many English speaking Caribbean nationals proficiency in a second language is limited. However, it is significant that there is free movement across the countries in the region with the removal of visa restrictions which minimize other impediments. As urbanization is fuelled by migration the impediment and / or access across the region and within cities in individual countires is a critical factor. This is critical to the sustainable urban development in the LAC. Subsequently, I posit that in the LAC the most pressing opportunities in achieving sustainable urban development would be in the forging of partnerships, the involvement of the youth and the utilization of technology. Conversely, some of the most pressing challenges in achieving sustainable urban development would include gender equity, informality of human settlements, environmental vulnerability and continued efforts for poverty alleviation.

The Citiscope magazine utilized words and thoughts forthcoming from the overall urban dialogue to prepare and present a great extension to the threads in the Urban Dialogue entitled- ‘Habitat III host region takes stock of its urbanization process — warts and all.’

http://citiscope.org/habitatIII/news/2016/04/habitat-iii-host-region-takes-stock-its-urbanization-process-warts-and-all

 

Latin America AND THE Caribbean- The Odd couple

I live on a small island in the Caribbean and growing up I was taught that my country was a part of the North American continent. As the years progressed it was common to hear the island being referred to as part of Latin America and the Caribbean, which begged the question- are we a part of South America? The background of such a question being an obvious one with the ‘latin’ reference. A most perturbing conundrum when the first language of most of the Caribbean islands being British English. Even though I have a position that local dialects should be recognised as the ‘first’ language…but I digress. Either way this still does not resolve the alignment with Latin America.

Information from ECLAC and the OAS assisted in giving a break down of the region. Firstly, there are thirty-three (33) countries within the region of Latin America and the Caribbean. The graph below gives a quick look at the socio-economy of the region. 32 of these are middle-income resulting in LAC being referred to as the ‘middle-class of the world.’ In undertaking research though I have observed that there is a paucity of data and research datasets on the region, as a whole. When reference is made to the region reporting is sometimes on a few of the major Latin American countries, for example Brazil, Venezuela and Argentina whilst other times referring sparsely to Jamaica or Trinidad and Tobago. The information for the latter is even at times not treated in similar manner as the former. There is an absence of uniformity and therefore this limits a true comparison. This both an end result and a starting point indicator which adds credibility to the discussion on the suitability of this coupling.

 

LAC

Latin America and the Caribbean

 

Development Planning in Jamaica must be proactive

HILFSMITH

For too long Jamaica’s planning for development has taken a neo-colonial approach with much of the plans being static and outdated technical documents. In that approach the predominant inclination have been to extract and export, which is characteristic of that approach and has evidently not served us well. Previous planning documents serve as voluminous ornaments for bookcases in offices at best and rodent fodder in storerooms at worst. The itinerant nature of development therefore calls for a process that will be able to pre-empt and forecast the nature of development. Subsequently there cannot be a mechanism intending to control development but rather to manage this process. Lets have a conversation…

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