MUCH to my shock, the March 4 column ‘Montagu Madness’ criticizing the explosion of signage cluttering and disrupting a view so many worked so hard to create set off a maelstrom of response I could never have predicted. The column which was even picked up by World News sparked a petition – though aimed at the wrong target, but well-meaning – and numerous others since that column appeared have been calling for the removal of signs.
Of course, up to this writing at 5 am on March 17, not a single sign has budged.
So, two lessons learnt. One, swimming pigs get more attention than a population begging for a little respect for what makes a difference in a daily life and drive. Who cares if just as your spirit is being lifted by the view of Montagu Bay it gets dashed by the already partially crushed sign about a school that hasn’t even opened yet? Or a swim programme from a few years ago? Or interest rates for some financial promise or another?
Nothing happens just because it is the right thing to do. You have to make a stink.
Do you have any idea how much I hate saying that? After decades of hand-holding, working in partnership, making friends through gaining community support for one project after another, I realize how powerless I am, or we are, when it comes to effecting change unless and until we make headlines. How very sad.
That is the first lesson. The other is something I have long known. If you want to get something done, you have to find the right person or group to champion the cause.
Signage has been assigned to the Parks and Beaches Authority. It is not the fault of the people erecting signs. They have something to sell. Some of the signs are selling products made by companies or agencies we respect – BAIC, Tourism Development Corporation, Commonwealth Brewery – they are simply in the wrong place as approved by Parks and Beaches.
Correct the corrosion for William and Kate if not for us.
Parks and Beaches Authority has the perfect reason to correct this corrosion immediately. Is it not their national duty to help prepare for the royal visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cam-bridge?
If it is true that William and Kate will be driven right along the beach decorated with billboards to watch children sail on Montagu Bay. I don’t think they will be taking selfies with signs to remind them of their special moments in The Bahamas.
But imagine the background clear of those signs, the vista all the way from Fort Montagu on the west, past the park with all the greenery and manicured seagrape hedge, the expansive beach, the conch and fish vendors market to the Royal Nassau Sailing Club on the east, imagine that on slow motion video with the children sailing in the background going viral. If captured on a clear day with bright blue skies and sparkling water, that slo-mo of the Duke and Duchess rolling past could become a video snapshot, an iconic few seconds of life in a fantasy land. We cannot over estimate its reach, a dream for the Ministry of Tourism. And remember that Kate is one heck of a photographer.
While I thank all those who cared so much about the madness at Montagu, please reach out to Parks and Beaches Authorities for the correction.
Empty shelves, high hopes for those growing their own
The continuing sight of empty supermarket shelves is a frightening wake-up call. This photo, taken on March 14, looked frighteningly like what a wartime supply problem might look like but if you talk with business owners of all types, everyone is feeling the pinch of production shortage and shipping delays. Empty grocery shelves, though, are different from a crying need for more raw materials required for light manufacturing or goods needed for other consumer goods and retail sales.
The lack of ability to buy what you want in store for what you want on the table reinforces the need to grow more of what we consume.
That makes Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Clay Sweeting’s task potentially one of the most important portfolios in Cabinet with a somewhat measurable component of making a real difference. Sights like shelves with little or nothing on them should prompt more to turn to a life of farming. Now with serious support from government along with the private sector’s new Agricultural Development Organization we should expect to see a growing interest in farming.
Supporting all levels of farmers from backyard to schoolyard, from community vegetable gardens to agribusiness can kickstart The Bahamas on a renewed path making farming a desirable way of life and lead to greater food security.
No one said farming was easy. Just ask Daphne and Nick Maioulis who have been doing it in Abaco for 20 years or the folks in Eleuthera or Andros who have given their lives to it. But if you ask them if they’d trade the long days and calloused hands for a desk job in a posh, air-conditioned suite, they’d look at you with a satisfied smile, probably thinking your head is as empty as the shelves in the store, and nod, “That’s ok. I’m good where I am.”
Here’s what I would do if I were running the campaign to create a love-to-farm the land culture. I’d use those same folks who are doing it now and saying they wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Hats off to Nassau Cruise Port
Temporary Customs office at Nassau Cruise Port. A little decoration goes a long way toward showing national pride and making visitors feel they are in a happy place. Kudos to the team at Nassau Cruise Port.
From the new Pier 5 to the simple act of decorating the front of repurposed 40-foot containers being used as temporary bathroom facilities on Prince George Wharf, kudos to Mike Maura and the entire team at Nassau Cruise Port.
Nassau Cruise Port is doing for those who cruise and stop in Nassau what NAD did for LPIA, raising the standard to world class. Maura and his team had to do much of it during the pandemic, including raising nearly $300 million, and trying to meet deadlines and budgets. So kudos to all of you.