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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tropical challenge

Living in a small island with circa 60k people you sometimes have to remember you are pretty much a pimple on the backside of the world.

However it is very easy to think that this reality is more pervasive than it really is.

At first I used to despair of young people leaving the island almost inevitably to never return. And it still is something of a concern.

But my concern is now more pragmatic.

Because of the nature of this island, like so many others, there is close to zero chance of a young man or woman, who isnt politically or class connected to make anything of their lives. Not that those circumstances even help them. It just gives them some breathing room.

Travelling and encountering a different reality gives young Dominicans a chance. And just a chance.

We are dealing with a situation where there is a poorly equipped public library, no cinema, a politically polarised media (and thats being generous to call them that), and almost no intellectual base for anyone to rely on. On top of that we do not have any sporting facilities of note. In 2011 we have young people trying to qualify for the Olympic Games on grass fields with chalk lines, and there is no indoor court for basketball or volleyball (or any other sport for that matter). When it rains, the sports stops.

Dont ask about entertainment.

You add in a party political system which is vindictive in punishing those who do not conform, and a hypocritical and yet strangely dogmatic interpretation of religion which is as literal as you could get in Medieval times, and well...we're screwed.

Well...unless you like that reality.

A couple of us are forming a small charity to try to build facilities to stimulate both mind and body locally.

We shall see if that will head off the storm of barbarism that threatens.

The flip side ? Its a beautiful Caribbean island and you can live naturally :-)

7 comments:

Tropical Ties said...

"there is close to zero chance of a young man or woman, who isnt politically or class connected to make anything of their lives"...You really think that KG? The internet is just one example where geography is not so significant and you can get yourself seen no matter what your social status or political affiliation. Also I have met many young people taking advantage of what the island has to offer and making something of their lives, organic farmers, artisans, musicians, artists etc all stimulated and inspired because of the island and not inspite of it.
I do not disagree with most of what you say and I am not naively saying there are not serious issues but each and every one of us can do something about the things you mention.
Positive and amazing things go on in this "pimple" of an island all the time if we look hard enough.
If you're looking for some mind stimulation check out the literary festival Aug 5th-7th, now in its 4th year.
Regarding no cinema, I too would love to see a cinema here but no-one is going to invest that kind of money just to see it empty. Who would go? The majority appear to prefer to watch movies at home. There was a travelling Caribbean film showcase here recently showing some good films but the attendence was very poor and the entrance fee was just a contribution.

KG said...

I am being deliberately provocative but yes there is a serious tropical challenge going on here.

Lets take your last point first.

A cinema will be absolutely a success and if I wasnt so compromised by so much I would do it.

You cannot prescribe entertainment.
I hear people talking about film as if it has to be given like medicine. Unfortunately, film has to given like fast food. Like everywhere else. The good food will be consumed in the middle of all that. There is almost a snobbery about this concept. Cinema needs to be unfiltered and current. We really need to stop treating this population like the congregation of a sunday school.

People dont attend a Caribbean film showcase because their perception is that it isnt good (I said perception :-) ).

The UK for example has a large and diverse population but if you examine who attends most UK film festivals and indie film shows it is a small percentage of film goers and the industry would die if you used that as a reflection of the potential of the industry.

Over time, once you introduce the whole package people develop more diverse tastes and film festivals become sustainable and attended.

This country is poor yet it maintains a KFC fine and dandy with an average transaction thats just a couple dollars less than what the admission for a cinema would be.

The issue of people pirating movies and watching them from home is primarily one of choice. They dont have any.

There is nothing different about the average Bajan or St Lucian et al, and even given our population differences (ANtigua has a similar population) it would be a success.

The model here would have to be slightly different, ie, Thursdays to Sundays only etc, but financially, yes it will work.

Its just alot of effort and only a few business people can be damned doing it. AFter all, you could be importing widgets and selling them for a substantial profit.

As for the lots of people taking advantage etc, I dont see it. I will come to the festival but I disagree that young people are doing so much.

If you look at the crisis of young male unemployment you start to touch the issues. That problem is everywhere of course but in this country the ability to channel a challenge into an opportunity for some young person who randomly comes from Dubique or Mahaut or Pichelin, is VERY difficult. And then they leave.

We cannot be in denial about this.

I love your positive energy and bear in mind anyone who invests in Dominica has to have a strong dose of that.

Its just that we have to be able to articulate the challenges too.

Tropical Ties said...

As I said I am not disagreeing with much of what you have said nor am I in some naive denial of our issues but who are we looking too to start changing things?
We have to stop acting like victims all the time. If all people see and hear about is despair then it's easy to feel everything is hopeless and give up trying because what's the point. But there are examples of enterprising things in DA that most never hear about. Hope and positivity can change things one person at a time. Just show the people something different

KG said...

Dominica is still a wonderful country.

However, if we do not improve things for young people, we will lose all our talent. And with talent goes the future.

Simple things like a covered basketball court, a new library, a decent playing field, an athletics track, a cinema, a public indoor arena, public tennis courts, childrens play areas, all would help.

Im not even speaking about the major desirables like an airport with proper air access, hospital or government which actually focusses on creating employment.

Im scarcely a pessmist. Being involved in more businesses than I can count, buying a house here and spending as much time as I do 'working', is as much a commitment to positivity as I can make.

Im not into the hopey changey thing though. It never works like that.

Im into saying what the problem is and then solving it. In this region we dont even want to admit the problem is there for fear of glorifying it.

Tropical Ties said...

Hmmm "hopey changey"??
"Im into saying what the problem is and then solving it" - Great!!!

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