Sunday, May 31, 2015

Campaign to Protect Rural Jamaica

Jamaica The Undiscovered Country! Sometimes I feel like I wasted my youth simply because there is a lot of things I wish I had done when I had the chance, the freedom to do it, however back then my perspective on life was different. I spent a lot of time living for the next party/session failing to slow down relax and enjoy my beloved beautiful Jamaica. In my youth I traveled around Jamaica a lot but I still did not know Jamaica.

Now that I am older I appreciate different things in life like the peace, tranquility and beauty of the Jamaican countryside. To tell the truth the Jamaican countryside is the undiscovered country for me because growing up we spent a lot of time driving around it trying to get to the next popular spot, to the next big event without even thinking of going into it. To explore its many wonders and beauties. For the most part in my youth I took Jamaica for granted. Back then to us, country was someplace out the car window, through that bush and up that mountain, off the beaten path and we had no interest in seeing it or getting to know the people living within it. In fact there are times when we laughed at it and belittled it. How blind and foolish we were back then, youths without vision or value, just ignorant uptown youths.

We needed to drive through and around country to get to Port Antonio for vacation or Ocho Rios for Easter weekend getaway. So we went to country but we really did not go to country and now I want to get to know Rural Jamaica. I want to find those far out of the way places over the hill and far away. I want to meet the people living in those places, find out about their lives and history. I want to explore the Genealogy, Geology and Geography of inner Jamaica while taking my time to go nowhere in particular. These days when we go to country, we just turn left or right then follow the road and see where it takes us, what undiscovered country lies ahead.

There is a general perception in Jamaica is that money is the beginning and the end of everything, as the lack of money in Jamaica and the lack of material goods are used as the mother of all excuses to keep up the most almshouse (disgusting) behaviour. I feel however that it is the lack of class, self-respect, lack of respect for others and of one’s surrounding, coupled with the lack of morals that condemns a person to a life of poverty because money does not make the man. For some, money and material goods are like pearls before swine, they are just low class people with money.

The large part of the Jamaican society exist in rural Jamaica, out into the countryside, off the main roads, up in the hills and down in the valleys. The length and breadth of Jamaica is littered with small villages and towns and most of those villages and towns dates back hundreds of years but are now in a very dilapidated state. The rundown dilapidated state of these villages and towns are a direct reflection of the mindset of the people who occupy them. The fact is our surroundings are a direct reflections of who we are as a people and some of us are as happy as pigs in slop.

It gets even worse if one drives through a rural country villages after sunset because the four corners of every square is littered with gigantic speakers boxes with music blaring, roadside food on sale and garbage pile up throughout the night while patrons use the walls and bushes to relieve their bodily functions and by morning the entire area looks like a disaster area and smells like a pit latrine.

Each time I drive through a small village or a town I try to imagine how that village or town might have looked back in its heyday, how vibrant it must have been. Some of our villages and town are full of centuries old architecture that have survived the test of time, no thanks to the people who see no value in them and who have been trying to destroy them for decades. To some people these buildings are like pearls before swine. If we could somehow renovate these dilapidated small villages and towns, a restoration process to recapture their beauty and vitality then we could have a countryside everyone would be proud of. A countryside that attracts people from all over the world. A countryside that forces people to stop and engage the local community on many levels. People need a reason to stop.

Also imagine the mental transformation that would take place among the local people living in these places, it could be magical. But the process cannot start and is not sustainable if local people do not buy into the concept, have a natural love for themselves, their history, their surroundings and environment and take pride in their local community. Such a transformation would first have to take place among the local population, which puts us back to square one and where leaders with vision and some class comes in.

The Best Kept Village: case study

One of the best countryside I have had the privilege to drive through is the English Countryside. This is a countryside that is famous around the world for a reason and that reason begins and end with the people living in those villages and towns. Because without them the English Countryside just would not exist in its current pristine state. Decades of legislation have gone into protecting and preserving that countryside.
Large Village Winner - Modbury South Hams

What I like about the English Countryside, its towns and villages is how they continue to exist, maintaining their historical state. Places are not bulldozed and replaced but are maintained to preserve their history and culture. Entire towns and villages are frozen in time, a snapshot to the past and people are proud of that. It was while driving through the Devon Countryside that I came across a sign declaring that the village of Modbury had won Best Kept Village within the county.

A best kept village is a village that has won one of the annual county competitions in the UK for its tidiness, appropriateness and typicality. The competitions have been nationally organized by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) for nearly 40 years. The CPRE makes it clear that the competition is not about finding "the most beautiful village, nor the most ancient, nor the most picturesque, just the one that is best cared for and its aim is to involve everyone in the village, encouraging them to take greater pride in their surroundings. Villages are judged on how clean and well cared for they are, as well as their impact on the environment.

Noted benefits include decreased littering, greater community communication, communal pride in homes and public spaces, a more attractive and welcoming appearance, name recognition for the village, and increased tourism and income for local businesses. The benefits can be extended to include cash for further village development and Tourist board promotion.

So I thought to myself what a wonderful idea and immediately started to think how such a concept could work in Jamaica. Could a village competition that is not based on direct individual eat-a-food gains but instead based on benefits to the entire community and surroundings work in Jamaica? Are Jamaicans civic minded enough for such a concept? These days we seem to have lost the art of communal thinking and exist in the Just-Me-Myself-and-I, Every-man-for-himself and God for me alone realm.

Entering a Village competition depends on Community Corporation and a spirit of volunteerism, people both old and young coming together, working together with a common sense of purpose and objectives. Taking pride in their contribution and in what they have created and want to share the fruits of their labour with the world. There is a lot of things us Jamaicans can do for ourselves, if we put our minds to it but maybe all this is wishful thinking on my part, so turn up the music operator till-it-buk-and-stuck, we are a merriment loving people.

No comments:

Post a Comment