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2006-02-07 16:59:35

Word Up on The Guana Cay Issue

Guana Cay controversy is a chance to show The Bahamas how modern community conscious, environmentally sensitive developments can be done.

The national newspapers are festooned with articles detailing aspects of the disagreements between the residents of Guana Cay and the developers of a Resort Property.

I do not wish to deal with specific matters. What I will say is that both the residents - whose claims are legitimate enough - and the developers - whose concerns are quite practical for any investor - have a chance to show The Bahamas how modern community conscious, environmentally sensitive developments can be done.

At times when we discuss these two elements - community and environment - we talk as if they are separate. They are not. The environment has everything to do with the quality of community and vice-versa. I was born in Abaco in a beautiful little house, with lemon trees outside and the loveliest little kitchen garden on the western side of our property. It gave me my first sense of physical beauty and the sense that the earth was alive.

At the same time, I love what sensitive, creative development can do when done right. This is what the Romans and the Mayan left us for example.

We cannot from this distance say who is right or wrong absolutely. Of one thing I am certain however, if this matter goes to court, Guana Cay will lose its opportunity to show the rest of The Bahamas how these developments ought to be done, and what considerations ought to regarded as priority.

These conflicts are not new. In England from the 13th and 14th centuries until today in some cases, where monasteries and ancient colleges took over farm lands, it lead to wars called the "town against the gown" (the monks and scholars wore gowns). In these conflicts often the chance to arrive at an elegant solution is lost either because a community basks too richly in its new found influence over wealthy developers, or developers use powerful channels to by-pass or overcome community resistance.

The people of Abaco have a steely sense of themselves and a great spirit. The two parties must find a way to teach a nation in need of meaningful examples of how to bring economic benefit to what is beautiful and how to preserve what is beautiful whilst benefiting economically.


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