“For good reason, the pathway that leads to success is always paved with difficult obstacles, and the density of the light at the end of the journey is always predetermined by the whole structure of the pathway – the highways, the main roads, the side roads and gaps and the size of the corners. We shall soon see if the social partnership embraces the best opportunity for generating growth patterns presented to Barbados in recent times.”
The above is the note I wrote in my innovation notepad after listening to the prerecorded interview of Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart as he shared his views on the proposed Social Partnership meeting.
I love the decision in that the current pathway — manifesto, elections, Cabinet, House of Assembly, Senate etc. — while still part of our democracy, empowers the ego of the politician, but does little to educate and promote accountability among other sectors of the society. Promises and arguments raise expectations that do not match current reality and many critical issues are swept under the carpet, simply because they do not generate votes.
We need a new conversation and that will only come from an approach that generates the type of response that followed RPB’s Mr. Harding Can’t Burn, or any of Dr. Carter’s masterpieces that challenged what people considered to be calypso. If Stuart is asleep as some argue, then within the context of the current reality, wake him up by providing solutions that he cannot ignore, by showing understanding of the ebb and flow of our economy, and by providing RPB with a sequel to Something Happening.
However, my recent listening tells me that few in Barbados understand that existence of a social partnership framework in any form, places us light years ahead of many countries and that includes the US.
I go further in that as the partners meet and greet, there will be many persons from around the Caribbean watching and listening. Indeed, Barbados has an opportunity to develop a technology that can be exported to the IMF and beyond. In other words, out of Stuart’s action, Barbadians have an opportunity to change the way in which others do things.
Let me reiterate that organised thought, a single language and a healthy partnership are generative change agents.
I commend Prime Minister Stuart on his decision to use the social partnership as an instrument of change. However, at some point in time he must know that if he enters a lion’s den without a breast plate, the same daggers that exist will puncture his heart.
Many of the persons in the partnership have agendas. To cover his heart he must give the partnership a name, a timeline, a structure and deliberate on projects of mutual interest and need integrated development.
Secondly, if we are to regain our Caribbean leadership role, we must develop technologies and models that are exportable.
Thirdly, we have an excess of intellectual and human capital. Every lay off defeats the investment that every Government has made.
If I were Stuart I would invite the Social, Economic, and Empowerment Partnership 2013 to:
(a) Develop a proposal for acceptance by individual partners that creates social, economic, community and environmental space.
(b) Direct the flow of activity to the widest possible community within the society.
(c) Generate secondary networks and nodes that form natural hierarchal structures.
(d) Create a public educational campaign to sensitise Barbadians as to the purpose and benefits of the decisions.
This partnership would benefit from facilitation or technical support — Australian, or Chinese or German, assignment of civil servants to provide research and other support.
Additionally, to assist with the formation and evolvement of the partnership I would assign the following projects:
Consider the introduction of daylight savings time, the staggering working and school hours as a way to improve traffic flow, to reduce energy usage, to create space for social, sport, community and food sufficiency development, and to increase access to economic activities.
To achieve zero garbage and a cleaner physical environment by further developing green economy practices, viewing import packaging as a raw material, and creating cultural products.
A final note for the doubting “Thomases and Georges”:
Both Errol Barrow and Tom Adams generated economic growth by targeting specific activities. The response in each case was about not having money, yet they pressed on. The current numbers at UWI Cave Hill were only possible because Errol Barrow’s decision created the base. The highway was supposed to kill people, now we have a city called Warrens.
In others words it is not enough to say to people that they must grow and eat local food. However, if people were able to get home by 5 p.m. and have three hours of sunlight, I am confident that they would plant, go to the beach etc. To achieve the goal each member of the partnership would have to buy in. And it will be much more doable up front.
And, to those who may argue that the above is an example of leadership, I say no. It is an example of the fact that structure and language determine outcome.
— Walter Edey