Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today Inc.
by Michael Rudder
Many years ago, in a Letter to the Editor, I had suggested a multi-destination visitor plan to LIAT. A colleague of mine, the late Sidney Simmons, called to tell me that I should not be giving away my ideas.
I thought then, as I still do now, that my thoughts and ideas for the development of this and other countries should be irrigated by the sunlight of publication and cerebration rather than wither under the blowtorch of bureaucracy on the ‘In File” pile.
Much of what I have to say now speaks to the resurrection of Bridgetown. We seem determined to reduce the potential for descriptive literature which should define “historic Bridgetown.”
We railed against our ancestors for recognising Admiral Nelson and Trafalgar Square. At some future time, generations may rail against us for trying to diminish Spring Garden because the Mighty Grynner Highway passes through that district.
And they too may want to know why we sought to rename a location which has such historical connection to the average folk; I mean Queens Park. They may also ask why we changed that oasis of calm in the city to a buzz of traffic and a culture office – now proposed. They may query why we never sought to use its historical alliance as the home of the Commander in Chief of the British Garrison when they were permanently stationed in Barbados.
Two or three times a week, actors with a knowledge of the time, should be able to tell visitors something of the role and interventions of the British soldiers who were dispatched from Barbados for various missions, in addition to the highlights about the Park itself. This would be part of a paid scheduled tour of the Park to include a video loop in the theatre.
Then there is the Stables where we should see replicas of various military saddlery over the years. In the main building a mobile concertina mounted photographic display of all the commanders of the British and subsequently Barbados Forces – to current times. Again, the tour guides must be able to say something about each photo.
We have a treasure we have never promoted. How many West Indies cricketers played cricket there? In the pavilion mounted archive photos of those persons from newspapers and elsewhere – refreshments on sale. Also resuscitate the main restaurant to serve local finger food and light lunches.
Hotel or IT Centre
Investors in major projects are hardly likely to have their funds lying around waiting for a project to get off the ground. In that context there may well be concerns about the proposed Hyatt. Be that as it may, we need to be nimble if we seek to reach a different destination.
I am suggesting that we move in a different direction for the same Bay Street site – Sun, Sea and Software. Seek to urgently attract major players to a different concept “Ocean View Offices.”
Build an apartment block with one, two or three bedrooms and an ‘office space’ facing the sea. Individuals or companies who rent maybe self-employed or ‘work-from-home’ professionals in IT development.
No need to drive miles to get refreshed in crisp Caribbean waters – it’s just downstairs. Multi-storey parking on the northern end of the lot. While we are fighting for a piece of that kind of development pie, we are sure to find local naysayers who will oppose ‘other people’ coming to live and maybe take up residence here even though it would help our tax and NIS situation in this aging population.
Of course, some of those who object to ‘new people’ are the ones whose relatives can easily shuttle off to New Zealand or Australia.
Barbados – The (Destination) Pluto Software Hub – tells the world that software created here intends to be far ahead in the field. Every applicant/investor for accommodation in the Ocean View Offices will be assessed for their forward-looking ‘out of the box’ endeavour.
For recreation, in addition to whatever develops on the site from whence the NIS building and fire station had fled, one hopes there is some kind of resurrection for the Empire Theatre including a roof-top cocktail lounge.
Bridgetown West’s development areas would be Marshall Hall and Pelican. At the Marshall Hall site, in addition to additional apartment dwellings, including parking, a Maritime Design Centre would be established.
A different kind of product would however be produced, viz: miniature solar powered remote- controlled craft built for competition racing on lakes as well as ocean-going. These would be new products for the aqua culture lovers.
On the obverse side, in the same Design Centre, we need to resurrect some lighters – those craft of old which ferried cargo and people from ships to shore. The purpose would be to institute an annual World Lighterman Championship.
The competition would be based on speed, distance travelled and cargo weight. All vessels when completed would be of the same dry weight within the tolerance of up to one or two kilograms.
Oars and oar locks provided for possible teams of six, four or two with an additional helmsman in each case. New designs of the oars would also be part of the process.
At Pelican, in addition to the fixed shops allow a specific number of pop-up umbrella vendors – by rotation –on the day of each cruise ship’s arrival.
A decision also has to be made whether the Temple Yard vendors should, on those same days, relocate to the space once occupied by the vegetable marketplace or provide a warden to make crossing safe to and from the Yard. Signage, signage.
There is so much to say regarding tours by electric cart that I shall not, at this stage, attempt to suggest the many routes which these carts might take but will give an example below.
They would be similar in design to those used at Harrison’s Cave but with a roof added. These vehicles would offer paid ‘stop and stare’ or continuous rides. One might, for instance, be collected at the Bridgetown Port or Pelican go to Lower Green/St. Mary’s, Broad Street, Parliament and the Cenotaph, Bay Street – first Ministerial buildings, the Esplanade, historic Garrison and Museum and Culloden Farm, Queen’s Park.
Note that at the Esplanade provision is to be made for artists to exhibit and also offer their creations for sale. A soloist will usually be performing in the band stand.
A number of other tours already exist so there is no need for me to duplicate the list. I would however hope that Tyrol Cot and the early residence of the Right Excellent Errol Barrow be properly restored and honoured.
Perhaps one of the more difficult descriptors given to the “progress” of a nation is to say what constitutes its development. Often, we hear about development of the rich nations or development for the middle class and the need for development of the disadvantaged. In other words, development has different applications and means different things for different people.
We invest in development and developmental projects. We borrow for development. We provide jobs as we seek to raise the development index which is a statistical composite of four factors – life expectancy, education, gross national income and per capita income.
I would posit that none of these elements contribute more to an individual’s development than the opportunity for re-creation. It is that period, preferably weekly, which gives an individual the opportunity to ruminate, reflect, consider options, ask for help and also enjoy some physical activity.
A nation that so organises these opportunities, especially for its work force, to regularly spend time re-creating is to my mind well on the path to a superhuman development index. Problem solving will become second nature, new ideas shall arise to solve old as well as new problems; interpersonal relationships shall flourish.
Imagine a population eager to face every new challenge with a fresh perspective not dependent on the government to come up with fiscal, physical or some other foundational proposal but people within and without the ‘private sector’ working together to ensure a new paradigm away from the current expanded role of government financing and ownership.
‘We the people’ need to finally make those three words significant. Perhaps we can learn from the Japanese where, for instance, the children clean their own schools. I know the response here in Barbados would likely be, “Not bout here”.
Yet how else are we going to get divorced from the idea that Government owes us a debt of fulfilment such that we become a developed country unless we try and or implement the new. Indeed, if we persist in that notion that others have responsibility for our development, then the time for re-creation, as I noted above, will be wasted. We each need to puncture that ‘development debt’ if only to reveal our real miraculous selves. Yes, we can.
Michael Rudder is a prolific letter writer and contributor to social issues. This column was offered as a Letter to the Editor.