Sally and her Community – All Hands.

In time, Environment girl even won over the fishermen. I think she shock them in to listening that day she walk straight up to them, and broke it down. Yes, the resort development in the wetlands was a bonehead move – her words; the approach, she agreed, had indeed been high handed and dismissive, and ultimately catastrophic to their livelihoods. Yes, climate change had had an impact on the coral reefs, she said, causing bleaching and t’ing; and I’ve never seen a coral reef outside of a tourist magazine but I have seen bleaching and that’s not a pretty sight. So if the coral reefs really look so, well!

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But, she let them know, some of it is their fault:  over fishing, improper placement of traps, these were part of the problem when it come to the destruction of the coral reefs. They point finger at the pleasure crafts anchoring on the reefs; “them too” she said.

“And what about all the people dumping their garbage over there?”

“Them, too.”

They push back hard and she had an answer for everything. “Just like tourism is everybody business” she said “the state of our environment is everybody’s fault. We don’t get to sit back and point the finger.”

Maybe they just wanted to done the talking and get back to their dominoes, but they agree that she have a point. And that’s how she rope them into her project to rehabilitate the mangroves and reefs, what was left of them, and maybe bring back their livelihood in the process.

She reason with the farmers too; man like Bishop, who been farming land handed down in his family through generations. She made the point that it was a food security issue. When nature strike, is not water one we have to worry ‘bout but food. But Bishop done know that.

“I remember daddy used to grow some pumpkin and watermelon bigger than Big Head head.” Big Head was a sometime fisherman who hang ‘round the domino table in my shop yard. His head big in truth. But the lack of water stunt the plant so much, Big Head could hold on to his dubious distinction. Also when weather dry, Bishop say he have to fight with the roaming livestock to hold on to his already meagre crop, plus the soil don’t have no cover and liable to wash way quicker when likkle rain fall. It was like a lose-lose situation and he was frustrated. Who could blame him?

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And Bishop was a responsible farmer – didn’t clear land indiscriminately, didn’t light fire, didn’t use harmful herbicides or pesticides. “Can’t grow nothing,” he complained, and Bishop is someone who know about harvesting water and irrigation, but what’s left to harvest after months and months of no rain?  He did everything right and still couldn’t catch his hand. Couldn’t help but feel for him.

“What will become of a country that can’t feed itself?”

“We’ll import like we already do,” someone, probably the same bright one, chip in one time at a Wild and Tame chat-up, and all the limers laughed.

Bishop choopsed.

“You see that kind of thinking there that don’t have no place in forward looking conversations,” Bishop chastised. “We’re hear about securing our future. The way things stand now that future involve farmland lying fallow due to lack of rain or drowning due to too much rain; we can’t live in them kinda extremes – you can’t make life if you fighting all the time, in our case fighting with nature, and with common sense. No water there but when the standpipe open children playing in it and man washing dem car.”

Bishop become as vocal as her and you could see she was happy to have another ambassador. She and him would discuss what kind of plants do better in wet weather, what kind do better in dry weather, what kind of technical assistance was needed to help modernize our farms – with better water storage capacity, greenhouses, grant applications, maybe even a way to lobby the credit unions for farm friendly loans, revive the water catchments in the area, create linkages between agriculture and tourism. The List was getting long. We were going to need more paper.

Note: Sally is an Antiguan woman. She’s not real, but she could be. Resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental and her views are her own. The Sally series was written as part of an Environmental consultancy. The writer was given a free hand to creatively explore the issue of climate change from a local perspective. The hope is that Sally gets people talking about a global phenomenon that is hitting very close to home. For more on climate action, visit http://www.cop21paris.org/about/cop21

CLIMATE CHANGE TRIVIA (NOT TRIVIAL): “Innovation isn’t only about the new, it’s also about the old knowledge and old experiences that we have…people today are already suffering from the impacts of poor land management practices. And these problems will only get worse unless we do something about it. That’s what our island climate innovators are doing. So, tell me, where do you fit in?” (Lia Nicholson TEDx Antigua, 2015)

What’s there to add to this? It’s simple really. Time to get up, get organized, and do. Spread the word and let our actions be heard throughout the nation. Yeah, there isn’t much left to say, so I for one will be going out and doing.

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