Post-Irma optimism

In the process of reporting for the Beacon’s upcoming “Irma Anniversary” edition scheduled for Sept. 6, a Beaconite has spoken to dozens of people across several sectors of the Virgin Islands. Interviews have been completed with government officials, yachting professionals, lawyers, accountants, chefs, construction managers and store directors, among others. While hearing their diverse set of opinions and perspectives, what stood out to the Beaconite was the tone of optimism underpinning most conversations. Sure, many of the interviewees have expressed their grievances — some more legitimate than others. But the vast majority have painted a hopeful picture of the territory and their place in it. The reason this surprised the Beaconite a bit is that recovery and progress can be easy to forget among the oftentimes-dour conversations in bars, cafes, restaurants and streets throughout the territory. In day-to-day chatter, people tend to focus on the recovery delays or persistent annoyances of post-Irma life. Sometimes, this is for good reason: There certainly are areas where the territory could be doing more or doing better. Asked to reflect on their past 12 months, however, many residents have described experiences that were devastating, but also a future that looks all right.


Facebook blocked

More than 2,500 words in this edition are dedicated to the subject of Facebook groups in the Virgin Islands and how they’re policed, but a Beaconite would also like to give her two cents on the topic here. In recent weeks at least two Facebook forums have been deleting some articles that the Beacon shared on the public pages, or disabling comments. The articles that are targeted tend to have one thing in common: They’re not very cheery. They discuss topics such as the risk of pollutants in the air due to a lack of scrubber at the incinerator or the ongoing request for accountability regarding the BVI Airways controversy. In other words, they could lead to bigger conversations about important subjects like government, climate change and the tender process in the territory. The reporter’s main beef, though, is that the offending forums seem to lack consistency when they make decisions to delete articles. It’s disheartening to see an in-depth, well-researched article from a local news outlet taken down without so much as a comment, while apparently unlimited posts by government about news events are allowed to remain. The Beaconite recognises and appreciates that the Facebook moderators volunteer their time as a community service, and she is happy that that they provide a forum for sharing some Beacon articles. But given the high number of people who get their news from Facebook, she believes more thought should go into the forums’ policies at times.


Cat woes

It’s not easy being (or having) a cat in the Virgin Islands sometimes. They are undoubtedly happier outdoors, but the outdoors are full of dangers. A Beaconite arrived home one afternoon last week to find her kitten Clio dead of unknown causes (presumably an accident) with her brother meowing sadly nearby. It was heartbreaking, given that this is the second cat she has had to bury in less than a year. Days later, she came across another unfortunately felled feline in the middle of the road known as The Elevator, with three kittens, presumably related, meowing nearby. She and her friend tried to lure them out with meat, but the kittens were predictably too shy. The Beaconite and her friend called Promoting Animal Welfare, one of the organisations nominated in the Beacon’s Community Board “Heroes of Irma” thread for the work it did rescuing animals after the storm, and which works hard to get strays spayed and neutered in order to eventually cut down on the excess population. The next morning, bright and early, riding down the hill with another friend, sure enough, there was PAW, on the hunt for the kittens. Although the Beaconite has decided she may not adopt any more pets, being unequipped to handle tragedy, she has gained a renewed awe for those who tirelessly go out of their way to help them, despite the emotional toll it may take.