Sister islands woes
A Beaconite had the pleasure of visiting Jost Van Dyke this week for a meeting on disaster preparedness that turned into a town hall style event where residents voiced their long-simmering frustrations with government services on the island. While the reporter had visited JVD before to sip painkillers at White Bay and attend Mardi Gras festivities at Foxy’s, this was the first time she had visited for a reporting trip and got to hear about the real lives of the people who live there. She was astonished to hear that some residents are still living in tattered tents and domes without electricity or running water, and she was impressed by the bravery of those who spoke about these personal struggles in such a public forum. After the meeting, a very kind resident insisted on “kidnapping” her to a nearby bar and buying her refreshments. She is consistently heartened by the generosity of strangers and reminded why she became a reporter in the first place: More than parties or lounging on beaches, actually getting to know people around the world is her favourite way to travel.
A Beaconite was amazed at the beautiful and inexpensive ferries she took travelling between St. Thomas and St. John on the Fourth of July, and she hopes to see this territory acquire some state-of-the-art equipment similar to it. She realised that in these islands travelling via ferry is akin to travelling via bus or train in many other parts of the world. Residents here have to traverse water instead of land. For students or workers, she believes, travelling between islands like Virgin Gorda or Jost Van Dyke should be a lot cheaper than it is now considering the impact that it has on the livelihood of many people.
A Beaconite reporter has been inspired by the troupes she witnessed at the St. John parade to sign up for a troupe during the Tortola festivities next month. She has picked out the costume and is on her way to earning a festival ready physique. It’ll be her first time in a parade and a troupe, and she hopes that community members will be generous with tips in the coming days.
The policies of the BVI Community Board on Facebook have been controversial among certain users for some time. For its part, the Beacon has been prevented from posting stories there as often as it would like even though the government seems to be allowed to post at will. However, a common refrain was, “If you don’t like it, start your own board.” A Beaconite didn’t have high hopes for that idea, given that the original board, over time, has accumulated some 21,000 members, more than half the population of the territory, and she didn’t see how another board could compete. This weekend, though, someone finally did something about it. To the Beaconite’s surprise, “The REAL BVI Community Board” accumulated almost 3,000 members within 24 hours. Of course, it is still in its infancy, with policies and procedures still being developed. Only time will tell whether the administrators will be able to handle the controversies that will inevitably arise, or whether the forum will be robust enough to compete with the original board. However, since the creators of the new platform are soliciting suggestions for policies, she has two. First, they should recognise that news stories are not advertising and in fact serve a vital public interest. Accordingly, such stories should be allowed at least as much prominence as government public relations material. Second, a “community board,” by its nature, necessitates input from multiple people. Allowing a response only from an administrator, or posting the phone number for a government office and then shutting down discussion, does not accomplish that. The Beaconite hopes that the new admin team will learn from the past and try to use this board for the good of the community it purports to be about. She wishes them luck.