A Beaconite was appalled by the recent state of the bathrooms in the Queen Elizabeth II Park. They were littered with plastic bags, food containers, beer bottles and other disgusting trash. Whoever treated the bathroom so poorly should be ashamed of themselves. After all, maintaining public facilities is everyone’ responsibility. But the National Parks Trust, which is charged with the park’s upkeep, urgently needs to take action as well. The bathrooms should be cleaned daily, and systems need to be put in place to discourage such poor treatment. The bathrooms, for instance, might need to be locked during certain times of the day or monitored somehow. Security cameras might even also be installed on the outside. The solution may not be simple, but the Beaconite knows that the current state of affairs is not acceptable.
Soured on solar
On July 4, a Beaconite took a ferry to Anegada to meet with two graduates of the Power52 Caribbean Energy Institute, a solar technician training programme at H. Lavity Stoutt Community College. He had interviewed the pair six months earlier, right after a reception celebrating the start of the programme. During the initial interviews, the men were eager to begin their training and to later help build a promised solar grid on their home island of Anegada once they had graduated. But by July, their excitement had soured. They had accumulated debt while traveling to Tortola during the week to complete the programme, but assurances from government officials that their living expenses would be reimbursed had fallen flat. They also weren’t earning any money from the promised project, which appears to be stalled. The students weren’t the only people affiliated with the training programme who had suffered. Both training instructors told the Beacon that they arrived in the territory intent on staying several years as they trained new crops of solar technicians and helped build the grid on Anegada. But in May, they both left the territory after accumulating debts of their own, as Rob Wallace Jr., the American solar developer behind the training programme and the proposed project on Anegada, allegedly failed to pay them all of what they were owed. Although the Beaconite has reported extensively on the proposed Anegada solar grid and the HLSCC training programme, there are still many questions he would like answered. The foremost being: Why, more than a year after government announced that Mr. Wallace had been chosen to build the Anegada grid, has no contract been made public? If the people of Anegada are not going to get the jobs or green energy they were promised, the Beaconite hopes they at least can get an explanation.
Medicine and media
One particularly sensitive area of journalism — as the world has seen during the Covid-19 pandemic — is medical news. This week, a Beaconite was writing a story about spina bifida, and she was reading more about the condition on the website of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The webpage explained that not all the disease’s causes are known, and more research is needed on the role of genetics and the environment in which babies grow. Still, the CDC had a few specific preventive recommendations, like taking folic acid supplements and avoiding overheating from fever or even a soak in a hot tub. But the CDC also said spina bifida often starts in the first few weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they’re carrying. It’s tempting to add such information to a story given how easy it is to access health information in the digital age. After all, the information would seem to only help an expecting parent. But the Beaconite believes extra care is needed in these situations. The decisions a person makes about their pregnancy are highly personal and should ideally be guided by medical professionals. Stories with medical components certainly have a place in the news, but the reporter thinks it’s the responsibility of all writers to always pause and consider the potential impact of their stories on readers.