Once again controversy has surfaced surrounding matters concerning the forgotten parish. Now I am starting to think we are not as forgotten after all.
The Gleaner published an ‘articlette‘ which seemed to have stirred up many. The title of the article found in the gleaner’s Friday, June 23, 2017 distribution, reads: “Exclusion From Goodyear Factory Plans Irks Some St. Thomas Residents”. When I finally saw this article I had already seen the disappointing comments that superseded it. Persons took to Facebook to express how disappointed and disgusted they were with those whom made comments entailed in the discourse. Some even tried hard to be disrespectful. I already knew from before reading the article that my position on it would be one that came from an unbiased and uninfluenced ground.
The release on the above-mentioned topic was apparently one only made available to those who would access the news through a digital medium as it also contained an audio file. In the excerpt, Marsha Ford-Bryan, chairperson of the Team St. Thomas Highway to Development and teacher at the Morant Bay High School spoke concerning the residents exclusion from the development plan and persons expressed displeasure in what was said.
“We are now of the opinion that major plans have been put in place and it’s after the fact that persons are now deciding to come and meet with us, meet with us for what reason? You already have a framework of your plan. We are not seeing that as an integrative process, we are seeing us being left out of the circle of discussion and we are not pleased with that.”
It must first be made clear that if the words of the article were read entirely, and the audio was not listened, then a total misunderstanding and misdirection is imminent. I am of the opinion that many persons whom went on to read beyond the headlines of the article did not listen to the audio file, hence the public discourse. I have not personally communicated with Mrs. Ford-Bryan, but I am willing to jump to her defense. After carefully listening to her recording multiple times, her stance became as day against the ignorance of many that ranted. From my viewpoint, the Morant Bay High School teacher has been ‘Miss Understood‘.
Those who read my previous blog entitled ‘Rural Jamaica to be Urbanized‘ should recall me being irritated about how the building of an urbanized town center in the east was made. With plans to develop the east, its announcement was made in one of the most western parishes of the island. In my opinion, this argument runs parallel to Mrs. Ford-Bryan’s perspective in the audio excerpt. When I had first analyzed the development plan and announcement I sensed a lack of cooperative handling; one where the parishioners were not incorporated in the planning process. If they were, then their involvement was expunge from the media leaving an individualistic byproduct we’ll soon call the Morant Bay Urban Center. It appears that before the grand unveiling in St. James, the St. Thomas parishioners had little to no knowledge of what was coming their way. As a result, there remains little time to make the preparations necessary in order to utilize the full upgrade they are soon to face. This not only involves gaining the necessary skills to become part of the process, in whatever way, but plans for current and prospective business owners to prepare themselves to expand and/or merge with other industries to further promote growth and development. The parishioners also need to be mentally prepared for the changes that a project of this undertaking will incur. Not only will St. Thomas have the potential to become a major business hub in the East, but residents will be challenged to shed their naive and simple conceptions of the parish in favour of a more sophisticated point of view. At the very least, Mrs. Ford-Bryan and her team want to feel like they are valued and their opinions prioritized. People need to be a part of the process not only to make the decisions, but to be present when these decisions are being made and that, I believe, is a fair enough request. I know it is said that St. Thomas carries a below average literacy rate, but I am still confident in my fellow parishioners to articulately apply themselves whenever they are called upon. A preliminary discussion with the St. Thomas residents and stakeholders would have certainly met a lot more delight than presenting them with a final product and calling it an integrative project.
It is with bated breath that we wait for the next update on this impending development in our beloved forgotten parish.