Go East – but for the right reasons

I must agree with your editorial of April 26. Going east might sound like a great idea but again it is a process that will require much planning and, more importantly, the right kind of reasons.

As a North Sider (note for all – it’s two separate words) I like my district very much as it is. The escape from the over developed and poorly planned sectors of George Town and West Bay is a welcome sight for anyone. We have trees, we have flora and fauna and we have a unique set of offerings which can and will no longer be found in much of the Cayman Islands.

So if we must head east then let’s head east with a plan. My great horror – but one I almost accept as the inevitable – is that I will be forced to embrace the Go east wishes of the government of the day – and be hit over the head with pages of reports and consultations provided by local/international experts who will seek to rename and rebrand North Side’s own unique brand of culture and heritage.

The environmentalist will fight the developer, who will then traumatize the local inhabitant, who will be trained to perform at will this ideal of ‘Caymanian hospitality’. I will then be force to sit in my ‘little back garden’ and observe the blood bath of suggestions, discussions, consultations and heaven only knows how many ‘experts’.

The irony that presents itself is simple – Go east and all will be welcome, but do remember what is mine is not yours. Please do not in the absence of sober and practical judgment seek to rework, rebrand and reshape an image or a heritage that has done rather nicely on it own for a few hundred years.

Encouraging open consultation is a PR exercise that will often only yield an audience filled with the emptiest barrels, that tap out the loudest ‘ideals’.

I, for one, am not interested in having a deluge of tourists walking through my back garden or having a cup of tea along the way. The idea that I should is less than appealing. But if it must be said, my back garden is a little out of the ordinary in that there is a little over 100 acres of it, to count a few.

My two cents worth in the Go east consultation is very clear – I am most willing to share with you what my grandparents passed on to me, if you are also willing to share with me what yours passed on to you. It does not take a Nobel Prize winner to see that the generosity might be a little larger on one side of the fence than the other.

I sit and wait as the development plan is fast-tracked; in what direction I have no idea. I will continue to tend my ‘little garden’ with the knowledge that perhaps I will be fast-tracked to be dressed as the gardener to tend the flowers so the tourists can then take a photo, read from a prepared script and follow a list of required routines that would make Stalin’s Russia appear like a day trip to Disney.

To offend one’s sensibilities is the worse form of condescension. And one can only feel rather offended. If my little garden is so nice and desired, by all means come and have a look. But keep your suggestions to tending your own back garden and tend it as you will.

However there is a hard pill to swallow in these revelations. As Caymanians, many of us, in our haste to accumulate material wealth, are reminded of the saying: ‘throw the baby out with the bath water’ and now feel homeless and without a land of our own. Desperation abounds to lay claim to anything that has remained steadfast in our Caymanian identity.

I think grandfather Chisholm and grandfather McCoy would be rather proud of how 100 years later their ‘little garden’ has been tended so carefully and continues to grow.

Harris McCoy III

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