Grand Cayman is an island of neighbourhoods, each with its own distinct charm and character.
One of them is yours.
And what that means, says Heather Bodden, is that it’s not only yours to live in, and yours to enjoy, it is yours to care for.
The approach of Earth Day on 22 April has the chair of the Cayman Islands Beautification Committee feeling fortunate that the event is helping to hammer that message home.
‘We are trying to remind people that district by district, people are ultimately responsible for how their local communities look and feel and Earth Day is a great way for people to reconnect with that idea,’ she said.
The group, formed in the wake of Hurricane Ivan in 2004, is spearheading a move to build neighbourhood pride by appealing to residents to build community-based stewardship teams.
The key, she thinks, is the small scale of the project.
‘This is a great opportunity to take ownership of the issues you have a stake in, that are truly close to you. By taking on this kind of role, you have a much stronger voice in the decision-making process when it comes to issues that affect you,’ says Ms Bodden.
Colleague Alice May Coe says the neighbourhood approach is intended to draw attention to less high-profile areas.
‘While it’s great to clean up areas like Seven Mile Beach and busy roadsides for tourism appearances, it’s the residents who matter when it comes to trash and the local communities who are affected in the end,’ she says.
‘That’s why we are turning our attention to the often overlooked lanes, yards and lots that form part of the fabric of our day-to-day lives.’
That means clearing bottles and trash, notifying the Department of Environmental Health about derelict cars that should be at the dump and ridding yards of discarded objects.
‘Especially with hurricane season just around the corner, loose yard items are potential projectiles that can cause serious damage and harm. There’s no excuse for them not being cleaned up.’
Examples of this type of action are already taking shape, with groups in North Side, Bodden Town, West Bay and Prospect committing to monthly neighbourhood cleanups.
The committee has begun working with existing groups and sponsors already active in organizing projects like beach and roadside cleanups in an effort to entice their members to join the initiative.
‘Obviously, these people are involved in this sector so it’s an easy target market for us, but their numbers are small,’ says Ms. Bodden.
‘We are looking for people who maybe aren’t yet involved but are interested in seeing action being taken with regard to the Island’s appearance.’
The group hopes its Take Pride, Take Action motto will strike a chord with people looking for the right opportunity to get their neighbours together to make a difference.
‘We are encouraging all able-bodied people to get out and do their bit to keep our island green and clean. Why not make Earth Day the day it happens?’ says Ms Bodden.
For more information on starting a neighbourhood group, contact Heather Bodden @ 949-2931
For more information on waste pick-up, contact Tania Johnson @ 244-4152