Today’s world is obsessed with beauty. Make-up, diet tricks, exercise fads and glossy magazines bombard us at every turn.
However, when it comes to the beauty of our islands, it seems to be something that many have forgotten.
‘These are our islands,’ said Heather Bodden, chairman of the Cayman Islands Beautification Committee ‘We always hear people say that we live in paradise.’
Deputy Chair Alice Mae Coe agreed. ‘We were born and raised here, and we remember the old days,’ she said. ‘Everyone had pride in their gardens and homes and kept them clean and well-maintained.’
When asked what may have gone wrong, Hurricane Ivan was an obvious contributor, and the committee, which has been around for many years, reformed in October 2005 to work on the islands’ clean-up.
‘Once we had been appointed to our roles in early 2006, we took a bus tour around the island,’ said Ms Bodden. ‘It scared us, what we found.’
Mother Nature is not the number-one culprit, however. Issues of responsibility seem to cause many of the problems around the island.
‘Many tenants assume it is the landlord’s responsibility to clean up garbage,’ said Ms Bodden.
‘There is a general lack of respect, lack of pride,’ agreed Ms Coe. ‘We are starting to get used to it.’
Another problem is the vast increase in derelict cars being abandoned around the islands.
‘We are really clamping down on this,’ emphasised Ms Coe. ‘People park cars and leave them to deteriorate, but if it is their car it is their responsibility to move it.
‘If people are unable to take care of its disposal, they can advise the Department of Environmental Health.’
Several reasons exist for the increase in abandoned cars on-island, not least of which is the constant influx of used cars from Japan at discount prices, which people use until they break down and then abandon them on the side of the road.
Another cause is the post-Ivan cars, which were fixed after the hurricane and worked for a short while before seizing up completely.
‘We work with the police department on this,’ said Ms Coe. ‘We can use the vehicle identification numbers and license plates, if they are on, to track down the owner.’
The cars cause environmental health problems, as people strip them for parts and the shells become home to rats, snakes and other wildlife.
October is Beautification Month, and Ms Bodden and Ms Coe are keen to point out that it is to everyone’s benefits to do improve their surroundings.
‘It increases property value and detracts crime,’ pointed out Ms Bodden.
It is very simple, as well, to make changes. From bagging your garbage to putting in a few weekend hours to garden and improve your landscaping, there are many simple and effortless ways to beautify your surroundings.
‘Dominique Powell deserves some recognition,’ said Ms Bodden. ‘He is outdoing himself with the landscaping work he is doing – most recently, he has been working on the junction on Lawrence Boulevard for us. He is nearly finished that project now.’
There have been many successes, in fact, with the island’s beautification, many coming from businesses and new properties that have sprung up.
‘We have to give kudos to Mr. Dart,’ added Ms Coe. ‘Camana Bay is beautiful. Many of the condominiums on Seven Mile Beach have also spruced up their landscape.’
‘People are inspired by each other,’ explained Ms Bodden. ‘It has a ripple effect. We have seen some great strides and major improvements compared to three years ago. The Governor’s Square complex, for example, has planted some beautiful grape trees.’
‘We are all inhabiting this tiny rock. Everyone living here should take part in some friendly competition. The idea is, if the person next door has a beautiful garden you will want one too,’ said Ms Coe.
It will help the economy as a whole, encouraging tourism by impressing visitors. Ms Bodden recounted watching an interview with the star of the recently-filmed movie Cayman Went, shot on Cayman Brac. He had mentioned that he had never seen anything as beautiful as Cayman Brac.
Ms Bodden encouraged the Sister Islands to take into consideration that Cayman Went will draw many more visitors to the islands, and they will expect the beauty to match what they saw in the film.
‘They caught angles of the Bluff that I have never seen, and the underwater diving was stunning,’ said Ms Bodden of the film. ‘Residents of the Sister Islands need to remember to keep them clean.’
The concept is simple – if an island is clean and beautiful to start with, people will not want to mar its beauty by creating garbage and dumping cars.
‘Home is where the heart is,’ said Ms Coe. ‘And our home is the Cayman Islands.’