Thursday, February 2, 2012

Close Encounters

Do you remember the opening of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"< when different people kept having the same vision and were all being drawn to the same place?

Well, it is happening here and now.

Perhaps not a landing.. But then again.. who knows?

One on the major discussions on Haiti is held via a private list serve maintained and monitered by Bob Corbett. We refer to ourselves as Corbetters and our home as Corbettland. Over the last five years, I have made friends as fine as any in this virtual land.

Today I received a posting via Stuart Leiderman who works out of New Hampshire, helping the Haitian League, which is the largest group of the US Haitian Diaspora. Its' director, Bernard Laurendans, is a dedicated Haitian American who devotes his energy to envisioning a higher future for his country.

He presents us this vision:

"Imagine visiting a new rural Haitian community of two thousand, whose people are well-nourished, safely-housed, free of infectious and transmissible diseases and parasites, and able to work productively throughout the seasons. Imagine a place where drinking water is plentiful, clean and conveniently available; Where toilets and showers are nearby, sanitary and simple to use and
maintain; Where windmills and solar panels and pumps power refrigerators, lights, equipment and irrigation; And where reliable telephones, computers and durable vehicles are available to maintain contact and commerce throughout the country and the world beyond. Imagine attracting Haiti’s unemployed youth to a countryside network of "Lakou" for six-month vocational training programs in a variety of subjects, helping them toward ethical professions, and facilitating their access to credit. Imagine Haiti's unemployed being able to establish productive farming or thriving
businesses in all ten departments, east to west, north to south. For someone familiar with conditions in most Haitian villages today, this new kind of community would be a stretch of the imagination. But to those who are familiar with the minimum living standards necessary for a small rural population to survive anywhere in the world today, this description would be an unarguable benchmark, a social, ecological and economic imperative."

And my response --

I got one of the those very eerie Close Encounters of the Third Kind feelings when I read the vision of the small villages... since this idea of the small sustainable villages has been a subject of discussion here in the DR among me and my French and American and Dominican friends for the last seven years.

So let me propose that we STOP just thinking about HAITI and START thinking about THE ISLAND. SINCE we are an ISLAND. Not that we would ever kjnow it from a map. You cannot find a map.. except one that is hand drawn or a nautical chart .. that has the entire island. But we live on an island.

There are at least one million Haitians here .. the majority of whom wish to return.

There is a chain of undeveloped, unspoiled, untouched land from the tip of Samana right across to Belledare which could be developed into an ecotourism chain of small ecotouristic "typica" retreats...

I did a proposal once for homestays on the border -- putting folks into Dominican homes for four days and if they survived, moving them into Haiti for three!

Let us shift our heads around and understand that it is WE who need to learn to live more like Haitians.. closer to the earth, more in concert with it. with less stuff...

So.. how about a chain .. so we can bring back the Haitians who are stranded on this side of the island... building little artistic villages as they go, leaving the DR with a nice trail of camp sites, and bringing back with them all those two liter used coca cola bottles filled with topsoil and seedlings?

Everything that is needed for the regrowth of Haiti is flourishing on this side of the island.

Together, these two nations could become an ecotouristic paradise, teaching music and art, in many languages. The old animosities that plagued them for centuries have been broken down since the quake and new bonds of brotherhood have formed.

Edwin Paraison and his Fundacion Zile are ready to shelter this project.

I am sure that he could secure the permission from the Minister of the Environment to start a march back to Belledare

as soon as you all come up with the plans

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