Looking ahead to Treasure Beach 2018

My recent transition from settled-in-Treasure Beach to unsettled-on-Interstate-10 has been jarring. Traveling from San Diego to New Orleans has entailed lots of driving, a preponderance of unhealthy eating and no exercise. I feel very much out of rhythm and I’m anxious to get situated in New Orleans. With a seasonal lifestyle, there are bound to be four friction periods each year, totaling eight weeks I suppose. One week of stress leaving locale A, followed by one week of stress entering locale B. My recent rabid consumption of diet soda, ice cream and fingernails is symptomatic of this disruption.

The mini-trip transpired over five nights. Moving east from San Diego, these nights were in Tucson, El Paso, Fort Stockton, Austin and Winnie. I am in the Lafayette Public Library now, finishing this post before I enter New Orleans. The driving has been moderate, about five hours per day. I’ve had ample time to contemplate my upcoming season in New Orleans. I have focused on the available sublets detailed on Craig’s List, hoping to identify a suitable place in the Bywater, the 7th Ward or the 9th Ward in which to reside for the next three months.

Sharing mind space with these neighborhoods, Treasure Beach is still a fresh memory for me and, while reflecting on my 2017 season there, I’ve conceptualized projects that I may pursue in Jamaica next year. Treasure Beach is a nice community. It has a small town feel. There is an organic balance between locals, seasonal residents and pass-through tourists. People often address each other by name and have a sense of their comings and goings.

I enjoy volunteer work. Treasure Beach, though, does not have an equivalent of New York Cares, the online dispatcher of volunteer opportunities. So I have been thinking about possible community-oriented endeavors that I might like to initiate during my next season in Treasure Beach.

One idea is garbage collection. There is considerable trash on the sides of certain roads and along portions of the beach. Trash removal is an issue on the island. Jamaica is a developing nation with limited resources, administrated by a government marked by chronic malfeasance. Lofty concepts such as waste management and recycling do not receive adequate consideration in my view. Local trash is often burned, with melting plastic releasing countless carcinogens into the air. Or it simply remains intact as roadside litter.

As a first step, I would like to organize group cleanups. I could recruit people by posting notices in some of the area restaurants and guesthouses. I’m thinking two-hour blocks in the late morning of every other Saturday. Even if just a handful of people attended, we could clear a portion of the beach or one of its access roads. It would be constructive to post signs that advised beach goers to “pack-in, pack-out” or something to that effect. I saw such a sign at the entryway of a beach access path in Billy’s Bay.

Predicting the end result of the project with a healthy degree of cynicism suggests that trash would soon return a few days after its removal. Also, mere trash collection would not negate the eventual burning of trash, nor would it ensure recycling or even separation. But hopefully a group of people conspicuously looking after the environment on a Saturday morning would raise awareness. Also, if a beach access road, for example, was clean and pretty even for just a few days, that might register with people. And the posted signs would be a friendly prod.

I could speak with a local politician about installing one or two additional trash receptacles strategically. These bins would require additional stops from the weekly garbage truck crew. Treasure Beach and its waste management policies, I imagine, are an illustrative microcosm, representing large swaths of the world. In the grand scheme of things, Brooklyn, Portland, San Francisco and other developed, affluent communities with well-meaning people committed to recycling are peanuts. The ~90% of the world that doesn’t conform to the aforementioned demographic description needs to get organized.

Treasure Beach could be an interesting test case. I am not a Jamaican citizen. I don’t vote or pay taxes in Treasure Beach. But, partly because the local government seems so hands-off, a group of volunteers might be able to accomplish something below the radar. It would cool if the project got some traction on social media. Zero Waste Guy, for instance, might take an interest on Instagram.

Another project I’m considering for 2018 is establishing a culture night in Treasure Beach. I participated in a play reading this year. The playwright, Robert Johnson, Jr., orchestrated a fairly impressive semi-production before a live audience at Vickers’ place. The intimate venue had the requisite basics — a small stage, a decent sound system, some lights and plastic chairs. The night of the play reading made clear that Treasure Beach was starved for public cultural offerings. Despite the persistent rain, attendance was good and people were into it.

If I’m in Treasure Beach for thirteen weeks next year, I think it would be cool to curate ten Thursday nights. My first three weeks would allow for planning. And then my final ten weeks could have a weekly offering. Subject to change, I would suggest two nights each for live music, visual art, theater, readings and crafts. I already have some good ideas regarding prospective participants for each of those disciplines.

I think Vickers would go for it. It’s found money for him, considering the incremental bar and concession purchases of a conjured crowd. I think locals and tourists would go for it. Each night would be interesting, convenient and inexpensive. I would curate cool stuff. Vickers’ place is centrally located in town. The cover charge would be a suggested donation. And I would enjoy curating a weekly event.


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