the blog posts

beautiful bermuda, accidentally yours

I should start a collection. For every time I explain to someone the visual image we sell to tourists is not accidental, I get a dime. I'd be more than half way to retirement by now.

So, here's the thing. Although Bermudians are quite happy to paint their houses all the colours of the rainbow (purple being a personal non-favourite of mine) and, generally, keep the roofs white, it bears remembering that landscaping really does help.

image - s pringleThe pain inflicted by a grant of planning permission that includes a condition requiring a well-executed landscaping scheme, to my mind, is worthwhile.

It doesn't have to be a scheme offering 144 plants of dozens of varieties which serves only to make the plant nursery owner richer than Croesus. No-one is asking that you singlehandedly bring back Bermuda's former cedar woodland. But, you know, something more than nothing will contribute positively to the image of verdant landscapes surrounded by sparkling azure waters, which we sell overseas.

Some forethought as to appropriate species for your location and green thumb abilities is a good idea, as is, for example, consideration of your need for privacy. 

Of course, it's not just decent landscaping that makes a difference. An Act and successive development plans that seek to balance the preservation of woodlands, arable fields, coastal ecosystems and the like help too.

Bermuda Tourism spends untold millions selling the 'Bermuda Image' abroad, and it helps if we do our best to uphold it locally. 

So, no, Bermuda's beauty is not purely accidental. It takes a bit of effort from all of us.

to gamble or not...?

There is much debate in Bermuda regarding the arrival of casino gambling. Lest we spend too much time arguing the point, please understand: Bermudians gamble already. The question is: how should we deal with casino gambling? 

where will we see the first casino? image: bermuda aerial media

For those who do wish to argue, you must know we can access betting on horses, greyhounds and sports competitions; play bingo and buy raffle tickets; and, for two days a year, (legally) play crown and anchor. Let's assume that for the other 363 days a year, the card games are behind closed doors. But this is really about visitors.

As we consider the possibilities, we should pay attention to Atlantic City, New Jersey. The comparisons aren't direct but, as a gambling destination since 1978 now battling fierce competition in what many term a 'mature market', it seems sensible to review its situation.

Lisa Selin Davis, writing for Planning, the magazine of the American Planning Association, has done just that. In an article entitled Plan B for Atlantic City, she examines the steps Atlantic City is taking to re-invent itself. Efforts to make casinos part of the urban fabric are striking as they speak to the need, in Bermuda, to help visitors have a 'whole island experience'. The Bermuda National Tourism Master Plan provides a framework for us to make that happen. 

art! culture! action!

In the African Urbanism blog post Accra's Creative Scene: Building a Locally-Driven Cultural Capital by Victoria, it was striking to me that, back in 2011, Accra's artists were pushing forward a locally driven, independent creative movement through art, culture and music. In 2011.

image: african urbanism

Yes, I know Chewstick was founded in 2002, and the numerous art galleries and festivals here were started many years before that, so I guess it's the words "locally driven" and "independent" that catch my eye and attention.

I had a conversation the other day with a videographer who, it seemed to me, was suffering from a certain ennui regarding life/the arts/culture in Bermuda. And yesterday I had a conversation with an environmentalist urging action first and apologies later.

There is a certain way of moving the arts and culture forward in Bermuda. It usually consists of preparing a business plan and presentation and shopping that to the foundations, companies and individuals you think might buy it. I can't say I get an especially driven, independent feeling about the arts in Bermuda when that is the model generally followed. And, yes, I can see the necessity; artists have bills to pay, just like everyone else, and funders must be responsible about the money dispensed.

But, just once, while we wait for that 'creative city agenda' to arise, what about stepping outside the norm? Doing the unexpected? Bringing life to un- or under-utilised spaces? Being driven, independent and action-oriented and doling out an apology after the street art or guerilla garden or parklet is completed? Imagine: the City of Hamilton as an ever-changing creative, cultural space.

Think about it.