Dr. Desiree Cox
Dr. Desiree Cox sets the record straight on her departure from Urban Renewal Programme. In fairness to Dr. Cox we post her replay today in its entirety and as responsible journalist, Bahamas Press apologies to both Dr. Desiree Cox and Prime Minister Hubert Ingraham for our headline on August 31St.
STATEMENT BY Dr. Cox:
I have heard many different versions of the stories relating to my involvement and role in shaping the urban renewal initiative and the completion of my tenure with urban renewal in November 2007. And up to this point I have said nothing. A still tongue makes a wise head. But there is a time to speak and a time to watch. And this is the time to speak. To set the record straight.
FIRST. I was not fired. I had a three year contract as consultant to the urban renewal commission. It was decided that the research which myself and my research team would have the opportunity to evolve in such a way as to inform public policy if it were connected to the College of the Bahamas – soon to be University of The Bahamas. Negotiations began to set this up. An agreement was made between COB, myself and the government (around Feb/March 2007). The papers for a position of Senior Research Scholar was agreed upon. The new government was not minded to fullful on this agreement. Nothing further was spoken about this contract and I was unable to get any word on the position regarding the post. My contract, as consultant to Urban renewal was thus extended until November 2007. I did not see the kind of committment, funding, political will, organizational structure, necessary for such an initiative to be successful. When my contract came to an end, I wrote a note thanking the government for the opportunity to serve my country in the capacity of consultant to the urban renewal initiative, and I moved on.
This is not being fired. Governments have the right to choose what they give there energy to and who they chose to employ to assist them in putting their policies into action.
Now. Here’s the thing. This is a critical time for The Bahamas, and indeed for many Caribbean countries. The past thirty-five years past independence have been spent in short-term initiatives and policies. One government comes in, kills the projects of its predecessors, and over time this has a negative effect on development human development.
Much of what I did during my time with urban renewal was about finding and documenting the facts (not facts about the success of urban renewal, urban renewal was merely a vehicle for social and cultural transformation on a national scale, with particular attention to people in tough neighborhoods) and speaking a new vision into being. The visionary part is the most important. Everything begins with a dream, an idea of a new possibility. And when people in tougher neighborhoods have the freedom to dream and, most of all, get that they really can make their dreams come true, then transformation happens. Transformation at the soul level. But this requires work. And the idea of homework/afterschool clubs/classes – outside of school – based in communities, and bands, and music, and all the other clubs that went on these areas, create the context for the community participating in cultural and social process of the country. Its not just about kids getting their homework done. Its about communities remembering to help each other in positive ways, about creative ways of creating the context of public participation in ways that allow for long term engagement.
There’s a lot more I could say about that. But not now.
Change has a cycle in The Bahamas, and the caribbean. The first thing people in this country do to a new/novel idea is pour scorn onto it. Usually without fully understanding what they are pouring scorn onto or, most of all, the negative impact of their words. Then, after they have killed the thing, or almost killed the idea, and see that there was some merit, they try and rescue some fragments of it, or slap up an half-baked version of it, rename it and reintroduce it. We would do well to take a more mature approach of observing and reshaping novel concepts, keeping what works for us, and reshaping the parts that are not working as well as we’d like them to.
FINALLY. Urban renewal was not personal. Neither was it political for me. It was what was and still is needed for the country, it was an opportunity to contribute to the country. And that is that.
If my contributions are not needed then so beit. My position on these things: say what you have to say in this life and move on. Those who get it, get it. Those who don’t don’t. Its all good (or as a good of mine puts it, its all God).
But at a national level, at some point, people will start to miss the water, hopefully, they’ll do act before the well runs dry.
Dr Desiree Cox