Right Steps & Poui Trees


An Act of Remembering…

Walking through the gardens of St Paul’s Cathedral in London recently, I noticed this bench…IMG_20191031_183412_resized_20191031_063444178 (1) bench st Pauls Cathedral

…and the plaque on it. I don’t know who Sandra Archer was or who arranged for this act of remembering… family, friends or colleagues…IMG_20191031_183247_resized_20191031_063318411 (3) plaque on bench St Pauls Cathedral

Our family did this recently, after my husband died. A plaque on a bench, under a tree at Hope Gardens…IMG_20191031_182517_resized_20191031_062634120 (1) tree and bench at Hope Gardens

An act of remembering…IMG_20191031_182736_resized_20191031_062817858 (1) plaque Hope Gardens



Once Upon a Sunset…

I like taking photos of sunsets. A bit cliched, you suggest? Yes, probably. But I like taking photos of sunsets anyhow.

By the time I went up onto the roof yesterday, the sun had already set and what I was left with was the after-sunset sky… P1410368 sunset 24-9-19

…which was rather beautiful…P1410365 sunset 24-9-19

I really do love taking photos of sunsets. Did I say that already?



Department of Dress Code Compliance Opens for Business

In case you missed this news item, I have posted the article below in full, as I wouldn’t want readers of this blog to be unaware of this important new public service!dress code portal headline highlighted

Public Encouraged to Make Use of New Dress Code Compliance Portal

Friday, September 13, 2019

The new Department of Dress Code Compliance (D²C²) is now open for business and is ready to assist the Jamaican people with a problem that has plagued the society for decades.

dress code portal sign

Not allowed at one Government Ministry. Portal will now provide clarity on what qualifies as short shorts & mini skirts. Also exactly how much or how little of “the Bosom” may be exposed.

Having missed the original launch deadline of April 1, 2019, due to unavoidable technical problems, the new agency (located on Constant Spring Road) now stands ready to help people navigate the complex maze of  dress code rules – written, unwritten, published, unpublished, public, secret and totally imaginary – that are part of life in Jamaica.

A centralized database has been established containing all dress codes for state institutions and institutions that receive public funding. Members of the public are now able to access the database using the online D²C² portal.

Minister Without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for public decorum, keeping up appearances and protection of civilization as we know it, Hon. Beidi Booke said, “Many people are frustrated when they turn up at government agencies, hospitals and courts and are denied access because of inappropriate attire. Now, using the D²C² portal, people can upload pictures of their clothes, shoes and jewelry and get pre-clearance before they even leave home. Think of the valuable man-hours, woman-hours and child-hours that can be saved with this new system.”

Minister Booke noted that partnerships have been forged with the Jamaica Library Service (JLS) to facilitate persons who do not have access to computers and may want to utilise the dress code portal. The Minister also pointed out the small business opportunities associated with assisting people to access the portal.

The Jamaica Teachers Association (JTA) has welcomed the launch of the new agency, having collaborated with D²C² on the design of the special Skoolaz Rules R Rules app. Students and parents will be able to download the app to their mobile phones and use it to upload photos to check uniform lengths, tightness of pants, hairstyles and more against the existing and soon-to-be-disclosed dress codes of any government assisted educational institution in Jamaica.

dress code portal - uniform

Use Skoolaz Rules R Rules app & avoid uniform length mishaps!

With the easy pre-clearance process, parents will no longer have to worry about wasted bus fares or their children’s safety as a result of being sent home from school because a uniform isn’t 6 inches above the ankle or 6 inches below the knee or because they have more than 4 bubbles in their hair.

dress code portal - nose ring

Small but dangerous nose rings pose threats to safety and decorum of our courts.

A member of the public outside the Supreme Court on King Street said she looked forward to using the portal. “Dem tell mi fren shi haffi tek out har nose ring fi guh eena di court. Wid dis system now, yu cyan tek pitcha of yu nose, yu aise, any part ah yu baddi fi dem pass it before yu reach.”

MP Everald Coolingdown has said the new portal will enable the public to easily comply with the dress code for parliament. “The standard has fallen to a very low level, where people walk into this House in anything they want. I have seen some situations here where people are in jeans and T-shirts in the gallery here. The only thing I don’t see them in is body blouse. Some of the things they wear in the gallery is totally unacceptable. People can use the new portal to check their sleeve length, their shoe style, their collar style. Pre-clearance will help to preserve the dignity of parliament and will allow for a smoother flow on busy days.”

Leader of Opposition Business MP Allswell welcomed the launch as a more streamlined method of implementing adherence to dress codes. He also pointed out that the previous administration had tabled a white paper on a dress code portal policy and had actually run pilot projects in three parishes utilising the Social Development Commission.

A public education programme will be rolled out shortly using the slogan for the new portal – Nuh Mek Dem Tun Yu Back! Pre-clearance for Better Adherence!Dress code portal family



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“Stupidly Suicidal”: Esther Figueroa on bauxite mining in Cockpit Country

I read Esther Figueroa’ s column “Cockpit Country Still Under Threat From Bauxite Mining” in today’s Gleaner (Sunday, July 28, 2019) and decided to post it on my blog. So many voices pointing out where we are heading in this era of climate crisis and in so many ways we continue to ignore the warnings. We are rapidly entering a time when water…unpolluted water especially…will be far more valuable than the bauxite and other substances we mine, destroying the environment as we do so.

This is the final paragraph of Figueroa’s column, which you might want to read in full:

“When I was in Ulster Spring on May 27 for the Noranda EIA public meeting for SML 173, I looked out at the most perfect of Cockpit Country mountains, the unique conical shape completely covered in trees, and when I imagined that mountain butchered by bauxite mining my heart fell into the depths of despair. Strip mining is never good for the environment and it is never sustainable development. In a time of climate crisis with record high temperatures, unpredictable weather with long droughts and catastrophic storms, it is stupidly suicidal to be cutting down our trees and polluting and depleting our soil and water. All of Cockpit Country must be protected not just the Designated Cockpit Country Protected Area. We must not allow Special Mining Lease 173 to be granted.”

When bauxite mining began in Jamaica about 70 years ago, we may not have been aware of the full extent of the negative impacts. We have no such excuse now.

Links to Films

“Esther Figueroa, Ph.D. is an activist independent filmmaker who has been an integral part of the movement to protect Cockpit Country. Her films include Cockpit Country – Voices from Jamaica’s Heart and Cockpit Country Is Our Home. Her most recent feature documentary Fly Me To The Moon (to be released later this year) is about aluminum, modernity, the political economy of our material culture and consumption, and is a call for us to stop destroying the natural world that we all depend upon.” – Gleaner, 28/7/2019

Cockpit Country – Voices from Jamaica’s Heart

Cockpit Country - Voices from Jamaicas Heart - title - Esther Figueroa film

Cockpit Country Is Our Home

Cockpit Country Is Our Home - title - Esther Figueroa film



Ten Years Later, #RememberArmadale

Ten years ago, on the night of May 22, 2009, there was a fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann, Jamaica. Seven girls died as a result of the fire and many others were injured. A Commission of Enquiry into the fire and its subsequent report revealed the horrific sequence of events that led to the fire and death of the girls and showed that the deaths were entirely preventable. Today, as we remember Armadale, I am posting an article by Alexis Goffe (my son), which also appeared in today`s Gleaner.

For most of my life, I was a loyal carnivore. I hated all vegetables except broccoli, which only interested me because I had it ingrained in my head from childhood that they were trees and I, the big bad hurricane. I despised peas and so I had to spend extra time at the dining table, after Sunday lunch, unable to leave until I finished the pile of red peas I had picked out of the rice. If you know my mother, you know she doesn’t mess around.

But then things changed when the fire happened at Armadale. A year later, I decided to give up eating meat, so every day, every time I think of what to eat, I remember Armadale. I wanted to ensure the nine-day wonder didn’t happen and I wanted to raise awareness of the incident.

If anyone asked me how come I didn’t eat meat anymore, I would tell them why:
On May 22, 2009, there was a fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann, Jamaica, that resulted in the deaths of seven girls. There were 23 girls in a room which was meant for five people. The girls were given seven bunk beds and 14 mattresses in the room to sleep on. They had been on lockdown for two weeks prior to the fire, which meant they did not have access to education, recreation or the bathroom.

The police were called to the premises that night because the staff reported that the girls were being unruly. A tear gas canister was thrown into the room, which landed on a mattress and reportedly started the fire. The door to the room was locked. To date, no one has been held accountable.

Following a commission of enquiry, it was found that the fire was caused by a tear gas canister thrown by Constable Lawrence Burrell. However, he was freed of the charges after the Crown conceded that it did not have sufficient evidence against him.

During the first year after my decision, I told over 700 people about Armadale. At the time I was living in the United States and I started to recognise a stark difference between the reactions of Jamaicans and non-Jamaicans. The non-Jamaicans generally had a sense of shock. The Jamaicans – not so much.

I will never forget the first time I heard someone say that they, the girls, deserved it. It was through this experience I realised how traumatised we are as a people, how normalised violence is and how we cope with it in order to get on with our days as humans at all stages – children in school, employees at work, families at home.

Then almost a year to the day of the Armadale fire was the Tivoli massacre, where over 70 people died at the hands of the State. Jamaica’s soul took a beating in the space of a year.

In truth, with our history of intense violence and gross violations of our rights and dignity, Jamaica’s soul has been taking a beating for several decades. Perhaps this was the straw that broke the mule’s back and placed us further along in our collective trauma, feeling helpless at the question – what can I do to stop this?

Even though it’s been hard to witness, I understand why year after year, as sure as day follows night, when I say the memorial of the Armadale fire is coming, I’ll get responses that can best be summed up in a sound – yawn. Yet still, it must be done.

So let me take a moment to interrupt your morning, afternoon or evening, your breakfast, lunch or dinner, in your home, at your office, or on the bus, wherever you are reading this, to remind you that today is the 10-year memorial of the fire at Armadale that claimed the lives of seven girls and caused lifelong injuries to many more. Let us remember the seven we lost, their families and friends and the survivors.

And to those who do not know about the fire at Armadale, you have a decision to make: to learn or remain uninformed. To those who know about Armadale, we also have a decision – to forget or to remember. We all have a choice to either be complicit in our silence and inaction or to act and unapologetically call for justice.

To anyone who believes that every child deserves love, respect and dignity, I ask you to pay attention. Because in the midst of the 10-year memorial of Armadale we must remember that the story continues and the first line of the next scene is already written, “Then there was the fire at Walker’s Place of Safety on January 16, 2018.”

– Alexis Goffe

ARMADALE Newspaper Ad - white big 3 (1)

This is the link to the short video on YouTube that is mentioned in the picture above: Armadale: 10 Year Memorial Video