Jamaica - Caribbean All-Hazards Conference Presentation

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Yeah, Man! I just returned from Jamaica, after having delivered a presentation on the Vetiver System to the 2008 Caribbean All-Hazards Conference attendees. Dick Grimshaw, the founder and chairman of The Vetiver Network International had been invited to deliver this talk but, unable to attend himself, he asked me to fill-in for him. The conference took place at the Rose Hall Resort in Montego Bay from December 15th to the 17th.

Stepping into Dick’s shoes is a scary prospect, and having to represent The Vetiver Network in front of an audience of disaster management and mitigation professionals was a daunting proposition. This conference was directed at emergency management personnel, researchers, private sector property management (hotels, large businesses, etc.), media personnel, educators, political leaders, economic sector officials (tourism, agriculture, housing, etc.), and other persons working with managing impacts of hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding and other hazards.

Flying to Jamaica to talk about grass is as improbable as driving to the North Pole to teach snowball making - you try telling that story to an immigration official at the Jamaica airport! Still, armed with Dick’s excellent presentation material (with a few tweaks of my own) I stepped on the podium on Monday for my 11:30 a.m. presentation – at 12:15 p.m. My little Vetiver hedge being the only barrier between this group of hazard veterans and their lunch had all the makings of another Caribbean disaster.

The barrage of questions at the end of my talk was evidence that grass had taken a new meaning in the Caribbean. Many hallway, lunch, and Jamaica Delight cocktail meetings later, I had promises of pilot projects in Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and others. Organizing key players into a Caribbean Vetiver Network is now a real possibility that I will start working on.

The conference was very successful in bringing together government agencies, academic institutions, and private sector for information exchange, dialogue, and development of methods and practice to reduce the harmful impacts of hazards and disasters in the Caribbean Region.

A Vetiver Caribbean Network is now being organized to provide a central site for the information exchange and networking among persons interested in Vetiver grass technology in the Caribbean. Visit the Google discussion group site and join if you are part of that group.

Vetiver has an important role to play in that context, and Puerto Rico is a strong contender for hosting next year’s event – something I really look forward to . . . stay tuned.

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