Anywhere we live, mankind has pressing issues to deal with – it’s not just Guyana – and everywhere as well, there are bright spots in the gloom.  We become so caught up dealing with the issues affecting our daily lives that we are oblivious to the bright spots, but in fact they are there – we just don’t notice them. This week, for instance, four of them landed on me.

The first came following my purchase of a treadmill from the Courts store on Main Street.  The sales person told me that delivery would be likely that very day and that’s how it went. The unit was in and operational before 5pm that afternoon.  Further, another Courts employee phoned me the next day to find out if I was satisfied with the purchase and asked me several questions all pertaining to customer satisfaction with the purchase.  Not many organisations do that in Guyana.  It has happened before with only two others I can recall – Balwant Singh Hospital and Farfan and Mendes – but that is certainly not the norm. Indeed, it often goes the other way.  In the course of getting an out-of-stock item from them, I have left my phone number with businesses to let me know when the item becomes available, and I can’t recall one instance of my ringing to say, “Your item is in.”  You disappear in the ether. So the Courts call was a pleasant surprise – a bright spot in the day.

Two days later, caught up in finishing a piece of purpleheart lumber as a table top, and having some difficulty getting the polyurethane coating right, I ended up taking the wood piece to Shiva Woodworking at Enmore.  It was a fair distance from where I live, but worth the trip. The Shiva gentleman turned out to be a gold mine for finishing hardwood particularly in pointing out that since I was dealing with a slab, and not boards cut from a slab, that my problem was related to residue in the lumber.  He put aside the work he was doing and took me into the Shiva workshop to show me the procedures they were using on various projects there and to emphasise why my condition, of residue in the lumber, could not be handled in that manner.  In a 10-minute conversation he identified the problem that had been bothering me for some time, and made several suggestions for the way forward that made sense.  He showed me the way out of my dilemma.  It was a bright spot encounter.

And then two days ago, at my wife’s behest, came another when I attended a lecture at the Theatre Guild auditorium which was a joint production of World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, University of Guyana, and the United Nations Environment Programme. It featured global Environmental Economist Pavan Sukhdev and the focus was to promote discussions on the development of the Green State Development Strategy with environmental issues from an economic standpoint.  Mr Pavan, apparently involved during the day in a number of meetings with officials here, delivered a very impressive talk covering the subject from a number of angles in a clear and methodical manner, seguing from one aspect to another.  For anyone wrestling with such critical environmental issues as climate change, pollution, carbon dioxide discharge, and sustainable development, Mr Sukhdev’s lecture was a treat, as he dealt with complex matters identifying important issues.  A former lecturer at Harvard and Yale universities, and currently heading the United Nations’ Green Economy Initiative, he was fully at home with his subject, speaking without a script, and displaying a wide knowledge about the matters he was treating, inserting data references as he went to reinforce points.  In the comment period following his talk, a suggestion from Rupununi resident Charlie DeFreitas that the lectures be ultimately carried on television to wider audiences was applauded by the crowd made up of a cross section of the community, including some University of Guyana students. Mr Sukhdev was clearly a hit with his audience, presenting a range of progressive thinking on some very vexatious issues, including his take on small farmers helping to improve the environment by curtailing their widespread fertiliser and pesticide use and turning to natural methods.

David Singh, Vice-President of Conservation International, observed, “A green economy is actually an economy we should be aspiring to and Pavan Sukhdev spoke to that convincingly. He emphasized that in a green economy a people’s condition and social equality are improved while, in parallel, environmental risks and ecological scarcities are reduced. Running through the lectures was the fundamental concept that choosing green was essentially a sound economic choice which also met mankind’s social imperatives.”

My understanding is that the two lectures Mr Sukhdev gave in Guyana will be shown on television here shortly; make sure you see them.  You will be educated and inspired at the same time; a definite bright spot.  We need more of those.

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