“Then they made fifty gold clasps and used them to fasten the two sets of curtains together so that the tabernacle was a unit” – Exodus 36:13

Last week a few people took the time to respond to my article entitled “Lessons from the OECS”. Fentey Scott, an old school colleague who is now Professor at The British University in Dubai, wrote “Another very interesting piece very well contrived and assembled. It’s something that politicians and those interested in the area should read particularly because it reflects the positive and is suggestive of hope”.

Alfred Sangster, an eminent Jamaican, wrote: “Your commentary is as usual interesting and informative. Clearly the OECS have much to teach the rest of the Caricom countries from their experience. I fear that we have yet to get our act together in the Caribbean and many opportunities are passing us by, keep it up”.

Then there was Sharon Parris-Chambers, she and her husband Theo publish Positive Tourism News www.positivetourism.com. I quote “Thank you for your wisdom and application of spiritual knowledge to modern day situations. Indeed you, Alan Chastanet and Charles Maynard have shown Caribbean peoples a direction and path to follow to seek our own fortune in a globalized economy through “fully integrating the OECS.

I am not certain that ‘fully integrating the OECS’ leaves room for CSME. Your response?”

My response was: “The sequence might be a strong OECS – gold clasp – a strong Barbados – gold clasp – a strong T&T – gold clasp – a strong Jamaica -gold clasp etc. (you may prefer another sequential country permutation). There is significance in the gold clasps, they are not easily eroded by the salty waters of the Caribbean Sea. How does this differ from the Vision that is CSM(E)?”

I then went on: “Sharon – a further thought. CSM(E) uses a top down approach. The sequence which has been suggested implies that each country or sub-region will become strong first before the gold clasps are fastened. Maybe there is some difference in the approaches”.

Sharon, who lives in Jamaica, went off to think on that point before getting get back to me later in the evening after being refreshed by a mineral or sea bath. I later observed that her response was to do me the honour of publishing my column in Positive Tourism News.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The message here is that we need to focus on getting each country or sub-region strong before we clasp them together. In Japan, it is clearly evident that the country is strong because each individual knows what contribution to excellence he/she has to make. Then the amalgam of all the people is by definition strong. That should be the first order of business in the Caribbean – design a strategy to focus on the comprehensive development of the individual in each country. The second order of business in the Caribbean – design a strategy fro economic growth through enterprise development in each country. Third order of business in the Caribbean – implement the framework of integration, this is where the gold clasps come into play.

Harvard University alumnus Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, now the Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), is on a mission to dispel the concept that GDP per capita is a satisfactory measure of a people’s standard of living or economic success.

Addressing the recent annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development in San Juan, the Bahamian thinker who now lives in Barbados, said: “Places with a high per capita standard of living, they are very much the same societies where there is a very high standard of killing – killing of the environment, killing of natural resources, and killing of cultures.” The standard of living can be improved in a sustainable way by focusing on the improvement of the individual.

Are far as economic growth is concerned, Legacy Barbados a brainchild of World Cup Barbados Inc. has presented a comprehensive strategy which could contribute to sustainable economic growth. It took the occasion of the ICC CWC 2007 to get this strategy on the table. The strategy of Legacy Barbados is to increase the level of Barbados’ exports, to whip up enthusiasm for sports and to turn the island “into the cleanest, most environmentally advanced country in the world”. The vision of Legacy Barbados has as its goal to make Barbados the No. 1 place in the world to live, work, play and invest”.

The Legacy Vision for Barbados aims to involve all Barbadians. The question is posed: “What are we doing to ensure that the momentum generated from hosting the ICC CWC 2007 event is maximised way beyond 2007”. The answer “The Legacy Vision for Barbados identifies seven (7) Target Areas which the Legacy Barbados Team felt needed important investment and focus, with the potential to deliver ‘significantly enhanced development’ over the next 10 – 15 years.

If this approach or a similar approach is converted into action throughout the Caribbean, then at last we might be on a path to reducing the economic divide. Then and only will the CSM(E) truly emerge in gold.