Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The C.U.P. of Life

The Montegonian Proposal 

The C.U.P. of Life 

"My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39
"Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
Psalms 23
"Life is, Sheer passion , You have to fill, The cup with love, In order to live, You have to fight/struggle, A heart to win."
Ricky Martin- English Translation of “La Copa de la Vida”
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter's oven?”
Kahlil Gibran “At the third cup, wine drinks the man”
Hokekyo Sho

 I have a proposition for my future MP, my councillor, my community. A CUP… what kind of cup you might ask! Well the Community Upliftment Program. Well it is the propositional brainchild of the Montegonian no doubt, but what it needs is political will, community spirit and probably some financing.

An Argument for Community Development

Welcome to a 21st century in which many cities, in many countries, link the revitalization of the central business district and renovation and improvement of houses or districts so that it conforms to middle-class taste of residential neighbourhoods to earlier community development initiatives. In this day and age it is undoubtable that we need policies based construction and more on renovation and investment, and today these new kinds of policies are an integral part of many local governments worldwide, often combined with small and big business incentives.

Community development seeks to give power to individuals and groups of people by providing these groups with the skills, proficiency and expertise they require to make and cause change in their own communities. These skills are often focused around building political power through the formation of large social groups working for a common plan. Community developers have to understand both how to work with individuals and how to change and elevate communities' positions within the context of larger social institutions and society.

Essentialy community development is the process of developing active and sustainable communities based on social justice and mutual respect. It is about influencing power structures to remove the barriers that prevent people from participating in the issues that affect their lives. Community Development expresses values of fairness, equality, accountability, opportunity, choice, participation, mutuality, reciprocity and continuous learning. Educating, enabling and empowering are at the core of Community Development.

Several angles can be taken to initiate community development including: Community economic development, Community capacity building, Social capital formation, Political participatory development, Ecologically sustainable development, Asset-based community development, Faith-based community development.

The proposed CUP, community upliftment program, would be a two pronged approach to developing communities, one, on the macro level and the other being the micro level. This is to say that they need to address issues that affect the community as whole and their position in the bigger scheme and order of things, and next to address the community on an individual and family level, the level of familiarity which exists in the common community family. Cup I believe needs to be and is designed to address the peculiarities of Montegonian families and communities.

CUP: The Macro Plan

1. Economic Opportunity - including job creation within the community and throughout the region, entrepreneurial initiatives, small business expansion, and training for jobs that offer upward mobility. Training that includes life skills training, things like “making technology work for you” “some office procedure” “home economics: budgeting” “shopkeeping math and accounting” “some fundamental nutrition” “Spanish: lite or beginners or simply basic conversation” “Computer training that offers more than just word processing but, teaches that and offers optional diversification, like intro to digital music, or graphic design, or music engineering, and the range of other directions computer can take you.”

2. Sustainable Community Development - to advance the creation of livable and vibrant communities through comprehensive approaches that coordinate economic (FUND RAISERS- new and innovative ones, not ticket sale or conventional dance), physical, environmental (gardens, parks and community monuments), community, and human development ( help families through hurdles like education and home making and developing);

3. Community-Based Partnerships - involving participation of all segments of the community, including the political and governmental leadership, community groups, health and social service groups, environmental groups, religious organizations, the private and nonprofit sectors, centers of learning, other community institutions, concerned citizens and low-income residents. We need to move away from the constant one shot solo projects and find ways to incorporate everybody who is doing something in what we are doing;

4. Strategic Vision for Change - which identifies what the community will become and develops a strategic map for revitalization.

CUP: The Micro Approach

1. Community Week – It is full time we initiated a system where each community has a week for itself. A week of festivity and commemoration of their existence and history. There can be a memories day, where everybody carries out their old pictures, video footage, any big dance that made it to DVD etc, if you have cell phone clips or whatever, to be displayed and everybody can reminisce, and this way the generations can mix and mingle and pass on stories of yesteryear etc. There can be a big Sunday dinner, a Friday dance, a memorial for all those passed. I wouldn’t be averse to a Church service day where most people go to church and commune or whatever and Muslim similarly and a Rasta event etc.

2. Change for change – In order to finance things like back to school and kiddies treats etc, set up a bar and shopkeeper program where people contribute change in order to secure a set amount of exercise books or pencils and things like that for generation next.

3. Orchard and Garden Program –A system to access idle lands in areas to be planted up with fruit trees and such, to ease the burdens of GCT, save us from dry goods and diabetes, nutrition needs, and rescue the little air and ozone we have left.

4. Naming and Mapping – The proper naming and mapping out of communities, and naming of streets, so that people can actually feel like they live somewhere, instead of in hell with names like hmmm dead man alley, Afghanistan, Bagdad, Gaza, Tel Aviv, Vietnam, Blood Lane, Piss Lane, Corn Corner and you get the picture. We need to resolve the psychological impact of feeling like you don’t live anywhere, especially when you and a million people share the same address, which is usually the most popular main road in your community.

5. Sports Outlets- Do I need to explain how critical sports are? Well hmmm other than finding things to do for idle hands before the devil, well it hones natural talent, potential financial rewards, keeps young minds away from guns, avenues to release sexual energy instead of making unwanted babies etc.

Well that is my proposition folks, maybe someone actually uses it.


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Open Source and the City!

What is Open Source? 

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder supplies the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any reason or function. Open-source software is very oftentimes developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most striking example of open-source development and often compared to (technically defined) user-generated content or (legally defined) open-content movements.

A report by the Standish Group (from 2008) states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year to consumers.

In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product's design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone. Researchers view open source as a specific case of the greater pattern of Open Collaboration, "any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants, who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and non-contributors alike".

The open-source model is based on a more decentralized model of production, in contrast with more centralized models of development such as those typically used in commercial software companies.

A main principle of open-source software development is peer production by collaboration, with the end-product, source code, "blueprints", and documentation available at no cost to the public. The open source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of closed proprietary code, and it is now spreading across different fields. This model is also used for the development of open-source-appropriate technologies, solar photovoltaic technology and open-source drug discovery.

There is an accelerating interest in and use of Open-Source Software worldwide. Local governments are changing. Forward-thinking municipalities are embracing technology to make our cities better for everyone. Innovative government staff are sharing resources, best practices, and collaborating on common problems. Jamaica an its municipalities need to provide a broad range of resources, programs and services to support and advance civic innovation. Open Source Software becomes the leading information technology day by day and there are open source alternatives to most of the commercial softwares...

I use Linux Mint 17! So why can't the government do it?

So why is Government in general, and the St. James municipality in particular not looking into Open Source? It's time that Jamaican government IT policy goes as far as expressing a formal preference to use open source!

How can you apply the concepts of open source to a living, breathing city?

An open source city is a blend of open culture, open government policies, and economic development.

Five characteristics of an open source city
  1. Fostering a culture of citizen participation
  2. Having an effective open government policy
  3. Having an effective open data initiative
  4. Promoting open source user groups and conferences
  5. Being a hub for innovation and open source businesses

Citizen participation: Probably one of the most difficult components of an open source city is to foster a culture of citizen participation. Having citizen champions around certain causes can really help boost citizen participation and engagement.

Open government policy and open data: Policy is another key component of an open source city. 

User groups and conferences: Participation comes in another form with user groups and conferences—like-minded people gathering around their passions. Hosting these conferences and supporting user groups will boost your open source city credibility.

Economic development: Finally, having an economic development strategy that includes open source companies can help foster innovation and create jobs. More and more cities are also seeing the advantages of having an open data policy tied to their startup community. Cities that can combine their open data policy with their economic development strategy can give a real boost to startups and other businesses. Being a hub for open source companies and a catalyst for open source startups can have a positive impact on the city's bottom line. More importantly, this feeds back in to culture and participation.
Municipalities and Open Source
As a Linux User I keep myself abreast by reading Linux Format! I found this interesting article in the April 2014  edition.

Munich’s switch to open-source software has been successfully completed, with the vast majority of the public administration’s users now running its own version of Linux, city officials said Thursday.
In one of the premier open-source software deployments in Europe, the city migrated from Windows NT to LiMux, its own Linux distribution. LiMux incorporates a fully open-source desktop infrastructure. The city also decided to use the Open Document Format (ODF) as a standard, instead of proprietary options.
Ten years after the decision to switch, the LiMux project will now go into regular operation, the Munich City council said in a document published on its website.
As of November last year, the city saved more than €11.7 million (US$16.1 million) because of the switch. 

Why should other cities do this?

Other cities should do this for many reasons such as:
  • Proving to its citizen-bosses that it is doing its job and working hard in response to their needs.
  • Opening up data and processes because, you never know, those citizen-bosses may be able to do something cool with it or make great suggestions.
  • Opening up gives citizens a sense of ownership and welcome.  They are more likely to be engaged and satisfied if they feel ownership and pride in that ownership.

Benefits of Open Source to Montego Bay

Community Participation – Taking it to the streets
  • Citizen-led communities
  • Connection between youth-development programs and open government community
  • Connection entrepreneurial community and open government community
  • Importance of broadband access for any of this to be useful

I believe in the critical role of open-source software to create the applications and infrastructure necessary to support electronic medical records and other government-funded technology projects. Open-source software has already resulted in dramatic cost reductions in many technology areas.

Open-source software brings transparency to software development. There are no “black boxes” in open-source software and therefore no need to guess what is going on “behind the scenes.” Ultimately, this means a better product for everyone, because there is visibility at every level of the application, from the user interface to the data implementation. Furthermore, open-source software provides for platform independence, which makes quick deployments that benefit our citizens much easier and realistic.

The open-source industry is changing the world of software development in many of the ways many politicians have promised to change Jamaican politics. The values of open source are hope, change, and openness. I sincerely hope that Montego Bay and the St. James Parish Council if not the entire Jamaican government, will make the use of open-source software a key component of every new technology initiative it is apart of.

The open source characteristics of collaboration, transparency, and participation are shaping municipalities world wide as we brand our city as a city for the creative classes we must also give it the open source city brand. 

It's time that Jamaican government's IT policy goes as far as expressing a formal preference to use open source!


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Proposals on Revolutionizing and Fixing Education in Jamaica!

Document | Article: Proposals for Education Ministry and System in Jamaica

For a long time the media and most thinks have purported the idea that we live in the information age. We live an age where cell phones and gadgetry pervade all walks of life. Computers and the internet are constantly creeping into our lives. Sociologists will contend that the family is the primary agent of socialization. But most of know and will very well contend that it is the TV. Especially in an age where the family is in crisis and in the third world where the core notion of family lives in a state of flux, the television and cable have taken prominence.

Folklore, Anansy and the oral tradition have been usurped by Sponge Bob, Dora and Hannah Montana. With absentee or limited supervision parenting rampant and the television controlling brain space and time at all times and any given hour, whilst the education system will only have them for 6 to 7 out of 24 hours much of which will be ruled by televisions and corner time no wonder we are unable to transmit and pass on the education, knowledge and morals we need to.

Mister Minister on the heels of your party’s message of change and changing the course, the courses and course of the education system has changed little. At this crucial moment in history the education system with all its short comings are in need of radical overhaul and requires new approaches and revolutionary thought. We need to design a curriculum to stimulate the development of analytical skills. The thing I care most about is that we focus not on the specific set of tools, but on the ability to “learn and apply a current tool set”.

The truth is that we constantly acquire and discard sets of tools. So we should not be fixated on one specific set of tools for all of life. Society, technology and the times change so fast that any fact, process or algorithm we learn at school is by definition not going to be useful for any length of time. The real skills that serve us are the ability to adapt, learn, apply the products of that learning, and participate in the discussions and challenges of the day. That doesn’t mean that facts are useless, or that specific tools don’t matter. Unless you can demonstrate an ability to absorb and apply both, fast, you haven’t actually gained the knack of becoming effective in a given environment.

How can we better communicate with them?

The traditional talk and chalk won’t work with this generation. Our communication style is structured, yet they want freedom. The old order stresses learning, they like experiencing. We react, they relate. We focus on the individual, while they are socially driven. Here are four essentials to consider when engaging with youth today:


Not only must our communication style be credible, but we must be also. They don’t expect us to know all about their lifestyle, nor do they want us to embrace their culture. They are simply seeking understanding, and respect. If our communication has a hidden agenda, or we are less than transparent, it will be seen. This generation can sniff a phoney from a long distance.


Today’s youth have access to the most advanced technology, movie special effects, and video games with which we can never compete. But the good news is that they are not impacted by slick presentations. They don’t want a rehearsed talk, or a manufactured spiel. The more spontaneous and interactive we are in the classroom, the less intimidated, and more open they will be.


Obviously what we are communicating has to fall within their area of interest. But the style, as well as the content of our message must be relevant to a generation who are visually educated and entertained. There is no point in giving music to a friend on a cassette tape if they only have a CD player, or on CD if they only use MP3. Similarly we must research in the most appropriate format for those we are reaching. So in understanding the communication styles of our target cohort we will be better equipped to reach them.


There is an old and true saying in education circles: “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” Communicating to this generation requires openness, vulnerability, and genuine interest in those we are trying to teach, and above all else, understanding. The more relaxed the environment, and the more socially conducive to discussions; the better will be the quality of the learning.

The Issue of Text Books and Learning Materials

Today, many children and individuals have MP3 Players, I-Pods, Smart-phones, computers, DVDs and DVD players, Radios and Televisions. Lots of in Jamaica are in some way linked and have some access to the various media. Today, I believe it is a tragedy that books, audio-books, tutorials and classes and the entire Jamaican and Caribbean syllabus are not posted online in PDF on accessible sites, material and content for our youths’ education should already be on their cell phones, in their DVD players, on YouTube.

It is an even more horrendous thought that every entrepreneur with a two-bit dream of becoming a media mogul can implement far reaching cable stations, whilst JIS is relegated to a time slot on TVJ, instead of being a Caribbean BBC, the U.S. has PBS and as a matter of fact the BBC has managed to pervade the island. We have an A.M. Band going to waste and yet I have seen people in small communities with their small means and incomes set up small radio stations and internet radio stations, why is JIS being broadcast, why aren’t we making full use of all the channels and vectors we have that can be used to bombard people with sensible, useful, practical, culturally relevant information.

I have lived to see middle-aged women become interior decorators watching HGTV and seen nearly illiterate dog lovers in the garrison swear they are dog trainers after a few episodes of dog whisperer on Discovery channel. In this vein I do believe if we have relevant content people will be willing to watch it. If you build it they will come. I do believe we have a wealth of content that can be drawn from, old documentaries from JBC and such. More can be commissioned, after all this is the era of YouTube movie directors, Open Source content and citizen journalism.

I am convinced the government has been lacklustre in pursuing technologies such as Linux, Open Source and notions such as FOSS. Brazil, Mexico and India are already using these to bring technology more cheaply to their nation. There are also revolutionary methods of implementing technology in the class room all throughout the Americas.

Also Mr. Holness I am sure you will probably have played dominoes with illiterate people as I have and been beaten by people who have never learnt primary school mathematics, which is proof that the education is disconnected from the everyday realities we face. Someone must have the potential to learn math if he can grasp the process of deduction and numerical elimination it takes to play domino well. We live in the Caribbean and still don’t learn enough about where we live. Why isn’t there our national geographic?

The other day I had to watch on foreign news that lizards that do morning exercises had been discovered in Jamaica. Lots of municipalities and small nation states have set up their own, local intranet that can provide the general populace with basic informational resources, like wikis and encyclopaedias and educational material. Today it is the nation’s own fault we are falling behind in education.

The government must become the primary agent of socialization, as parents and the family are lagging. If we are to grow a nation we need to grow people. We need our human resource to grow and develop. Technology, TV, internet, cell phones and the Radio are the way to reach them.

A Final Word:

The quality outcome of our education system is dependent on our understanding of the youth. Once we have a foundational grasp of their characteristics, communication styles, and social attitudes, we will be well equipped to effectively impact this enormous and emerging generation.

We want to create a curriculum that can:
Be self taught, peer mentored, and effectively evaluated without expert supervision.
Provide tools for analysis that will be general useful across the range of disciplines being taught at any given age.
Be an exercise machine for analysis, process and synthesis.

The idea is not that children learn tools they use for the rest of their lives. That’s not realistic. I don’t use any specific theorems or other mathematics constructs from school today. They should learn tools which they use at school to develop a general ability to learn tools. That general ability – to break a complex problem into pieces, identify familiar patterns in the pieces, solve them using existing tools, and synthesise the results into a view or answer… that’s the skill of analysis, and that’s what we need to ensure the youth graduate with.

Yannick Nesta Pessoa

#education #youth #jamaica #revolution #change #governement #governance 

Friday, August 01, 2014

A Poem for Emancipendence: An Ode to Daddy Sharpe!

written by Yannick Pessoa

"I would rather die among yonder gallows, than live in slavery."

 Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the street in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
Do you know which Square.

207 killed during revolt,
Bodies piled to be carted,
All because of what I started,
Imagine how my heart felt,
Feel my heart melt,
Buried in mass graves ,
Outside of town late at night,
Just for the freedom fight.

Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the streets in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
Do you know which Square.

Rebellion is what the crown hates me for,
Some of my kind don't rate me,
Cause I preach no war,
No my son and daughter go astray,
For I didn't die to see my city,
Become Guntego Bay,
Where are the parks?
And someone tell me...
Where do the children play?

Black Birds shit on me and in ur hair,
You pass me on the streets in the square,
You barely see me and u do not care,
About all the things that happened here,
340 executed in Parade...
U know where I'm talking?
I'm talking, I'm talking...
Sam Sharpe Square.

Click the Sam Sharpe pic to read a small bio!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

World Boss vs Bulb Boss: Rule of Law floundering in Jamaica!

World Boss vs Bulb Boss

The Rule of Law is floundering in Jamaica!

"It is when your spirit goes wandering upon the wind,
That you, alone and unguarded, commit a wrong unto others and therefore unto yourself.
And for that wrong committed must you knock and wait a while unheeded at the gate of the blessed.
...And of the man in you would I now speak.
For it is he and not your god-self nor the pigmy in the mist, that knows crime and the punishment of crime."

By Kahlil Gibran

I feel compelled to point to the glaring hypocrisy at the core of much of the media commentaries surrounding the Whirl Boss and his conviction. Many have been quick to lambaste him, as maybe he deserves to be, but I ask... "What part did the gatekeepers of information have in building the Vybz Kartel they are no so quick to turn their back on?" Were not the media gatekeepers too neglecting their social responsibility by not better regulating the airwaves, and not filtering what was being syphoned to the nation?

I would like to point to the glaring hypocrisy at the core of the decision to free Kern "Bulb Boss" Spencer. The government has show its will to decisively uphold the rule of law, is weak. We live in a time and political climate in Jamaica where the state seems  committed to consistently criminalizing and targeting the marginalized and those not able to buy the best lawyers with political connections. Rarely, if ever are corrupt politicians and white collar criminals brought to justice. Hence the nation has no faith in the justice system, nor does it believe in the institutions charged with maintaining law and order.

I am also compelled to point out the rule of law to our ministries of security and justice… The rule of law is concerned with the processes and the relationships amongst individual and state, how it is enforced and administered.  This crucial idea is sprung from the concept of the rule of law as it has developed in the UK and is adopted here in Jamaica. As it is posited by legal mind Albert Venn Dicey’s understanding “the law should not be arbitrarily or capriciously administered by those in power.”

The government has shown the will and impetus for legislating anti-gang laws with haste, not to mention scamming and fraud bills, haste to the point where we have public smoking legislature that wasn't thoroughly thought through! But we have a government weak willed on effecting medical marijuana legislature and decriminalizing marijuana if not simply legalizing it... when the trend worldwide has been to wake up to the benefits of marijuana for the economy, production and so much more...

The Jamaican Court is a one of a kind in the world. No other such structure exists! Its engineering is ad hoc and arbitrary. The Constitution of Jamaica implicitly states that the power or duties of each arm of government should not overlap. Yet Resident Magistrates don’t have security of tenure as part of the public service and falls within the executive arm of the state. Hence the Court System we have before us may very well contravene the constitution and the notion of the separation of powers as well as undermining the doctrine of rule of law owing to its arbitrary nature.

Let us not forget the mess made in the creation of the gun court, it was a failure in scholarship and jurisprudence. The unusual features of the Gun Court have faced legal hurdles, some of which have forced amendment of the Gun Court Act. The Gun Court has faced criticism on several fronts, most notably for its departure from traditional practices and for the continuing escalation in gun violence since its institution.

A 1993 County Report on Human Rights Practices in Jamaica from the United States Department of State noted the denial of a "fair public trial" and alleged that Gun Court trials observe "less rigorous rules of evidence than in regular court proceedings." The Canadian Bar Association's Jamaican Justice System Reform Task Force noted that the Gun Court is overloaded, that defendants are not well represented, and Crown attorneys are often inexperienced. Hence even internationally it is evident and plain to see that we are a unique court system and a particularly arbitrary one!

If we are to move forward as a nation we must cut these wretched social and political hypocrisies in our system... we cannot have one justice system for the rich and one for the poor.

I close with a quote from - John Adams, “Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.”