Our Readers' Opinions
August 23, 2013

Vincy Unity Picnic and people-power in New York

Fri Aug 23, 2013

by Maxwell Haywood

If there are any doubts that Vincentians living in the United States have not forsaken St Vincent and the Grenadines, the second annual Vincy Unity Picnic held at Heckscher State Park, East Islip, New York, on Saturday, August 17, 2013 should serve to put those doubts to rest in peace. People-power was on display for all to see!{{more}}

The organizing committee did a fine job in getting buses and cars filled with Vincentians coming from as far as Philadelphia. The park was packed with thousands of Vincentians! People-power in full view! Based on the information I received, the first car park was so filled that more space had to be found to park the extra cars.

As Vincentians feasted on all sorts of food and drinks, the cultural artistes kept them entertained, while they reconnected with one another. Many people told me that they were glad they attended the picnic because they saw Vincentians they have not seen in a long time. It was clear to me that the connections existing among Vincentians remain very strong. These connections are deeply rooted in social resources such as families, the same national history, identity and pride in the nation in which their navel string is buried. These social resources must not go to waste as we build a strong Vincentian community in the United States. This sort of people-power we saw at the picnic is crying out to be fully deployed for our development as a people in SVG and in the United States.

The Vincy Unity Picnic in New York was a day when the people-power of Vincentians reared its beautiful head to then dive back under the water to be concealed after the end of the picnic. What I saw was Vincentians coming together to celebrate their Vincentian identity with a high sense of enthusiasm and camaraderie. Could we sustain this throughout the year? Could we transform this people-power into more developmental projects and initiatives in SVG and among Vincentians in the United States?

This event demonstrated something special to me. It showed me that a social economy among Vincentians in the United States is on the verge of coming into formal existence. However, this is not automatic. It needs conscious nurturing and determined leadership if it is to formally exist and become sustainable.

There are many more events where Vincentians congregate in huge numbers. There are annual luncheons, parties, sports events, church services, boat rides, funerals, etc. The fact is that a huge part of the over 300 hundred thousand Vincentians living outside SVG lives in the United States. The people-power on display at the Vincy Picnic in New York could go beyond the picnic itself to bring more progress and more stability to the lives of Vincentians in SVG and in the United States.

How could we use this people-power to construct Vincentian centres in American states where many Vincentians reside such as New York? How could we use this people-power to create productive employment for Vincentians in SVG and in the United States? How could we use this power to create businesses and cooperatives that will improve our standard of living? How could we use this power to elect political representatives in the United States who will promote our interests? How could we use this power to pass along our history and heritage to the younger generation? How could we use this people-power to build infrastructures for the older persons, children and the disabled persons among us? How could we use this people-power to strengthen our activities and initiatives already in existence in the United States? There are many more questions! The people are ready to provide positive answers. Missing is a determined leadership to forge ahead and mobilize this huge Vincentian population and its people-power in the United States.

I think this latent people-power is there waiting and ready to be awakened, organized and put to work. After the Vincy Unity Picnic, we go back to our homes and work places with all this excitement in our bodies. Shouldn’t we go beyond the joys of the picnic and create opportunities for more joy and prosperity for every one of us? We have a lot of needs in our Vincentian community in the United States. No stone must be left unturned to fulfil these needs, so our Vincentian community can shine like the stars in the night and which give way to the sunshine in the morning. People-power is ready to be deployed! I now turn to the leadership in SVG and in the diaspora. What do you have to say regarding your role in organizing and deploying this people-power for development purposes in SVG and in the Vincentian diaspora or community in the United States?