In 2014, the Grenada 40 platform launched with the abstract desire to inspire change. The island’s anniversary of its 40th year of independence seemed like the ideal time to reflect on what the next four decades could look like and who better to ask than the up-and-coming generation of changemakers at home and overseas.
Inspired by the likes of Groundation Grenada and the then-fledgling NOW Grenada, Grenada 40 was among the first digital spaces aiming to craft a narrative that spoke directly to the experience of Grenadian changemakers and one of few with a specific youth focus.
Yet while we succeeded in featuring an impressive array of young, gifted Grenadians and held space for dozens of ground-breaking ideas there was an awkward gap between our storytelling and the actual action that would lead to change.
The time for action is now
International attention from the likes of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Comic Relief and the Queen’s Leaders gave us a warm glow but what difference can plaudits make without change on the ground?
Fast forward six years and the world is, to some extent, united in trying to address a moment that holds both immeasurable peril and possibility. Yes, the IMF says it’s likely that we’re heading into the worst recession since the Great Depression and it is also true that the World Bank’s warning that Caribbean economies will plunge by 4.6% is regarded by many in the region as a conservative estimate. Yet with challenge comes opportunity.
In 1982, Milton Friedman penned in a new introduction to his original treatise on free-market capitalism: “Only a crisis—actual or perceived––produces real change. When that crisis occurs, the actions that are taken depend on the ideas that are lying around… Our basic function [is] to develop alternatives to existing policies, to keep them alive and available until the politically impossible.”
Build back better
After decades of watching such opportunities being seized by those who push us ever further towards the cliff of neoliberalism, maybe now is the time to demand and devise means that are grounded in equity, regenerative practices and justice for all.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, the refrain from all was to “build back better”. More than a decade later, this aim in Grenada’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic must remain the same.
The effects of this virus will be with us long after we’ve hopefully found a cure. The prognosis looks bleak; 56.6% of Grenada’s GDP is derived from the, now defunct, tourism industry.
A further 4% of GDP is sent by Grenadians in the diaspora who may now be amongst the hardest hit in terms of finance and health, indeed many may be now looking to come home instead of toughing out climates of repression and recession in the US or UK.
Collaborate to innovate
This is a time that calls for boldness in the scope of our vision, an approach which Barack Obama once referred to as “the audacity of hope”. The current pandemic calls for radical alternatives; the need and scope for innovation has been blown open. At Grenada 40 we want to hold space for conversations that can stimulate ideas and action in equal measure.
To a certain extent, our “publication” is in a fortunate position in that we started having these conversations years ago. There is a wealth of information about the possibilities for social change in Grenada, some of which we’ve summarised here.
The reality remains that, while the current climate may have been the trigger, many of the urgent challenges the island will face in the coming months are deep-rooted. From youth unemployment to the prevalence of child abuse, food insecurity to environmental degradation, the need to address these issues has always been there.
Reimagining our shares future
The veil has been lifted, the inadequacies of the present system have now been made glaringly visible to anyone who wasn’t already able to see (or willing) to acknowledge them. So how can we harness the energy of this crisis to reimagine a better future? Let it not be the case that over a hundred of thousands of souls who have lost their lives in vain.
Ironically this new chapter brings us back to the power of the eponymous number chosen for this project. The number 40 is found throughout the Bible, Koran and the Torah because it represents transition and change. As the concept of renewal and new beginnings could not be any more relevant than it is now, our strongest desire is that Grenadians at home and overseas can unite and take action to create a better future.