Light a candle

Stabroek News
April 4, 2000

In a recent Sunday column [please note: link provided by LOSP web site] Cassandra noted that there was a strong tendency these days among the youth to want government to do everything for them. The phenomenon is not limited to the young. People will run off a long list of grievances or deplore the fact that some particular project in which they are interested has never got off the ground. But the moment it is suggested that they should try to do something about it themselves rather than leave it to the government who have other things on their plate, or who may not have the money or the organisational talent they offer a thousand excuses - we're too busy, the government won't allow it, there will be too many problems and so on.

As Cassandra also suggested we have become a nation of whiners not doers. Everyone can tell you what is wrong but few are prepared to do anything about it. That is why any group or organisation that steps forward and shows a willingness to provide leadership in some area needs to be warmly welcomed. It is also the reason for the importance of the service clubs which provide a useful training in providing public service in some shape or form.

In this context one welcomes the news that the Guyana Institute of Architects, which has been in existence for several decades, appears to be taking on a new lease on life. It recently held what is scheduled to be the first of a number of television programmes and other activities as part of which it sees itself as taking a higher public profile, playing a role in the revival of Georgetown and other cities and generally educating the citizens on the need for town and country planning and a better awareness of our environment.

It is a major assignment in which enlightened leadership is desperately needed. Some of the charm of the old Georgetown has already been lost, some of the beautiful old buildings have collapsed for want of maintenance or have been converted, some unsightly constructions have been allowed, and all thought of planning and design, basic requirements in many cities, have been abandoned for some time.

Our architects can re-educate us on issues like town planning, what a well designed city should look like, the need for maintaining our public gardens, parks and avenues, the need for zoning, respecting the ambience in different areas and so on. They can agitate for the Central Housing and Planning authority to be given much more power than it now has so that not only can they control land use but ensure that building plans comply with the laws and with general aesthetic requirements. They can explain to us too, on their programmes and in other ways, the architecture of some of our older public buildings, churches and residences, when they were built, who their architects were and what they were trying to do.

Recently, Housing Minister Shaik Baksh announced that the issue of zoning will be addressed and the old Georgetown Urban Development Plan will be reviewed. He also said that two qualified city planners are bring recruited to finish a comprehensive review of the city's status. Perhaps the Institute can play a role in this.

We commend the architects for getting involved and look forward to their plan of activities. It is so much better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.