Monday, December 07, 2009

Improve physical, social environment first

Improve physical, social environment first

By Pat Wolff • December 6, 2009

While our island's business leaders at the Chamber of Commerce and Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association are focused on the economic benefits of the military buildup, those of us in the social service trenches are more concerned with the social and cultural impacts.

I am reminded of a recent East West Center headline, "Re-thinking Development: Gross National Happiness vs. Gross National Product." I am not suggesting it must be an either-or choice, but I believe the prioritization of values is essential, and that when push comes to shove, our island's social fabric is more important.

The niche areas which concern me the most fall into two categories:

# Green spaces and environmental safeguards for healthy living and the creation/maintenance of adequate recreational parks, marine resources and fitness facilities -- especially safe walking/biking paths, playgrounds, ballparks and gymnasiums.

# Addressing the anticipated increase in conflict on our island by ensuring:

1. Preventative conflict resolution training in schools, workplaces and on the village level, to reduce, as much as possible, the escalation of disputes into violence, increased litigation and racial tension.

2. Peacemaking interveners, like Inafa' Maolek, are brought into the planning process so that we have the capacity and infrastructure support to intervene in a timely manner, and so that our mediator pool's size and diversity reflect our changing community.

3. Shady businesses, such as prostitution, adult bookstores and gambling are kept out to the fullest extent possible. Recent legislation against alcohol in our public parks is a positive move as well.

What good is it to increase our island's revenues if we have nowhere safe to enjoy it?

Pat Wolff is the founder of Inafa' Maolek.

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