Over one thousand sign petition to protect the Great Salt Pond

POSTED: 10/11/11 1:25 PM

St. Maarten – The Petition to Protect the Great Salt Pond has topped over 1,000 signatures, said author and poet Lasana M. Sekou. “The idea of keeping the petition open is for more people, from both parts of our island, to have an opportunity to sign it,” said Sekou following a radio interview last Sunday on “Now You Know” with Valerie van Putten.
Sekou did not give a date for closing the petition but said that anyone wishing to can sign it at the Philipsburg Jubilee Library and the St. Maarten Museum.
The petition is intended for submission to the territory’s Parliament – calling on government to “immediately put in place zoning legislation to conserve the Great Salt Pond” and “Stop Landfill Expansion, Dumping, and Pollution in the Great Salt Pond.”
“By keeping the petition open, we also generate a bit more awareness about the importance and stressed-out state of the great pond,” said Sekou on behalf of the petition organizer, House of Nehesi Publishers Foundation (HNP).
“Signing the petition is a concrete way to make an individual stand or act, to show love, support, and pride in the historic body of water,” said Sekou. In his writings the Great Salt Pond has been called the “Cradle of the St. Martin nation.”

As HNP’s projects director, Sekou made more generalized comments in the interview about historical and cultural connections between the St. Martin people, “property value,” nature, and the great pond, but he noted that the petition is very specific in its “key objectives.”
The “key objectives” were outlined at the petition launch in February 2011, as: Oppose the expansion of the Great Salt Pond landfill; Assure the protection of people, wildlife, and the wetlands; Redirect and enhance the Territory’s government’s approach; Include solid waste management for government agencies as a fundamental element of urban and Territorial planning; and Preserve and protect the Great Salt Pond.

On the Sunday radio show Sekou also asked listeners to support environmentalists across the island.
He cited work by conservationists such as Rueben Thompson, Love the Lagoon project, and schools that involve students in caring for and knowledge of the island’s natural health and scenic beauty.
Explaining the pond petition as a natural outgrowth of HNP’s work, Sekou said that the publisher’s activities and books such as National Symbols and the poetry collection of Borromeo
Hodge have championed nature for nearly 30 years “from historical and cultural” perspectives.
As to more places to sign the petition to protect the pond, Van Putten pointed out that the
Petition’s online version had been closed.
Sekou confirmed that the online version had reached the expiration date of Care2.com and said that the petition can still be signed on-island at the library and the museum. “Schools and teachers that wish to have a copy of the petition to explain it to students, and to possibly have them sign it as a social studies project, can contact House of Nehesi (Nehesi@sintmaarten.net),” said Sekou.

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