Biologist initiates Salt Pond Scene Investigation

Dump-vision. At several locations, garbage is smoldering – Picture by Margot van Malenstein, Sept 10th, 2016.

PHILIPSBURG – Young biologist, Margot van Malenstein, is concerned about the issues surrounding the Great Salt Pond.

She writes: “currently I am investigating the situation as a whole: people, actors, policy and the environment, while involving people by asking for local knowledge and personal consequences and sharing my own knowledge on water quality and ecosystem functioning. This project is meant to contribute in getting overview into the situation. Overview is necessary in order to get insight into the situation and identify together which steps are to be taken in the short and long term, as action perspectives seem to be lacking at the moment.”

In an invited article exclusively for SXM Talks, she further states:

“In Sint Maarten’s cultural heritage lies a Dump surrounded by water. Right in the middle of an urbanized area, constantly smoking and currently blowing vast plumes of thick smoke in the air. For the second time this month, the Dump is on fire. While writing this piece, I can feel my eyes, lips and nose are irritated from the fumes. Accepting the status quo is undesired by many, still not much has been going on in the past 40 years of Dump history. So what are we dealing with?

This is exactly what I am currently investigating through the project Pond Scene Investigation SXM (PS_I_SXM). From my background, I am a young biologist with a passion for learning and teaching outside of school, who enjoys to investigate nature while involving local knowledge on a variety of subjects. The idea of this project is to gather our knowledge by talking about subjects concerning the Great Salt Pond. By combining each other’s knowledge on the situation, an overview can be made of what we know and what remains unknown. We will identify who is involved, what we think is happening, what happened in the past and how we see the future.

The idea is to come together in organized workshops, which are open to everyone and free of charge. During these workshops I will challenge you and myself to creatively explore and describe the situation on the basis of several questions. These questions however, are not fixed. If anything comes up during workshops which is considered important to all involved, this too will be up for discussion. Such an undertaking implies mutual learning by talking, freely sharing ideas and knowledge while observing and listening with great care and respect for each other’s visions.

At least, a baseline of information is created concerning the GSP. It is very possible that from this so called co-created knowledge, a co-created vision and mission arise concerning the future of the GSP and the Dump. Gaps in our knowledge on the situation could be resolved once they are identified, which creates a movement/momentum towards improvement. Knowing what you’re dealing with clears the path for better future decisions. It has the potential to enhance SXM communities’ health, social stability and environmental health.

Step by step, this project is aimed at enhancing plans for the short term and the long term -concerning the GSP for a historically sound, greener, more social and healthy future – to “get it rolling”. Also, sustainable opportunities for the diversification of the economic sectors and tourism sector may arise.

Keep in mind, that together people stand strong, and I can’t (and shouldn’t) do it alone! So come, join, like and share what you know: .”