SMDF, Red Cross aim to create outdoor social spaces for public | THE DAILY HERALD

Kevin Davies of the Netherlands Red Cross, SMDF Managing Director Makhicia Brooks and St. Maarten Red Cross Assistant Brand Manager Esther Henry while exploring various community areas.


PHILIPSBURG–As efforts to “build back better” across St Maarten continue, the St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) and the Red Cross have partnered to help contribute to a stronger community life for all.

  SMDF and the Red Cross will work with community minded residents, community councils and businesses over the course of the year to create outdoor social spaces for the public to freely use.

  SMDF Managing Director Makhicia Brooks spoke of the value of communities and making personal connections as the main idea of the project. “Outside of individual households, communities are often the first line of contact amongst residents, and SMDF and Red Cross both see how these connections can be deepened by creating communal spaces,” said Brooks.

  The partnering organisations spoke about how community relationships can be assets during times of emergencies. “Good and trusting community relations play an important role in a society’s resilience to disaster and general wellbeing. Community spaces that are easy to access and free to use help to promote wellbeing and social relations,” said a joint statement.

  “Examples of outdoor, community-designed and -managed social spaces exist all over the world and have proven benefits to residents. We see how these spaces would be just as beneficial to St. Maarten. With the help of residents, councils, and businesses, we want to stimulate and support the initial creation of these spaces. Once created we will then hand them over to local committees to manage and take full advantage of in the future,” said Kevin Davies of the Netherlands Red Cross.

  To encourage long-term use of the spaces, public access and to minimise potential future cost the spaces will be outdoor, multipurpose and durable. Community residents will be asked to share their visions for the spaces, including what they might like to see in the spaces, how they would like to use them in the future, and whether they would like to be involved in the long term.

  To kick off the project, a community meeting will be held at University of St Martin (USM) on Thursday, February 13, where SMDF and Red Cross will present the project goals and answer questions or expressions of interest. Persons interested in contributing to the project or getting more information can email

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or call tel. 543-7711.

Source: The Daily Herald