Patria-Kaye Aarons | Don't let Portland go
Portland, in the minds of most, is the one unspoilt parish left in Jamaica. For many reasons. It is the one place that doesn't carry the taint of development. No skyscrapers, no smog - for the most part no loud traffic sounds. Portland is green - fresh air, beach, river, fresh food. And Portland gets rain - and when rain and zinc roof meet in Portland, it's heaven. Best sleep you ever had.
The other way that Portland represents unspoilt Jamaica is that it is the one place where people still feel safe. Where you don't think twice about going to your bed with the windows wide open so the sounds and smells of the sea could come in. The only intruder you worry about is a lizard.
Portland, for many outsiders, is a refuge. A place to release and recharge.
For Portlanders, the spirit of community is still strong. People look out for each other still. You know your neighbour. And their neighbour. Shops still trust goods because they know every customer by name, address, church and family.
Teacher and tailor and postmistress still get respect, and people have manners and say 'mawnin'.
There's an incident I know of where a farmer's bunch of bananas finally became fit - and one troublesome boy cut it the morning. Before the farmer could get vexed good, someone went to him and told him who cut his bananas.
The boy's mother, to tek shame out of the family eye, paid the farmer for his bananas.
Portland is still a good place. In the face of Jamaica's strife and scamming and crime, Portland was Jamaica's salvation.
But when I heard about recent incidents of rape and robbery in Portland, my heart ached. I hear of violent, unsolved crimes in Portland and I shudder to think that the poison of oblivion, of turning a blind eye, is becoming the Portland way.
Portlanders, take back your parish for yourselves. For the rest of us. Do not allow crime and criminals to become resident.
I, in part, blame the rest of the country for lying down and taking it. Jamaica has got to this stage because Jamaicans have let it. Out of fear or selfish silos, people don't tell what they know. That's not the Portland way.
Be vigilant. Get militant, if you must. But don't let Portland go. Do not allow criminals to win.
The moment you don't fight back, you'll be held hostage to crime like the rest of us. Take back the peace of your parish.