By Jada Steuart, GSPOS Hub member
In a media landscape often dominated by disheartening headlines, there shines a beacon of hope, illuminating the youthful dynamism thriving within Trinidad and Tobago. Amidst the efforts to create a brighter future for our homeland, local NGOs stand tall, led by young visionaries determined to effect positive change. Among these remarkable organizations, the Global Shapers Port of Spain Hub stands out as a testament to the unwavering commitment of our youth in shaping a better tomorrow.
The Global Shapers Port of Spain (GSPOS) Hub is one of the over 500 worldwide hubs that make up the Global Shapers Community. A dynamic network comprised of inspiring young leaders from around the world, all under the age of 30. Born out of the World Economic Forum, this remarkable community is dedicated to addressing the most pressing local, regional, and global challenges of our time.
Established in 2014, the GSPOS Hub mirrors the spirit of its cosmopolitan home, Trinidad and Tobago - a harmonious blend of diversity, vibrancy, and an unwavering commitment to driving positive transformation.
The Hub's journey has been nothing short of impressive. Just last year, they undertook an initiative known as their "Food For You" Project, designed to educate local farmers in sustainable agricultural practices through the guidance of the esteemed Wa Samaki Permaculture Farm. Their endeavour, offered to local farmers, free of charge, the experience of learning and having a hands-on experience about regenerative agriculture practices and agribusiness locally, culminated in the prestigious Green Lead Award at the recent Environmental Management Authority (EMA) Awards.
Now, with their sights set even higher, the Global Shapers Hub embarks on a new venture: hosting the Community’s first-ever Sub-regional Retreat for the Caribbean. This significant event will bring together six Hubs - Bridgetown, Georgetown, Kingston, Paramaribo, Port au Prince, and Port of Spain - from September 15th to 17th, 2023. While primarily catering to the Caribbean, the Retreat will also welcome "Shapers" (the nickname given to members) from North America, including prominent cities like Austin, Cleveland and New York City.
Anticipating the attendance of nearly 20 Shapers, this Retreat promises a diverse array of immersive activities and workshops deeply rooted in Caribbean culture. Under the overarching theme, "Shaping Equity and Inclusion: Bringing Marginalized Voices to the Forefront," the event will explore three pivotal sub-themes - climate change, post-pandemic recovery, and the future of work - all through the unique lens of the Caribbean experience and perspective.
Moreover, the Retreat will foster stronger inter-Caribbean connectivity and regionalism. Attendees will be encouraged to exchange ideas, projects, and experiences, thereby fortifying the bonds between regional hubs and their participants.
This overarching theme further seeks to challenge established power structures and facilitate open, candid dialogues concerning the imperative for equity and inclusion. It is a platform for sharing the region's viewpoints, addressing challenges, and disseminating best practices across the identified thematic areas.
Above all, the GSPOS Hub envisions a future where Caribbean hubs work in tandem to address shared concerns, empowering marginalized voices across the region. The group will also put forward a call to action statement which advocates for a revision of the region’s work policies towards Work From Home, Flexiwork and Rotational Schedules to decongest and decarbonize our cities as urgent climate action and improvement of Quality of Life.
The Retreat also boasts an impressive and fitting agenda featuring welcome remarks from Port of Spain’s newest and youngest mayor, His Worship Chinua Alleyne, a dance performance from the Caribbean School of Dance, spoken word performer Yvan Mendoza, keynote speakers Dr. Gelien Matthews (Head of Department, UWI St. Augustine Department of History) and Ms. Reneé Atwell (CARICOM Youth Ambassador), a presentation from the United Nations Information Centre for the Caribbean Area, various Shaper-led workshops in the aforementioned themes and a post-retreat commitment session led by Wellness Coach Ms. Kaylan Bartholomew.
The weekend will move between various captivating venues across Port of Spain, including the eclectic Big Black Box, metropolitan One Plaza and the quaint Calabash Gardens. The event promises to be another resounding success for the tenacious Port of Spain team including Curator, Sofia Rajkumarsingh, Event Lead, Morgan Ramkallawan and Caribbean Community Champion, Jade Murray. Their unwavering commitment to reaching new goals ensures that they remain a beacon of inspiration and innovation in the Caribbean, the wider Global Shapers Community and beyond.