By Carlena Knight
Daughter of the soil and acclaimed author Joanne Hillhouse was awarded yesterday after placing in the top three in the recently concluded Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) Journalist Challenge, Clean Oceans.
The regional competition was organised to bring awareness to the escalating problem of marine pollution, particularly as it relates to plastics.
Journalists were invited to generate stories over a three-month period to help OECS residents see the connection between ocean pollution, the circular economy (where materials are reused rather than thrown away) and the blue economy (the sustainable use of ocean resources).
Hillhouse, who is known regionally and internationally for her books, creative and journalistic pieces and poetry, finished third.
The Ottos native submitted a two-part print and blog series on marine culture and the psychological impact on people in Antigua and Barbuda.
She spoke briefly with Observer about the achievement.
“Well, I feel good, obviously, but I am also even more happy that the information is getting out there. I have seen the results for the first place and second place winners and I think everyone should watch their content and, of course, watch my content — Creative Space at jhohadli.wordpress.co.
“I am also very thankful that it was premiered in the Daily Observer newspaper because that is where the column runs every other Wednesday,” Hillhouse said.
Hillhouse said events like these are needed as they help bring awareness to the broader issue of the environment. She added that it is her hope that when locals read her content they, too, will be inspired.
“I did a two-part series interviewing Cristal Clashing — who everyone knows is part of Team Antigua Island Girls — and Tricia Lovell who is one of our marine wardens, marine activist, marine soldier, tracking their journey and just finding out their discovery of the sea and the deepening of their relationship with the sea and how we can all benefit from having a better relationship with the sea, and understanding that it serves us in terms of pleasure, in terms of industry, in terms of food,” she said.
“It sustains us in so many ways and it is mysterious but it doesn’t have to be frightening.
“So, hopefully, the series will inspire people to venture out into the water a little bit more and do more to preserve and to be active in promoting marine conservation,” Hillhouse added.
Manager of the National Solid Waste Management Authority Daryl Spencer also shared his excitement that a representative from Antigua and Barbuda excelled in the contest.
“I am excited … Miss Hillhouse is a part of the Solid Waste Management team; she was our lead marketing and education officer some time ago when Solid Waste started.
“So, it is exciting and I also like the fact that she took this from a psychological and social perspective which is so different from what is featured more often than not, and it speaks to some of the challenges that we have in the knowledge, attitude and practices of people as they treat our environment.
“I am elated and I am looking forward to a time where we can work together again.
“I really do appreciate the fact that somebody from Antigua actually entered and it shows that our ideas and our feelings and the issues we face in Antigua and Barbuda are very relevant to what is happening in the region,” Spencer added.
Dale Elliot from St Lucia placed first with a 40-minute documentary, while Grenada’s Soranna Mitchell placed second with a five-part blog series. The top three winners will receive EC$5,500, $4,500 and $3,500, respectively.