We only had a few days in St. Lucia and wanted to see a bit of the island, so opted to leave a bit early for the airport and take the long, winding, route through the Pitons back to the south. I was car sick approximately 10 minutes into the 2 hour drive down the west coast to UVF. Our van was moving at what felt like record speed along roads that belong on Top Gear, but in reality when I peered up at the dash we were going a startling 40 km/hr. The west coast of the island is stunning in the dry season, and I can only imagine what a difference lush, green vegetation might make in the views. We passed through 3 towns, stood atop two breathtaking vistas, and I only just avoided losing my french toast to the Pitons. Our driver, Marvin, seemed immune by the ride, smiling all the way listening to Disney ballads, 80s classics, and rap all the way. I found myself singing along to the likes of Lady in Red and Alladin's Magic Carpet Ride. I also learned that St Lucians are very fond of country music, and that on Friday and Saturday nights young women will be found in droves out at line dances and country music venues. Sad to miss that, along with the Friday Fish Fiesta in Gros Islet! St. Lucia, I think I'll be back!
The participants in Jamaica were just as enthusiastic as those in St. Lucia. One moment will always make me laugh though - when choosing OSM user names, one participant cried out - "but Rastafarian is taken, what do I do?!" Turns out one of our St. Lucia participants had chosen the name the previous week. The participants also added a new religion to OSM, as Rastafarianism was not yet included in the OSM database. It goes to show there is always something new to map!
In Jamaica we were interviewed by Nationwide News Network and NewsTalk93 FM, and the event was covered by the Daily Observer newspaper. We were excited by the press coverage, and the opportunity to train approximately 70 people in the two countries. There was a diverse industry representation among participants, with many having previous GIS experience. I was motivated and inspired by the enthusiasm in both countries, and the experience helped me realize that the potential for TeachOSM is high.
These workshops represent first steps to realize countries based on open geo data. Technology alone will not provide the organizational structure for newly minted mappers; to sustain an open source project requires a community of active mappers, and I hope to see continued investments in open map data for the citizens of Jamaica and St. Lucia, and throughout the Caribbean. I look forward to growing TeachOSM and spreading the use of OpenStreetMap globally!
A blog post was also written for HOT that can be found here: https://hotosm.org/updates/2015-08-31_open_data_open_mapping_teachosm_in_the_caribbean