Sunlit St. John
Shining a light on an island's need for immediate protection and preservation
Sunlit St. John is, at this point, a conversation about the future of the island, led by St. Johnians urgently opposed to visionless development and cultural erasure.
These videos were granted by multi-generational Virgin Islanders who are so kind and caring that they have offered- in addition their immovable love for St. John- their honest and heartfelt truths. Their dignity, grace and wisdom represent the core of Sunlit St. John.
These short films are the first of many.
They speak against the pressing and short-sighted forces
bearing down on St. John, right now.
What We See
Spaces hijacked by continental and non-native, often callous and entitled
Narrative on social media dominated by non-resident experiences
Brand suddenly shifted to a "party island" with no back-story
Tourism (and disaster reconstruction) has created a vulnerable one-crop economy
Politics driving economic development into modern colonialism
Corruption means money determines our course
Race Issues steeped in black and white history will require the most illumination and attention to mend
Status as "America's Foster Child" leaves us awaiting rights and self-determination
National Park - mixed legacy of "Con-dem-nation"
Spaces mostly influenced by natives and respectful residents and tourists
Narrative on social media largely led by authentic St John voices and visions
Brand about nature, culture, and leisure that defers to the first two
Tourism cultivates its own people and preserves its ecology as the essence of the product
Politics focuses on the long term standard of living for the body Virgin Islands
Corruption finds no host in our politics
Race Issues addressed with honesty like Cancer in a family member
Status allows for a Virgin Islander to vote for or against a President
National Park makes amends to a land and its people
Present our culture and history with respect;
Secure our natural resources through preservation;
Close the brain drain with education;
Retool our economy with diversity;
Confront climate change with leadership,
It is time to heal.
"Amen to all of these ideas. I've visited for only 20 years and the changes to me are terrible. I once learned that visitors should dress with decency in town, say good day and be friendly and open to meeting people, and to appreciate the beaches, trails, and historic sites with quiet respect and a leave no trace policy. Now I arrive and Cruz Bay is like a Spring break Florida scene. Heavy drinkers and half dressed people everywhere. On the beaches? Crude men announcing they have to "go to the bathroom" then stomping into the water oblivious to sensitive grasses underfoot or that the coral rubble if observed carefully is actually home to many creatures. Don't get me started on how turtles aren't given respectful space. My wish? To have the residents of St John control the island so that the dignity, the confident friendliness, and of course the natural beauty aren't lost forever to plain selling out."
FV234POP | Youtube Commenter
"Thank you. I am in such gratitude for this work, it is beautiful, impactful and a HUGE message that needs to be blasted! Give thanks and praises for the brilliance and the space for this dialogue. Yes."
Sayeeda Carter | Youtube Commenter
January 18, 2022 | The Virgin Islands Consortium
National Park Service Seeking Community Input as it Releases Concepts to Guide Redevelopment of Caneel Bay
The National Park Service today released an initial set of concepts that could guide the redevelopment of Caneel Bay at Virgin Islands National Park. To that end, the public is invited to provide input on the concepts for 30 days beginning Jan. 18.
"We developed a preliminary range of options that prioritize the protection of resources and expand public access to Caneel Bay,” said V.I. National Park Superintendent Nigel Fields. “Civic engagement is an important part of the redevelopment process. We look forward to receiving the public’s feedback as we work together to create the best possible future for Caneel Bay.”...
November 6, 2021 | The St. John Source
Boating in the V.I., Part 5: Resident Argues for Preservation of Round Bay
A quiet bay in a remote part of St. John has become the center of conflict between those who want to see it preserved as a marine sanctuary and those who want to see it developed and managed for the recreational boating industry. As the recreational boating industry continues to grow, the situation in Round Bay is a microcosm of issues that face the entire territory.
Ten years ago, filmmaker Eric Zucker took underwater footage of all three Virgin Islands for a diving video for the Department of Tourism. Zucker shot a disproportionate amount in Round Bay on the east end of St. John and the surrounding area, not just because it was convenient to where he lived, but because the coral reefs were so alive.
When he looked at recent footage of the same spots and compared them to what he saw in 2011, he felt compelled to document the degradation of the underwater landscape...
May 25, 2021 | The New York Times
The Caribbean Conundrum: United by Tourists, Divided by Covid
The pandemic struck these islands unequally. What does this mean for tourism, a major economic driver for the entire region? The answer is unique, just like the islands.
On the glassy blue waters surrounding the U.S. Virgin Islands, catamarans and pleasure yachts have packed the shoreline for the past year — a scene so busy and crowded, it’s unimaginable, even before the pandemic.
Indeed, the business of charter yachts is booming, and expected to pump at least $88 million into the local economy this season, almost double the roughly $45 million that came in 2019...
April 1, 2021 | National Park Service
National Park Service Announces Caneel Bay Listening Session, Environmental Investigation Updates
St. John, USVI – The National Park Service (NPS) will hold a listening session next Thursday to receive public input on the future of Caneel Bay at Virgin Islands National Park.
“With the September 2023 expiration of the Rockefeller retained use estate in sight, the listening session will enable the public to help shape future protection and use of this world treasure for generations to come,” said park superintendent Nigel Fields. “We welcome broad participation in our long-term commitment to preserving and commemorating the area’s natural and cultural heritage.”
The virtual forum will kick off with Caneel Bay updates and feature an opportunity for the public to inform the National Park Service vision for Caneel Bay with response to four key questions...
March 26, 2021 | The St. Thomas Source
Op-Ed: Whatever Happened to Modesty, Manners and Respect?
Recent news items have been touting the economic impact of opening up our waters to encourage the growth of marine tourism while most of our Caribbean neighbors have taken a more cautious approach. However, there is another untold story to this massive increase in boats in our bays. With the increase in boats has come an increase in violations of the rules and regulations governing mooring, anchoring and navigation...
March 11, 2021 | The Virgin Islands Daily News
Plaskett urges Park Service to hold town hall with St. Johnians to discuss Caneel Bay
More than four years after the Trump administration quashed a town hall meeting between St. Johnians and the National Park Service to air concerns about the future of Caneel Bay Resort, V.I. Delegate to Congress Stacey Plaskett is urging President Biden’s administration to restart talks.
In a letter to Shannon Estenoz, Interior Department principal deputy assistant secretary, Plaskett asks that a town hall be held to engage Virgin Islands residents directly on the future of the Caneel Bay site...
february 4, 2021 | The St. Thomas Source
‘Sunlit Saint John’ Videos Pose Questions, Challenges to Direction of STJ
“Rum, Sun and Fun.” For decades, Caribbean destinations like the Virgin Islands have used that simple message to market themselves. It’s an oversimplification, of course. At various times, the Virgin Islands has promoted its industrial potential, technological readiness, ecotourism and complicated history...
February 3, 2021 | The Virgin Islands Daily News
Sunlit Saint John sends a message:
Time to heal
Over a week ago, videos began to pop up on social media with a simple, yet shocking message — the version of St. John that ancestral natives once knew is being erased at an alarming rate. The videos are hosted on a barebones website, www.sunlitsaintjohn.com, that gives no indication of who is behind the project — an intentional move, said Eric Zucker, a director who was born and raised on St. Thomas and has lived on St. John for more than half his life...
We invite you to join the conversation and share your ideas for how St. John may generate revenue without selling our land or bowing to projects and people who don't respect who we are.