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Sunday, July 3, 2022


It is difficult for me to translate into words, the jubilation that I experienced when I read the news announcing the formation of the Virgin Islands Institute of Development and its planned Summit in Washington, D.C., scheduled for late next month.
Not only have I advocated the creation of a "think tank" in print several years ago to address an array of issues associated with the Virgin Islands, I have found myself engaged in attempting to preserve the term "think tank" for the time when in fact we have succeeded in creating at least one worthy of the appellation.
During the last election campaign, I found myself alone in a high level discussion about the use of the term. I argued against trivializing the term through mislabeling and argued instead to preserve the term for a later time when we would have created a real "think tank."
From what I have read about the Virgin Islands Institute of Development, I believe that the organization is headed in the correct direction and that the time has arrived to speak assuredly of creating a "think tank" associated with Virgin Islands issues. One that can attract the level of funding required to carry out its work.
Perhaps it is a plus to have this new organization established outside of the territory at this formative stage, lest it become bogged down in the day-to-day mundane issues that appear to stunt our ability to elevate our thinking to the levels that our circumstances require.
Additionally, I find it easy to associate with the concept of development that is incorporated into the mission and vision statements of the Institute. For my own edification and as a consequence of my continuing interest in the subject, I have spent much time searching the Internet for information on development. I am pleased with the collection of material that I have found.
I believe much of this information can be modified and adapted to address territorial issues generally, and my own views of the issues that I believe should be pursued to improve life and living in the Virgin Islands. Sustainability and future studies are attractive terms to me and I explore these topics regularly.
I have been a vocal advocate for change in our electoral system over an extended period of time. This advocacy is based upon my perception that a direct linkage exists between a flawed election method that is in place in the territory and an oftentimes dysfunctional legislative body. In my writings, I have called for the creation of a Study and Advisory Commission on Electoral Reform for the purpose of investigating electoral options and making recommendations to the appropriate body for implementation.
So far, I have not succeeded in accomplishing this feat. Hopefully, this new organization will explore the issue of electoral reform as it addresses the broader issue of governance.
It is exceedingly great news to know that an organization such as the Virgin Islands Institute of Development exists. I imagine that this organization will entertain input from the larger Virgin Islands community and I hope that Virgin Islanders at home and abroad will take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the work of this new and vital organization.
Editor's note: Gaylord A. Sprauve of St. Thomas is a former V.I. government official and businessman.

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