Walk on by: Michelle St Jane identifies a decline in the ‘social economy’ and believes islanders, including our leaders, have become anaesthetized to images like this one of a man sleeping rough in Hamilton. *File photo
Walk on by: Michelle St Jane identifies a decline in the ‘social economy’ and believes islanders, including our leaders, have become anaesthetized to images like this one of a man sleeping rough in Hamilton. *File photo
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WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26: The Bermuda Bar Association can expect a challenging keynote speech from Michelle St Jane, KAIROS Philanthropy principal, when they gather at the Bermuda Insurance Institute, Cedar Avenue this evening from 5:30 to 6:30pm. 

Ms St Jane spoke to the Bermuda Sun about the focus of her talk and her belief that there exists a great disparity between the economic and social success of the island.

“I am looking to inspire, to raise their curiosity and ask them to consider what the illusions are and how they can contribute.

“We live in a beautiful island with a robust, vibrant financial economy but with a growing decline in the social economy.

“I want to call out to my learned friends and ask them to consider what we can do as members of the intelligentsia, as the movers and shakers in the bar, running big firms and big client accounts, impacting legislation, and ask them what can we can con-tribute?”

Ms St Jane believes that Bermuda’s success should not be quantified purely in financial terms but should be judged by other criteria, including the social and the environmental.

In short, she is asking for a triple bottom line as a means of justifying success. “I am asking for any mix of more than just money reaching the table.”

Ms St Jane is not just pushing for social change — she is demanding it.

“It’s time. I am doing my piece. Others may like to join in,” she said.

The social problems facing the island are out there for all to see, she said.

“We see elderly black men retired by the ferry building on Front Street. What made our elderly black men so unworthy?

“We allow mothers and fathers to raise kids in cars, and some Bermudian children to go to school with empty bellies but still have access to computers and cellphones.

“We have become anaesthetized to all these issues and in the process have lost our empathy.”

She questioned how politicians could make their way from Front Street to the House and miss these things on their way.

“We even have the homeless demonized in the [news] paper because we are concerned as to what tourists think. But what about the homeless? What do they think?”

Ms St Jane will talk about social imagination and discuss the ‘gap zones’ or boundaries between people, law, politics, and the ‘tragedy of the gap’ as she puts it.

The 2010 Census and law reform will be issues raised in her talk. “How do you run your country, your family business when the Census is not completed?”, she asked. “Not knowing the basic data of your country is a real handicap.”

She added: “The bankruptcy and debtors act is archaic and needs reform. We can still put people in prison, as a young woman returning to the island from brain surgery found out recently.”

Ms St Jane’s presentation is titled “Twenty- first century lawyers of Bermuda: the traditional, the innovative and the change agent”, and will amplify the call for a greater uptake of personal and professional responsibility for the wellbeing of the people of Bermuda and the environment.

The presentation,which forms part of the continuing legal education programme for lawyers, will be discussing law reform, the 2010 Census, and reference to authors such as Larry Scott (‘It’s only 4%’: Crime in Bermuda).

Michelle St Jane is also a former acting family court magistrate and police complaints chairperson and has made many international speaking presentations resulting in published works in the French Society and Business Review Journal January 2011.