University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science Previous Contents Next

12.5 Roseau as a home

If it is as Bellot and Gabriel (1999) say, whole Roseau--except Upper Goodwill and St. Aromant--is one ghetto. Term 'ghetto' was used by Philip (1999), too. He identifies Gutter Village as a 'newly established ghetto' and finds some ghetto characteristics also in Potter's Ville and Newtown, and in Central Roseau especially at Riverside and Virgin Lane.

Term 'ghetto' is associated with crowdedness and small buildings on tiny lots. Philip, for instance, says that 'claustrophobic concentration of houses' is one reason why people do not want to live in Central Roseau. According to him, there are 'little houses where you must pass in your neighbours bath to get out'. Green, who actually lives there, does not find the situation that bad. He criticizes the insolation instead. The wooden masonry constructions do not prevent any noise from entering into the house. 'You can hear people talking block to block as you sleep, so that is not the nice part of it [living in Central Roseau]' (Green 1999).

The reason why fewer and fewer people live Downtown is, according to Green, that people who own land there own it also elsewhere. They have their businesses in the city, and before they used to live in the second floor of their shops. When the Downtown was getting crowded they rented their apartements to offices and moved to Goodwill or other suburban areas. Green says that in order to prevent (Central) Roseau from becoming a ghost town new housing must be developed and made affordable in the city centre.

Mayor of Roseau, Bernardine Williams (1999), on the contrary, sees it basically positive that people are moving out from the central district. She finds that the district is currently too crowded, and if people move elsewhere one has more room to develop business in the city centre. And, she continues, 'we want to develop the city into a more tourist site.'

Some kind of development is called for by almost every interviewee. Warner (1999), who is concerned with crowdedness, too, finds the small ground floor houses especially unsuitable for dwelling. She would demolish the old small houses Downtown and build larger and more modern buildings instead. Vigo (1999) and Anonymous (1999) agree with Warner in preferring new buidings to old ones. Vigo says: 'If you repair and repair, it would be just a matter of wasting time.'

Alexander (1999) is in favour of development, too, but stresses that it should be done step by step. He wants to maintain the historical atmosphere of Roseau, keep it 'nice and pretty' but organise it properly. Organising for him does not mean that everything should be planned in detail. For instance, he praises Potter's Ville that 'it gives an idea of live that is not fully programmed'. Anonymous, who lives in Potter's Ville, however, longs for the spatious and well-kept roads of Goodwill, and says that at least the streets should be fixed in Potter's Ville and Central Roseau.

On the other hand, the feeling of congestion is strengthened by the overwhelming car traffic in Roseau. When asked what should be changed in Roseau or in one's home district six out of eleven interviewees mentioned something explicitly concerning vehicle traffic. Didier (1999) suggests that cars should be denied access to the French Quarter partially or totally, and create a pedestrian zone there.

Roseau is found to be busy and crowded but also a quiet and cozy place. Both aspects were apparent in most of the interviews. It is the centre of activity in Dominica, there are vendors on the streets and cars everywhere. On the other hand, one can find relaxing spots like the Bay Front at times and the Botanical Gardens (see Chapter 12.7). Alexander says that Roseau is 'one of the very slow places in the world'. But according to Warner, for instance, Roseau needs 'more places to go', shops, and recreational facilities. Also Anonymous would like to see more commercial activity in Roseau, and several others called for more jobs.

Roseau is a noisy city. Traffic, loud music, barking dogs, crowing cocks and other sources of noise disturb some of the Roseauans. Philip calls for better zoning of noisy activities. As an example, he mentions churches. 'If there is a service, one has to participate whether one wants or not.' According to him, loud music and singing prevents one hearing even one's television.

Basic commodities are easily available everywhere in Roseau. Small grocery shops (Fig. 54) are found virtually everywhere in Roseau except Upper Goodwill and St. Aromant, and also in Bath Estate the grocery shops are few in number. Several supermarkets are available in Central Roseau and Potter's Ville. Potter's Ville has also lots of small workshops where one can repair vehicles and household appliances. Philip addresses this to the convenient location of the district between Goodwill and Central Roseau and on the side of the major entrance road to Roseau. Didier, however, says that the mechanicians and repair shops are to be found in more abundance on River Street on the other side of the river.

Many people in Roseau would prefer living in the countryside. They find living easier there (Grant), less stressing (Didier), air is fresher, and people more real to what one sees (Philip). Alexander says that '[I]n the country one can be by one's own, doing agriculture.' Philip could move to the country but 'there should be a big highway to Roseau'. On the other hand, countryside is not developed enough (Warner), everything is time-wasting there (St. Rose Williams), and all the jobs are in the city (Alexander, Anonymous). Vigo reminds that basically they are the same people who live in the countryside and in Roseau. When the roads where built to the other parts of Dominica people started to move to Roseau.

Pattullo and Jno Baptiste (1998: 7; see Chapter 10.2) say that in Dominica, almost everybody has a garden. Philip mentioned that he has some land at Pond Casse, which is in the interior of Dominica. According to Alexander, Newtown people have a tradition to go up to Giraudel some three kilometres (two miles) to the east from Newtown to do some farming. In addition, as it is traditionally a fishing community--like Potter's Ville, too--people also fish.

University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science Previous Contents Next