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BEST to join forces with Greenrock

Environmentalist Stuart Hayward (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda Environmental Sustainable Taskforce is hoping to fight off its financial troubles by collaborating with fellow environmental watchdog Greenrock.

President Stuart Hayward, who said he had been uplifted by the community reaction since BEST revealed its cash shortage at the end of last week, believes joining forces with Greenrock could help balance the books by sharing the burden of some expenses.

The two organisations have been in talks under the Centre on Philanthropy’s Collaboration Initiative, which aims to help cash-strapped groups pool their resources during the economic crisis.

Mr Hayward told The Royal Gazette: “There’s already a degree of collaboration but we are very willing to explore if there’s room for further opportunity.

“This is not something that non-profit organisations do very often in Bermuda, but the Centre on Philanthropy will assist in helping us understand what’s possible. There may be greater sharing we can do.”

Jonathan Starling, executive director of Greenrock, said: “Greenrock and BEST have a long history of working together and collaborating, and we are excited about the opportunity presented by the Centre on Philanthropy to explore options for closer collaboration.

“At the moment we don’t know where this will lead, nor do we have a set timeline, but we believe that it is worth exploring opportunities to build on existing collaborations between our two organisations.

“Charitable funding is both less available and under greater demand than in the past and we are exploring every avenue to ensure that our work on environmental sustainability continues. It is evident that streamlining charities with so many common objectives makes sense.

“As our conversations proceed we are optimistic that the outcome will be beneficial for both organisations, our stakeholders and our island community as a whole but it is far too early to assess exactly how that outcome may look.”

Last week, BEST chairwoman Gail Miller wrote to the organisation’s supporters, pleading for donations so it can continue operating while it considers its options. Donations have fallen during the economic downturn, BEST said, leaving it struggling to pay consultancy fees and for office space.

Reflecting on the community reaction to the news, Mr Hayward said yesterday: “We have received numerous reach-outs ranging from those wishing us well, to offers of office space at reduced rates, to donations of varying sizes.

“Most encouraging has been the outpouring of validation for the watchdog role we have in the community, especially for the courageous yet level-headed stances we have taken, sometimes against seemingly overwhelming odds.

“It has been comforting to know that we are appreciated not only for what we do but also for the way in which we go about doing it.

“We will now have to regroup, become even leaner in our operational expenses — if that’s possible — and put additional effort into building strong new relationships and strengthening even further the existing relationships between BEST and the generosity of the people in the community we serve.

“There is no doubt that given Bermuda’s limited size and the exquisite combination of mostly friendly people, unmatched beauty and glorious weather, the pressure for additional terrestrial and marine development will persist and likely increase.

“If not BEST, there will still be a need for friendly but tenacious entity to monitor, analyse and advocate for the preservation of those environmental assets that make Bermuda so attractive in the first place.

“We are taking the initial outpouring of words and actions of support as a welcome validation and endorsement of BEST. We will do our best to continue to earn that support.”