Geoff Dominy.

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President Ronald Reagan once said "people expect too much from government" and that is one of the messages Palma resident Geoff Dominy is hoping to get across to the local community as he goes about setting up a foundation to try and increase people’s awareness of the responsibility they have in looking after the environment they live in.

Derby-born Geoff is a leading gemologist and has travelled all over the world during his career, most of which he spent based in various parts of Canada, considered one of the cleanest and best-organised countries in the world - a reputation I can vouch for having lived there myself. However, some ten years ago Geoff came across Majorca by accident and immediately fell in love with the island and its people.

"I had just finished quite a lengthy business trip in Europe, four months I think it was, and had a few days spare. So I thought I would take a short holiday. I was in Dortmund and was actually thinking about heading to Prague. However, I saw an Air Berlin sign advertising flights to Palma for 29 euros.

"To be honest, I had no idea about Majorca, was not even too sure where it was. I asked the attendant at the Air Berlin desk ‘Palma or Prague?’ and she said without any hesitation ‘Palma’. So I jumped on the next plane, went to one of the old accommodation desks at the airport - I had no hotel - and the lady set me up in a lovely beach front establishment in Can Pastilla for the week. It was half board for 40 euros a night and I loved it. I immediately fell in love with the island and that is what Majorca has. It's strange to pinpoint, but it has this warmth that draws you in.

"I managed to stay a second week, for only 29 euros a nigh,t and then had to return home to Vancouver where I finally got round to writing an up-to-date book about gemology; most were so out of date. I also devised a series of print and digital gemology courses and other modern educational tools. But all the time, at the back of my mind was, how could I return to live in Majorca?"

Then one day, he bit the bullet and moved to Palma and lives in the old part of the city. He continues with his gemology commitments but has become passionate about creating a foundation called Mi Isla tambien (it is also my island) which is aimed at trying to educate people to be more responsible for the upkeep of the environment they live in. With the debate raging about tourism saturation and the strain visitors put on natural resources and the local authorities, Geoff begs to differ and maintains that we, as residents, have a responsibility.

"While I wholeheartedly agree with Arca and the need to implement legislation regarding graffiti on storefronts and to enforce it, I believe that we need to look at the wider issues. Last year I took a group of visitors who were here for a convention for a tour of the old town.

"Unfortunately, due to transport delays, much of the tour took place after the stores had closed. Frankly it was embarrassing. Many of the streets looked like ‘Desolation Alley’ with the metal portcullis dirty and covered with mindless graffiti. It’s no good having a storefront that is neat, tidy and inviting during opening hours and a storefront that looks a disgrace when you are closed. What message are the store owners sending to their customers?

"This is a prime area to tell people, in a very tasteful manner, who you are, what you sell and why they should buy from you. Instead we have mindless graffiti from delinquents who care little about Palma and Majorca and are far more intent on defacing public and private property. Surely this issue is of far greater importance than the issues raised by Arca.

"The city needs to get tough, find one of the people responsible for defacing our beautiful city and make an example of them. It may take minutes to spray paint a mindless message onto a building, but I can assure you it would take hours and hours to remove it. I can also assure you that if it were highly publicised, people would think twice before they defaced somebody else’s property. This is a blight on our city and the reluctance of the store owners and the city to do anything about it tarnishes our image.

"We need to take action to make Palma a better and cleaner place to live. A city and island where people respect the property of others and take pride in living in what could easily be one of the best places on earth. I believe as a city and as a society we need to stop this wanton lack of respect for public and private property. Most of the graffiti I’ve seen has been sprayed by two people in particular and they sign their graffiti. All the police have to do to is track just one of them down and make an example of him or her. Then it’s a different ball game.

"The anti-tourist slogans that were sprayed up around the old town were extremely disgusting and unfortunate. Yes, everybody is entitled to their opinion, but there are other ways and means, and look at all the international media coverage the graffiti and this whole tourism saturation issue have attracted. We’ve got to be realistic, we need tourists, we live off tourism. OK, perhaps on given days there are too many cruise ships and passengers in town at the same time. On a Tuesday, there may be as many as five liners in port and the following day, none, so perhaps that does need to be addressed and organised, but that is something for the authorities and the cruise lines to deal with, not us.

"What we can do is look after our environment and set an example to other people. If I was a smoker, how would people react if I went round to their house, smoked a cigarette and then stubbed it out in their dining room floor? So, why do people just throw their stubs on the street when there are public ashtrays? 750 million kilos of cigarette butts are discarded every year and they are not biodegradable and the butts are the worst bits, they are packed with chemicals and that gets into the ground and, more worryingly, the water. It’s the same with plastics and I’m pleased to see the likes of Greenpeace dealing with the issue."

"Being an island, we’ve got to be even more careful, more aware and we can’t keep blaming the local authorities or pointing the fingers at holidaymakers. Emaya, I think, all things considered, is doing an excellent job. But if people ignore the rules and regulations, such as the times and days of the week when household items like furniture are to be put out for collection and just pile up their unwanted items on the street corner whenever they feel like it, well they are not going to be collected until the correct time. That’s not Emaya’s fault. The refuse men and women can’t be everywhere all the time. It works both ways. If we stick to the norms, then the system will work. If we don’t respect the local services and the island we live on, then it all breaks down and places become a mess.

"However, there could be some better coordination. For example, I am a cyclist and the cycle path from Palma to Can Pastilla is the responsibility of Emaya, but the rocks over the barrier in front of the Cathedral are the responsibility of the ports authority, and then the grass verge along the side of the motorway is the responsibility of someone else and no one will encroach into one another’s territory to pick up litter. Perhaps if we had one giant body in charge of the whole lot, then more would be achieved.

"We were out last weekend cleaning up litter on the wasteland just before you get to Can Pastilla, much of it very close to the water’s edge, and we’re still waiting for the ports authority to come and collect the 15 bags - 750 litres - of waste we cleared up for them. To get their approval to carry out mass clean-ups, it is complicated and time consuming. But the foundation is coming together, we already have a number of volunteers and we’re out most weekends cleaning given areas.

"We would like more people to join the crusade and eventually we intend to take our message into schools because, if you get the younger generation on board, then we are on the right course to creating a cleaner future and more responsible society. I want people to feel guilty about throwing their litter on the streets or out of vehicle windows. I want then to stop, think and look for a bin. If we, the people who live here, made sure that the streets were kept clean, then visitors will notice - especially those more environmentally aware from northern Europe, for example -and will not drop their litter."

For more information visit www.miislatambien.com/enggraffiti.htm