Kodomo No Tame Ni: For the Sake of the Children

My great grandparents, Taru and Kama Shimabukuro, with my great uncle, Rinsei, and my grandmother, Otome, in 1915.

I really love looking at old photos of my family.  It reminds me about grandparents and how hard they worked to raise my parents.  It also makes me realize appreciate how much they sacrificed for their family.

I was raised with the saying, “Kodomo no tame ni.” It is a Japanese saying that means for the sake of the children.  I witnessed this throughout my life watching my grandparents and parents working hard so that us kids had the best possible future.

My dad’s mom embodied this saying in all what she did.  She came from a family that had very little.  Despite all the hardships she faced, she hardly ever complained about it.  She would laugh much of those tough times off.  From being very poor to finally becoming comfortable, she always remained positive about the future.  She was never rich in terms of money, but rich with her tight knit bonds to her family.

I have to remind myself now and then about where I came from.

My great grandparents left their familiar home country in hopes of making it better for their families.  It took great sacrifice and decades of hard work to support their family.  They literally came with nothing and helped to set the foundation for the values that shaped the next generation, my dad and his siblings. 

 My dad was instilled with his parents’ ethics to work hard to get ahead in life which he taught me and my siblings.  He recently confessed to me the real reason he continued the farm and the reason surprised me.  It wasn’t about money.  It was something completely different.

He had lost his papayas to the ring spot virus as a farmer in the 1970’s and needed to recover from that devastation so he took on a full time job at BYU Hawaii.  He said that he could’ve just worked that job and quit the farm but he wanted to keep it going so that we would learn the value of hard work.  His intention was to keep it going for us to learn important life lessons.

The farm days were really family work days.

When the second wave of the virus hit yet again after moving his fields, he still pressed on.  My siblings and I had to get jobs at age 15 to support the family and work on the farm too.  Not only did we go to school, hold down part time jobs, participate in extracurricular activities, and do our chores, we also worked on the farm.  That was the childhood my dad knew.  It taught him good work ethic and determination and it did the same for me and my siblings.

Every once in awhile, I get frustrated with things going on in our state and it makes me want to leave it all.  I have to remember the hardships my great grandparents, grandparents, and dad went through. 

 I have it so good compared to what they went through and it’s their sacrifices that got me to where I am now.  The hardships I live through now is different than what they knew.

I honor the past because it gives me a better idea of the future that I want for my children.

I’m no different than others who want to preserve a certain way of living that teaches each generation important lessons.  Lessons of respecting each other and the land, honoring old traditions, and leading a noble life to honor one’s ancestors.  

Many of these activities are under attack in Hawaii on various fronts by people who have never shared in these practices.  This is why I have joined a group of like minded folks who share the same ideas like me.  We’ve joined together with fishermen and hunters to form the Hunting, Farming, and Fishing Association to broaden our reach with others to become a louder voice in educating and advocating for our way of life.  By collaborating with others, we can help to preserve these practices for the future generations.

We must speak up for the future of Hawaii.  Please join me!

Learn more about the Hunting Farming and Fishing Association. 

 

Exploring the world is what will help our keiki learn lessons for the future.

The Truth About The Toxicity in Hawaii

The anti-GMO, anti-pesticide groups have been loudly clamoring about how toxic those GMO fields are.  By the sound of it, one would think that I they are that horrible, it would be unwise to go near them at all.  The funny thing is that despite their claims of poisoning, these activists do the unthinkable.

The Center for Food Safety crew standing right next to a “deadly” poison sprayer. This really is a high tech device that actually reduces the drift issue that they harp on.

Unbelievable that they stand feet from those horrible GMOs!

  

Naomi Carmona wears her skimpy outfit just feet from the poisonous dust! She even takes of her mask to talk and survives!

  

Once again, Naomi removes her mask and stands less than 3/4 of a mile from toxic fields and survives!

 

Ironic that both Ashley Lukens of the Center for Food Safety and Naomi Carmona of the Babes Against Biotech appear to be pretty darn healthy despite standing with those 3/4 mile buffer zones that they are demanding.  If they truly believed that these fields were indeed dangerous, why aren’t they donning those Tyvek hazmat suits and respirators?

I suspect that the two of them know the truth but tell others something else.  They have no problem taking advantage of 98% of the population who are clueless about agriculture.  They have no conscience on how they fuel attacks against workers who have struggled and broke the cycle of crime and drugs through a job in agriculture.  They love the attention they get from what they do and plaster their faces on YouTube and on news magazines.  

However, when you ask them for some evidence to support their claims, they are quick to skedaddle in their fancy BMWs.  Ask them how they plan to work together on issues and all you get is silence or the quintessential, “But Monsanto.”  

  

    

When Ashley and Naomi can continue to fuel these kinds of comments against people, there is something very wrong.  When a Hawaiian feels that they are entitled to tear down another Hawaiian’s opportunity for a better life, they only further the destruction of aloha in our communities.  It’s the crabs in the bucket scenarios where none of them get anywhere because they tear each other down.

Do you really want to know what the real toxin is? It’s people like Ashley, Naomi, and even Kauai County Council Member, Gary Hooser, who are the toxicity in our communities.  It’s their disinformation campaign’s drift that is slowly killing everything.  The buffer zone that we need from these people is the distance from the US mainland to Hawaii.  If we don’t institute this soon, those highly toxic people will literally decimate the very little aloha that we have left.

We are at a point where we can’t sustain the aloha spirit.  If we don’t start demanding it, it will be depleted.  That is not the Hawaii I want! Protect the keiki and kupuna from these invasive species so that we can thrive again and foster love towards our farmers.

Thank A Farmer Hawaii!

  

Hawaii farmers have had their share of bad times having to defend their work.  My dad and brother who work tirelessly day after day and year after year felt really down with the start of the legislative session.  This year really hit my dad and many of our other fellow farmers hard and I think it’s time that those who support them start showing it.

I’m starting a campaign called #ThankAHawaiiFarmer across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  Every time you find something grown by a Hawaii farmer, take a photo and hashtag it to show our appreciation of what we have.  When you see that beautiful produce or floral arrangement, capture its beauty and share it.  Dress up your papaya for breakfast and share your delicious meal.  If you’re not a social media connoisseur, you can leave the hashtag on comments of something that features our farmers.  The only rule I ask is that it shows aloha!  

Our farmers have a lot to offer and we should be proud of it.  It also shows the world how beautiful Hawaii agriculture is.  Look around you and just see how lucky we are to have a Hawaii farmer and let’s start thanking them!

I Long For the Aloha Spirit



When people think of Hawaii, many imagine sunny, warm days spent lounging on a beach towel getting some sun.  Being in this beautiful paradise is intoxicating for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.  It’s idyllic to many but the reality is nothing like that for many of us who are born and raised here.  

My friends and family live completely different realities than those romanticized views of being in an island state.  The high cost of living forces many of us to be working to make a comfortable living.  I know of so many people who work 2 full time jobs to afford their rent or mortgage.  Many of my friends live with family to try to save on housing.  We have to shop in bulk to save on food costs.  We drive our second hand cars for years to avoid more debt.  

Many of us have cared for loved ones at home to preserve their resources since nursing home care runs $13k a month or more.  Very few of us can be stay at home moms to afford basic living costs.  Despite taking all of these measures, local folks are still struggling or throwing in the towel with living here.

My last blog post on this issue was posted on Civil Beat, a news media founded by a wealthy business person, Pierre Omidyar, at the request of one of the editors there who came across it.  I know how slanted Civil Beat is towards the activists but still agreed to share it.  Well, it is of no surprise that the commentary to follow was mostly activists once again.  They know my name well as I hate their ugly tactics against my dad’s farm and other ag folks.  I refuse to be intimidated by their hateful comments against me.

Sure enough, the uglies came out in force with that post.  There were accusations of me being part of the chemical cartel to supporting putting a gun to the queen’s head and wanting to revive plantations that were slave supported.  Others sent comments on my blog that agriculture ruined Hawaii and that big ag is the sole reason for our high cost of living.  Some commented that I must be living beyond my means which is why I can’t afford it here.  Some suggested that I turn off my circuit breaker to save on power which makes no sense and can cause more damage than good.  I even got a good share of Hawaiian Sovereignty folks wanting their old Hawaii back to the days of the queen.  The most detracting comments seemed to come from people who didn’t read or understand my message.  The comments are just mind boggling and saddening.

It’s disgusting to say the least and clear that these people know nothing about local style.  They never grew up here and can’t share the experience local folks know and cherish.  Some are still angry about events that happened a century ago.  I’m not wanting to go back to those days. The recent newcomers have no attachment to these memories that live in us.  However, it’s these media outlets and these kinds of people that are trying to shape Hawaii.   

We residents are leaving our homes and allowing neo-locals in changing every aspect of our state.  When Civil Beat continues to fuel slanted stories, it chips away bit by bit at the Hawaii home I grew up in.  We are seeing a Hawaii aloha when younger generations leave and don’t come back.

Who can help bring back that specialness to Hawaii? It’s those who know it the best, those born and raised here as well as those who come to learn about Hawaii and respect local ways instead of immediately trying change it.  Those are the folks our leaders need to listen to.  We need to demand policies that actually help people make a go here.  We need more diversity in high tech and diverse jobs here to attract our young people back.  We need affordable homes and goods so people aren’t going broke just to have a roof over their head.  We can’t turn back the hands of time, but we can restore that feeling of aloha back to our communities. 

We don’t need politicians seeking popularity wars and trendy legislation. Using catchy slogans to base laws upon like “protect the keiki” and “stop poisoning paradise” and so on.  We need restore facts and rational thinkers back to the table.  How can we make things better for everyone? What are the real issues that need to be addressed? How can we keep our local talents here and bring them back if they left? Where is that sense of people working together to solve the problems at hand? 

We need aloha restored in our islands.  That’s what I hope will happen.  That is what I long to see grow so that my children can live that feeling that I so miss.  It’s this feeling of aloha that heals communities and helps us all thrive as we live and grow together.  This the the Hawaii I want!

Making the World Better Doesn’t Come Just By What You Eat

Making the World Better Doesn’t Come Just By What You Eat

Several years ago, I used to work in Makaha.  I’d drive 40 miles each day along beautiful coastlines that became increasingly littered with homeless people.  One could see tons of trash and makeshift tents scattered all along these beaches.  Many beaches had no restrooms either so you know what became toilet and bathing facilities…  The ocean and beaches itself.  

As I became a more aware of the environmental hazards that these encampments were creating, I remember seeing Earthjustice’s slogan about how they were there when earth needed a lawyer.  I decided that earth did need a lawyer and the Aina needed some malama (care). 

I sent Earthjustice an email about this issue that was concerning me.  Lo and behold, I received a response! The person replied that they don’t deal with those issues.  It left me shocked! Do they not care about the environmental crimes being perpetuated against the aina???  They apparently only malama the aina sometimes.

I’ve come to realize that these environmental groups only care about the aina when there is a carrot, in the form of litigation, at the end.  If these groups and their activists genuinely cared for our islands, they’d stop turning a blind eye to the real issues at hand and set some priorities.  That’s just wishful thinking on my part.  The sad part is our politicians aligned with these groups are no different.

A few nights ago, Rep. Chris Lee, the introducer of the anti-pesticide bill, posted this on his timeline. 



The irony of this post is that a few months ago, he proudly announced how he’s behind policies to prepare Hawaii for global warming. So he accepts the scientific consensus about climate change but denies the same one that supports biotechnology? Odd but typical of a career politician and a sign of pandering.

It clear that Rep. Lee doesn’t get many things.  In the ideal world, money comes from trees whenever we want.  It’s wonderful that people can get a supposed living wage and lives instantly improve by changing a dollar amount.  The problem is that this wage isn’t going to come out of thin air.  And even if this wage is higher, if basic cost of living is not under control, what good will this really do?  This wage will be paid by the consumer undoubtedly.  

It even makes me wonder if these politicians really know what it’s like to live in the real world.  As a family, Hawaii is expensive and it’s no secret, but it’s home.  To make a decent living, both parents have to work.  That means paying for childcare and preschool.  On top of that housing, groceries, gas, and utility costs are high too.  It’s no wonder many families are homeless here in our islands.

It’s funnyy how corporate Ben and Jerry’s organizes to get money out of politics but is putting money into it themselves. They do the same thing when they attend SHAKA Movement rallies and get people to join while offering free ice cream.  They are also supporting the organic industry and non-GMO proponents who have pumped lots of money into the social media for their cause.  It’s not a community organized movement, but a corporate tactic to sell a feel good product.  Both sides are funded to influence politics but how they do it is not much different from each other.  One is reported, the other isn’t.

These politicians talk about helping the working class but seem to not show it in action.  The reality is that they prefer to deal with privilege problems.  The whole anti-GMO issue is one of high makamaka (elitist) folks with plenty of time to worry about their food.  It’s food elitism at best with a fake feel like you’re saving the earth bit.  Eating Ben and Jerry’s apparently can make a person morally superior than regular folks who can only afford Meadow Gold. Wouldn’t it be better if our own leaders bought locally made treats like Tropilicious sorbets or Roselani ice creams made right here by local folks? Isn’t that better for the environment? Isn’t it better to help local businesses and people?

Meanwhile, homeless people don’t get enough to eat and are polluting the aina each and everyday right under our noses. Where’s the protest?

Rep. Lee sponsored the Center for Food Safety’s anti-pesticide bill to allegedly protect the keiki.  Apparently, he is either ignoring some real problems in Hawaii that people need protections from the increasing amounts of homelessness in our communities.  There is trash and human excrement in places where our keiki and kupuna have to walk.  The canal is being dumped into and that leads to the ocean.  Bacteria by the trillions are multiplying in out oceans and trash floats into the open oceans. Just look at the desecration of the aina on a single block in Honolulu.

http://youtu.be/iYZrPHs_GOE

Where are the malama the aina and protect the keiki folks when you really need them? They are probably having Ben and Jerry’s, shopping at Whole Foods, and feeling high and mighty that they saved the world with what they ate.  It’s a sad state of affairs when you have to use what you ate to make you feel morally superior and forget that it’s your interactions with people that have the real impact.

Agriculture is a Stepping Stone

Everyone has to start somewhere.  The majority of us don’t have everything served to us on a silver platter.  It was no different over a hundred years ago when people made their way over from the Philipines, Japan, China, Korea, Portugal, and other countries.  They left their familiar places in search of better opportunities and hopefully a new chance at life in many cases.  They all took a huge risk but did so for a better future for their families. My great grandparents left Okinawa for that same opportunity.  Agriculture was what allowed for this to happen.  It was a stepping stone to a better life.

Although agriculture has changed significantly over time where only 2% make up its labor force, it still remains as a good first step for many people.  Whether it’s a large corporate seed company or a small local farmer, the opportunities available provide a stepping stone for many local folks across our state.  It’s an unheard story not told often enough in any sensationalist news story in today’s media.

People don’t realize that a farmer also has to cultivate good people and values.  Without the people power to run the farm, there would be no farm.  He needs hard working, honest, and reliable folks to grow his crops.  He helps cultivate these values in the many workers he has hired over the past 4 decades.

When he started off farming, the workers were mostly all teenagers from around our neighborhoods.  My grandmother would call the neighbors to see if anyone wanted a job.  Because opportunities for teens weren’t plentiful, many jumped at the opportunity to earn some money.

Many of these teens had family issues occurring at home.  Some came from single parent homes, some were experimenting with drugs, failing school, or on the verge of getting busted for drug crimes.  My dad worked with these kids to keep them out of trouble and stay out of mischief.     He taught many boys what good work ethic and not to be afraid of hard work.  It was these values that indeed helped the in the future.  Many of the followed through and became a police man, electrician, and plant pathologist.

As the years went by and his farm moved to the BYU campus, the labor pool changed too.  College students and high school graduates became the next farm hands.  Teens no longer wanted to work the farms in this day and age.  With limited opportunities for local folks in these rural areas, any job was good.

Many people who have been hired on the farm haven’t had many work opportunities before and have had some trials in their lives.  Not many employers want to hire someone with no skill set or past criminal history.  With no work, some of these folks get into trouble that further sets them back.  Working outside and being given a chance to work is a stepping stone for these folks.

My dad gives anyone willing to work hard a chance at the farm.  He mentors them on how to work hard and sets expectations of them.  He is the best example of someone who work hard and expects that of his workers.  He helps them even with setting goals for their life and mentors them.  Farm work doesn’t care if you got busted for something or don’t know how to work.  It’s a place where one can learn how to develop yourself as a person.

As tough as he is as a father, he has the heart of gold when it comes to people.  Note that this does entail some yelling and nitpicking on how he wants the job done. He helps his workers to develop good work ethic and teaches them to take initiative.  The belief is that by instilling these values in a person helps them in every aspect of their lives.  Many of his workers have come from broken homes and have not had good examples to follow.  He becomes their role model to them and they learn to respect him.

Some of his workers haven’t had good educational experiences either.  He has taught them basic math many times and basic finance issues.  Some can’t read or write well either and he gives them the skills to develop these basics that too many of us take for granted.  He doesn’t turn these people away as he sees the opportunity for them to learning it while on the farm.  Farm work doesn’t discriminate against a person but takes them in and teaches them so many lessons.

The activists who have never been on a farm or even ran a farm will never understand or see this picture.  When given a chance, a person can develop many skills and learn the value of hard work.  It’s something that can’t be learned on the Internet or by protesting.  Neither do activists ever give a chance to people who are down and out.  If anything, they take away these opportunities by their misinformation campaigns and scare slogans.  They don’t realize that their hobby activism goes beyond hurting just farms.  It hurts the people who work on these farms.  The same applies to all the politicians who jump on this bandwagon and misinform the public about agriculture.  They do favors to no one.

Farming is so much more than growing things.  It’s a place to learn, grow, and develop oneself through hardwork and dedication.  A farmer is not just a cultivator of plants but a cultivator of people.



Hawaii is Not the Hawaii I Knew

My grandma and grandpa Kamiya with me and my sister.

 

On Sunday’s Star Advertiser, the headline story was that the SHAKA Movement is now going after the sugar cane industry.  This is the very industry that changed the face of our islands that brought people here.  This is how we got our beloved local style.  I feel as if our island roots are being picked at day by day by transplants who are redefining Hawaii to be their Hawaii.

The more I think about it, this place is not the same place I grew up in.

As a kid, I enjoyed the simple farm life.  After homework and chores, my siblings and I would ride our bikes and head to the stream and catch guppies or collect jojo beans to make necklaces. We were free to be kids and play outside with no worry in the world.

Today, it’s not like that for my children.  With cost of living so high, both my husband and I have to work full days to make ends meet.  My kids can’t play outside because they have to be in after school programs until the late afternoon.  I can’t even let them wander the neighborhood on their bikes in fear of them being abducted.  Their childhoods are nothing like what I remember.

I used to spend nearly every weekend on the beach fishing with my grandfather near the Hauula bridge.  My grandma would cook up some food and we’d eat there too all the way through the evening.  Despite living near the beach, we hardly ever go because the weekends are the only time I have to do housework and chores.  My kids get to the beach maybe once every three months because of how busy life is.

Everything seems to be going up.  I’ve also noticed how my grocery bill keeps creeping up each month.  Actually, all basic utilities continue to go higher over the last several years.

It gets harder and harder to save when my basic costs keep draining my budget every month.  We don’t even take vacations to avoid more debt.  Even a staycation means less money out of our budget.  Home is where we spend all of our time or going down to my dad’s farm to play.

The cost of childcare is also ridiculous here too.  One month of preschool is about $750 and baby sitting averages $600.  After school program rates are likely going up also with the minimum wage rate increased.  It’s so expensive here to raise kids.

I live in a house that I could never afford on my own salary.  My grandparents paid a mere $25k 50 years ago and it’s now over &700k.  I could sell my half and buy a newer home outright in the mainland. Then I wouldn’t have to be paying out anyone and avoid having a nice added burden over my head.  I’ll miss this home but it’s just a physical structure at this point that is viewed as money to some family members who have stake in it.

I’m at a crossroads now with deciding whether or not Hawaii really is the best place for my family to be raised in.  I spent 8 years taking care of my grandma with dementia and she’s now passed on.  I have no real obligations keeping me here.  Do I want to live where I always have to feel like it’s a struggle to make it financially or do I pick up and go to where there is less worry?  Granted, my kids won’t get to see their relatives much, but at this rate, that doesn’t pay the bills.

I know that I’m not the only one in this situation.  So many other local families are in the same situation.  There’s so much talk about helping local families out but none has ever materialized in the last 9 years that I have been back.  I always have hope that there will be some relief but it’s not happening soon enough.

I will always be the daughter of a Hawaii farmer but the thought of living in a place that is affordable looks much more appealing.  The feeling of what it means to be local is dying and none of our leaders are interested in maintaining that uniqueness that made our home special.  It’s like we are no different than any other big city with its problems.

Home is not home anymore.  Maybe I need to carve out a new place to call home and create my own local style because it’s gone from here and no one seems to see it.

 

***At the request of one of the editors, this same post was reprinted on Civil Beat.  Just read the comments below and you’ll see how there is no aloha by so many people.***