A Dream and a Vision

What can one person do to change things for the better?  Some people will say not a whole lot and it’s just wasted time.  Some will defy those odds.

Meet my friend, Makani Christensen.  He had a dream to have the local people’s voices heard.  He has a vision for Hawaii that he wants for his family and it is just like what others want too.

I met Makani over a year ago through mutual friends.  I was invited to attend a talk story group organized by the fishermen and hunters.  Leaders in these groups had seen access to the resources slowly dwindling and a groundswell in politics promoting a loss of those island ways of living.  These folks wanted to do something to preserve their ways of living off the land and ocean.  As we all talked story, we all realized that we were in the same boat.

That group included long time local folks from many islands that decided something had to be done or we’d lose out.  There were folks from the Big Island, Kauai, and Oahu there.  Many wore their t-shirts and rubber slippers to the meeting.  As I listened to everyone’s story, it hit me that our voices weren’t being heard and if we could band together, we’d have a much louder voice as a group.  That’s where Makani led the charge to form the Hunting, Farming, and Fishing Association.

We were a small group of just 6 of us folks fighting to continue our rights to farm, fish, and hunt.  We had no money, but we did have passion and energy to do something about the loss of ways of living.  The very people who were against us, weren’t going to back down and collaborate on the plan to include these ways of living into policies.  From the animal rights folks down to the anti-GMO and anti-fishing folks, who were backed with full time paid activists and lots of money for media, they used any means possible to dictate the narratives that our groups were horrible people.  It simply was wrong but it didn’t matter to those who don’t live like us like this because they focused on only the end goal of taking people off the ocean and land.  Collaboration is not part of the mainland activists’ vocabulary.

Without any fancy public relations or huge social media presence, our group was disadvantaged to begin with.  That never deterred Makani.  Even some people within our group was anti-GMO and skeptical of it but Makani still pressed on to have people learn more before they formed an opinion.  It was hard to get people to educated when popular opinion was to be anti-GMO and most of their friends and family were leaning that way.  He helped to organize people to help show up at hearings to speak up for farmers and was threatened by none other than Dustin Barca himself.  He was not afraid to speak up for our farming family despite the huge opposition.  I was inspired that he’d put himself out there.

When it was time for the other user groups to be heard, I showed up at a hearing and learned their issues to speak up for them.  I had just had my son less than 8 weeks prior but still made the trek over to speak up for them.  With my baby sleeping over my shoulder, I gave testimony for the hunters that I had met and learned their stories.  Despite me not being a hunter, I was put on the news for speaking up.

This year, after much persistence, the hunters got their bill passed that helped create a gaming commission that amplified their voices in policies before the fact.  It was through hard work and lots of relationships developed in the community that worked to change policy in their favor for once.  It really was a collaborative effort on all sides to help each other out.

One person can’t do much alone and that’s clear. One person can make change that can be heard even in Washington, DC.  He didn’t need tons of money and the backing of powerful people to be heard, but he still accomplished to get the local voice heard.  Makani was that person who inspired so many to help speak up to preserve Hawaii’s ocean access to people.  He didn’t get paid or was backed by any non-governmental organization or non-profit funded by the wealthy to get the local folks heard but what he did have was the passion to speak up.

Several years ago, there was a proposal to expand the National Humpback Whale Sanctuary in Hawaii.  That expansion would have limited many ocean activities that are a part of life here in Hawaii.  Despite the glaring fact that the humpback whales were recovering without the expansion, there still was a push for this monument.  Makani and several others worked tirelessly to get organized and have people’s voices heard to stop this from happening.

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So what could this one person do?  With his leadership and inspiring others to help increase awareness of this issue, he got the local folks’ voice heard.  With his t-shirt, board shorts, and a red wagon, he walked over 10,000 signatures to Governor Ige’s office.  That monument did not expand to take people out of the oceans and policy that was not soundly based in evidence did not prevail.

Many people think that Makani’s lack of “official” political experience is a concern.  Lots of people questioned this choice to begin with.  The old school wants a long timer in office to bring in lot of money to Hawaii but is that really helping out the local folks who continue to struggle to make ends meet?  Are their needs being heard in Washington, DC?  When our young students leave Hawaii, are they coming back with their hopes of working here or are they leaving because of the lack of opportunities?  There are many families who long to return home but simply can’t because of what’s happening here.  Is that how we are going to keep our island home special when all the local folks can’t even come back?

Well, one guy in his t-shirt and shorts did an amazing feat to get the local people heard loud and clear.  In fact, he’s a Hawaiian who got all the people’s voice heard in Washington, DC.  You won’t see him talking bad about others and in fact he’s been on wanted posters for the unpopular stances he’s taken, which is what has happened to me.  He did all of this with no money and for the local folks.

Actions speak louder than incessant radio commercials and I chose to go with those who have been in our communities and listened to the local folks’ stories.  I put my trust in Makani making Hawaii a better place for my children and for all the families of Hawaii.  He defied the odds and got our voices heard and continues to lead others to do the same and speak up for what is right.  My vote goes to Makani Christensen for US Senate because he not only wears the rubbah slippahs, he will speak for the rubbah slippah folks of Hawaii.

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The rubbah slippah folks want to be heard!

 

 

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“Civility and Cooperation”

“Civility and Cooperation”

Senator Brian Schatz clearly has a lot of money in his coffers because I hear his radio commercial nearly 6 times during my commute around town, Kaneohe, and to Waikane.  I keep hearing that he’s touting “Hawaii values of civility and a cooperative attitude.”  I’m skeptical of that claim for several reasons.  image

I was at the State Capitol the other day in support of the fishermen.  Behind the crowd stood 3 individuals far removed protesting at the rally.  They weren’t interested in learning what leaders like Governor Ariyoshi, Senator Akaka, OHA’s Peter Apo, and several other Hawaiian civic group presidents had to say about it.  They stood there holding up their signs referring to the quotas.  (Oddly, the proponents of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine monument have stated that this wasn’t about closing fishing down but then all carried signs attacking fishermen.)  These people clearly weren’t about coming to the table to work with groups affected by this decision.  It was their way or no way and their actions show that they want no concessions.  That tells me that Schatz is disingenuous about this value of cooperation.

Not only did the protesters there show none of the values stated in Schatz’s radio commercial, but the infamous, Chelsea Lyons Kent, also demonstrated the lack of the value he calls for: civility.  Her flipping of the bird on national TV as part of Hawaii’s delegates to the DNC and the lack of an apology for it shows no civility.

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Chelsea hasn’t been one of civility for sometime as she  has marched with the most disrespectful bunch of women before, the Babes Against Biotech.  (Remember that the BABs told me that she’d leave the papaya farmers alone.  That was a complete lie.)

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She even asked people to fund her trip to the DNC to represent Hawaii and received quite a sum of money to go.  One person who supported her to represent Hawaii is none other than the anti-GMO candidate running in my district, Patrick Shea.  He gave this “representative of Hawaii” some money too!

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We should not forget who else has been associated with these people either, but my congressional representative, Tulsi Gabbard.  Both she and Schatz touted this conspiracy based “Monsanto Protection Act” to the people of Hawaii.

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So what’s wrong with all of this?

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One is a reflection of their associations and what’s said by one reflects upon the entire group, whether you like it or not.  By choosing to spread misinformation against GMO technology, Gabbard and Schatz, have promoted their message.  It appears fine and dandy to share memes and feel good about fighting this so called “evil.”  The problem is you’re spreading it to people who have little to no real understanding of the issue and it turns these people fearful to the point of being irrational.  When one is irrational due to fear, they can no longer learn or process a rational discussion.

That irrational behavior showed up at our farm yesterday in Punaluu.  A caucasian woman came up to my dad as he was working on the field and started yelling at him that he was poisoning her.  She apparently lives up the street from the farm and had seen them spraying the trees.  He had been spraying sulfur to protect it from disease and insects.  She wouldn’t listen to him and insisted that he was harming her.  She became even more outraged to the point that she destroyed two of his trees right in front of him.  Being that it was late, nearly 5 pm and there was still harvesting to be done, he was shocked by it.  What’s even worse is that my 13 year old nephew had to witness his papa being verbally abused by this woman too.  (A police report will be filed against this woman for what she has done since she has made accusations against our farm before several times but never destroyed property.)

Those papayas still had to be processed and packed and everyone had to work well past dinner to get it out for tomorrow’s deliveries.  It didn’t help that the Punaluu field had been blocked off because of a water main break either back on Monday when it’s usually picked.

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The 20 x 12 x 8 foot sinkhole from a water main break that held up work in the field.

My heart is just aching inside from seeing the destruction of local ways and values that politicians only talk of but don’t seem to exemplify.  Bad behavior and a lack of accountability by leaders and news sources are not helping anyone.  Between the attention given to the anti-GMO groups like Earthjustice, the Sierra Club, the Center for Food Safety, and the Pesticide Action Network, each of these groups purge out evidence-less claims that the media outlets like Civil Beat and even the Star Advertiser have amplified.  When I saw the attacks unfolding against the seed companies several years ago, I already knew that it would trickle down to us as farmers, which has happened.  Politicians like Senator Schatz and Representative Tulsi Gabbard have pandered to the “environmental” industry and a public that’s so far detached from farming to promote themselves at the expense of farmers and others who feed Hawaii.

My dad is limping with a torn calf muscle at the age of 74 but he still puts on that backpack sprayer to take care of his crops in the sweltering 95 degree heat.  He also sits on a tractor for hours on end to get his papayas picked.  He plows the fields and transplants seedlings one by one.  He drives a big rig truck to haul tractors between fields to get it harvested.  He even moves 400 lb bins on and off roller to get the papayas processed.  He is washing those fruits to ensure cleanliness and compliance with the Food Safety and Modernization Act.  He lifts hundreds of boxes of 25 lb and 50 lb boxes of fruit several days a week.  After that, he helps deliver them to all the people who rely on him for their weekly fruit staple.  Not only does he work like a dog, my brother too works along side him.  If anyone epitomizes the value of hard work, it’s anyone who works on a farm and makes it their livelihood.

A politician can work from a clean, air conditioned, cushy office day in and day out.  He can talk farming but if he can only do that, he doesn’t speak for farming.  Farming is the oldest occupation in the world that changed society.  If it weren’t for a farmer, there would be no politician.  Like I told the anti-GMO political candidate, Patrick Shea, don’t talk farming to a farming family.  Come down and work on the farm and then let’s talk there, while you’re working with us.

Real leaders go to the source to learn and encourage others to learn.  During this election season, be sure to look at your leader and see that he or she is setting the example for others to learn and foster learning.  Learning is what will help establish collaboration and lay the foundation the future for our keiki and their keiki.  We are all a part of a community and communities help each other and isn’t it about time we start to heal our bonds?

 

 

 

Ohana Means Family

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Yesterday, I happened to check down on my phone and received a text from my mom that one of our farm employees had collapsed and needed to be transported to the hospital.  He had been picking papayas and suddenly collapsed.  Luckily, he regained consciousness while in the ambulance.

I was really shaken up by this because Dean is family to us.  He has been with our farm for several years now and a dedicated, hardworking, and humble person who has helped to get papayas out to thousands of people all over our island.  The general public tends to forget that behind that papaya they eat every morning is a person’s sweat equity.  Dean’s collapse was just a huge reminder to all of us that farming is a tough and dangerous job.

My brother, Mike, has been supported by Dean’s dedication to the family farm.  Without Dean, Mike would be putting in a lot more hours and probably much more tired.  Every person on our farm is important to us and we consider them family.  One year, Dean had broken his glasses accidentally and had to be without it, which made it really hard to function.  My kind hearted brother decided to do something for him and went to our family optometrist, Dr. Taylor Tom, who helped to get another pair of glasses for Dean. As a small token of appreciation, Mike presented Dean with a replacement pair of his prescription Oakley glasses at Christmas.  Dean was so grateful as was my brother for all of his hard work over the years.

Although farming has become demonized over the last several years, I know for a fact that farmers are some of the most kindest and generous people around.  Not only do they put in long hours, risk their finances at times, and dedicate their lives to feeding people, they truly care about their communities.  They aren’t getting any richer from all of this work but what they do get is a lot of thanks from those who appreciate what they get from farms.

People have spread rumors that my dad is so rich that farming is just his hobby.  Actually, if he was wealthy, you can bet he’d by buying that custom made tractor implement or a brand new, high tech sprayer, and other modern conveniences instead of trying to engineer something himself.  Farming is a love for him and he’s trying to set up the farm to be passed down to another generation.  He is the example to our family that you’ve got to put in a lot of hard work to get what you want out of life and that develops a sense of appreciation once you’ve got there.  Things just don’t fall in your laps and you’ve got to work for it.  That’s farm life and something too few can appreciate in this day and age.

Kindness, humility, and honestly is something we farm families know and we strive to take care of each other in our communities.  We will stand by the truth and support our and ask that others learn about our work before they form an opinion without even stepping foot on a farm.  No one is getting wealthy from the farm but the experiences learned on the fields is something that no money can buy and lives in us everyday.  Farming means family to me and don’t think that anyone can try to disparage family without knowing us as people first.

When you look down at that food you’re about to eat, think about how it got to you and all the people involved in growing it.  It was the agricultural communities around our country that helped to fill your stomachs and nourish you to do greater things.  We’ve got to support ways to help make their jobs easier, not harder.  They already have so much at risk with weather, unexpected events, and now the age of misinformation on the internet. We should not be blocking technology while having no clue on what it takes to farm.  That’s simply not pono.

Support your farmers, each and every one of them.  If you’re leader isn’t planning on supporting them, they are attacking our ohana.  Farming means family and in Hawaii, agriculture is one big family.

 

 

Dear Progressives

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Dear “Progressives,”

Normally, I work Monday through Friday from 8 to around 4:30.  It’s nice having a regular scheduled day that’s always pretty consistent.  However, this week was different because I knew that my family needed my help.  Instead of working my usual schedule, I worked on Sunday so I could take off on Tuesday to help them on the farm.  I’m lucky that I have a flexible schedule to be able to do that.

Well, my dad, brother, cousin, and their employee, Jacob, started around 7 am this morning to pick the fields.  Yesterday, my brother’s main help, Dean, collapsed from heat stress and had to be rushed to the emergency room.  He had to remain at the hospital overnight just to be sure that it wasn’t any cardiac issues.  On top of the loss of help, the roadway that led up to their farm had washed away due to a water main break that left a 20 feet long by 12 feet wide and 8 feet deep sinkhole in the main roadway.  They couldn’t pick that field yesterday.  Yet another complication was that the recent tropical storm, Darby, had drenched the fields leaving it super muddy on Monday and limited their ability to pick it quickly.  With one person down, the acres of fields still have to be harvested.

Tuesday was the day that the food safety inspector was also supposed to show up on top of a heavy load of work ahead.  They conduct regular audits to ensure that we are in compliance with the law to grow safe food.  The sinkhole kept the audit from happening because they couldn’t access our fields.  I had planned to be at the farm after attending the fishermen’s rally at the Capitol since children aren’t allowed to be there during the processing of the fruit.  It was just a crazy day for everyone.

I finally made it down to my folk’s farm just before noon.  My mom and nephew were busy processing the 5 bins of papayas picked from the Laie field.  My two daughters and I quickly jumped in to start grading papayas, washing, packing, stickering them, and stacking the 25 lb and 50 lb boxes.  My parents worked straight through to about 6 pm but I had to leave around 4:15 to pick up my baby from the sitter on time.  I decided that it would be best for me to pick up dinner for the crew since I was out and about, just to make it easy for them.  My folks and the kids stopped to eat just for about 15 minutes and then headed right back to work.

We worked straight from noon time to nearly 8:45 to process some 2700 lbs of papayas between the 5 of us.  My brother asked his partner, Frank, to come by after his day job to help pack papayas too.  From 6 to 8:45, 6 of us were working like crazy to get all of the papayas ready for delivery tomorrow.  We didn’t finish because it just became too dark to get everything done.

My hands are achy and I’m drenched in sweat but I feel happy that I could help out at the farm today.  It does mean working six days a week, but if they need the help and I have the ability to help, I’ll do it.  The processing and harvesting is only part of the farm.  Wednesdays are delivery days and getting the papayas shuttled to customers.  Lots of boxes have to be hand trucked around and lifted in and out of the truck.  My 74 year old dad is still at it spending all day driving around town and parking a huge truck in tight spaces to get those fruit out.  My brother does the same too.  Many times, they face angry customers who want their papaya at a certain time and aren’t very forgiving if there’s traffic or a delay despite knowing Honolulu having the worst traffic.

The other days are spent tending to the fields and scouting for pests and diseases if any.  There’s a lot of busy work and there’s never enough time to do it all many times.  There’s even the occasional off the grid hippie walking into our fields asking why the water spigot doesn’t work.  They love to mooch off of our water because they won’t pay for their own and don’t care to walk down to the beach where there’s public water at the bathrooms.  Combined with the other issue of thefts, the heat and bad weather makes the job even more complicated.

It’s interesting that I received this card stuck on my fence from a “progressive.”  I simply posted on comment on his Facebook campaign page hoping that he’d support all farmers since he was printing his t-shirts on GMO cotton.  Instead of replying back to me, he actually found my address and tried to talk to me, which is weird to me.  It’s like you kind of stalked me down.

Now why would I want to “call you to talk about farming” Patrick?  I don’t see anything in your resume or page that indicates to me that you know anything about farming.  You aren’t spending days in the hot sun and heat tending to fields that give your livelihood.  Nor are you in an occupation where you’re growing food for people to eat year after year, week after week, decade after decade.  I somehow doubt that you know anything about the bugs and disease we face as farmers and have no clue last to what GMOs really are.  Have you ever lost your hours of hard work because of a plant disease that was beyond your control? I doubt it.  But hey, you apparently want to talk farming.

I’ve seen that you replied to me later acknowledging that you “fully support Gary Hooser.”  Do you seriously think that the anti-GMO politician is even more knowledgeable about farming?  He talks the talk about organic farming with Dr. Valenzuela like it is such an easy thing to do.  He’s never grown food for several decades but hey, he knows farming.  I’ve never ever seen a photo of him breaking a sweat, covered in dirt, or scouting for pests, but hey, you progressives know farming so you say.  I really LOVE how you talk about GMOs and pesticides along with Ashley Lukens who has never farmed either and have no indication that you’re willing to learn about it.

So, progressives of Hawaii, the kind of progress you want is to increase our imports to 100% with the stances you take.  By being fully dependent upon imports, that’s a really GREAT thing for sustainability.  Those lofty dreams of yours of taking down the “multinational corporations” leave us small farmers with higher costs for agricultural supplies and other inputs, including affordable ag land.

The rejection of science in agriculture will leave us with extinct ohia trees and other crops, like bananas, which is at risk for total decimation by disease.  We can all get to enjoy Williams bananas that taste nothing like our home grown apple ones.  There won’t be anyone wanting pesticides near their homes too because you’ve decided to fear monger around it instead of educating.  Local residents get to experience invasive species right in their homes because you’re promoting refusal of treatment to kill these creatures. By blocking modern tools like GMO mosquitos, Hawaii folks may get to feel the pain and suffering of dengue and Zika too.

Lots of these same progressives are stating that we have to close of our exclusive economic zones in the oceans too in the name of conservation but then stand with signs criticizing the fishermen, despite telling folks that fishermen wouldn’t be affected.  One local food source with become a thing of the past with the loss of ocean access.

Progress to me is adopting new technologies and ways to do things.  Those who feed people are working so hard and yet progressives want to turn back the hands of time to make their jobs even harder by denying this technology.  I stand for making people’s lives better by using technology and innovation.  We, as modern day citizens, have benefitted so much from technology and yet there’s a faction of people who want to take it away.

So Patrick and other progressives, if you want to talk farming, I have a better idea over talking.  How about you come down to the farm and not take a tour.  No, a tour doesn’t give you any idea of what it takes to grow Hawaii.  You come down at 6 am and start preparing to harvest those papayas.  See if you can drive the tractors and forklifts without knocking over trees and safely keeping your workers on the platform.  See if you can load a 60 lb bin onto the platform and then remove a full one and place it in a high cube truck.  Stack 6 of those bins in that truck too without having them fall onto each other during the ride back to the shed.  Better yet, drive that high cube without scraping the side view mirror in narrow spaces.  Then once you’ve spent hours picking those papayas, please come down and wash and pack it all out.  Make sure you get all the orders right and know where they need to go and how many.  Hand grade every single fruit picked.  After you’ve picked it, pack it all up so that your fruit is ready to go.  Lift some 200 plus cases of 25 lbs and don’t forget to carry the off grade ones too in those 50 lb boxes.  After you’ve done that, the next day you can deliver them all over the island and sit in traffic too to get them to the stores.

You simply can’t “talk farming.”  That just doesn’t cut it.  Until you come down and do this for several months or even years, you don’t know farming.  And to the public who gets their farm information from Google, you don’t know diddly squat from what you read.

My body aches and I’m tired.  I’m reminded about how grateful I am to those that do farm. To those people who think they know farming but have never been on one, get on the farm or shut up before you criticize.  Yeah, I mean it.  I hope that the public who listens to “progressives” view of farming realizes that they listen to people who only talk with no real action showing their willing to learn about it, let alone work on it.  If you ain’t feeding people or on the field, you don’t know nothing about farming.

Live it before you talk about it.  So, when are you planning to work on our farm progressives? We have plenty of work available for you!

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Politics

Politics

Something that has been lost in politics is the ability to work together. In Hawaii where we were accustomed to working with people who don’t look the same or speak the same language, the locals somehow figured it out. That was the lessons learned on the plantations. Lots of people reminisce about those days as small kid times or hanabatta days.

Just take a look at what’s happening nationally with the presidential race. Everyday you hear Donald Trump insulting someone or Hillary Clinton on the defense on something he said. When Bernie Sanders was in the fray, you’d see his followers get all angry and vile towards Clinton. It really is an ugly mess that I truly am totally disgusted about. The national political arena doesn’t need to come to Hawaii. We have got to start looking for leaders who will work together with others, not just themselves and promote exclusionary policies.

What we forget many times is that leaders are supposed to be the example to the people. If that person can’t think before he or she talks and then acts badly, that sends a strong message to the public that the behavior is acceptable. For me as a mom, if I’m misbehaving around me kids and then see them acting the way I was, I can’t condemn their behavior if I was the example. It’s the same when it comes to politics.

I was so hopeful to see Representative Tulsi Gabbard asking for the House to vote on the Zika appropriations bill to bolster funding to address it. There was a beautiful press release that almost alluded to her supporting it. However, after that info went out, nothing was issued to inform the public what happened on it. It turns out that she voted against this bill despite her asking for a vote on it. The ‘say one thing and do another’ is easy called out with this woman and it scares me on how she is misleading the public. Is that the kind of leadership we deserve in Hawaii? Shouldn’t leaders be transparent to their constituents about where they stand on these issues and even follow up?

When politics start to affect public health and well being, there’s a major problem there. As a public servant, shouldn’t one be looking out for the well being of their constituents? Wouldn’t you want to have people knowing where you stand and what actions you’re taking? Don’t you want people to feel safe and that you’re doing your best to protect them? I do.

This year I’m voting against the grain, and against all odds. The “environmental movement” has become an industry in Hawaii with lots of political power and it’s not based on good evidence. With farms and fisheries facing closures by those who least understand it and using underhanded, undemocratic methods, Hawaii stands to lose tremendously. Those who are trying to bring more local food production are being attacked by outside, mainland groups with lots of litigation. There’s a trend of people who support excluding others in decisions that will affect livelihoods. These community dividers also seek to attack those who are feeding people and tending the land all in the name of “malama the aina.” There’s no ability for collaboration when those who operate on the ‘ends justifies the means’ mentality. Every issue becomes so polarized and divisive. That sends me the message that something is very wrong here.

At a time when our communities need to heal from these outside mediated attacks, a new breed of “aloha aina” or “malama the aina” folks want to continue this divide. How can the people of Hawaii ever rebuild relationships and communities of we’re constantly at battle with each other? These so called “progressives” are very keen on keeping us divided by the stance with which they take. How can societies progress when they are in a war? They simply can’t. While the battle rages on, more and more of what makes Hawaii special goes with it.

Hawaii is in need of some real, grounded leaders. That leader needs to be willing to come to the table and talks story with everyone so that an accord can be formed. People simply have to agree to work together. We all live in this beautiful island state that we all cherish. We love the unique local ways here. We can’t thrive if we keep putting leaders in office who create divides in our communities. Real progress comes from people all working together and collaborating on building their communities and helping people thrive. We all deserve that in Hawaii. Our leaders need to be willing to work with others to build and shape the future for everyone. Isn’t that what our keiki all deserve?

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Cotton and Sheep


This past weekend was the Hawaii State Farm Fair at Kualoa Ranch.  Usually, my dad’s farm has a booth there where we sample papayas.  However, we’ve been sold out the last several weeks so we aren’t able to host it.  It’s actually great that we are selling all of our papayas, including the off grade ones.  

This year, I helped man the booth for the Hunting Farming Fishing Association instead.  I’m one of the founders of this volunteer run group to help protect the rights of those user groups and to educate the public about what we do.  I spent nearly 20 hours this weekend getting it put together and talking to hundreds of people.

The first day there was spent figuring out the crowd and talking story with folks.  We had kids coloring and asking lots of questions about hunting and fishing.  On the second day, I decided to get more sophisticated and brought my Indian corn and a cotton boll.

When kids were eyeing the lollipops we had our, I’d show them my cotton boll to see if they knew what it was.  Nearly a third of the kids and quite a few adults had no idea what it was.  I’d let them handle it and they still had no idea.  Several answered that it was a sheep and the soft part was wool!

It made for a lot of giggling when I turned the cotton boll over to show the stem.  I’d then ask them if the knew who grew it.  Many answered it correctly and could not believe their clothing came from a plant.  I told them that farmers not only feed you but keep you from going naked.  We all had a good laugh.

After showing them the cotton, I’d show my red corn and ask if they knew what it was.  Many could recognize it was corn.  I asked them if they ate red corn.  None could say yes.  I asked the kids why was it red instead of yellow.  They had no idea.  

Depending on their age, I’d explain that people trying make corn as yummy as possible by experimenting with it. The older kids knew what DNA was so I explained how the DNA was different leading to different types.

There were many “a-ha” moments in kids and parents.  It made me realize that too many think they know things but really don’t know.  This was only proven when our last visitor to our booth started talking about how he was a fish conservationist but also fished.  

We started talking about fish conservation being good but it means that if oceans are to be protected, one must increase food production on land.  If we don’t give other nations tools for productivity, they will head to the forests or oceans for food.  This awkwardly man in his denim shortalls with a straw hat then said that he is all about that but not frankenfish.

I pressed him as to why he was against it and his reply was that he just didn’t think it was a good idea.  He couldn’t elaborate on it but simply walked away saying no way.  I asked him on what he’d do to protect wild stocks then to which he had no answer.

I really had an eye opening weekend to say the least.  I’ve realized that there is a huge need to connect out with the public to educate them on how we grow or catch things to eat.  Until one sees what it takes to feed someone with their own eyes, they really don’t know.  Without true knowledge, the public can never fully appreciate those who feed and clothe us.  If the farmers and scientists don’t tell their story, someone else will.  

The Forgotten People


Last week as I took my children to eat dinner, I noticed a very sad sight.  Across the way from where we ate, I noticed a woman dressed in a bright teal muumuu sleeping on the sidewalk.  She had her shopping cart beside her and lay on the hard cement with nothing else.  It used to be a rare sight to see right in the community where I live, but not anymore.

The news today was that Hawaii has the highest per capita homeless rate in the US.  It’s not a proud distinction to have.  The homeless have also returned to Waikiki after the lifeguards leave and have been using the beaches as their toilets or sleeping in lifeguard towers.

With more homeless, we’ve had our share of thefts from those living in the nearby bushes too.  The edge our fields are sometimes trashed up from vagrants too.  The once empty brushes have become home to many people.  Thanks to the ACLU, our communities can’t get people off the street since they overturned vagrancy laws and help enable homelessness.

Not only is homelessness increasing on the suburban areas but it’s spreading into the rural communities.  Without jobs in rural areas, the combination of homelessness is compounded by substance abuse also.  Those two issues lead to crimes and a vicious cycle that you won’t hear much of in the media.  Paradise to some has become a living hell for others.

Having worked on the North Shore areas for over 40 years, my dad has seen many folks deal with the cycle of drugs.  Without any education or support to pursue goals the further oneself, many young people get caught up in crime, drug abuse, and eventually jail.  Some don’t make it to jail but live in a vicious cycle of poverty.  

My dad and brother have taken many folks under their wings to give them an opportunity to learn how to work and stay working.  Despite going to public school, some people can barely read or write or do simple math.  If one does not have the basic skills, how can they hold a job to earn a living? They simply can’t without being taught.

Being outside and using one’s hands to plant something that will produce food is one of the oldest occupations that too few know how to do.  However, for those who aren’t skilled at higher level work, this is a start to obtaining something to live on.  Many other farms help develop these basic skills to give a starting point for a better life.

Life on the farm also teaches work ethic, dedication, and perseverance.  It’s something that many of us take for granted.  When a parent doesn’t teach this to their kids, these children grow up to be poorly prepared to work.  

The latest move with environmentalism is to take away people’s livelihoods without good reason.  Hawaii is not in a place to be losing opportunities for their people.  We can’t afford to be fighting while so many lives are being shattered by drugs and alcohol.  We need opportunities for our keiki and a goal to work collaboratively.  If we want a future, we have to build that future.

Building a path to go back in time isn’t going to create opportunities to advance people.  Living in the past isn’t going to send your children to college to give better careers.  It’s good to remember how things were done before but trying to survive that way isn’t realistic.  You’ve got to make it first then you’ll be able to live in the past.  Just look at the small newbie farmers and how they amassed a fortune to now live simply.  The local folks don’t have that luxury.  

In some ways, homelessness is a return to our past where we started off as nomadic people.  When food becomes secure, that’s when we establish ourselves.  History always repeats itself and it doesn’t mean we stay back in the past.  People need livelihoods in order to have a roof over their head and food in their stomachs.  The homeless are like modern day nomads who are in search of food and shelter on a daily basis.  Drugs and alcohol are the toxic chemicals that’s secretly poisoning families and the future of our keiki.  Pointing fingers at the wrong problems only prevents us from ever doing what’s pono, which is to malama the people.