It was another perfect winter morning, with quilted pink clouds and mist in the pasture and clear mountain summits and a little nip in the air when Koko and I went walking.
Later, driving into Lihue, I was looking longingly at the glassy, shining waters of Wailua river and bay when I spotted the first of several people along the highway, holding signs that read: “sacred sands,” “keep the path off the beach,” “whose quality of life?” “flawed process” and “shame.”
I waved to them, and they waved back, but it wasn’t the perky, upbeat vibe that accompanies political sign holding. In fact, they looked glum, and I felt like crying.
Surely there’s another solution here. I liked the idea floated in the comments section by “middle way,” who proposed turning the beach front lane of the widened Kuhio Highway into one shared with bicyclists. I don’t see why that wouldn’t work, especially since the speed limit is just 25 mph, as I so well know. And those who didn’t want to be on the road in that section would still have the option of walking their bikes and their bodies along the beach.
I was talking to a friend last night, and he was upset about the situation and wondering why the mayor couldn’t reconsider his original stance, convene a group to review the various options. Because let’s face it, this path has been planned by a small group of people that could hardly be called representative of the community. In fact, that’s one reason why he stopped participating, after asking them: “Where are all the locals?”
This same friend thought it might be good for Bernard to go back to the drawing board on the proposed Kalaheo (Umi) landfill site, too, seeing as how it’s running into so much opposition. As The Garden Island reported today in its coverage of the Council’s review of the Umi site:
“It is becoming apparent that there’s other issues out there that we need to address,” County Engineer Donald Fujimoto told the council.
Yes, just as it’s become apparent other issues need to be addressed with the bike path. But even as the clock is ticking on the Kekaha landfill, and we’re talking here about an essential facility that is used and needed by every single visitor and resident on this island, no one is telling the mayor, who already made his decision on the landfill site, that we've spent enough time and money on this already, soit’s time to “move on.”
As the newspaper also reported:
Tom Shigemoto of A&B testified to register opposition to the proposal and said it might be “prudent” for the county to look elsewhere because unfriendly condemnation will likely be necessary before permitting can even begin.
Hmmm. That throws a small wrench in the works. Seems if the county wanted something from A&B, it should have asked before granting all the Kukuiula approvals. Now what incentive does A&B have to go along? Not that it should. After all, we’re talking about the very first Important Ag Lands to be dedicated on Kauai. What kind of signal are we sending about our support for ag if we build a landfill in the midst of it?
Still, I thought it was very interesting to learn the reason – or at least, the one reported by The Garden Island – for A&B’s opposition:
Kaua‘i Coffee Company, a subsidiary of Alexander and Baldwin, the current landowner of the proposed landfill site, has said putting a 127-acre landfill in the middle of its coffee operation would undermine its image and make it difficult for the company to compete.
OK, so it’s apparently largely an image problem we’re dealing with here. Yet I don’t hear anyone squawking about the intangibility or triviality of that. No one is asking A&B to prove that their image would be harmed, or even that they have a good one or are successfully competing at the moment.
Yet those who have spoken against a path on the beach are challenged to prove that iwi are there and that the beach is sacred.
What it comes down to is, why is it alright to reconsider an essential project because it could harm a company’s image, but it’s not alright to reconsider a non-essential project because of objections raised about sacredness and Hawaiian burials?
And yet one person in comments actually claimed that on Kauai:
We all make concessions to each others' cultural values, but no one group's values are determinative.
Get real! The cultural values associated with materialism always and invariably hold sway.
The friend I was talking to said so many of the comments left on the path and Brescia burial posts bummed him out, because they made him realize just how cold and hard and uncaring so many people are.
That’s one reason why I allow them, just to give folks a sense of what we’re up against. As I told a friend, they’re my little experiment in anarchy, serving as a constant reminder that we’re not anywhere near that level of consciousness yet.
Or as another friend, who lives in the Midwest, observed in an email:
I saw the f the birds and the we hate Hawaiian culture, food, etc comments...... yikes. But, yes, a lot of people think, so what the birds are gone? I am often alarmed how people think, so what the skunk got killed, good riddance, they stink..... we have so little concern for life other than human, but then again, we have little concern for most humans too.
Tis all too true, unfortunately. Still, there are some thoughtful comments among them, left by people who are questioning — and ultimately rejecting — the whole big pile that's being fed to us about the path, proposing other options, counseling compromise, urging cultural respect and environmental consideration. And I'm grateful for those voices, because they remind me and others that despite the attempts to shut us down and up, we've got valid arguments behind us when we say, yes, Mr. Mayor, you need to reconsider.