Last evening, I noticed a strange brightness in the sky — the ascending moon! It's been hidden behind clouds for so long. Directly opposite was another near stranger — shiny Jupiter, preparing to sink into the clouds that still crowned Makaleha. At midnight, I went out again to find that fat white moon directly overhead, with Mars burning red as an ember right beside it, a sight I'd never seen.
I think the last few days have brought a few firsts for many of us, with several North Shore folks telling me they had never seen the waterfalls and streams as swollen and wild as this past weekend, not even during the legendary 40 days of rain.
I was just talking with a friend who lives in Wainiha about the weather-induced human drama, what with prolonged electrical outages, roads blocked, people unable to use their toilets, grocery stores bare and Mediterranean Gourmet chef Imad preparing meals on a grill for the stranded guests at Hanalei Colony Resort.
“The entirety of Haena is a lake,” she said, though the road there finally re-opened this morning, despite numerous slides on the way to Hanalei and the resumption of rain.
Storms like this serve as a reminder of our intense fragility in the face of nature, and also of what's really important in life. Simple pleasures like snug shelter, a stocked pantry and electricity gain tremendous value, and people put aside their differences, at least for a time.
I couldn't help but think about the state and county employees, the same guys that people always bitch about for taking long lunch breaks and failing to keep park bathrooms clean, working long hours in wretched conditions, cleaning up the mess.
The cops had no time to Taser anyone, seeing as how they were pre-occupied routing people around flooded streets, and Officer Darla Abbatiello, who filed the complaints that sent KPD into a tailspin, remarked on Facebook that she “was impressed with out [sic] leaders at KPD. Everything went so smoothly and professionally.”
The mayor, busily managing a disaster, had plenty of power to wield, and so no need to grab more.
Grove Farm softened its heart a bit — just a bit — and gave the flooded Koloa Camp residents another month to get out.
Even the much-maligned KIUC kept it pretty much together, aside from a few outages, and I was grateful to its crew, out in the pouring rain, trying to get the lights back on for everybody.
But then, the gripe has never been with rank-and-file KIUC staff, but our utility cooperative's Board. So although I was mostly thrilled by the waterfalls snaking down Kalalea when I picked up my mail in Anahola yesterday, I did feel a little charge when I saw the Board of Directors ballot tucked among the catalogs and birthday cards.
And that stands in stark contrast to the feelings I usually have about our co-op elections: yawn, snooze, who are those guys, I'll deal with this later.
So what's different? Perhaps the enthusiasm displayed by the four candidates who have come together as a powerful force of change: Karen Baldwin, Pat Gegen, Joel Guy and Ken Stokes.
Offering a simple message of vote for three of the four, they're trying to get a block of progressive new board members elected so they can band with sitting directors Jan TenBruggencate and Carol Bain to make some changes in how our utility cooperative operates.
Like pushing for more openness and accountability. Consulting members before decisions are made, rather than after. Greater scrutiny of the strategic plan. In short, putting the cooperation back in the co-operative.
Sure, it's tough to dislodge incumbents, but I've always been a sucker for optimists and those who put their money where their mouth is, especially when they're qualified. Which is why I will be voting for three of the four.
Pat has been endorsed by Sen. Gary Hooser, Joel used to work with Mina so he shares her values, Ken was talking green/sustainability long before they became buzzwords and Karen is an attorney whom I found to be impressively articulate and thoughtful.
I must say that ever since Dubya stole the Presidency from first Kerry and then Gore, I haven't put much stock in voting. But as we get more local, our votes assume more power and meaning, and that's especially true with the KIUC elections, where turnout has been notoriously low.
So take a few moments to open that ballot envelope and vote for three of the four. It's our cooperative, and we've got some good candidates. Don't let this opportunity to make a difference go to waste.