Monday, December 9, 2013

Musings: Good Little Parrots

I happened to be down at the County building yesterday morning, in the rain, when the Harleys came roaring in, bringing toys and food for the island's many needy citizens via the Keiki Toy and Food Ride.

Besides the stuff collected by the bikers, workers from the island's four chemical/seed companies, supported by some corporate funds, donated more than $1,000 worth of toys. Though a lot of the workers don't make much money, and many support relatives in the Philippines with their pay, they still managed to come up with a significant amount of cash to benefit a local charity.

And I couldn't help but think, how have the anti-GMO groups given back to the community lately? I don't mean individuals in those groups, because I know many are involved in worthwhile endeavors through their employment and/or volunteer activities, but the groups themselves. Because they do have money — money to fly people to other islands to testify and march, money to buy ads and run their various campaigns.

They've gotten money from the anti/pro-GMO groups that fund them, money from selling tee-shirts, money from donations, money from a benefit concert, money that will never be fully accounted for, much as they demand full transparency in others.

Just curious why groups that supposedly formed because they're so worried about the community aren't simultaneously doing something to help it — other than push through a badly flawed bill that could help the chemical companies and the state definitively establish their pre-emptive powers over the counties.

Because Kauai is all about giving back, and I'm not seeing it from that particular segment. Perhaps it's because a lot of the newbies in those groups don't understand local culture, just like they don't know history.

Which is why they kept proclaiming — with the aid of newcomer TGI reporter Chris D'Angelo — that last summer's red shirt march on Rice Street was the biggest coming together of people ever on Kauai. 

Wrong. Take last Friday's Lights on Rice event, which had 2,000 marchers in the parade alone, and some 10,000 people total in attendance. Friday night football games regularly attracted 5,000 people, and back in the day, the union rallies attracted far larger crowds than the march, as a percentage of the total population. But since Chris doesn't know any of that, he accepts the misinformation that's fed him as fact.

Whenever I write something critical about the red shirt movement, or highlight its connection to the real estate and construction industry, I get a comment or two about how I must be working for the chemical companies. Because there couldn't possibly be any other reason for finding fault, right?

Just like I got heat when I dared to criticize the petition drive to hold an election on the KIUC smart meter opt-out fees. Oh, we're not trying to stop you from having an opinion, I was told, we just can't understand why you would express it, why you would say anything that might hurt “our side.”

The message seems to be that if you hold any sort of progressive views, you should just quietly march in lock step with all the others, parrot all the commonly held stances, and if you see something wrong or stupid going down, then look the other way and keep your mouth shut.

How, pray tell, is that any different than a county worker in, say, building or planning, who sees one of their colleagues accept a platter of sashimi, a bottle of Scotch, from a developer, but doesn't say anything, because hey, that's my co-worker, or my cousin, or my classmate?

Wrong is wrong and stupid is stupid, no matter who is doing it.

Which leads me to today's article in The Garden Island on red shirt leader Felicia Cowden — the second fawning piece that Leo Azumbuja has written about her in the past three months — which designates her as “the voice of agriculture.”

Really? Where in the world did TGI ever get that patently erroneous idea? When you consider all the real true farmers on this island who have devoted their lives to agriculture, who have struggled to actually feed large numbers of people, keep irrigation systems alive, ag lands from being developed, TGI has the hubris to proclaim a home gardener living off her investments "the voice of agriculture?”

Gee, Leo, you might want to stop parroting what you hear in the KKCR/Facebook echo chamber and get out in the community more. Because I can tell you, if you asked them that know, "who speaks for ag on this island?" they sure as heck wouldn't say Felicia. What an insult to farmers.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

KABOOM! Right on, Joan, pray tell, indeed!!!

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely correct when you state that these newbies dont know local culture. A great example of this, when you say you're gonna do something you do it. After the protestors went ahead with their march up rice street, without following proper protocol which they knew they were not following, Fern stated that she was going to pay back the police department for the overtime. Did that happen? Hell no!. Then we hear someone from that group is asking for donations so she doesnt have to work and can concentrate on saving the island from seed companies??? How shame is that? Not knowing local culture is one thing. Not respecting the culture that they decided to move to is another. And then having no shame or self respect, and actually asking for money so you dont have to work is ridiculous. And since im on a roll, when did Fern's last name change to Anuenue? C'mon people....

Anonymous said...

I think you have nibbled on the edge of the new Kauai animist religion with this blog. The West Side has always been about community, people, land, and businesses all together. The donation by the Chemical companies for toys will be portrayed as a publicity stunt by the anti-GMO folks.
But the reality is the Anti-GMO people are for "only the land" the anti-GMOs have a religious Animistic ideology in their view of life, where actual human beings are excluded from their professions of love. Yes, they will say "bad land" effects people's health, but the gist is their love of the land is first and foremost. There is a evangelical saber that runs with this Earth love and anyone who does not share the belief is a stupid greedy moron. Many of the loudest and most squinty-eyed hatchet faced anti-GMOers have plenny land used as open space, personal ornamental gardens or as a buffer zone for their farm dwelling. If they were intent on sustainability they would allow the little organic farmer a little area to grow veggies. These same, love the land zealots have their own farm homes, shielded from view by an extensive array of mounded plants and bushes to have privacy. These privacy barriers also block all open views of the ocean etc.
Kauai in the past was land, people and business together for a better island and life, the NS religious animism of love the land first and only, allowing people to thrive as they see fit, is an enigma.
But in the end, it will be the elections that determine the future. Either the people will be able to live; love, work and share as they pursue happiness or the people will be dictated to, on how to live, love, work by a bunch of wealthy new comer Animists and their power hungry leaders.
“I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.”
― William Shakespeare

Anonymous said...

TGI = #1 source of misinformation on Kauai.

Felicia = #2

peas in a pod….

Chuck Lasker said...

Your comment about having to agree on every issue or keep silent is spot on. I am a liberal progressive and agree with these folks on many issues. But not the GMO issue. So I'm a "paid shill," an evil man who should not hold a leadership position in Rotary, stupid, greedy, hateful, no aloha, no pono, etc. They target me with petitions, anonymous websites with libelous accusations, threats of violence, reports to Facebook, insults and more.

There is a definite "you're either with us or against us" cult mentality that is the root of this island's cultural division between "new" and long-term residents. It's sad because, like the Keiki Toy and Food Ride, there are many great ways to support our island in a positive way as neighbors, but these dividers care more about how Kauai can be used to "save the world" than about Kauai itself. When you hear, "Kauai is ground zero for GMO blah blah," remember they mean, "Kauai is only important as a battleground for this one issue where mainland and foreign activists can fight, even if Kauai is destroyed in the process."

I am not a Christian, but I find this from the Bible to be highly accurate and a good summary of your article. Matthew 15-17 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit."

Anonymous said...

Joan you really nailed it on this one. Where are the red shirts contributing? The only contributions I have seen are from my wallet in the form of tax dollars to fund their "free" marches and concerts, paying for the extra security at countless hours of council meetings to hear them whine the same things over and over again, paying for extra protection and investigation into the death threats made on the mayor when he would not bow to such a flawed bill they bullied through the council. Now we will have to pay lawyers to defend our county against this majestically flawed legislation.
They are not helping our community they are tearing it apart!

Anonymous said...

@10:43....."love the land zealots"?? "actual human beings are excluded from their professions of love"? "stupid greedy moron"? "wealthy new comer Animists"? I guess you are unfamiliar with Hawaiian culture-aloha aina? malama aina? Respected kupunas and caretakers of the land and culture on Kaua'i strongly disagree with your generalized and polarized misrepresentation of those who want clean air, water and soil. You only sew seeds of division with your words. And yes, land always comes before people-because without land there can be no people. And the health of the land and people always comes before business. Historically, Kaua'i fed all of it's inhabitants because we caretook the land and made sure it stayed healthy, not because we valued any business model. Aloha 'aina will always be most important to us - not business or economic profit.

Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with loving the land. But too many new comers use that for cover to tear apart the community and make Kauai what THEY want.

Anonymous said...

"where are red shirts contributing"?
How about the food forest on Kalihiwai ridge? Isn't that a wonderful example of how "redshirts" are contributing? How about the redshirt farmers-mahalo nui loa to all of you farmers that provide us with such delicious fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs and milk. Why not look at all the great contributions "redshirts" are making to our community instead of focusing on the negative view that certain "groups" are not contributing to the community. The individual members of these groups are the real contributors. And the biggest contribution of the groups themselves is raising of public awareness of health issues-what is actually going on in our community concerning the health of our land, air, water and people. Giving back to the community does not always mean giving money-education is just as important if not more important. "redshirt" education is providing us with healthy models for the future-such as the proposal for worker locally owned agricultural co-ops, methods of land remediation, and ideas for how to become self-sufficient in food as quickly as possible. This education and sharing is a priceless contribution to the public. Joan, I hope some day you will explore more of the positive "contributions" to the public of the "redshirt" groups and individuals. What we need is less divisiveness and more LOKAHI.

Anonymous said...

Valuing monetary profit over health and safety and the abuse of the soil, water and land are the real reasons behind "tearing apart the community".....that, and a failure to truly practice the principle of aloha 'aina. Do not blame individuals....we are all guilty for having bought into a capitalistic system which values money and profit over environmental and personal health and safety.

Anonymous said...

Anti-GMO and anti-pesticide supporters seem to forget the the 'big bad corporations' are made up of HUMAN BEINGS. They believe in the work that they do, trying to feed the human race with the limited resources that we have and are not greedy, evil people like the pro-Bill 2491 people make them out to be.

Anonymous said...

"food forest in kalihiwai ridge"

you're kidding, right? rofl

"providing us with healthy models for the future-such as the proposal for worker locally owned agricultural co-ops"

where is that happening?

"and ideas for how to become self-sufficient in food"

ideas? what about action?

Anonymous said...


Wow Joan,

You are on your game today!

Anonymous said...

@1:09....Have you visited the food forest? It is about putting ideas into action. Let us know what you think after you visit (or if you have already visited). :-)

Anonymous said...

1:05 pm----none of the pro-bill 2491 people I know think that the employees here on Kaua'i are "greedy evil people". These employees are our ohana and we love them as family and neighbors. The same cannot be said about their ceo's who live in a foreign country (yes, hawaii is currently illegally occupied by the usa). Why do you try to generalize that all supporters of the bill are as you say.....you are only creating more division in our community. What is your vision for creating a future of food and energy self-sufficiency for Kaua'i....how do you think we can ensure clean soil, water and air for all of us and generations to come?

Anonymous said...

Joan, Wow, perhaps "the voice of agriculture" refers to Felicia being a broadcaster on a radio show where agriculture is a very important topic. Perhaps "the voice" is not used in an exclusionary way meaning the "one and only" or "the top authority"? Did you ever consider that? Maybe Leo should have written "a voice" instead of "the" voice.
Anyway, Joan, Felicia is doing the community a great service over at Waipa working with children and kupuna to help foster the revival of the traditional Hawaiian ahupua'a system. And as far as her radio show goes, you Joan , I am sure, would be welcome to come on her show and talk about whatever you wish.....what more could you ask from a radio host??
And as far as what "redshirt" groups are doing to help the community.....look no farther than Waipa Foundation - it is there that you will find the best answers!!

Anonymous said...

so, 'giving toys' is 'giving back?' importing chinese crap, polluting plastic junk, omg. Please give children clean air and water - and time!! Children need our time, not toys.

Anonymous said...

This GMO pesticides debate has gone awry because everyone lies.

The Seed Co.s says its about feeding the world and nothing to do with pesticides. That is false. It it were true, they would not be so aggressively resisting all efforts at simple labeling. They resist labeling exactly because they are all about GMO sales and profit. When had DuPont Corp. ever been about anything else? They want to grow food cheap and sell it to the entire world. Killing the bugs and birds with pesticides is not important to them, despite what they say. They are profit motive driven. They need to stop lying.

But activists misrepresent the types of pesticides used and the effects and the studies and scare the feeble-minded into thinking that Kauai is like Chernobyl and we're all doomed to cancer deaths and three legged babies. Their hyperbole (especially that one KKCR host I keep hearing) is as dishonest as the GMO companies saying its about feeding the starving world.

Anonymous said...

OMG! You have no heart! There are children out there who are less fortunate than some. And it CHRISTMAS, a time for giving. What you ever did for a less fortunate keiki, except spit out pilau stuff from your mouth. SHAME ON YOU! SCROOGE!

Anonymous said...

Re 2:26 pm

I admire people who have the children and kupuna at heart. Felicia May be exemplary to those children. But being a role model goes beyond 9:00 to 5:00. The idle threats she made against KIUC was received very poorly and done in bad taste.

Anonymous said...

Felicia and Waipa only play at farming. Their operations are subsidized by grants and investments. If they had to survive from farming they'd collapse.

hawaiifarmersdaughter.com said...

The bill 2491 supporters are all about taking away everything. They want to add yet another layer upon ag folks to make it that much harder to farm. Where's the incentive to farm anymore? You have federal and state laws and now county laws to follow. How many burdens do we want to throw upon these people who work so hard with so little appreciation.

These bill supporters are also the same ones that openly criticize small farmers like my dad and others who have farmed the land for centuries if you combine the years they have been at it. And they have convinced lawmakers that they are the voices of farmers. That's a joke and it is disgusting.

Anonymous said...

Why did the Westside not get a brown water advisory as soon as the heavy rains began?

Anonymous said...

I was flabbergasted by the article on Felica. Ask any farmer, any one at the farmers markets and they would say "who?".

Anonymous said...

When you hear, "Kauai is ground zero for GMO blah blah," remember they mean, "Kauai is only important as a battleground for this one issue where mainland and foreign activists can fight, even if Kauai is destroyed in the process."

Nailed it.

Anonymous said...

I can't help but feel Joan that you are only continuing the divide with commentary like this. There are those who supported the bill who are not extremist. Extremist exist on both sides of this issue. In my view, you appear to give credence to those who feel that the industrial mono-crop model represents "true farming" and small, diversified farmers who sell their goods at the local markets are somehow not farmers.

Kanaka Maoli tending to their ancestral lo'i are mahi'ai in every sense of the word. Anyone who grows food to feed their families and others is mahi'ai. One doesn't have to be producing on a large scale in order to have credibility as a farmer.

Waipa provides poi, the staple food of our people, at an affordable price to kanaka who can't pay $7 for a small bag of watered down poi that the commercial industry produces. Why is poi so expensive? A lack of available land and diversion of water that drove kalo farmers out of the lo'i. Where is the land and water going? To the seed/chemical companies and the sugar plantations before them.

Kanaka Maoli culture believes that land is chief and it is imperative to our survival that we malama. Having lived on islands for hundreds of years, our kupuna knew what true sustainability is, that natural resources are finite and therefore must be protected. Continental mentality views land as a infinite commodity to be used for capital gain. The belief that humans come first above all other things is short-sighted stupidity that doesn't see how interconnected we are to the system as a whole and when one part is broken, it affects the rest.

Can't it simply be about wanting a healthy eco-system for all living things, including humans? Can't it simply be about wanting a clean and livable place to leave for our children's children?
For me, its that simple.





Anonymous said...

@1:55 - I have seen many of the comments that the 2491 supporters have made about seed company employees and it is sickening. Saying that they have had their 'souls' stolen and calling them all kinds of horrendous things. And, yes, corporations are care about money, but how do things get done. Universities and other public organizations do not have the millions of dollars to do the research needed to move agriculture into the future. You can talk about 'everyone farming in their backyard' all you want, but it is just not realistic.

Anonymous said...

@10:18. Poi is expensive because it's a tightly controlled monopoly. There is loi rght now that Hawaiians aren't farming because they don't want to do that work. You and many others act like you know what you're talking about but your in lala land.

Anonymous said...

Its sick you're trying to piggyback 2491 on Waipa.

Anonymous said...

How to Use Anti-GMO Ordinances to Seize Marijuana Plants: A Guide for Police Departments

http://www.hawaiifreepress.com/ArticlesMain/tabid/56/ID/11319/How-to-Use-Anti-GMO-Ordinances-to-Seize-Marijuana-Plants-A-Guide-for-Police-Departments.aspx

Anonymous said...

2013.12.09-10:18,
And you continue to perpetuate a fake dichotomy between "true" farmers and "non-true" farmers. That unnecessary schism, based on ideology, was created by and pushed by bill 2491 supporters. Please find a reference to someone claiming small farmers are not "true" farmers. Yet more shibai.

Anonymous said...

There are farmers, and there are gardeners. To be a farmer that involves a much larger acreage than a backyard gardener. We can all transform our own backyards, and it can be a microcosm, but let's not confuse that with production farming.It's all good, be proud to be a gardener, not insulted your not a farmer.It's the garden island, plant some seeds, create abundance around you.

Anonymous said...

12/10 9:56 PM,

I believe it was 2491 opponents who have chastised north shore farmers as merely gourmet hobbyists, as read in the comment section of this blog. It was the seed companies mantra "support Kauai Ag" implying that anyone who supported 2491 doesn't support Kauai Ag, which is false. I see many of these so-called hobbyists selling their produce and other goods every week at the farmers market. Their labor brings food to my table and I support the Ag they do.

Anonymous said...

Haha try not to buy anything for ur child. Selfish.
Tight asses. No heart.

Anonymous said...

Really? You think that giving local kids a bunch of plastic crap from China is "giving back to the community"? Thats what we anti-GMO people should be doing with our money? I'm staunchly anti-GMO and no I'm not rich. I spend the majority of my income on buying locally grown, organic food, and I donate to support three truly impoverished children in other countries, every month. My husband and I don't put our kid in daycare because we want to raise him ourselves with honest values, like organic farming. We don't waste our money at Wal Mart. I think you're confused about what giving back really is, Joan. It's not about money, it's about living with simplicity, integrity and love.

Joan Conrow said...

No, I'm not confused what giving back really is. But I think you are, because everything you mentioned is primarily benefitting yourself -- right down to feeling so virtuous about supporting the impoverished kids "elsewhere" when there are plenty of very poor kids here -- kids who don't have enough to eat most days.

I'm not suggesting the anti-GMO groups buy toys for the kids. I'm suggesting they do something, anything, that shows AS A GROUP that they are giving back. How about a food drive to collect some of that organic food you like to eat, but that most food bank recipients can't afford?

Anonymous said...

Getting down to it, there are plenty of groups/individuals not "giving back". How many photogs make tons of money off of Kaua`i`s beauty and don't give back. How many wedding companies, activity companies, real estate companies are not actively involved with giving back? Not many and, when they do, it' a pr happening. Maybe all they need is a good look in the mirror and hopefully Joan's column will be the fix.

Anonymous said...

So exactly what are the anti-gmo group taking from this Island that they need to give back? Living in a beautiful place? We all do that and some take a lot more than others. Like the military and the State. And how about those who retire here, do fun things every day, while we hope for a Sunday off and hump all week. And realtors? They take 3-6% off of land not theirs or the buyers/sellers.

Anonymous said...

You really don't get it, do you 8:03? We live on an island with finite resources. We're all taking, and we all need to give back. Yes, some take more than others, and some give more than others. But we all need to give back.

Léo said...

Hi, this is Léo here.
I appreciate Joan's opinion. But just to be sure, the headline on Felicia's article was written by the editor, it's not mine. More often than not, the editor rewrites the headline.
I've lived here my entire adult life, and I know better that if anything, Felicia is "a" voice. There are many others who also speak for agriculture, from Bobo at USDA to Jerry or Roy or Darryl or Derek or Melissa or Louisa or Adam and the list goes on and on.
As far as KKCR, I admit I have never listened to that radio station, so I really couldn't be "parroting" it. I used to listen to Ron at Kong while driving to work, but in the last year the radio in my car broke, so not even that I listen to.
No matter what, despite different opinions, I praise everyone who speaks out on behalf of Kauai. After all, I believe we all want this to be a better island.
I had spoken with Joan about this, and I told her she didn't need to put a correction. But today I decided to come here and clarify it myself.
Aloha, have a great weekend,
Léo Azambuja

Anonymous said...

They can't give as a group because there is no group. Only a mob.

Anonymous said...

Another group not high on the giving back list - celebs owning/living here. A top billing in a movie can net 30 million. I have been associated with many non-profits here over the years and never have seen donations.