The world when Koko and I went walking this morning seemed slow, sleepy, or maybe it was just me, tired after a long weekend of freelance and facing a long day at my other job. The sky was mostly gray, with just a hint of yellow in the east, but still burned into my brain was the dark red of the ohia lehua blossoms that I saw on the mountain trail yesterday.
They stood out, vibrant and bold, against a backdrop of Makaleha’s fluted green slopes, which were wrapped with thin clouds and glowing — the way that Kauai mountains do when the light is a certain way — in the very late afternoon sun.
“Just seeing this landscape is all I need to be happy,” I told a friend who was walking with me.
We’d been talking about how people who are conscious of the struggles in the world keep going in the midst of the ugliness, and how connecting with nature keeps us joyful, and thus sane. She’s not a blog reader, so I told her about the comment from the person who said it hurt too much to care, and we agreed that stuffing hurts way more than hurting, if you know what I mean.
Anyway, it's not about changing minds or the world, but consciousness, and from that, the rest will follow. And that's one very real and concrete place where we can effect changes in our own lives, and thus the world.
Then when I chatted with Caren Diamond this morning, and we shared many laughs about some of the comments left on The Garden Island article about Pierce Brosnan's vacation rental, especially the ones about how unhappy she must be, she said she’d be more unhappy if she did nothing. As for finding something more fulfilling to do with her time, what could possibly be more fulfilling than caring for the shoreline, the community, the culture?
Or sticking it to some off-island landowner who doesn’t give a rip about this place, other than how much cash they can make off it?
Speaking of which, The Garden Island finally got around to covering last Wednesday’s Council meeting on vacation rentals (TVRs) on ag land.
I found this comment rather interesting:
“I’m a hotel guy,” said Councilman Jay Furfaro, adding that he would like to see hotel rooms filled rather than more units allowed outside Visitor Destination Areas.
Yet still he is a proponent of expanding the TVR action onto ag land, just because some of the operators have been paying taxes on their rentals. There seems to be a major disconnect among policy makers about how the proliferation of TVRs has contributed to the decline in hotel occupancy.
Jay, who has joined Councilman Tim Bynum in the crusade to legalize illegal TVRs, cited concerns that otherwise, the owners might sue the county, which isn’t in a financial position to defend itself.
Speaking of the county defending itself, I hear the feds are planning a criminal indictment against the county for its role in the deaths of Newell’s shearwaters, similar to the action against KIUC. Let’s hope it names Lenny Rapozo, whose cavalier attitude toward native birds, and the law, was recorded at a meeting of the Lihue Business Association.
Of course, his is exactly the kind of attitude one might expect in “a culture of ethical failure,” to borrow a friend’s words.
As another friend observed, if it were monk seals being killed, there would be a huge public outcry. Why should people care any less about the endangered native birds? Or can we only relate to other mammals?
Getting back to the TVRs, I was a bit alarmed by two comments from members of the Council:
Councilman Dickie Chang asked for more time to make a decision he could “live with.”
“When I give a vote I want to vote with what I know,” said Chang, adding that he would like to read and study about the proposed bill.
Ummm, this bill and this issue have been floating around for a while, Dickie. Not to be too critical, but at what point do you finally read and study up on the really crucial stuff that’s before you?
Or maybe, like Councilman Darryl Kaneshiro, who was arguing to take it to a private session, I mean public hearing, you just wait until you're told what to do:
“To not even move this along to that point, to me, is senseless,” Kaneshiro said. “Nobody would have the opportunity to speak on these issues. We won’t have the opportunity to go into executive sessions with the attorneys to discuss some of the recommendations and findings that came from the attorney’s office.”
Ah yes, the ever important executive session, where all the real decisions are made, and not by the elected officials, but county attorneys, using opinions that are not made public.
Thinking back to the conversation with Caren, I was reminded that you've just gotta keep laughing about this stuff. And keep your eyes on the ohia lehua.