"When you look at the 'aina, what do you see?"
You've lived here since always, you've lived here a decade, or you just moved here last year. In any case, this is home. Maui has claimed you, and you are grateful to live here. This relationship is a marriage of sorts, and it comes with certain responsibilities, insisted Basil Oshiro at the Tuesday, June 18, Kihei Community Association (KCA) meeting.
Oshiro said, "It's our responsibility to take care of--malama--our natural resources," insisting that in the face of all the changes to the 'aina in recent years. "We must have our voices heard so we can continue to call this place our Hawai'i." Oshiro said that although he lives now in Kihei, he is from Maui and all of Hawai'i, stressing an important distinction of ownership and responsibility.
Basil Oshiro asks the KCA audience, “When you look at the ‘āina, what do you see?”
Oshiro, who was born in Wailuku 67 years ago, is a representative for the Moku of Kula (the district in which Kihei is located) and is president of the Maui Cooperative Fishing Association. He listed many of the changes he has seen since he was young, including the decline of the sugar, pineapple and fishing industries, the changing shorelines, increasing pollution, Monsanto, runoff, injection wells, overdevelopment and building on wetlands, and lastly, young people being in too much of a rush, forgetting that "we are in paradise. We have to stop and enjoy life."
"Times are changing," Oshiro said, and honestly admitted, "All this stuff scares me." In answer to his own question, "When you look at the 'aina, what do you see?" Oshiro answered, "I see food."
"Our ancestors did it for thousands of years," Oshiro explained, living off the land and taking care of its resources. "We have to work together," he said, calling for everyone, including the politicians, to speak up. "We need to find solutions so we can keep Hawai'i Hawai'i."
Doing just that and making a difference is Grow Some Good ("In Your Neighborhood"), a nonprofit, hands-on community program aiming to teach students and the community how to cook and garden for sustainable living and improved nutrition, with great hopes of inspiring future farmers, teachers, scientists and entrepreneurs, explained Kirk Surry, representing Grow Some Good along with Kathy Becklin, at the KCA meeting.
A main goal is to eventually make the project self-sufficient by selling plants, fruits and vegetables at markets, thereby teaching children that "there is a way to make a living on this island by supporting the 'aina and the community," said Surry.
For now, Grow Some Good partners with organizations and needs the community's support. The public is invited to attend their fundraiser at Capische? on Saturday, July 20, at 6 p.m., at $98 per person, for four courses and a wine pairing. Call (808) 879-2224 or visit GrowSomeGood.org for limited-seating tickets.
The rest of the evening was a question-and-answer session about the 2013 Legislative Session with Sen. Roz Baker, Rep. Kaniela Ing and Rep. Angus McKelvey. They all seemed to agree with Baker that it was "a pretty good session," with Ing even going so far as to say that the session was "a very pleasant surprise." He said he feels "less cynical" and realizes that our leaders are smart and coming from "a good place in their hearts" as they discuss and make decisions. They were open and welcoming to "freshman" Ing, "especially considering I came in as this blazing reformist," Ing said.
Of course, all three leaders considered the funds in the budget for the new and upcoming Kihei High School a big success. They agreed that it was made possible by a team effort, including strong voices from the community in support of the high school.
Ing said he went armed with "piles of your voices," which "made all the difference." All three said they are determined to stay a team and look out for each other, and for Maui.
"I don't think you appreciate how much the Maui delegation works together," stressed Sen. Baker.
An attendee asked a question about what is being done for economic development so "we can keep our keiki here," requesting more of a focus on low-income housing opportunities so that children raised here can also find housing to stay here, and how to get more protected marine areas on Maui.
For this last question, Sen. Baker insisted that "you can have all the laws you want on the books," but it's about enforcement--more "eyes and ears on the beach." Even when a beach is officially protected by law, there is often no presence there for enforcement.
"We really need to ramp up the officers and all the volunteers to make sure we can protect [our beaches and waters]," said Sen. Baker.
The next KCA meeting is on Tuesday, July 16, at 6 p.m. for talk story and 6:30 p.m. for show time; a "double feature" with an update on the Wailea 670 (now called "Honua'ula") housing development project and a discussion of a proposed bridge replacement in the notorious flooding area near the Whale Sanctuary on South Kihei Road in North Kihei.