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May 2006

From the Editor...


Rochelle delaCruz

Aloha from Hilo, where I spent the month of April. It was an unusually wet month all over the island chain, and in Hilo it was cold as well (if you consider early morning temperatures of 60º cold. I know you’re all rolling your eyes, but let me tell you when you’re in Hawai`i, that’s COLD!) And yet the warm news from Hilo in April was the Merrie Monarch Hula Festival for which I was lucky to score a ticket. Someone always tapes the festival off the TV to send to me in Seattle, but nothing beats being in the Edith Kana`ole Stadium in Hilo for four nights of fabulous hula!

By now you’ve all heard about the recent floods in the Islands, of dams giving way, pipes bursting or old streams springing back to life. Every day in Hilo, I was reading more bad news, from polluted waters and tainted sand, mud clean-up in houses and malls (the Kahala Mall was closed for 4 days as crews mopped up,) and city teams scrambling to fix pipes and potholes. All of this was a reminder of how overbuilt these delicate islands are, with infrastructure unable to keep pace with the influx of more people, more cars and more construction. In addition to this latest disaster, the newspapers are also filled with dire stories of EPA warnings and fines on island landfills which are also overflowing. The reality is that we’re part of a throw-away society in a place where resources are limited. We all know O`ahu is a lost cause (and still they build!) Maui’s rusty cars abandoned all over that island has become a joke, and everywhere I go on Hawai`i Island, I see plastic bags everywhere, blowing over lava fields and beaches. Auwē…what a blight on this beautiful landscape. Of course we need to learn to recycle more and dispose properly, but how about we begin by not buying so much junk wrapped in packaging that needs to be thrown away? There are too many people making too much trash on islands that are simply too small.

Related to the bad news of overpopulation and overbuilding, is the growing awareness that many subdivisions have been built on land previously designated for agricultural use - lax county governments giving permission in the name of “progress.” And really, does any island need another golf course? Roger Close’s story on the recent tug of war over beautiful Waimea Valley on O`ahu is an example of what’s been happening and how more people are objecting to what’s being bulldozed and overbuilt. While in Hilo, I read with horror an ad selling land overlooking the historic Waipi`o Valley on the Big Island …are there no limits to greed? I say we put a moratorium on ALL of it.

WHEW! So this is what happens now when I go home. I look around and want to shout obscenities, but good ting I’m genteel hah. Aloha and mālama are still there but we have to look harder for it.

So what are we going to do about it? ~RdC

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