Letters for Thursday, November 20, 2008

• Gratitude is the memory of the heart

• To the Charter Commission on upcoming meeting, Nov. 24

• Deny the Knudsen Trust

Gratitude is the memory of the heart

Lucky we live Kaua‘i. 

When disaster strikes, everyone comes together and helps out without being asked. It is truly a place of amazing grace and caring people.

On Nov. 14, a brush fire started near The Arc of Kauai’s Day Program that provides services to adults with developmental disabilities. When the fire was initially noticed, there were no flames, just a faint smell of smoke. Within minutes, the strong winds stoked the embers into a blazing fire. At the time, there were 43 people at the facility; 12 staff and 31 individuals with developmental disabilities including four individuals who use wheelchairs.

Mahalo nui loa to all who responded so kindly and graciously:

Thank you to the bus drivers from The Kauai Bus who immediately loaded up their buses with as many individuals as they could and safely evacuated them to a staging area. Then once in the staging area, the drivers calmly disembarked and boarded the passengers on the correct buses to take them home. Their compassion and efficiency helped to make our clients feel safe. The professionalism and cooperation between the drivers, the dispatchers and The Kauai Bus office was outstanding.

Thank you to the teacher from Kapaa Elementary School who opened her classroom to provide a temporary safe haven for our ambulatory and non ambulatory clients in wheelchairs. Your spontaneous thoughtfulness and compassion touched us all.

Thank you to the staff of the Samuel Mahelona Hospital whose grounds were used as a final staging area to organize and protect our consumers. Your spontaneous offers of water, snacks and the use of the bathroom facilities was a godsend and helped us to provide an environment of proper care and calm to our clients.

Thank you to the Kauai Police Department and the police officers. You were the first to arrive and directed the after school traffic to allow the Kauai Fire Department trucks access to the fire. The mission and values of the Kauai Police Department is alive and well, “To Serve and Protect,” you are “walking the walk.”

Thank you to the Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Forestry and Wildlife for their generosity and teamwork in using their green fire truck to help put out the fire in areas that the regular fire trucks could not.

And lastly, to the Kauai Fire Department and all the firefighters, rescue specialists, dispatchers and helicopter crew … a thank you seems so inadequate to the service you render to us and to our community. 

Your professionalism and teamwork was exceptional. Although it is not something we would want to experience again, to watch the firefighters work so efficiently and effectively as they brought the fire under control was truly awe inspiring. What could have easily been a tragedy turned into a humbling and remarkable display of your heroism.

Working together, the fire was under control and extinguished with no injuries or damage to structure. Our praises and heartfelt mahalos go out to everyone who helped that day as your kindness helped our clients and staff remain calm and know that they were safe and were going to be okay.  

• Ellen Ching, executive director – The Arc of Kauai

To the Charter Commission on upcoming meeting, Nov. 24

According to the minutes, the mayor’s emissary, Lani Nakazawa, told members of the Charter Commission on Sept. 24, 2007, that “they have the ability to call or request a special election at any time to vote on amendments.”

The commission has a compelling reason for calling a special election in 2009 or the first half of 2010 to allow a vote on a county manager proposal that, if approved, would take effect in December 2010. This is the last chance to effect a possible change at the end of the current mayoral term. The earliest alternative would be a vote that would only take effect in 2014 if approved.

During the two most recent election cycles, placing a county manager proposal on the ballot has enjoyed the greatest public support by far among proposals considered by the commission. Can the commission justify continuing to deprive the voters of the right to choose between the current system and a county manager system?

A special election in 2009 or early 2010 would require the commission to present the voters with a sound county manager proposal and to conduct a responsible program of education and dialogue that would enable voters to make an informed choice between the current system and a county manager system.

Commissioners, time is of the essence and all the resources you need to accomplish the task are available. 

• Horace Stoessel – Kapa‘a

 Deny the Knudsen Trust

Our island, our state, our country, and the world, are at a turning point. The importance of these days before the next American administration cannot be exaggerated. Western civilization is deciding whether to continue careening down the highway to extinction or finding an offramp.

Between now and the Obama inauguration we have a moment to catch our breath and reflect. Do we bet everything we have left to restart the hyper-growth economy? Or, do we invest in another way of living on this planet?

Near Koloa, in the Waikomo Stream watershed, lies a region that was densely occupied by pre-contact Hawaiians from mountain to ocean. It was a region that was crisscrossed with waterways that nourished a complex system of agriculture (and aquaculture). This system fed thousands of kanaka maoli for a thousand years. People, along with yams, taro, fish, chickens and pigs, thrived.

Through a fluke of history, hundreds of acres of this land, between Waikomo Reservoir to Po‘ipu Beach, was never developed by westerners. It is an uninterrupted landscape that rises from the ocean to the foothills of the Haupu Mountains. Over time there was a little sugarcane grown there; a little grazing done; but it was never paved over, or its remains physically removed, by the dominant plantation culture.

The results of that “neglect” is the windfall for us now. The site has hundreds of archaeological remains. This area is the largest, richest and densest field of its kind anywhere in Hawai‘i. There is detailed evidence of how people, maintaining a rich culture, lived well on this island. It is evidence of how we might live here in the future. The importance of this will be clearer shortly, as we experience further collapse of the world’s economic systems. What we learn here could save us.

This part of Kaua‘i is not an agriculture wasteland, as the developer has stated.

This part of Waikomo was where the whalers came to get provisions for their journeys. It was where the yams and sweet potatoes were grown to feed the California gold-rushers. It was where the Mainlanders came to start sugar production in Hawai‘i.

The Knudsen Trust plans to subdivide this amazing place into suburban lots in a real estate scheme and call it the “Village at Poipu.” To bulldoze the archaeological village at Poipu for a bunch of black-topped cul-de-sacs is a desecration.

We need to enforce a moratorium on development in this area. We need to understand the archaeological record to know what worked here for a millennium. We need to emulate, and yes, maybe even improve on those techniques. What we do not need is the rush by a bankrupt speculation system to pave over this knowledge.

Two upcoming public events will engage this issue. The Koloa Community Association meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday (today), Nov. 20, at the Koloa Community Center, Koloa, and the Hapa Trail Walk at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 22 — about 2.5 hours duration, starting from Saint Raphael’s Church in Po‘ipu.

• Juan Wilson –  Hanapepe


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, send us an email.