Letters for Friday, June 3, 2011

• Nitpicking priorities • Erasing

history • Taking it upon ourselves

Nitpicking priorities

We were absolutely howling with laughter at the suggestion by Peter Nilson (”Control feral chickens,” June 1) in today’s letters that the County of Kaua‘i could see if there are any Federal stimulus funds for eradicating the chickens on the island of Kaua‘i. You must be joking Peter. Don’t you think that money would go better to serving the homeless of our island home? St. Catherine’s church serves 400 homeless people every week and many of those are children. People are out of work here and desperately need help. Consider dropping off perishable goods to them in the absence of a government sponsored program.

The chickens were here before we haoles came to the island. Let’s leave them alone and focus on more important issues. If you really care about animals, drop off some dog or cat food at the Kauai Humane Society to feed the many hungry dogs and cats on this beautiful island.

Cecilia Kennelly-Waeschle, Kilauea

Erasing history

On Tuesday evening I was at the north end of the Wailua River Cane Haul Bridge, which had been rededicated by the Mayor and others earlier in the day. There is a new informational plaque there. It depicts notable Hawaiian persons who lived in the Wailua ahupua‘a, then segues to a history of Coco Palms resort. The plaque features an aerial photo showing the river and the resort. The text ends by listing celebrity actors, performers and politicians who visited Coco Palms.

Looking up from the plaque I saw a dozen people, mostly kanaka maoli and their supporters; drumming, chanting, blowing the pu, holding torches and signs and acknowledging waves and horn honks from passers by. They were there to support Ka‘iulani Eden and James Alalem, who were arrested on April 28 for obstructing a backhoe at a site nearby where bones had been unearthed the day before. The two had acted with the authority of the law, specifically Title 13, Chapter 300 of the Hawai‘i Administrative Rules, that requires cessation of digging when remains are found.

Also these demonstrators were protesting development on Wailua Beach. Decades of bulldozing and construction up and down Kaua‘i’s east side has erased physical evidence that people used to live there, and that makes it hard for their descendants living today to keep their culture alive. A recreation path on what is left of the beach would be yet another disconnect from their inherited birthright.

The plaque reads like a western culture history book. The text is all past tense. Anyone reading it without prior introduction, like a visitor (and yes the plaque and the entire path project are primarily for visitors), may well think Hawaiian culture is extinct, likened to a display behind glass at the Bishop Museum. Those who were celebrating and protesting on Tuesday evening are living proof that this is not so.

One of the signers of a petition going around in support of Ka‘iulani and James wrote, “Disconnecting any race of people from their ancestors, history, cultural traditions, rituals or customary practices is not PONO.”

The charges against Ka‘iulani and James should be dropped, and the plan to extend the recreation path across Wailua Beach should be abandoned.

Kip Goodwin, Kapa‘a

Taking it upon ourselves

Perhaps it is time for communities to form Community Development Corporations to review and prioritize projects and programs which reflect the will and desire of the majority of the residents. Perhaps it is time for assertions and determinations to be made through collaborative efforts of the residents in each community who are willing to meet, plan, and set timelines and benchmarks.

Perhaps it is time for proactive involvement of community residents to be self-reliant in providing activities or addressing concerns which merit their time and attention.

Perhaps we have become too dependent on relying on existing systems and entities to “take care” of our needs and services. In seeking ways in which we can make decisions for ourselves or by providing sweat equity through volunteer efforts, we may be able accomplish much for ourselves.

Those with access to funding resources can help tremendously in these kinds of endeavors. In the process, we can create opportunities for young and old and everyone else in between to work together to get things done. In return, a sense of pride in what we have been able to accomplish might be the greatest reward of all. 

Come on, Kaua’i!

Let’s go for it!

Jose Bulatao, Jr., Kekaha

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