Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023 |
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In the past year, with all the conflicts regarding GMOs, pesticides, smart meters, a proposed horizontal well in a mountain and lately a dairy farm, one might believe the aloha spirit has since faded away on the Garden Isle.
Diane Zachary and Kauai Planning & Action Alliance are here to say, you’re wrong.
KPAA recently published “Measuring What Matters for Kauai: Community Indicators Report 2012,” the fourth report that tracks data and identifies trends for 49 community indicators that reflect the island’s quality of life, sustainability and resiliency.
In its phone survey, the question was asked if the aloha spirit is stronger, the same or getting worse.
“My fear, because there was a lot of community discord in the last year, was that a lot of people would say it’s getting worse,” Zachary said.
In fact, that wasn’t the case. Far from it.
The majority said it was the same or stronger than ever.
“That’s a little surprising, but pleasantly surprising,” Zachary said.
While certainly it’s good news that the aloha spirit is alive and well, there are other positives and negatives in the report that should be highlighted.
• More and more people are growing their own food. There’s an increase in community gardens and farmers markets. “There’s sort of this resurgence of self-sufficiency. We have a long way to go before this island is self-sufficient, but it’s slowly building,” Zachary said.
• Enrollment in Hawaiian language and culture classes continued to rise, while hula and other cultural dance and song attracted broad participation.
• Two-thirds of residents volunteered time in the community and, compared to the 2010 survey, more said the aloha spirit is stronger than ever.
But as Zachary noted, there were troubling signs, as well.
• The income gap increased on Kauai, resulting in a growing poverty rate of 12.9 percent. The number of children living in poverty increased to 18.3 percent.
• Child abuse and neglect cases increased sharply and the number of medically uninsured jumped.
“Somehow, we’re not meeting the needs of the lowest economic sector of our population,” she said. “A lot of people still have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet, so they have less time with their families.”
The reason this 116-page report by KPAA should be read is its objectivity. This group isn’t trying to push an agenda or a particular goal. Really, all it’s trying to do is point out all the good that is going on, and point out the bad in hopes it will be turned around.
“The purpose of these biennial reports is to: 1) track areas important to the community; 2) provide tracked information to government, businesses, nonprofits and citizens to assist in planning, policy setting and resource allocation decisions; and 3) identify and promote opportunities for action that will move Kauai toward the vision and directions the community has established.
It’s not a glowing report about the wonders of Kauai, but as Zachary says, “The results of the Kauai report are intended to help decision-makers identify trends and areas where action will be needed as the island grows, develops and changes.”
We appreciate Zachary and her team’s efforts with this annual report, and encourage our community leaders to read it.
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