Splashing in time to music in the Kapaa pool on a hot afternoon, seeing smiles on all faces of about 20 others taking advantage of the Zumba water workout, I considered how lucky I was — in fact, all of us are.
Never mind that the Kapaa late afternoon traffic crawl had been horrendous to navigate, and that there was not one place to park in the vicinity of the public pool on my arrival which, luckily, was not late. The water felt silky and cooling, the sky was a shocking blue and cloudless, the wind-blown fronds of the neighborhood center coconut trees seemed to be synchronizing with our movements, and the summer sun had backed off.
Also, the big dose of positive coaching from the Zumba leader inspired me, as a first-timer, to work hard to follow her lead. I gave my best effort to swishing my hands in their webbed gloves back and forth through the water (resistance!), and pushing and pulling that foam noodle, not to speak of attempting to ami, step, lunge, kick and attempt salsa dance moves below the surface (more resistance, much much more). Whew! But it felt good.
Returning home feeling refreshed and exhilarated, the road jam had lessened somewhat. My experience of exercising in water prompted a dinner table discussion about how positive coaching spurs people to try harder, whereas negative criticism may drive and push people toward a goal while taking the joy — and the soul — out of the activity, whether in sports, human or business relations, or even politics.
Our discussion turned to a meeting of the Community Coalition of Kauai (CCK) we’d recently attended. Its purpose was to review and address the concerns of citizens regarding the draft of the new General Plan for this island, soon to be set in place. My husband and I were impressed by the positivity of both the agenda and the public commentary we heard. Always up-front in such discussion are problems with too much traffic on our roads; too many visitors and not enough infrastructure; the joke of “affordable” housing; over development leading to a dearth of resources, both human and natural; permits given for new housing and visitor developments that will lead to more cars in already jammed areas; preserving open spaces and keeping land in agriculture; and the challenges of public transport on our once primarily rural island — the same old Same-Olds, to name a few.
Relating to the idea of positive coaching, we found ourselves in a group of committed residents who, because of being fully aware of how we are “lucky to live Kauai,” are working together to affect change with the children of the future and their quality of life in mind.
A wave of energy is building now. The idea is not to criticize any lacks in the present draft of the General Plan, but to align interests and plan toward positive input and action, particularly because the review and finalization of the plan by our County Council is soon to take place. The plan can be crafted to benefit us as citizens instead of large land owners and developers.
Within the draft, visions and goals for our community are stated, but the actual nuts-and-bolts methods that will allow those admirable goals to be reached need clear definition. Figuring out how to achieve each goal “gets a little more difficult and squishy,” according to Carole Donahoe, a family member with whom I’ve dialogued, a dedicated professional city planner. She “works in the trenches” for Lake Elsinore, California. And that type of work is exactly what the CCK is encouraging, promoting and backing.
A wake-up call has been sounded to become familiar with the new draft of the General Plan, and “to be certain that the document weaves a good, colorful history of Kauai which will act as a safety net and a reminder of the past. Firm roots make you strong,” Donahoe says, a truism that few would refute.
She suggests getting visions written into the document as goals that will “strive to…, encourage …, promote …” and stresses that these goals will enable good planners to find a way to put them into proposed projects. Also, she mentions that these established goals “can be used as leverage tools during the design review process that development goes through in order to receive land use approval and construction.” Donahoe further points out that if goals are firmly established, planners can use the purposes, ideas and intent as reference, something to stand on.
This is the time for Kauaians to take the plunge to work for positive change, becoming involved to form policies as a subset for each desired goal through the action committees of the CCK speaking with a unified voice, or independently, and/or to sign the petition being circulated by the CCK to ask the County Council to repair and implement the new General Plan. Wouldn’t it be great if communities could be empowered to guide decisions that affect them? For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (808) 320-3878.
Dear Readers, do consider attending the County Council meetings wherein the review of the updated plan for Kauai’s future will take place, or write to council members. The more people who contact or show up, voicing well-thought out suggestions to give priority to the needs of residents and their quality of life, the better. The more “local,” the deeper your roots of long-time family connection to this island go, better yet.
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, resident author and poet, has focused her supportive interests within the Kauai community since the early 1980s. She and her husband, a retired biology teacher, live in Wailua Homesteads. Their passion for travel flows into the writer’s monthly TGI column, “FarAway Places.” Kawahara’s books are available through Amazon and other outlets. For information, www.kauaiweddingsandbooks.com.