Last weekend we hosted the third Environmental Justice tour of Wai’anae. We had a nice mix of people hailing from different parts of the island and from many different backgrounds–professors, students, locals, newcomers, young, and not so young–it was great. 🙂 Before I begin the breakdown of what we saw, I just have to say mahalo to the Wai’anae aunties who always inspire me–if every community had a cadre of aunties like them, surely the world would be a better place. They know and love their aina and will protect her with the same zeal that anyone would fight for their grandma or grandpa.
On our tour we heard many stories about the landscape of the area. I’ve always loved the mountains in Wai’anae, but now I really see them differently! We watched the demi-god Maui being born, two lovers greeting each other in the mist, and even mano (sharks) in the mountains! We saw Hina’s cave and beautiful Makua Valley (although currently occupied by the US Military). Along the way we also saw some not so beautiful things. We drove by PVT, a construction landfill which houses especially hazardous materials oftentimes from construction demolitions. There is a giant mountain of asbestos that is literally stories high, right next to a neighborhood. We were all shocked to see that there was nothing but a thin black piece of material between someone’s backyard and the asbestos mountain, jokingly named Pu’u ‘Opala–Rubbish Mountain.
The place where the beautiful and pollutant met was at the base of the mountains, near PVT. We got off the bus and were greeted by 2 horses. This is the site that they are trying to get changed from agriculture to industrial land. I cannot imagine a landfill in such a pristine place. We held this bus tour to ask the participants to stand in solidarity with this community to fight off the “purple spot”–which is what this proposed industrial zone would look like on a map. You can go here to learn more and sign a petition!
We ended the tour up at MA’O Farms to show us a system that is working in Wai’anae, in stark contrast to the dumps and proposed dumps that are not a good fit. Mahalo to Kamu Enos for showing us around! We even got to learn about sustainable building practices using materials that were all locally sourced. MA’O answers back to all the people who think that Wai’anae is too dry to grow food!
Mahalo to all the aunties for showing us what aloha aina feels like. I loved hearing them gush about the legends of Wai’anae! I truly will never see Wai’anae the same again. Our next bus tour is July 24, leave a comment if you want to reserve your spot! 🙂
Mahalo to Candace Fujikane for the pictures! 🙂