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Posts Tagged ‘activism’

A few last words…

From Tyler, our summer fellow from the Center for Excellence in Native Hawaiian Law at the UH Richardson School of Law:

My time here at KAHEA has come to an end.  School’s about to start back  up, which means I’m unavailable until next break.  I’ll miss you all.  I know what you’re thinking, but who will write witty blogs?  I don’t  know.  However, if you want to hear more from me, please e-mail KAHEA, and overwhelm them with requests to bring Tyler back to KAHEA during Winter break and next Summer, because you can’t live without him.  Start a petition.  Start a  Facebook group.

I had such a wonderful time working with wonderful  people gaining life experiences and worthwhile skills.  Who could  believe that two months would create such lasting bonds and impressions. I promised myself I wouldn’t get emotional.  I need a tissue.  And more coffee.  Until next time friends…

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The UH Board of Regents made big “TAH-DAH!” over approving their giant Thirty Meter Telescope project for Mauna Kea this summer. Plenty press releases, plenty press. KAHEA staff tend to kind of shrug over this kind of “approval”, but after hearing so many comments and questions from all of you, we decided we should address it. Fundamental question: WHY is the Board of Regents approving TMT?

The term “manufacturing consent” comes to mind. Hmm.

Okay, let’s say for example, that Kanoe and Tyler want to build a parking lot in your front yard. Kanoe writes the proposal. Tyler votes to approve her proposal, and sends out a press release saying “Parking lot approved!” And your neighbors think, “”My, my. There’s going to be a parking lot over there.” Now, did you get any say about this parking lot? Nope! Does it matter? Of course it does.

A little tutorial on developing conservation lands, and looking good while doing it:

Mauna Kea is public trust “ceded lands” and a conservation district. This means that the mountain is to be managed “in trust” for the people of Hawai’i, and that its natural and cultural resources are to be protected and sustained. Under state law, the responsibility for managing these lands falls to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR). DLNR does not financially benefit directly from development of Mauna Kea, and it is the agency with the mandate under state law to protect and conserve these lands.

Yet.

Today, the University Board of Regents appoints 100% of members to the Office of Mauna Kea Management. The Regents appoint 100% of the members of Kahu Ku Mauna. The University paid the consultant who wrote the management plan for Mauna Kea. At the end of the day, we have to ask: Who’s interests are being represented? Who is being left out?

So many have worked so hard and sacrificed so much, to get us to where we are today. Twenty years ago, the University and the UH Institute for Astronomy could not and would not even acknowledge the existence of clear problems. Two lawsuits and two state audits later, we can finally openly acknowledge past wrongs, and talk about impacts of astronomy development on cultural and natural resources. Not just on Mauna Kea, but Hawai’i’s other sacred summits as well.

But without true change in management (!), it’s just that: talk.

If you support true community management of Hawai’i’s sacred summits, you can join with the thousands of others around Hawai’i who are saying “Enough already” and demand a truly pono future for some of Hawai’i’s most sacred places. Sign the petition today!

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On August 26, the BLNR will hear public testimony on the 14-story telescope proposed for Haleakala. We really need community members to show up early, sign up to speak, and give testimony on this giant telescope proposal. You can read the flyer here.

From Kilakila Haleakala:

All studies done for the proposed project indicate that in addition to the misuse of conservation lands, there will be major, adverse, short- and long-term direct impacts on traditional and cultural resources. We must let them know know that our summit will not be furuther desecrated.

You can read more at http://www.kilakilahaleakala.org

Wanting another perspective? We’re also liking this thoughtful take on the Haleakala proposal by blogger and astronomer Salman Hameed.

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From Shelley:

Aunty WalterBea shares stories of Mauikupua, the demi-god.

This weekend we hosted our fourth Environmental Justice Bus Tour–this time with an added stop at the Farmer’s Market.  Mahalo to everyone who came out to learn more about Wai`anae! We had a great mix of people hailing from far and wide.  Groups represented were Nakem Youth (from Kalihi), CEJE, Hawai`i Farm Union, the Hawai`i Independent, and the Lawai`a Action Network–as well as some community members.  Special shout out to Nakem Youth for blogging your reflections of the bus tour! Check it out! Here is some of their powerful testimony:

Mark: “We gotta change our public perception of Waianae. I didn’t know about the agricultural lands, it was beautiful to see and very different from the way the mainstream media presents it.”

Sonny: “I have family members who live in Waianae and I fear for their lives. There are many kids who run around and I don’t want them getting hit by trucks…”

Rochie: “I live in Waianae I didn’t know what was really happening.  The dumpsite was all blocked and I thought it was for housing development.  We need more transparency from these companies and the state.”

Powerful! More at their blog.  Mahalo to Nakem Youth member, Mark Fiesta, also for putting up such beautiful photos of the event. Here’s a link to his blog. Solidarity is a beautiful thing. 🙂 Mahalo to everyone for coming, if you are interested in joining our next tour, it is on August 28th.  Email shelley@kahea.org for more information.

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From Marti:

On Sunday June 27th starting at about 2:00 pm, fishers and ‘ohana will be gathering in Waiawa to discuss issues surrounding the management of Ka‘ena Point on O‘ahu. (Click to see map)

Located at the most northwest point of O‘ahu, Ka‘ena is one of the last relatively wild shorelines left on the island. It is a beloved fishing spot for many families, a spiritual pathway into the afterlife, and a refuge for endangered birds.

Its extreme weather and remote location helped to limit development, though it has suffered its share of urban burdens, including train tracks, military training, and most recently mud-bogging and uncontrolled bonfires.

As you may already know, Ka‘ena has been the focus of many regulatory attempts over the years.  Most of these past efforts have met with failure due to lack of community support. Here is a link to the long list of abandoned management schemes at Ka‘ena.

With a brand of tenacity unique to state government, once again, the community faces a new management plan developed by staff at the Department of Land and Natural Resources with only selected input from community members.  The state needs a new management plan because Ka‘ena will likely be highlighted as one of O‘ahu’s wilderness camping areas under DLNR’s new “Recreational Renaissance.”   Recreational Renaissance is just a nifty name for another scheme to raise money from the use of state land in a wide range of not-always-compatible ways, including the collection various permit and entry fees to state parks.  A draft of the state’s plan for Ka‘ena will be open for general public comment at a hearing in late July.

In anticipation of this meeting and in response to many complaints about state management, shoreline fishers from around O‘ahu are gathering at a farm in Waiawa on June 27th to talk about the many issues facing this community.  The recent trend in harassment of fishers by DLNR enforcement officers and HPD has led many to forego fishing the way their families have for generations.  This is related to current state regulations that limit the longstanding practice of over-night fishing and current proposals to impose new permitting requirements on shoreline fishers.  Click here to visit a blog specific to Ka‘ena management issues.

This is a tough issue to grapple with.  For me, I think the disconnect was said best by one lifelong fisherman from Waipahu:

“Why you imposing fees on me, when I only can catch enough to feed my family, but you do nothing, nothing to prevent the massive fish takes by these commercial guys, who come in here just when the fish start to run and take the whole school one time?”

If you are interested in learning more about shoreline fishing issues on O‘ahu and want to connect with the local fishing community, please contact Summer at 753-4221/ culturalpractice@gmail.com to RSVP for the public meeting on June 27th at 2pm in Waiawa.  She asks that you bring own chairs.

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From Shelley:

Last month, we went to the Land Use Commission for the proposed rezoning of agriculture land to industrial land in the back of Lualualei Valley. From the moment I got there I felt lost–the actual hearing room is tucked away on the 4th floor with very little signage.  The building is set with a corridor that goes around in a square with rooms toward the outside of the building and then a bigger square room in the center (although it’s not very big either).  Before I realized the layout looked like a racetrack I was wandering around in a circle and ran into 4 other people looking for the LUC!  I ducked into one of the offices and got directions.  When we got to  the actual hearing room I was shocked at how small it was!  This is the room where some of the most important decisions about Hawai’i’s land and our access to that land happens… in this itty bitty place?!

It doesn’t inspire confidence that the commission that decides on how the space on our island is used, haven’t done such a good job managing their own space!  There are tables arranged in a long rectangle with a big empty puka in the middle!  This leaves enough space for a single ring of people to sit and stand around 3 of the 4 walls of the room.  Everybody else has to overflow into the hallway where you can’t hear anything! Also, the guy who has the job of passing out printed materials from the testifiers sits on the other end of the rectangle and has to shimmy along the wall behind the commissioners to get the documents. There must be a better layout!

The point of my rant is that this kind of space doesn’t encourage public participation!  Moreover, having the hearings during the workday prevents many people from participating.  There must be a better way!

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From Shelley:

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.

Pu'u 'Opala looking into PVT Landfill

This is the flimsy cloth barrier that supposedly protects the people who live in the neighboring community.

Look closely, that light brown line cutting the picture horizontally is the top of the asbestos hill. Much higher than the flimsy cloth barrier "protecting" the residents.

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!

Wai'anae is not too dry to grow 'ono food! 🙂 Happy veggies.

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! 🙂

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