A friend asked a few weeks ago about “my vision for the future”. At our March 1 campaign launch and “fun-raiser” (see video/report below) I spoke briefly about that vision and about the rewards and roadblocks involved in its pursuit. In short, my vision is of Kauai being a global leader and of each of us as individuals and as the collective community being leaders who strive to make our home and our planet a better place.
My personal goal is that we are bold in our actions and that we model the value of kuleana, of community stewardship and of responsible civic engagement.
Kauai can lead on food self sufficiency while enhancing the health of our community and environment. We have the land, the water, the market and a motivated citizenry needed to achieve this goal. We also have a core base of small successful farmers, a community college poised to support the training of more and numerous individuals and organizations committed to the fundamental values of food self sufficiency and environmental stewardship.
If our community could coalesce around this fundamental goal and if our community and political leaders were committed to guiding our County away from the status quo of industrial chemical intensive agriculture that literally produces no food whatsoever for our island, we could accomplish this incredible feat and set an example for the world.
It is a tough road to go down but we must say no to industrial dairies and to large scale pesticide intensive research crops that provide zero food for local consumption while polluting our environment and damaging our health. We must put feeding ourselves and protecting our communities health and environment first.
If our County focused its energy and resources on supporting operations that grow real food for local consumption, we could be food self sufficient and have a booming food export based economy. While the local market may be relatively small, the visitor industry brings in over a million visitors every year and they all have to eat. The global market for organic clean foods is booming with no end in sight and small scale food processing facilities supporting high value niche markets could provide the added value products necessary to ensure profits.
What better place to make this vision a reality than on the garden island of Kauai.
Kauai could also lead on the fundamentals of how governments are supposed to work, and we can lead on fundamentals of individual civic engagement. We should have the highest voter turnout, the most public forums for political candidates and the highest level of community participation in the public policy process.
Affordable housing is often seen as an oxymoron but we can lead in this area as well. The only thing standing between us and dramatically increasing and maintaining a large inventory of affordable housing is the lack of political will to take bold action. The County of Kauai holds tremendous power in the area of land use and we have the ability to borrow large sums of money at the very lowest rates.
The County could and should immediately identify large tracts of land located in or adjecent to existing urban areas and use our zoning authority and our borrowing capacity in partnership with the landowner to develop quality communities that are affordable for local families. This of course should be done thoughtfully and in alignment with our General Plan, but we must treat this issue with the urgency that it deserves.
There are many other issues that need urgent attention including of course the extreme traffic congestion that exists in many areas but especially in the Kapaa-Wailua corridor.
The answer is a mix of highway improvements and the expansion of public transportation options. We must push the State to take immediate action on improving our State highways and we must look to the visitor industry to help fund shuttles and public transportation options desperately needed to offset that industries impact on our public roadways.
There is no shortage of ideas and solutions, but it is the political will and the courage to take bold action that is lacking.
Collectively as a community I know we can overcome this weakness that is limiting our success and together we can do this.
2016 is the year in which we can make great strides.
PS – I would like to offer my sincerest mahalo to all who helped make our March 1 campaign kick-off “fun-raiser” a huge success. While we planned for about 150 people, we had over 200 walk through the door!
And for those that are asking…yes we are still accepting contributions and still need your help and support. Contributions may be made via PayPal here: http://garyhooser.com/donate-now/ Or mailed to Friends of Gary Hooser, 5685 Ohelo Road, Kapaa HI 96746.
Mahalo to The Greenery Cafe http://www.thegreenerycafe.com for the excellent food and to Norman “Kaawa” Solomon for the beautiful music. There are so many to thank and you know who you are, all who helped with the set up, decorations, sign-in, name tags, voter registration and more.
Here is a 30 minute video review of the event by Robert Zelkovsky you might enjoy. My remarks and an extensive Q & A start at about the 8 minute mark.