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Oahu: Keep keeping country country

December 08 2009 | Coastal development, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

I just came back from "Talk Story 2." The second in a series of community forums regarding the future of Turtle Bay on Oahu's north shore.

To better understand the Turtle Bay issue I suggest going to the Defend Oahu Coalition site, the Keep the North Shore Country site and the Trust for Public Lands site. I've also posted a link to a video below.

I was struck by two things at this community gathering.

First, this fight exemplifies the long view and multi-generational view required for long-term success. Twenty years ago Peter Cole and a handful of others were fighting to keep country country. I captured that story a few years ago in this Peter Cole podcast. Tonight I sat there and two decades later Peter Cole is still engaged. The great news is that so are many others.

A little girl was running around, not following the multi-hour dialog. I sat there thinking back to what Peter had told me about this 20+ year fight and I was connecting the dots to this little girl. She, and her peers, are the ones that are going to be called to take this fight and keep it alive. One thing is for sure, once people stop fighting to preserve the north shore's essence it WILL be lost.

Second, we sang. I should preface this point with the fact that the meeting wasn't overly contentious. This was the case because pretty much all of the developer representatives and government officials didn't show. They were were supposed to participate in this dialog and engage with the locals and instead they did something that is uncalled for... they no showed. The government officials snubbed the very people they are supposed to be representing. The developer representatives simply underscored their complete lack of respect for local views. Still, there were clear divisions in the room. There was some tension. Yet after the meeting drew to a close we, maybe 70 of us, gathered in a very large circle and... sang. I can't remember ever singing at the end of a meeting like this. Most times the different contingencies huddle in their respective corners and lick wounds... or brag about how savvy their arguments were. We sang. I'd love to let you know the song we sang but it was in Hawaiian.

What hit me like a ton of bricks was that the Hawaiian culture is a stunning gorgeous one. It's also one fighting for their rights, they are fighting to preserve their land. They are fighting to be heard. It was a memorable meeting. I was honored to be there.

Video on the Turtle Bay issue here.
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