Growing Pains

Making sense of Molokai’s water woes, angry hunters, conservationists, genetically modified organisms, La`au activists and land developers can be exhausting. Molokai sure has its share of issues for being such a small place.

But keeping up with it all can be easier when we know that we are not alone in our problems.

Everywhere in Hawaii, and throughout the world, the fight is the same – small communities are struggling to perpetuate their culture and fighting to keep hold of their unique identities.

On the Big Island, Punalu`u is threatened by a giant development which includes two resorts, a mall, golf course and over 1,000 houses. In Kona they’re fighting to keep Ahu`ena Heiau out of corporate hands.

Our neighbors on Maui are busy fending off the newly proposed Honua`ula development. They are also securing Honolua Bay from being developed by Maui Land and Pine.
Fighting alongside Maui, Kauai activists are trying to keep the Superferry from arriving on their shores. In Wailua, DHHL is considering giving up homestead land to timeshare developers who promise to build affordable housing.

Though Oahu citizens were able to save Pupukea and delay plans to build as many as five new hotels at Turtle Bay, the island as a whole exists as an example of what happens when communities are over-run by development.

But where there exists controversy, division and struggle, there also exists the opportunity for change. And the times are a changing.

Governor Lingle is attempting to shift the state’s economic focus from development to innovation. Sustainability has become household word. And within the islands, Hawaiian culture now trumps American culture in popularity and importance.

Lucky for us, Molokai is relatively untouched by the scars of yesterday’s progress. Our small intact community has become a beacon to those who seek culture and the essence of that which is Hawaiian.

We have a few alternative schools here which take full advantage of Molokai’s offerings. With its focus on environmental sciences, Aka`ula School utilizes their outdoor surroundings as an educational resource. Ho`omana Hou, on the other hand, has a curriculum relying heavily on Hawaii culture which is also just outside their doors.

Almost every week we read about off-island groups, from as far away as Asia and Europe, which come to Molokai to learn about Hawaiian ways and to volunteer for our non-profit groups.

Can you see the trend? Molokai’s future is clearly headed in the direction of cultural education.

There is a saying that goes “it’s going to get worse before it get’s better.” Issues which threaten to erode our unique cultural and environmental offerings will continue to challenge us in the near future.

We must all remember that Molokai’s ultimate value lies in its `aina and in its people. If we can create a unified vision which not only protects but cultivates these assets, there is a great chance that we’ll be able to grow and progress as a community while continuing to remain MOLOKAI.


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