Let’s Talk Story

For a lot of us, one of the great memories of home comes from those times on the lanai, or around the kitchen table, where we just talk about what is going on around us. Who is doing this and that, what cousin is moving where, some politics, a little bit of just plain sharing the moment. Call it chewing the fat, wala‘au, talk story, it is more than sharing the news.

As a Senator representing a wonderfully complex district, I often wish I had more time to spend with every one of you. I learn great things in every conversation, feel your support and, sometimes, your disappointment or frustration. Talking with you is the best way I know to learn what is going on, and where your deepest concerns lie.

For my friends and ‘ohana on Moloka‘i, I know that there are day-to-day concerns that sometimes do not make it across the channel to the media on Maui or in Honolulu. Anyone with a deep understanding of Moloka‘i appreciates that the conversations in your homes and in the community are where the grassroots issues first come up.

I would like to make this column—which I hope will be the first in a long weekly series—a regular way for us to carry on this conversation. Serving our district means facing some simple geographical facts. We cover four islands, so it is not likely that everyone will gather in the same place. And while technology may make it seem that your neighbors on Lana‘i and in Hana are closer than ever, there are still challenges in seeing where your interests are the same, and where they may differ.

Frankly, we just won’t have as many chances to sit and talk story in the traditional ways. But rather than give up on that time-honored tradition, we will simply have to find new ways to keep the conversation going.

At the same time, I don’t want to be the person who comes to your house and won’t stop talking long enough for you to let you share your mana‘o too. Instead, I hope that this will be a place where we can share ideas. You can look forward to not only a report of what issues are at the top of the Senate’s agenda, but also what I am hearing in my community meetings with your neighbors. I will share my opinions, and I hope you will free to share your as well.

Of course, for this to work as a new version of an old-fashioned talk story session, it is up to you to speak up and join in. I know that sometimes community members feel that their representatives stop caring as soon as they get elected, or that we lose sight of their concerns once we land in Honolulu. Join me in overcoming those old ideas and artificial barriers. Call me at my Senate office, email me, or come to a community meeting and tell me what concerns you.
So let’s talk story.


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