Here’s a copy of Councilmember Kelly King’s opening remarks at the May 19 Council meeting:
“Thank you, Chair White. I’m pleased to give the opening remarks this morning, resisting the temptation to perpetuate the wonderful focus on Earth Day in opening statements from the last two Council meetings, especially in light of our enactment yesterday of the State’s first bill restricting the use of polystyrene throughout the County. May 19 is not marked by a special holiday or auspicious designation, but we all know that every day as a resident of Maui County is special and today I reflect on some extraordinary events that remind us of the reasons for our slogan Maui No Ka Oi.
While the rest of the world seems to be in constant turmoil, we live in the most beautiful place with some of the most compassionate people who know that the most important things we do in life are not about money, they are about community. Yesterday, after our council unanimously approved the polystyrene restriction, a constituent asked me what was next and wanted to know if somewhere there was a blueprint of Maui’s goals and values. I directed her to the Countywide Policy Plan, adopted in 2010, that lists Maui’s Core Principles as follows:
- Excellence in the stewardship of the natural environment and cultural resources;
- Compassion for and understanding of others;
- Respect for diversity;
- Engagement and empowerment of Maui County residents;
- Honor for all cultural traditions and histories;
- Consideration of the contributions of past generations as well as the needs of future generations;
- Commitment to self-sufficiency;
- Wisdom and balance in decision making;
- Thoughtful, island-appropriate innovation; and
- Nurturance of the health and well-being of our families and our communities.
Today I would like to reflect on a few significant local efforts that exemplify those principles and, hopefully have inspired us all to act for the common good.
Last fall, we saw concerned citizens unite in protest, trying to prevent potential environmental damage by the State’s planned seawall construction at a critical juncture on Honoapiilani Highway where it was eroding from wave damage. As environmentalists, protesters understood that a seawall could imperil the beach and marine life, and as engineers, our State Department of Transportation’s biggest concerns were the health and safety of drivers using the highway. Both sides agreed to meet and, in one day, through the power of communication, came to a temporary solution that will now afford time to explore alternate options to hardening the shoreline. This was possible because all involved recognized that the greater good would be served by focusing on community and not trying to “win” the battle.
In January of this year, we experienced an incredible and peaceful demonstration held around the world to advocate for legislation and policies supporting womens’ rights, and the rights of all who are marginalized and bullied. This global event, also the largest Maui protest in most of our memories, was inspired by a resident of Hana, Maui, a grandmother and retired attorney who cared enough to light a spark that has given rise to the March for Science, the March for Babies, and the March for Truth.
This Spring, Molokai, which prides itself in being “the last Hawaiian Island”, had its Kualapuu School’s Robotics team qualify for the World Championship competition in Kentucky. They travelled there last month and took second place out of 272 champion teams from around the globe. An amazing and impressive contrast to Molokai’s stated desire to maintain the rural character of their community. Way to put Molokai on the map, Kualapuu!
Also, last month, my company successfully grew its first biofuel crop trial on Maui, the largest such demonstration in the State of Hawaii to date. The vision of future fields of sunflowers throughout Central Maui inspired thousands of social media comments, pictures and videos and went viral as residents and tourists alike came to enjoy the flowers. To me, the real Maui Miracle was witnessing crowds where the great majority were respectful and appreciative and took nothing but joy, hope and photo opportunities, and that so many people understand the implications for sustainable agriculture in our community. It was quickly nicknamed the “field of dreams” on Facebook.
Inspiration and beauty is all around us, and Mauians are rising to the occasion, getting involved and making a difference. Maui is ground zero for extraordinary events that have been emanating from residents with the desire to do good. Huge kudos to our non-profits, and I am so glad we were able to restore many of the budget cuts made to these organizations that exemplify “doing good”. They provide valuable services to our citizens and leverage grant funding to motivate thousands of volunteers giving millions of hours every year.
Our everyday heroes are delivering meals to the elderly, volunteering in hospice centers, leading children’s programs, picking up trash on our roads and beaches, supporting at-risk students and adults, collecting water samples from our shores to protect our reef, and the list goes on. Our lives are richer as they uphold and deliver on our core values. We don’t have to wait for a special holiday or occasion to know that we are truly “lucky we live Maui” or to Mahalo the extraordinary goodwill of our own community. As we continue on with business today, Councilmembers, testifiers and observers, let us remember that it is, indeed, another extraordinary day on Maui!”
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