[After reading a letter from his mother, Harry T. Burn cast the deciding vote to ratify the 19th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – giving white women the right to vote – Ratified 8/18/1920]
My parents are from countries
where mangoes grow wild and bold
and eagles cry the sky in arcs and dips.
America loved this bird too and made
it clutch olives and arrows. Some think
if an eaglet falls, the mother will swoop
down to catch it. It won’t. The eagle must fly
on its own accord by first testing the air-slide
over each pinfeather. Even in a letter of wind,
a mother holds so much power. After the pipping
of the egg, after the branching—an eagle is on
its own. Must make the choice on its own
no matter what it’s been taught. Some forget
that pound for pound, eagle feathers are stronger
than an airplane wing. And even one letter, one
vote can make the difference for every bright thing.
By – Aimee Nezhukumatathil
American poet (b. 1974, Chicago), Nezhukumatathil draws upon her Filipina and Malayali Indian background to give her perspective on love, loss, and land. Wikipedia
Copyright © 2020 Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Listen to Tracy K. Smith – 22nd Poet Laureate of the United States from 2017 to 2019 – talk about elections — and read “One Vote” on her podcast “The Slowdown.”
Your Vote is Your Voice and Your Power. Please Vote.
Photo: (c) Jamie K. Reaser
The frogs are so many
you can’t mistake the pond for emptiness.
Each voice, different, like a moment.
And I stop my hurrying, for awhile.
What fortune it is to awaken each morning!
I go to the ponds, anticipating something
miraculous at the edge of what is solid and
what is not. And, it is there, something,
always there to greet the unknown day,
and I wonder if my coming isn’t its story
of something ordinary but worthy of words. Maybe, I’m lucky and it’s praise.
I’m praising them, all of them, so many
of them, now here calling out for what they want.
Look at that! How they know it and say it.
“Come to me! Come to me!” Have any of us
ever been that bold, truly?
Imagine that in your own body! Really saying what you want and need.
Surely, I will praise them as they float on the pond and tell it as it is! This day is worthy of their gusto,
of their intent to say “Yes!” with bravado to the forces rushing through them. Life! Sometimes I forget
about it. About what a chance this is. What a chance
to live, and call out for what you really want,
for what brings you alive. This is my frog voice.
© 2016-2020/Jamie K. Reaser Published in “Conversations with Mary: Words of Attention and Devotion”
Thanks to Grete for introducing me to Jamie & her Talking Waters. Enjoy. Aloha, Renee
The wise words of 13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic Rumi offer us excellent advice even today — perhaps especially today:
“Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life”
We have ulu (breadfruit) dropping from lofty trees in our neighborhood right now. Kate gave me a couple of hers, and Barry brought one home from the Y. I can’t find my tried and true ulu bread/cake recipe, but this one from Mahala Farms looks good and is simple to make – and healthy.
The recipe calls for NO flour, NO eggs, NO dairy!! And no sugar – except, if you do as I did, add grated chocolate for the topping and batter.
It’s healthy and moist and wonderful.
Bruddah’s Ulu Cake
Prep: 30 minute
Cook Time: 40 minute
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut open ripe ulu and spoon out flesh.
- Place all ingredients in a bowl and stir well.
- 1 medium Ulu, sweet ripe flesh (4 cup)
- 4 small apple banana, semi-mashed (1 cup) [I used 2 regular bananas]
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- ½ cups date pieces
- 1 tbl baking soda
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ¼ tsp nutmeg, ground [I didn’t have nutmeg – so in this quarantine kitchen, I just skipped it].
Add 1 cup chocolate chips or dried cherries. Experiment with using other dried fruits and nuts.
Pour into a lightly oiled 8” x 8” square baking pan.
Not only is this dessert easy to make, ulu is very versatile.
This article from Blue Zones explains:
Meet Hawaiian ‘Ulu, the Protein-Rich Tropical Superfruit
By Elisabeth Almekinder, Health Journalist, Registered Nurse, and Diabetes Educator for the Manos Unidas North Carolina Farmworker Health Program
“’ULU.” The word rolls off the tongue but may be unfamiliar to mainland folks. Also known as breadfruit, ‘ulu is a local produce found on the Hawaiian Islands and in the Caribbean, South Asia, and Polynesia that is nutritious, delicious, underutilized, and extremely versatile—it can be enjoyed and prepared as a fruit or a vegetable. When roasted, it resembles baked bread. When ripe, you can eat the soft, pudding-like texture like a custard.
A sustainable fruit
An ancient example of modern-day sustainable agriculture, the life of an ‘ulu tree spans decades. As legend has it, the god Ku transformed himself into an ‘ulu tree to feed his human family and spread the fruit trees throughout the Hawaiian Islands.
The islands are rich with folklore related to the plant. One of the highest yielding food trees on earth, one tree can produce over 100 to 200 fruits in a year’s time with little effort, and they grow well in backyards as well as on farms among other varieties of trees. The trees are fast-growing and require very little labor, fertilizer, or pesticides compared to other crops. Scientists also believe that ‘ulu could be a way to combat hunger and malnourishment in subtropical climates like Haiti and Jamaica where the tree could easily flourish.
What are the health benefits of ‘ulu?
It’s considered a superfood not only because one fruit feeds an entire family and there’s enough fruit on the islands to feed the whole population, but due to its nutritional value. It’s sometimes called the tree potato for how versatile it is in cooked dishes and for how it tastes when it’s mature. But it [is] higher in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals than white potatoes.
There are many nutrients packed into one fruit. ‘Ulu is loaded with:
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Omega 6 fatty acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
What does it taste like?
You can eat and enjoy ‘ulu at any stage. When it’s green and hard, it tastes like an artichoke. When it’s mature, it tastes and cooks like a potato or other root vegetable. When very ripe, it’s sweet and is enjoyed like fruit or dessert.
How do you eat it?
It can be eaten in the raw state or steamed and pounded into poi or added to desserts and drinks. It can be fried, baked, or made into a gluten-free flour. (1) In Hawaii, the traditional method of cooking is by roasting the fruit. It is also cooked in deep fire pits, called “imu.”
In its immature state before ripeness occurs, it’s cooked much like a green vegetable and tastes like artichokes. You can use it as a healthier substitute for potatoes in your homemade dishes. (2)
“My wife mashes it like potatoes and makes it into baked french fries and chips,” said Randy Malfalfa, musician and resident of Big Island. “It helps me to keep my Type 2 Diabetes in control because it raises my blood sugars less than potatoes.”
At the size of a small basketball, this green-colored fruit can be made into pancakes, stews, soups, salads, casseroles, bread, and dips. It can be formed into vegetarian burgers. It can be marinated or pickled or used in curries.”
Whether you make Bruddah’s Ulu Cake or bake ulu as pototoes, the ulu/breadfruit is one to try when you are in tropics.
From Jon Meacham’s His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and The Power of Hope. Random House, N.Y. 2020. “Afterward” from Estate of John Lewis, 2020.
“I came of age in a segregated America. The message of the civil rights movement was straightforward, and it was a message grounded in hope. We are one people; we are one family; we all live in the same house–the American house, the world house. As Martin Luther King, Jr. taught us, whenever and wherever we saw injustice, we had a moral obligation to say something, to do something, to speak up and speak out. We might get arrested, we might be thrown in jail, we might be beaten, we might be left bloody, or we might be left for dead. But we couldn’t stop.
It became a way of life for many young people. The first time I got arrested demonstrating–it was in Nashville, Tennessee, sixty years ago–for speaking up and speaking out against segregation and racial discrimination, I felt free. I felt liberated. I felt as if I had crossed over. It made me a stronger and better person. And eventually, because of the civil right movement, America became stronger and better.
We must now rededicate ourselves to the ideas and to the actions that accomplished so much good when I was a young man, when the students of the American South helped lead the way, when justice was denied and too many dreams were deferred.
We won the battles of the 1960s. But the war for justice, the war to make America both great and good, goes on. We the People are not a united people right now. We rarely are, but our divisions and our tribalism are especially acute. Many American have lost faith in the idea that what binds us together is more important than what separates us. Now as before, we have to choose, as Dr. King once put it, between community and chaos.
We chose community once, in the 1960s, and I believe we can choose community once more. While our problems may seem less clear-cut than the segregated signs of Jim Crow and the obstructionism of voting registrars, the means by which America redeemed part of her soul then can guide us now. When you see something you believes unfair or unjust, you have to say so.
Silence is not the answer. So much of what makes America truly great is hanging in the balance–our openness to immigrants, our treatment of the poor, our protection of a free and fair right to vote, our care of the climate, our expansion of economic opportunity, our attitude toward our political foes. Fear is abroad in the land, and we must gather the forces of hope and march once more.
The spirit of Dr. King lives with us. The civil rights movement brought about a nonviolent revolution–a revolution in values, a revolution in ideas. The soul force of this movement enabled America to find its moral compass.
I have long believed–I have long preached–that our nation’s moral compass comes from God, it is of God, and it is seen through God. And God so loved the world that he gave us the countless mean and women who lost their homes and their jobs for the right to vote. God gave us the children of freedom who lost their lives in a bombing in Birmingham and the three young men who were killed in Mississippi. But above all else God gave us courage–the power to believe that what I call the Spirit of History behind us is stronger than the terror of hatred in front of us. That is what I believed then. And I believe it now.
How to march forward? We all can study our history and thus learn what has worked in the past and therefore might just work in the present and in the future. We all can be trained to find our way or to get in the way. The teaching of individuals like James Lawson, Gandhi, and Dr. King lift us. They move us, and they tell us over and over again if another person can do just that, if another generation can get in the way or get in what I call good trouble, necessary trouble, I, too, can do something. I, too, can get in trouble for the greater good.
In the 1960s, the forces of the civil rights movement sensitized and educated a nation. I remember Attorney General Robert Kennedy saying to us on one occasion, “We now understand.”
That was the power of the way of peace, the way of love, the way of nonviolence. By appealing to the conscience of the nation, we could say to elected officials, and to the larger American community, ‘We can change. We can help create the Beloved Community. We can help people to higher heights.’ That’s what the movement did. And if the movement could do it in the face of Bull Connor and Jim Clark, we can do it again now, however difficult the struggle may seem.
There are forces today in America trying to divide people along racial lines. There are forces today that are still preaching hate and division. There are forces today that want us to return to the old ways, to lose ground, to take our eyes off the prize. It makes me sad, for we don’t want to go back. We want to go forward and create one community –one America.
The journey begins with faith–faith in the dignity and the worth of every human being. That is an idea with roots in scripture and in the canon of America, in Genesis and in the Declaration of Independence. The journey is sustained by persistence–persistence in the pressing of the justice of the cause. And the journey is informed by hope–hope that someday some way, our restless souls will bring heaven and earth together, and God will wipe away every tear.
I think there’s something brewing in America that’s going to bring people closer and closer together. Adversity can breed unity; hatred can give way to love. We need a leadership of love now, a strong leadership to lift us, to transport us, to remind us that God’s truth is marching on. We can do it. We have to go forward as one people, one family, one house. I believe in it. I believe we can do it.
Within all of us there is the spark of the divine that helps us and moves us. This force is part of our DNA. Maybe it’s planted by God Almighty, and we have to use it for good, to be the best we can be.
We’ve come too far, we’ve made too much progress as a people, to stand still or to slip back. When I was growing up there was a song that people would sing in the church:
I’m so glad trouble don’t last always
O my Lord, O my Lord . . .
You have to believe that. You have to believe it. It’s all going to work out “(247-249).
“Be the change you want to see,” said Gandhi.
Martin Luther King Jr. said,
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”“We must live together as brothers or perish toge
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
And John Lewis says, “We are one people; we are one family; we all live in the same house–the American house, the world house. . . We have to go forward as one people, one family, one house”[my emphasis].
Lewis expects us to “make America both great and good.” Let’s not disappoint him.
Please vote wisely — and work on needed change wherever you are.
“Set a good example of what America means for the generations to come. They will need it.
What is patriotism? Let us begin with what patriotism is not. It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families. It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forces in one’s companies, or to campaign to keep disabled veterans away from one’s property. It is not patriotic to compare one’s search for sexual partners in New York with the military service in Vietnam that one has dodged. It is not patriotic to avoid paying taxes, especially when American working families do pay. It is not patriotic to ask those working, taxpaying American families to finance one’s own presidential campaign, and then to spend their contributions in one’s own companies.
It is not patriotic to admire foreign dictators. It is not patriotic to cultivate a relationship with Muammar Gaddafi; or to say that Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are superior leaders. It is not patriotic to call upon Russia to intervene in an American presidential election. It is not patriotic to cite Russian propaganda at rallies. It is not patriotic to share an adviser with Russian oligarchs. It is not patriotic to solicit foreign policy advice from someone who owns shares in a Russian energy company. It is not patriotic to read a foreign policy speech written by someone on the payroll of a Russian energy company. It is not patriotic to appoint a national security adviser who has taken money from a Russian propaganda organ. It is not patriotic to appoint as secretary of state an oilman with Russian financial interests who is the director of a Russian-American energy company and has received the ‘Order of Friendship’ from Putin.
The point is not that Russia and America must be enemies. The point is that patriotism involves serving your own country.
The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same thing as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist, ‘although endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,’ wrote Orwell, tends to be ‘uninterested in what happens in the real world.’ Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kiš put it, nationalism ‘has no universal values, aesthetic or ethic. . .’
A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concered with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well–and wishing that it would do better.
Democracy failed in Europe in the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s, and it is failing not only in much of Europe but in many parts of the world today. It is that history and experience that reveals to us the dark range of our possible futures. A nationalist will say that ‘it can’t happen here,’ which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it” (111-114).
From: Chapter 19 “Be a patriot” On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons From The Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder – published in 2017.
Many more examples, examples every day since then – like the deaths of about 213,000 Americans so far from COVID-19, a mainly preventable illness if masks and physical distancing and testing protocols are followed — show that our current president does not really care about most Americans; he is not a patriot.
My dad and my brothers served in the U.S. military; good, kind men, who pay their taxes and are good fathers and good neighbors; they are patriots.
And most other Americans are patriots: the essential workers and those who help their neighbors in this very stressful time, those who wish the best for everyone.
Be a patriot: Vote like your future and the future of your children, their children, and your neighbors – ones you know and those you don’t know throughout the U.S – and beyond – depend on it. It does.
“In politics, being deceived is no excuse” – Leszek Kolakowski
Please vote. Aloha, Renée
Banner photo from UnSplash: Leonardo Silva
Is Early Los Angeles A Model For Food And Agriculture In Hawaii?
Believe it or not, yes. In the first half of the 20th century, smart planners put land in the hands of farmers and transformed LA County into an agricultural powerhouse.
October 11, 2020 · 13 min read 17
I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately, and I’m pretty sure that you have been too. The pandemic has shown us how quickly everything can change and reminded us of the risks of having all of our eggs in one basket.
I’ve been watching prices rise at my local supermarket. I’ve been witnessing climate changes and disruptions in global supply chains. I’ve been thinking about the fact that 90% of Hawaii’s food comes from outside of the islands and wondering how much longer that system will survive.
I’ve been concerned about those who have lost jobs and need help putting food on the table. We are fortunate that Hawaii has a deep tradition of sharing food, and backyard abundance plays a big role in that. Over the past six months, a growing number of people on every island have created home food gardens and planted food trees, many for the first time.
I live on a small farm homestead at Kawanui in mauka Kona that is just over one acre. I farm every day and a good portion of what I eat at any given meal I have grown myself. My family and I have lived on this farm for 20 years. I know firsthand food’s connection to soil and water, place and ecosystem, health and wellness, economy and education, and climate.
I see food as the great connector: to our earth, ohana, community, culture and each other. Food gives us our daily sustenance and a deep sense of belonging. As University of Hawaii West Oahu Professor Albie Miles recently wrote, if we get food right, we get everything right.
The great poet and farmer Wendell Berry urged us to start from the perspective that eating is an agricultural act.
We all know that the challenges to our local food and agricultural economies are significant, and now the pandemic is bringing those challenges into heightened focus.
People who want to grow food in Hawaii must confront high land prices, compete with development pressures and deal with water and labor costs. They must contend with invasive species and new crop diseases, with educational and legislative foot-dragging, with export and import uncertainties, with funding cuts and cheap food policies.
These are the issues we need to confront if we are to once again seriously produce food in these islands. These are the issues we need to confront if we are to truly transform.
The Lesson of Los Angeles
I know a story about the creative transformation of food and agriculture. It began 120 years ago in Los Angeles, California, and it forever changed the way that I look at food.
I was born in 1946 into one of 10,000 small farm families in the County of Los Angeles. You probably don’t think of LA as an agricultural area, but from 1910 to 1960 it was the top producing agricultural county in the entire United States.
The founders of Los Angeles sought to turn the county into an area where agriculture was thriving, and they transformed the landscape from large ranches into small farms.
Before the Spanish colonized the area in the 1700s, LA was a vast fertile plain with flowing rivers, wild edible plants, wildflowers, trees and many types of animals. The 40 tribes of native peoples who lived there were not farmers, but hunters and fisherman who gathered wild foods.
By 1900, that lush landscape had been transformed. Most of the land, formerly in haciendas, was now owned by large landowners, cattle ranchers and land speculators. The main “crop” was cattle, not for meat but for hides to ship to the East to make shoes, belts and bags.
By 1900 that system was no longer working. Landowners were struggling to keep their lands in productive use. Local indigenous workers were reluctant to participate in the system. The ecosystem was exhausted by sheep and cattle and severe drought. Many who had tried farming were inexperienced and their projects had failed.
The founders of Los Angeles and the businessmen of the LA Chamber of Commerce came up with a new idea. They knew there were vast opportunities for these lands. The LA ecosystem had so many assets. The problem was that the wrong ideas were driving land use.
The new idea was to persuade large landowners to break up their vast holdings into smaller parcels of land and sell them to more experienced farming families from across the United States. These smaller holdings would be called Small Farm Homesteads.
In the first decades of the 20th century, thousands of small farmers moved onto homesteads and transformed Los Angeles County into the most productive agricultural county in the United States.
First, LA’s leaders created a nationwide campaign to show people across the United States the incredible diversity of food crops and products that could be grown in LA County. They placed an array of California products and crops on their own train car and traveled coast to coast, stopping at every small town. They attended World’s Fairs. The vision was first to build a food system based around the small family farm that would feed the city and eventually position Los Angeles as the West Coast food hub.
They were very successful.
Beginning around 1910, the land was subdivided into 10,000 half- to 3-acre affordable parcels. Deep fertile soil, a year-round growing climate, ample water resources and a growing market attracted farmers and families from around the country who were looking for new opportunities.
My entire family came west from Iowa during the Great Depression in 1932, purchased one acre in the San Gabriel valley and started a small farm. By the time I was born, truck farms, orchards, dairies, egg and chicken farms and cattle ranches were integrated into the landscape.
In 1946, the small farms of LA provided over 50% of the food for the growing city. There were 300 small dairies, 16,000 acres in vegetable production, thousands of acres of fruit and nut orchards, hundreds of egg and poultry farms, and 3,500 larger farms and cattle ranches.
By 1970, suburban development was replacing many of these small farms. Although there are few signs of this agrarian history in LA today, the economic vitality of the area still has its roots in the small farm homestead. The leaders of Los Angeles were applauded for their insight that 10,000 small farms would be better for the economy, the land and the people than ten large 1,000-acre plantations.
The first great lesson I learned was: Who owns the land, and how it is used, matters. Very much.
The glamour of Los Angeles wasn’t just for the movies — it extended to the farmers’ markets.
The Lessons of Hawaii’s Past
So I began to wonder, what was agriculture like in Hawaii in 1946, the year I was born?
At that time there were fewer than 500,000 people living in the islands and the annual visitor count was under 50,000. According to the statewide Ag Census of that year, there were then 3,922 diverse farms in Hawaii: 83 small dairies, 525 small hog farms, 748 egg and poultry farms, 228 cattle ranches, 1,568 fruit/vegetable/nut farms, 727 coffee and rice farms, 45 apiaries and two sheep farms.
In post-war 1946 there were also plenty of backyard victory gardens dotted with fruit trees and there was much fishing, hunting and gathering of wild foods. There were also, of course, thousands of acres of pineapple and sugar growing on plantations, mainly for export.
There was clearly greater diversity in local food production, driven by small family operations. That era seems to have lasted into the 1960s. Today in Hawaii, egg, poultry, hog and dairy commercial farms are mostly gone.
What happens when we go back further, to 1846? Then the makaainana, the people, were allotted plots on which to grow food. They planted and nurtured taro, sweet potato, ulu and other crops, raised pigs and chickens, and had the right to fish in the sea and in some protected fishponds. They worked six days a month for the chief, fought in wars and paid taxes with goods produced.
Masterful at engineering water and land for maximum productivity, Hawaiians developed some of the most sophisticated agricultural systems in the world. Taro, and the poi created from it, was at the heart of the Hawaiian diet.
Although that system of agriculture was still feeding the people, by 1846 a new era was beginning. Farms were also producing foods for export to the West Coast (potatoes, sweet potatoes, sugar and coffee) or provisioning whaling ships in port with local produce, meat and fruits. Sugar plantations had begun to arise a decade earlier.
The Great Mahele, the Kuleana Act, the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, the enforcement of the Republic, then of the Territory and then of statehood all had profound repercussions for land and food in the islands. The formal ownership of Hawaii’s 4 million acres became concentrated in the hands of the few and it remains so.
The government (federal, state, and county) is now the largest landowner in Hawaii followed by 40 large estates of 5,000 acres or more. We are basically in the same place that Los Angeles was in 1900, surrounded by large landowners. And just as then, land use — at least some of it — is being driven by wrong ideas.
I think constantly about how we can actually put more of Hawaii’s lands back into the hands of the next generation of farmers in a meaningful and supportive way.
At the community level, many encouraging and innovative new ideas are emerging for rethinking, reforming and reenergizing agriculture and community food systems. There seems to be an underlying consensus that history is now presenting us with a unique opportunity.
Land availability greatly affects opportunities and outcomes for new and beginning farmers who want to own, farm and live on the same piece of land. When farmers live on their land, they also invest in the quality of the soil and farm infrastructure.
I know so many people in Hawaii who have invested everything in a farm on leased land and then lost their lease because the landowner simply changed their mind.
Hawaii’s largest farmer, Larry Jefts, suffered this fate earlier this year when he had to pull up 200 acres of tomatoes and bell peppers on land he leases in Kunia to make way for a planned solar farm. While renewable energy is a laudable and vital goal, state policies should support the development of renewable energy alongside serious farming endeavors, not in opposition to them. If this can happen to Larry, it can happen to anyone.
My own story offers one example of struggle: After growing up in a farming family and moving to Hawaii in 1978 seeking to farm, it took me 23 years to find a piece of land that I could afford. It didn’t happen until I was 50.
And even then it took a confluence of lucky breaks: The one acre of land I now own and farm came up for sale during the real estate downturn in 1998. It was in foreclosure. They were asking more than I could afford so I made a lower offer and they accepted. My family, not a bank, loaned me the down payment.
Today the land I farm is flourishing and produces thousands of pounds of food a year.
This corner of the kitchen garden on Nancy Redfeather’s farm in Kawainui features (visible in the photo) carrots, shelling peas, lettuces, collards and tomatoes that were bred by renowned UH plant researcher Dr. James Gilbert.
I am concerned for the next generation. Land prices that were already prohibitive have only risen over the past two decades.
And what all of this means is that the food security we now so desperately need is not being supported in ways that actually work.
Why Now At Last?
Hawaii, like Los Angeles in 1900, has so many ecosystem assets: a year-round growing season, no frost, ample water, rapid nutrient recycling for soil building, clear air and clean water, 10 of the world’s 14 climatic zones, basalt soils full of minerals, and of course knowledge of the great Hawaiian field systems and loi.
We will need all of those assets to deal with the climate changes that are already beginning and to keep food in our bellies. We are currently talking about diversifying our economy so why don’t we put food and agriculture right at the top of the list?
Share Your Ideas
To submit an essay or if you just want to talk over an idea, contact:
IDEAS Editor Julia Steele
I urge us to collectively search for new ways of looking at food security while we still can. The Kohala Center’s 2017 Report, “Affordable Land and Housing for Farmers: Exploring Agricultural and Community Land Trusts for Hawaii” helps to provide some direction.
At the community level, many encouraging and innovative new ideas are emerging for rethinking, reforming and reenergizing agriculture and community food systems. There seems to be an underlying consensus that history is now presenting us with a unique opportunity.
If we are ever going to increase our food supply and create greater food access, justice and security for this small island nation, we will need everyone — big farms, medium and small farms, backyards — to support each other. We will need policies that support all producers and secure places for our farmers to both live and work. Lively and diverse conversations can help us develop shared common goals that can be used to create change in policy and practice but only if we are willing.
We do not need to follow Los Angeles’ story all the way to the present and urbanize. We can stop at a flourishing world of farming. And we do not need to travel outside of the islands to find farmers. We need to support Hawaii’s own people.
In the end, it comes down to this: Food is the basis of life and health, and when there isn’t enough food, people suffer and die. Farmers need land and each of us has a role to play in ensuring they can find it, live on it and develop its resources in support of all of our futures. It is the kuleana of us all to pick up the work and imagine a new way to live.
Before you go…
During a crisis like this, it’s more important than ever to dig beyond the news, to figure out what government policies mean for ordinary citizens and how those policies were put together.
This is perhaps the biggest, most consequential story our reporters will ever cover. And at no other time in Civil Beat’s history have we relied on your support more. Please consider supporting Civil Beat by making a tax-deductible gift.Contribute
About the Author
Nancy Redfeather, who grew up on a farm in Los Angeles, now lives and grows food and seed for her family on their small farm in Kona. She has been an educator in Hawaii’s public and private schools for the past 40 years and at The Kohala Center helped revive school garden programs and establish the Hawaii Farm to School Hui.
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You’ve probably heard of the shooting death of the unarmed 17-year-old Black high school student, Trayvon Martin as he walked at night in a gated Sanford, Florida community in 2012. Wearing a hoodie, he was coming back from a convenience store and talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend. She later testified that she heard Trayvon say, “What are you following me for?” followed by a man’s voice responding, “What are you doing around here?” She then heard Martin yelling, “Get off! Get off!” The phone went dead.
George Zimmerman, the man following Martin, claimed to have killed the youth in self-defense. Under Florida’s Stand Your Ground statute, which is also a law in many other U.S. states, Zimmerman had a right to defend himself with lethal force. Zimmerman was a volunteer for a neighborhood watch program linked to the Sanford Police Department. When Zimmerman had called the police to report an unknown person in the complex, he had been told to stay away from the youth. Instead, George got out of his car, confronted the student, a tussle resulted, and Zimmerman killed Trayvon.
Since that 2012 fatality, George has repeatedly been questioned about domestic abuse – threatening his loved ones with guns, speeding, and various other issues, but he has not been convicted of any charge.
Interestingly, a Aug. 2013 Huffington Post article noted,
“Public Policy Polling included George Zimmerman . . . on a poll to see whom Alaskans would favor as a GOP presidential contender in 2016.
Zimmerman did not fare well against his hypothetical Republican opponents. . . Only 2 percent of Alaska respondents voiced their support for Zimmerman.” But why would he be considered? And did the 2 percent of Alaskans really know about Zimmerman?
The biggest issue since Trayvon’s death is a 2015 road rage incident with Matthew Apperson. The Huffington Post reported, “
Circuit Court Judge Debra Nelson in Seminole County called Apperson ‘a danger to the community’ as she handed down the mandatory minimum sentence [20 years in prison!] on Monday, ABC-affiliate WFTV 9 said.
Apperson also was sentenced for convictions of shooting into an occupied vehicle and aggravated assault with a firearm stemming from the altercation with Zimmerman, who sustained minor injuries from shattered glass.
During his trial, Apperson testified that the shooting was in self defense. Zimmerman testified it was unprovoked.”
Both men had guns in their cars during a roadside confrontation in Lake Mary, Florida in May 2015.
Lake Mary PD “learned that Apperson . . . exhibited unusual behaviors in which he had . . . been admitted to a mental institution. It appears that Apperson has a fixation on Zimmerman and has displayed some signs of paranoia, anxiety, and bipolar disorder.”
Is it really prudent for George Zimmerman to be allowed to have a gun? Why did Apperson, who has mental challenges, have a gun?
What has George been doing more recently? In 2016 (Reuters) reported, “George Zimmerman said he has sold the gun he used to kill unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012 for $250,000, television stations in Orlando and Las Vegas reported on Friday. . .
On his own website that day, Zimmerman said the auction had “raised funds for several worthy causes.” He has said he would use proceeds to counter violence against law enforcement officers by the group Black Lives Matter and to fight Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s “anti-firearm rhetoric.”
Also according to Wikipedia, on December 4, 2019, Zimmerman sued the Martin family and others involved in the trial for $100 million on grounds of false evidence and abuse of process. On February 18, 2020, Zimmerman filed a defamation lawsuit for $265 million against Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth Warren. The reason? On February 3, 2020, Pete had tweeted: “Trayvon Martin would have been 25 today. How many 25th birthdays have been stolen from us by white supremacy, gun violence, prejudice, and fear?” Elizabeth wrote, “My heart goes out to @SybrinaFulton and Trayvon’s family and friends. He should still be with us today. We need to end gun violence and racism. And we need to build a world where all of our children—especially young Black boys—can grow up safe and free.”
Trayvon, George, and Matthew show that the gun laws and U.S. Justice System that includes “stand your ground” laws in the U.S. are very flawed. Trayvon, dead at 17, Matthew serving a 20-year sentence, and even George could be living much different lives if hand guns weren’t so readily accessible and the laws more sane and Black people weren’t targeted. Tragedies all.
We in the U.S. must change.
This is a sobering wake up call. Even if you have been okay, others aren’t, and we must make sure we take care of each other. And we can’t wait.