Saturday, May 23, 2009


I find it puzzling, but not worrisome, that I have almost zero interest in the NBA playoffs this year. In fact, I haven't cared much about the NBA since fantasy season ended. Kudos to my brother, Kimo, who won our Larry Bird Association championship. (I came in third or fourth.)

I also had minimal interest in March Madness for the first time in maybe three decades. What's happening to me? Not sure.

I find myself obsessed with material about our neighborhoods and cities, our communities and islands, our environment and development. We are connected to our homes, however you define 'home', whether we acknowledge this or not. So this is not a sad change for me, at age 43. I'm leaving behind some old interests and pastimes, I guess, but have a new passion for things that have always meant something to me. Walking to school every day (except when I rode TheBus), it's impossible to not notice the trees, streams, concrete congestion of urban Honolulu. My favorite was walking over the Date Street bridge to Kaimuki High School.

During the early 1980s, bouganvilla (sp) bushes grew tall and wide and lush. Brilliant hues of goldenrod and violet and peach and white, from one side of the Manoa-Palolo Stream to the other. Along with expansive branches of trees on both sides of the stream, it was a place to stop for a minute and just admire nature.

One day, the bouganvillas and trees were gone. The stream was barren of covering and shade. Bare stumps and dirt remained on each side of the stream. It was sad.

I remember a few years after that, walking up the road from our new residence (also in town), a beautiful old tree had been chopped down. All that was left was a massive stump, surrounded by fast-food restaurant concrete, a gas station... it was shocking. I never forgot it. I suppose, looking back, I came to accept living in a land of concrete. I suppose a part of me hated it. That may be why I enjoyed living on the Big Island for eight years.

Well, the point I was going to make is this: the Ala Wai Watershed was a bountiful place of harvest for the island of O'ahu for generations until most of it was filled in by the Dillingham Corp. and turned into Waikiki, McCully and Mo'ili'ili as we know them now. But there's still lots of "open" space at Ala Wai, even a lush public garden next to my old school, Ala Wai Elementary, that's been there for almost 30 years now. Everything that grows there is gloriously green.

Ala Wai will return to its original state one day, perhaps a thousand years from now. Ten thousand years. That's what it was created to do: produce a watershed that sustains life. I'd like to see that happen in just a tiny increment. Lord knows we have enough concrete. If that means clean-ups, redesign, community projects and innovation, I'm all for it. Takes many hands to bring out the potential of the land.

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