During a recent trip to Hawaii with my family, I found serenity while snorkeling above two sea turtles. I found soul nourishment when I stood in the middle of a bamboo forest and the wind and bamboo stalks spoke to me. I found joy while jumping waves in the Pacific. You know what I didn’t find? What I had no knowledge of? A few islands away from Maui where my family was vacationing, on the island of Kauai, restricted use pesticides (RUP) were being used, as they have been now for decades.
I knew that leaving Hawaii and returning to reality would mean exposure to the news and getting back into the “focus on one issue at a time” mindset I’ve been practicing since January 20th. I didn’t expect to learn from a friend who attended the Colorado Environmental Film Festival and saw Poisoning Paradise, that Hawaii isn’t exempt from corrupt policymakers and greedy corporations (I want to use an expression commonly spouted by DT here, but I don’t want to perpetuate his persona, so I’ll just say it rhymes with rad (RWR!)—I’m using this from now on even if nobody knows what I mean, because that’s an acceptable thing now, right? I know, I digress. Don’t care. That’s a thing now too.). Let’s try it out. There is shady shit happening in Hawaii, RWR!
Cool, cool. On with it.
The fact that I was able to take a trip to Hawaii is an example of privilege. I know this word triggers the shit out of a lot of people and causes them to be on guard, so if you’re feeling on guard right now, please hear me out. As a person who is privileged and who values the basic human rights of all people to live without the fear of their drinking water being contaminated or the air they breathe causing them disease, I’ve decided to write to the Hawaii Tourism Authority and tell them I’m not visiting their beautiful state again until they break up with the international agrochemical companies (such as Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont-Pioneer, Dow Chemical and BASF) who are using and abusing the island of Kauai. This is what participatory democracy looks like. We the people have the power to make change, we just have to act. Do you know how fast action would happen, if we all decided to boycott Hawaii until they started listening to the local activists who want better conditions for the residents of Kauai? SOLIDARITY with our fellow humans in Hawaii (and Flint, Michigan and China, and Argentina, and…everywhere marginalized voices are being ignored). Before you tell me that being in bed with these companies is good for Hawaii’s economy, I’d say there are other options out there (legalize marijuana in Hawaii?) that harm less people and certainly are easier on Earth (you know, the planet we all live and depend on that we have been damaging without much thought for years, RWR!).
Thanks to my friend who told me about the injustice happening on the island of Kauai. Knowledge=power. Knowledge also=a big fucking headache, but that’s part of the price of being woke. I’ll take it.
If you would like to take action, here is the address of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, where you can send your own letter, telling them you won’t be visiting again until they stop allowing companies to poison Hawaii’s land and people. A little birdie told me that tourism brings in more dollars than what they make off of the agrochemical companies being there. If you don’t believe little birdies, there’s more information here, here, and here.
Hawaii Tourism Authority
(Located in the Hawaii Convention Center)
1801 Kalakaua Avenue, 1st Floor
Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Telephone: (808) 973-2255
Fax: (808) 973-2253