Letter to the editor: In search of common ground

| November 18, 2011 | 0 Comments

Can the protesters and supporters of American Safari Cruises find a sustainable balance between economic development and preserving traditional culture?

By Clare Mawae

I take some deep breaths as I feel the closing of 2011 and look back on the past decade.

Recently, I watched those that I love, respect and care about protest the yacht ‘Safari Explorer’ as it came to our shores. As a business owner and a resident of Molokai, I consistently seek the balance with how I conduct business. I know I am not the only business owner in this community that seeks this, as we all treasure what our island holds for her people. Change is always scary and the fear of the future is no different, but as I reflect on the past decade it is hard to dismiss the economic hardships, which continue to burn a huge scar into the hearts of people worldwide.

Clare Seeger Mawae, owner of Molokai Outdoors, with her family.

Just over 10 yeas ago for Molokai, Kalauakoi Hotel closed its doors and laid off many people within our community. Eight months later the mark of a worldwide change commenced with 9/11, followed by the bombing of Afghanistan and onto the invasion of Iraq in 2003, followed by soaring fuel costs. It was in 2008 that Hawaii felt the predictions of a major global recession in line with The Great Depression, with Aloha Airlines shutting its doors after 61 years of service, along with ATA. And for Molokai, the closing of Molokai Ranch in 2008.

Unemployment rose in Hawaii and this was just the beginning of what was about to come. Over the years light has shone in some places, people have found strength where it was thought to be lost, and creative thinking and imagination has found pockets of hope in the continuance to survive while turning an economic sputtering engine in a forward motion. Locally, on the island of Molokai, families left the island in search for work, and those refusing to turn to the system continued to move forward in creative avenues in hopes of an economic and balanced resurgence.

Small businesses have and continue to struggle for survival over the past decade and 2012 is not looking much better. Unemployment is rising, state and federal programs are being cut back, the safety of government jobs, whether state or federal, still hang in the balance and the small business scrapes the pennies to make it through another month. Life has not been easy for so many people worldwide.

On Oct. 25, 2011, the Safari Explorer came to the shores of Molokai for a blessing of the boat. Six years of planning with many discussions with local elders/kupuna, businesses and individuals were done with a process considered right that would help kick-start a sputtering Molokai economic engine. Molokai had surely suffered with the knocks that the people had taken over the decade of change.

To so many in the community, the yacht is a blessing because of the opportunities that it can create to not just those 20 businesses immediately involved, but to the expansion of jobs and to other branch out effects that commerce can bring to the community. No one project can benefit the entire community instantly but as time passes the next person benefits, and so forth. Creative ideas and entrepreneurial start-ups occur and that is what helps with the circle of life in this economic world boiled down to simple terms.

Somehow, I am resilient to verbal attacks of quotes in the paper and online against the business owners as I treasure the many familiar faces waving the signs in protest. They have all been part of my 18 years on Molokai and involved in the raising of my children through school and other places. We can go back and forth on what is the right protocol, but pointing fingers is not the answer. A solution is present along with constructive talk and discussion. Please bear in mind that commerce and keeping a healthy economic cycle is an important component to keeping our community alive.

If grant money runs out, and welfare, state and federal programs were taken away, would the opinions shift? For sure, subsistence living and farming would work, but as long as technology exists and the world is connected, opportunities will be sought elsewhere.

The common ground between both protestors and supporters of this new venture is the saying, “No cruise ships” as that would surely offset the balance of economics, rural and cultural beauty that Molokai holds. No locally-owned business on Molokai can handle huge numbers, but this venture brings a balance that is sought within the business community, so it can serve its community.

It has to be remembered how 9/11 set a change in motion, and the world is changing and will continue to change as advancement is made with technology. However, no matter the change, the ability to flex, bend, flow and seek the balance in all that is done is crucial if anyone is to survive in this world. What has happened in the past is gone but everyone can learn and take that bit of knowledge forward to build on a better future.

Perhaps Molokai, too, can do the same. Take the culture, both past and present, perpetuate, preserve, but in the same breath, use this in helping to keep the island alive in both a sustainable economic and cultural environment. Many want balance and perhaps this opportunity can help us settle future protocols for the last time, with equal input from both sides of the line.

So perhaps we as a community should say, “Isn’t it time to find the balance, haven’t we had enough grumbling already?”


Clare Mawae

Category: Business, Hawaiian Culture, opinion, Sustainability

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  1. mkklolo says:

    While courageous to take an open stand, Clare is naive in the extreme to think that the leadership of the other side wants a common ground or will ever be willing to set a fixed protocol that would allow a level playing field with the other side. Molokai is not a democracy by any stretch of the imagination and the ruling oligarchy has no intention of allowing anything that does not support their agenda and perpetuate their power. Our passive population has neither the will or the power of throw off their shackles and stand against the rulers. Any new approach will be faced with a new, custom made set of rules and since the new approach didn’t play by those rules, it will be shouted down. The loudest mouths will prevail.

  2. steve says:

    “the loudest mouths will prevail”.

    perhaps this is why there’s some guy posting a tirade in all caps over at the dispatch?

    twice this person has invoked the name of the late iz in an attempt to justify his bass ackwards view of the majority of the good people of molokai.

    it’s clear the guy wouldn’t know pono if it bit him in the okole, or much about da’ bruddah.

  3. Finding the Balance says:

    I still believe that a solution can be found….there is passion and heart in the voices of the protestors, but at the end of the day and deep in their hearts they also know that this yacht is a good thing…I believe that staying focused on the community needs which out weighs that of the protestors will eventually reach deep within..

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