Saturday, October 07, 2006

A Small Protest

I had my back to the recent devastation at my favorite painting spot at Puna Coastal Road mile 17, minding my own business, painting a view of the ocean through the remaining stand of coconut palms. Along comes Kiki, owner of the beautiful BnB right nearby, and says "I am so glad you are painting those trees before they get bulldozed!" which practically gives me a heart attack. Why do they need to bulldoze these trees??? I thought they were widening the OTHER side of the road....

Turns out they need to fill in a deep lava tube pit on either side of the road at exactly the most exquisite spot for painting in all of Puna, if not the world. It seems that a bicyclist drove into the puka (hole) and died painfully and unnoticed for several days in August, and the county fears lawsuits if it should ever happen again.

Tuko and I stayed up late Tuesday night, painting fabric banners saying "spare these trees, we love them," and so on, and we went down to our spot close to midnight and tied them up by the light of her tiny blue Honda. The next day I heard from our friend Paul that he had set up a meeting with one of the job supervisors, Ben Ishii, on Thursday morning, to see if they could be less dozer-happy about the project. A group of us met with Ben under umbrellas in the dripping rain, to the deafening sound of a giant dozer pushing huge rocks around directly opposite our cherished trees. And sure enough, he was very pleasant and did intervene on behalf of some of the trees. So we won a small victory even though most of the road crew could not comprehend why anyone would care about a bunch of old palm trees, especially when they were just doing their job to make the road safer for people to drive on faster....

On a more cheerful note, we stayed open late at the gallery to celebrate "first Friday" and the opening of the "Trash Art Show" which is the big event of the year up the block at the East Hawai'i Cultural Center. Gail had spent the day at the gallery putting the finishing touches on her splendid new painting of a Hawaiian pa'u rider.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh Arthur, it seems we are doing the same thing thousands of miles apart! I was in my local paper last month for trying to save a beautiful fifty year old tulip tree in my road from being cut down by developers. My protest found me up the tree at 8am in the morning in an attempt to save it, but by 9.30am I had been forced down and wrestled off the site by eight chainsaw wielding men. I just had to stand by and cry silently as the tree was taken down in front of me.
All I can say is that we have to fight for things we love - whatever the odds. I failed this time, but at least my struggle was witnessed by my neighbours, the press and the police - and it was obvious to all who the enemy actually was. Greed destroys the innocent in so many areas of life. And it takes something big to get me protesting and politically motivated. This was only a little battle in the great scheme of things, but if we keep fighting our little battles, maybe we can annoy the big guys so much that they give up. Here's hoping. At least you saved some of your trees - three cheers to you!!
Zed Bowie ... Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire, England