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Stop commercial development in South Maui

February 23, 2012
The Maui Weekly

We can still see the stars, the same stars that guided us here. Maui still has a sense of place--of belonging. A sense of itself as special and unique. A sense of its own history.

Much of the U.S. has lost that connection with community, history and the land itself. The story of place.

And it is lonely out there. People drive around in their big cars, shop at the same big stores everywhere with the same products--nothing that says we are here, we are unique, we have created this (e.g., my neighbor has gathered the honey that I'm eating, I know the people who sell and make me my food at Hawaiian Moons, I run into my local doctor on the beach, etc.). And then they go home because there's nothing and no connection out there, watch TV in their isolation and hope to feel something.

We on Maui still feel something. We still have the magic. We still have local shops, local products, local foods and local pastimes unique to this place. We still have a sense of giving back, of gratitude, of being careful guardians of this island and its seas. We have not zoned out yet completely.

We still give the shaka and let people into traffic. We still are warm and friendly and spend time talking story with people. We still have a sense of time's natural rhythms, like the drums playing, the sun setting, the horns blowing, the hips in hula swaying, the paddles rowing. And we still take time to hang loose. It is a priority for us. We still care deeply about da 'aina and want to be out in it, enjoying it. We are here because of it.

Now, the upscale superstore and outlet store commercial development project planned for North Kihei mauka of the Pi'ilani Highway is not a part of this place (and the housing development growth that will double the size of Kihei).

If you want to increase speed, sprawl, impersonalization, superstore minimum wages, traffic, a sense of isolation and meaninglessness, pollution (of all types), strain on delicate island resources, and the importing of more ways to consume, then this project is perfect for South Maui. And it will give tourists fewer reasons to come here to "get away from it all."

The more we look, act, feel, drive, speak, consume and live like we're on the Mainland, the more we've lost what we have here. But also, the more likely we'll lose the people who come here for what we do have here, not for what they have back home.

This place is not just about weather, and everybody knows it. It's magical. And it's about the history and the stories and legends, the music, the language, the local food, plants, animals, the way of life, the way business is done, the community, the land and the sea. This is what we have the opportunity to preserve. Now is our chance. It is not too late. We have not yet left our souls behind. We have held to aloha, hoping to never lose this unique and beautiful heritage.

Please check out my campaign Website to stop this commercial development (and see many more negative consequences of this plan) and my petition to our leaders:

Celeste Keele Kihei



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