As I look over the devastating site of wind turbines surrounding the community of Kahuku, and think of the brave band of community members and protectors trying so hard to stop this invasion, I am reminded of the famous tale of Don Quixote, a noble man who fought what he perceived as dragons disguised as windmills, proclaimed the virtues of chivalry and turned a mirror on society’s ills and errors.
Many called him a fool, yet in the end his sincerity and commitment in the face of genuine evil won the hearts of those he was determined to protect, no matter the cost.
How, you may ask, does this translate to the situation happening in Kahuku?
Eleven years ago, when the community of Kahuku was first identified as a possible site for wind turbines, a small group of opponents, led by Kent Fonoimoana, rose to question the wisdom and to demand assurances. Their efforts were ignored, their concerns ridiculed by both the government and the companies vying for the contracts.
Understandably, people yearned to believe that their government only wanted the best for their citizens and that these “windmills” were the answer to the call for green energy. Unfortunately, experience has proven otherwise.
Through 10 long years the citizens of Kahuku demanded a place at the table and the right to determine for themselves what was right for their community. There were some victories, but sadly, as of November, 12 turbines stand as a witness to the influence and power of corporate greed and shady government.
The effects of these turbines are now being felt across the community. Health, safety, environmental protection – all of the assurances made to this small town are proving to be empty promises.
Last year 10 brave women – each of them mothers and community members – made the decision to stand up and fight for their voices to be heard, their concerns to be addressed, and their community to be cherished and protected.
They’ve sacrificed time, energy, even their good name – and as the realization of the situation became apparent, their support grew. Ku Kia’i Kahuku, who speak from a place of kapu aloha (love, peace, non-violence and forgiveness) has the backing now of over 3,000 supporters, and every day that number grows. Truly they reflect the great nobility of their culture, their faith, and their commitment to the citizens of Hawaii.
And still Kahuku faces even bigger dragons – this time 56 stories tall – taller than the tallest building on Oahu. Eight colossal turbines are now being assembled and will soon be casting their long, dark shadows even further across the landscape.
Worse yet, they are being placed up against the community rather than farther up the mountain side. These machines will spill their noise, their composite materials and their destructive effects across a community that has gained absolutely nothing. No reduction of electrical costs. No increased coverage for medical bills. No guarantees of protection. No compensation for the massive decrease in property values.
And all the while our government officials make agreements while publicly stating that all safety and regulatory rules have been strictly adhered to when, in fact, they had slipped past many checkpoints and procedures to gain permits. Their tactic is to break the resolve and vision of the Protectors of Kahuku.
Kapu aloha is the true path, the only path to a successful outcome. It raises the focus and resolve above the fray, and provides protection from the strategy of those who would divide the people in order to see them fail.
Don Quixote’s monster windmills may have been imaginary, but the industrial wind turbines of Kahuku are all too real. Now that the world can see the devastation these machines cause, we are being told it’s too late.
But Ku Kia’i Kahuku will never believe it is too late. Their lives, the lives of their family and friends – indeed the very town of Kahuku, and ultimately communities worldwide, depend on it.