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Towards A More Just And Beautiful World

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Maui Vision Magazine.

Excuse me while I revel in Bernie Sanders’ stunning win in Michigan when this was written. In the coming weeks, hopefully the Bern will sweep many more states. Clearly the biggest upset in primary history, the Sanders victory, not unlike the Trump phenomenon, signals a sea change in American politics.

1. Money ain’t what it used to be. Jeb was supposed to cruise to a coronation on a tide of megabucks. Hillary was “inevitable” with her estimated $2.5 billion war chest full of insider loot. But Bernie has 5 million supporters!
2. Guns, Gays and God? That dawg don’t hunt anymore. The old themes that used to manipulate the masses have lost their punch. Instead, people are concerned about lost jobs, lost wages, lost opportunities.
3. Issues matter: economic reform and social justice matter. The elites still favor big trade deals, but working people know that flipping burgers doesn’t pay the bills and that cheap goods don’t make up for a living wage.
4. The millennials, never blinded by TV glare, sought information online; so they missed the boob tube brainwashing. Social media provides wider coverage, deeper analysis and the ability to share insights with an online community of activists – all the way from Truckers for Trump to Bern firebrands.
5. People are following the trail of $$ breadcrumbs. Bill and Hillary received $153 million in mostly corporate speaking fees. Asked about taking big checks, Hill replied, “That’s what they offered.” Really? And they ask for nothing in return?
6. Character matters. As Sanders’ photos spilled over from Facebook to mainstream media, people saw a man who had walked his talk all his life; a man in touch with working people and who truly cares.
7. Media bias is pathetic and predictable. CBS, CNN, Fox, even MSNBC, love Trump as he drives ratings and brings in $$. They disdain Bernie, ‘the socialist.’ In 2015, ABC aired 240 minutes on the 2016 election: 80 minutes on Trump, but a mere 20 seconds on Sanders.

Behind and beyond the social-political dynamics is vision – what can be seen as a better, more livable future. Away from the political spotlight, thousands of climate activists are fighting against fracking, and for carbon taxes and real change to save the planet. They are advancing a more just, equitable, greener and healthier world; a world free from poisons, pesticides and other health-degrading products.

In our state, the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) recently brought the Global Summit for Food Justice to the islands. Their Kuleana Academy is training a new generation of political candidates who are more connected to their communities and more sensitive to the rights of nature and Hawaiian issues.

HAPA founder and Kauai progressive councilman, Gary Hooser, has called for an end to research crops that provide zero food for local consumption while they pollute our environment and damage our health. “We must put feeding ourselves and protecting our communities’ health and environment first.”

In a similar spirit, Maui Tomorrow Foundation just published a visionary report – Malama ‘Aina: A Conversation About Maui’s Farming Future. This 50-page document is part of the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to sustainable development and the maintenance of Maui’s rural lifestyle.

The report begins with an overview of Maui’s central valley and the sugar era; then makes the case for a future that grows a healthy economy based of food, fuel and fiber production, geared to meet local needs but also for export crops. This comprehensive study considers climate change, soil conditions, use of existing HC&S resources, retrofitting cane operations in a transition to regenerative agriculture, livestock management, and the potential for huge growth in farm employment.

The full report is on the Maui-Tomorrow.org website. It is a brilliant vision that will deepen and widen the debate about Maui’s future. Prepared by Permaculture Design International LLC and written by Jenny Pell, the report is based on discussions with ranchers, conventional and organic farmers, and native Hawaiians.

The spirit of the document is explained in the introduction, with a definition from Puanani Rogers: “Malama ‘aina – care for and nurture the land so it can give back all we need to sustain life for ourselves and our future generations.”

This report should be viewed as a first draft toward a more just and beautiful Maui. Join the conversation. Your new world is emerging beautifully.

Mark Sheehan is a founding board member of Maui Tomorrow, a health advocate, and a licensed real estate broker. Contact: mark@marksheehan.com.

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