THE BLOG
10/27/2014 01:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Molokai: A Community Comes Together in the Face of Adversity

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Photo credit: Edwin Christian Mendija

I find it hard to believe that little Hawaii has become the center of the worldwide GMO controversy. The global political war is taking place right here in our communities and can literally destroy it with bad policy. I refuse to sit back and let that happen without a fight against misinformation and fear. Hawaii was built upon agriculture and we are on a dangerous path to tearing apart the very fabric that brought so many of us together. The stories of the people in agriculture need to be heard and here's one of them by April Piilani Augustiro.

Moloka'i Comes Together to Support Farming and Agriculture

Yesterday, at 3:30pm, people gathered along the streets of Kaunakakai Town to unite as one in support of farming and agriculture. The numbers were astounding... 500 plus community members, workers, family members, supporters were amongst the many. It was a very humbling experience for many of us. We stood there, with a smile, waving, sending shakas to every vehicle that passed, holding messages about the effects that the Maui County Initiative will have on all of us. It was definitely an experience I will never forget.

Moloka'i is a special place. Many of us on either side will agree to that!! Our population is about 7,000 and basically, we all know each other. We're somewhat related in sooo many ways. We call eachother aunty, uncle, cousin, even our friends' grandparents become ours as well, and most times if you'll know someone here related to someone. That's good for many of us as it's pretty easy to become family. However, we are considered very territorial people as well, we don't like being pushed around on our own aina and we sure don't like people coming here and taking over the little we have adapted to.

Many of us that work for these seed companies, are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, grandparents, Tball coaches, football coaches, affiliated in many community organizations, and we too, like many on the other side claim, LOVE OUR AINA and CARE ABOUT our people!! We are normally the quiet majority, many of us wake early in the morning to begin our day by 6:30 a.m., and often times, work longer than an 8 hour shift. We are FARMERS! Whether we work indoors or outdoors, because TOGETHER, we are the ones that "nourish" the product of our fields!!

I stand amongst some of the most respectful, dedicated, and compassionate people on our island. Many of them have toiled the fields for years and years, many are some of the most hard working I know. This initiative is hard to swallow. It's hurtful to the many of us that work for these seed companies. It will be devastating in every which way, and will definitely hurt our economy greatly!! How can we allow others that don't believe in what we do, take that away from us? How can we sit back and let their opinions disrupt our livelihood? Let's talk about FACTS!! I say, you want a study done? Go fund it, go do it, but don't STOP us from doing what we're doing!!!

It's time for us to TAKE OUR "SHAKA" BACK!!! We're gathering together, one by one to do just that!

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Was one awesome feeling! The feeling was not that we had many, but the feeling that this is PONO! That what we do is SAFE! After that was a feeling of hope, that people are being educated, and learning and understand the effects of losing jobs and the ripple effects that would happen. One thing about this island! Where the majority stands, in rumor or action, it is usually true and what we should be fighting for. Sadly not all ended up in victory but we KNOW TRUTH! We are not hiding anything...We KNOW where this road leads, and it's not to a happy ending if we lose this fight. VOTE NO! --Kawehi Horner

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Standing out there was a very humbling experience for me. Seeing a lot of people standing up for what they believe in was awesome! To see the faces of those this initiative will affect, brought tears to my eyes. I was grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this. --Ka'ulaleo Balbas

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Photo credit: April Augustiro

It was truly uplifting to see the unity in what was once thought to be a minority!! We are not going down so easily... Fighting 'til the end!!--Tarrah Horner

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Photo credit: Caroline Kuihealani Adolpho

As a family, we initially decided to be present at the sign-waving as our own unit, our own family front, our own public display of support for ALL farming and for the opportunities that my husband's occupation has given us. But the reality was awe-inspiring. To see so many community members and fellow employees, our family unit grew to include hundreds of others. ALL these people support our same view. ALL these families have a point to make. ALL these community members have a voice and they want to use it! Looking at our children, and the countless others there, you have to wonder how this will affect them if this moratorium goes through. We left great paying jobs in the mainland, took smaller incomes and increased cost of living because it takes a village to raise a child and the village we chose is Molokai. That village was there yesterday, asking how our other family members were doing, talking story, laughing, supporting eachother, together. These are the faces we see every day, faces we know one way or another. These are the faces of Molokai, the village we will always choose. --Caroline Kuihealani Adolpho

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Photo credit: Jessi Bicoy

It was such an amazing and humbling experience seeing hundreds of our own Molokai people come out to support each other. With all the craziness and division this issue has brought to our community, it was a nice break and so uplifting. Good vibes, clean and respectful signs, many of them reading "Thank you for your support," spending time with extended families, new and old friends, smiling, laughing.... It was such a good reminder of why we're all in this. It was definitely one of those moments where you just know that you're doing the right thing. --Jessi Bicoy

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Photo credit: Blaze Juario

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Photo credit: Miles Luuloa

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Photo credit: Sammi Calairo

The issue at hand is about people, and not about corporations. This is about our Hawaii roots... The roots that were started in agriculture!

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Photo credit: Rob Stephenson