Hanapepe Journey - Part One

SUBHEAD: There are now some organizations that are feeble today, but point to Kauai's future business environment.

By Juan Wilson on 06 August 2009 -

This is Part One of a look at the near future in Hanapepe, Kauai, Hawaii. Hanapepe is proud to call itself "The Biggest Little Town" on Kauai. It has its own deep-water, year-round port (one of two on the island). It has Burns Field Airport and produces 80% of Kauai's electricity.

The town is tightly clustered with Eleele, Hanapepe Heights, Hanapepe Valley, Port Allen and Salt Pond. Hanapepe is a place uniquely positioned to face the future changes in Hawaii and the world at large.

image above: Business on a bench - selling squash outside Taro Ko Chip factory in Hanapepe

From http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/tmaqyTq3Qzmqp72jWAydGg?select=I9hNif7JeGhpKEl0yvK2YA

Part One revisits a past effort to look into the future of Kauai. Back in mid 2006 we participated in the Hawaii 2050 Sustainability Task Force (http://www.hawaii2050.org) . Participants were invited to present proposals on what Hawaii might be in 2050. We wrote a future history Kauai 2007-2050 and posted it here in late 2006, as well as presenting it to the task force.

The predictions of the years 2007-2012 were quite specific. There were certainly a few clunkers in there... predicting the collapse of Big Box stores was premature (2009) and the continued existence of the Superferry in 2012 was a bit off. None the less some of the future history effort was on target. Below is a sample covering 2007-2010.

"The middle class will continue to yearn for the benefits of affluence of the bunkered down rich, even though the newly arrived rich will be disappointed by the diminishing shopping opportunities and entertainments available on a small isolated island in a shrinking world economy.

The middle class will refuse to awaken from a lost American Dream. They will continue to yearn for a suburban westcoast lifestyle even after it has been proven not to work by Californians who face recession, water wars, illegal aliens, raging firestorms and mudslides.

Middle class workers look to the only games left on Kauai for employment - the military sub-contractors, the GMO agribusiness and the County. These jobs pay well with great benefits. But, there are a limited number of them which creates a mafia-like nepotism in their control and distribution. This will only get worse.

Kauai's struggling middle class will be even more divided from those below them on the socioeconomic ladder. Some perceive those who chose, or are forced, to revert to outdoor living, living off the land, living off charity, as rejecting suburban values, as a scourge of homeless dead enders. Most will realize that they themselves are closer to the edge than they ever thought possible, and that their friends and family will be joining the needy.

After tourism falters the economy on Kauai will limp along for a few years. We'll be looking for subsidies, handouts or whatever we can get by on. Increasingly desperate plans will be proposed to "jump start" the economy. Coal fired ethanol plants; Garbage burning power plants; More genetic experimentation; More research and development of high tech weaponry. Some ideas will be stupid. Some will be dangerous. Some will be scams.

In the wider world however, the energy spending frenzy of the previous decades will have peaked. Human carbon dioxide contributions into the atmosphere will begin to nose down as the world economy cools.

We will see some positive results of the failure of tourism by 2010. Low and middle cost housing will be available. There will be thousands of units of vacation time shares, hotel rooms, and other accommodations that used to house as many as twenty-thousand tourists a day. Moreover, there will be thousands of fewer cars filled with tourists roaming the highways.

This accommodation to diminishing wealth will continue for a short time like the weightlessness at the top of the arc of an inter island jet flight. The effects of efforts by groups such as Apollo Kauai will play a crucial part at this time. How we spend the last of the cheap oil money getting prepared for the future is critical.

Then there could be a sharp economic break when it becomes obvious to Americans that the restrictions resulting from a Post Peak Oil economy are permanent. A crash as sharp as the one in October 1929 is in the cards and could happen at any time. Attempts to delay or avoid financial disaster will be a top priority for the United States, but such efforts will only delay solutions that could be put in place and make the eventual collapse less painful."

In Hanapepe Journey Part Two we will look at a few particular operations in town that are already living in our future. They include Mana Ohana Food Co-op, The Habitat for Humanity Restore, The Salvation Army Thrift Store, The Storybook Theatre, Talk Story Bookstore, J.J. Ohana's, and Taro Ko Chip Factory. A special mention must go to Aloha Spirits and the Salt Pond Store as well.

see also: Ea O Ka Aina: Hanapepe Journey - Part Two 8/18/09

Island Breath: Kauai 2007-2050 1/30/07

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