As we enter the final days of the year it’s good to remind ourselves of a few things (10 to be exact) that we can do to make our community a better place.
Take a neighbor something grown in the yard or made in the oven. Dropping off bananas, starfruit, tomatoes or fresh-baked mango bread is a great way to introduce or reintroduce ourselves to those next door and down the street.
Support a local farmer. While it seems easier just to shop at a big-box store, think of the direct impact you could have on a local business. Check out the farmers’ markets and order directly from the farms, like Kaua‘i’s own Kunana Dairy, operated by the Wooten family. Their goat cheese is delicious AND they deliver. See kauaikunanadairy.com.
Eat at a local restaurant at least once a week. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. Trust me on this, you deserve the treat and our local businesses deserve your support.
Read a book, read the local newspapers, read the national news, read a variety of perspectives. Yes, of course, there’s lots of bad news out there, but it’s important we not hide from it. Avoid YouTube as a primary news source and fact check, fact check, fact check. Personally, I love Hawai‘i Public Radio, Ron Wiley, of course, in the morning, and occasionally KKCR in the afternoons.
Join and/or support a community or civic organization. This is a great way to meet new people, learn more about what’s going on in the community and find opportunities for meaningful participation. A few of the more-active local organizations include: Kaua‘i Surfrider, kaua‘i.surfrider.org; Zero Waste Kaua‘i, zerowastejauai.org; the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action, HAPA, hapahi.org (full disclosure: I’m board president); and the Community Coalition of Kaua‘i, communitycoalitionkauai.org.
Meet directly or at least virtually with a councilmember and YOUR state representative and senator. We are fortunate to live in a community that is small enough where you can actually meet and get to know these particular elected officials. So, meet with them! Share your thoughts, ideas and concerns. This is what democracy looks like. Contact councilmembers at kauai.gov/council and find your own district state representative at capitol.hawaii.gov/fyl/.
Participate in a community workday, pick up litter on the beach, help with the food bank, do some totally random act of kindness for a stranger. Help with child-care for an exhausted parent. Pay it forward.
Give money to a worthy cause. Please. I understand money is tight and budgets for most of us make it challenging to give our hard-earned money away to others. But please make the effort, even if it’s only a small amount. If you can’t donate money, you can donate clothes to a houseless organization or canned goods to the food bank.
Policy: Offer your personal testimony on issues that come before the County Council and the state Legislature. It can be short and simple, but offering your voice is incredibly important. Remember, your silence on these issues also sends a message;
Politics: Find a local candidate and support them. Join their campaign, actively help them canvas neighborhoods, hold signs on the highway, telephone bank, stuff envelopes, do research, or just be there for them as they navigate the coming year heading to the Aug. 13, 2022, primary election.
These are just 10 easy ways to help make our community a better place and make ourselves better people. Imagine the difference we could make if we all just made that little extra effort-every single day.
Gary Hooser is the former vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, and served eight years in the state Senate, where he was majority leader. He also served for eight years on the Kaua‘i County Council, and was the former director of the state Office of Environmental Quality Control. He serves in a volunteer capacity as board president of the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action and is executive director of the Pono Hawai‘i Initiative.
Source: The Garden Island