Where: Downtown Hilo in front of Abundant Life
When: May 4th 2015, 6pm-pau
What: Planting kalo and beautifying the Kamehameha Avenue stretch
How: Bring digging tools, flowers, kalo huli (if you get), otherwise just show up and lend a hand however you feel most comfortable.
The time is now to grow food amongst our streets, to embrace our island heritage of self reliance and common sense intelligence.
It was back in 2011 during the Occupy Wallstreet movement that I first had the idea to spread kalo to our city streets. I had been watching interviews of occupiers on television that were wearing Old Navy sweatshirts while screaming “down with the man, down with corporations”, and it occurred to me that biting the hand that feeds and the systems that clothe are no way to move toward a more prosperous future.
What we needed to do is dig in, to ween ourselves off the systems that we don’t full heartedly agree with, and to empower ourselves with healthy food grown in conditions that are pono through and through. Growing our own food swings the pendulum of power in our favor.
I had been working with Chiko and together with a few volunteers done wonders to transform the triangle into a aesthetically pleasing food oasis in the middle of the street. I thought it was time to spread the movement to mainstreet. I started to deploy Korean Natural Farming soil revitalizing microbes to the blasted soils. I made a flyer, much like the one at the top of this article, crafted up a video, called some friends who called more friends, and on July 20th, Hilo got a lot more edible.
Over 50 people showed up to Occupy Hilo with Kalo. My thinking was, instead of standing on the street and protesting adverse conditions, we could plant our older brother (according to wise traditions), the kalo plant, and let him, Haloa, stand proudly on our streets occupying in our stead. This would enable us to put our bodies and effort towards improving other parts of our community. If it rains, no matter, haloa gets stronger, if it’s sun, no matter, haloa gets stronger. Day and night, he stands ku pa’a, and if we take good enough care of him, he’s gonna feed us later too.
Win-win. Let kalo occupy our streets.
What a successful gathering it was. We literally overnight transformed the streets into a verdant paradise. People from all walks of life gathering together to do good. Improving our town. Improving our diet. Honoring the past and respecting the future.
As time went by, Occupy’s leadership was undermined and the masses were placated by another sale and lower prices. It takes a lot of time and energy to sustain a focussed movement. I had moved out of Hilo to my family’s land and began building our own farm to become more resilient in the face of declining nutrition in commercially available food. And as I’ve said before, I thought the sustainable attitude of the project would catch on with more people to keep a good thing growing. But it didn’t. So alas, as of 2015, Hilo’s streets became barren again. Still improved with more color and ornamentals, but the edibles had vanished.
Which brings me here, to say “Hey, I still care!”. I remember, and I forgive, and I am better equipped than ever to ride bare back into the storm, to support the healers of Hilo, and to give our community another chance to break free from the supply chains of corporations and enter the supply cycles of community.
I hope you join me this Monday, or any time you feel ready, and get down and dirty in the revival of our streets, the return to edible beautification, and a true appreciation of life, big and small.
Lets grow Hilo!