[Plug] To Kihei Elementary School and South Maui Sustainability (SMS), for planting seeds. This month, students at the school are set to sow fruits and vegetables in the new 10,000-square-foot campus garden, designed and created by SMS volunteers. Hundreds of kids from all grade levels are participating in the project, which is funded by a County grant. SMS has also launched gardens at Lokelani Intermediate School and Kamali‘i Elementary School, but this is the largest and most ambitious to date. As the need for local, sustainable agriculture comes into ever-sharper focus, it’s encouraging to see Maui’s keiki being actively engaged in, quite literally, growing their own future.
[Plug] To Ulupalakua Ranch, for protecting Maui’s open spaces. Last week, the Erdman family, which owns the ranch, announced plans to give more than 11,000 acres on Haleakala’s leeward slopes to the Maui Coastal Land Trust, effectively quashing future development. If you’re passionate about preservation—no matter if that passion is motivated by environmentalism, the desire to protect sacred Native Hawaiian sites or simply an abiding love of the Valley Isle’s singular beauty—this is very good news.
[Slug] To the American Family Association (AFA), for fighting an imaginary war. Maybe you’ve never heard of AFA; before this, we hadn’t either. Apparently, it’s an organization that feels strongly about the duty of corporate retailers to use the word “Christmas.” Some, including various FOX news pundits, have suggested it’s unfair to shove Christmas under the rug in the name of political correctness. But AFA takes the misplaced seasonal umbrage and cranks it up to “frothing.” “Employees [at The Gap] may be permitted to use the term ‘Christmas,’ but it is not encouraged,” sniffs a statement on the group’s Web site calling for a boycott of the company. “This is a personal decision made by the individual employee. Gap, as a company, uses the term ‘holiday.’” (Never mind those sweatshops—this is the real outrage!) AFA also chastises The Gap for, wait for it, singing about Christmas in one of its commercials. But, you see, the song also contains references to Kwanza, Hanukkah and “whatever holiday you wanukkah” (yeah, not much rhymes with Hanukkah). This, clearly, is “completely dismissive and disrespectful to those who celebrate the meaning and spirit of Christmas.” OK, try this: walk into The Gap outlet at the Queen Kaahumanu Center and ask the girl behind the counter what she’s doing to combat her employer’s evil, secular anti-Christmas crusade. Then brace yourself for a big blank stare.