While we’re all aware of a number of recognized economic indicators, probably the most conspicuous for the Kona side of the Big Island is the number of private aircraft now parking at our airport.
What this means to us in the landscape industry is not just the arrival of a well-heeled clientele, but even more importantly the basis upon which to confirm a vital message to our elected officials.
These visitors and part time residents will not accept a second class setting to invest either their time or money on, and they will go elsewhere in the future if we do not provide for their expectations.
It is critical that the landscape industry build on this message and convey its significance to those who are elected to determine the future of these islands.
If there is one certainty we need to remember about legislative activity it’s that elected officials almost always give their attention to issues they believe affect or concern the majority of their constituents. This often involves perspective rather than numbers, with the “loudest voice” usually getting the most response. What gets lost is that catering to the wants of affluence is often a pretty good idea in fueling a growing economy.
Our industry generally has not spoken with that ‘loud voice’ and our message historically has failed to gain support from a government that lately seems focused only on a cost and budget application to the issues.
No one disputes the need for responsible spending however very few of our legislators seem to grasp the concept of investing through strategic spending or long term vision.
We need to consider that the vision of Hawaii in the eyes of people who have never been here is of a tropical paradise. Unfortunately an expectation met all too often with at least some level of disappointment. Not that the landscape industry hasn’t tried to respond to this situation, but more so in that we are not sufficiently recognized by either the elected leadership or by so many of those who live here and have come to accept an often substandard level of aesthetics notoriously displayed in our public domain.
If anyone is now in an opportune position to change this dynamic it is us, the people who deal with clients that demand and can afford a level of aesthetics that complies with their vision of what Hawaii should be. We must therefore shoulder the responsibility and adopt the mission to restore and maintain an environment worthy of our island home. It is the landscape industry who in so doing will focus legislative spending in a direction that both restores and preserves the appropriate and desired future for us all.
Our place should be to work toward developing a higher profile in the community, insisting that our parks, roadsides, open spaces, beaches, harbors, airports and other public places become recognized worldwide for beauty and accessibility, and that the vision of Hawaii is based on what will then be real.
If we act now, there can be federal funding available for creative and imaginative legislation designed to not only strengthen our economy, but promote sustainable and appropriate growth as well. Our course of action would be to meet with the legislature, as the LICH and as individuals to explain the value of aesthetics to building and maintaining this healthy environment, and to join forces with other like-minded groups to form a coalition of private sector representatives in getting the word out to the community whose members ultimately determine who fills the seats at the legislature. Specifically we need to target projects that require undeniable attention and lobby for spending on these needs. This will then be seen as responsible spending by legislators and will become the basis for federal allocations that apply to the effort.
Perhaps an immediate opportunity in getting up to speed is to initiate debate on the introduced legislative proposals (SB648 and SB649) to ban the use of glyphosate i.e. Roundup in landscape management. If we lose our tools, our ability to work efficiently diminishes and our voice will have lost much of its needed impact. (Follow these and future initiatives at www.capitol.hawaii.gov)
Kelly Greenwell is Owner of Hawaiian Gardens.