This post sort of began as a comment to Big Island Chronicle and a discussion concerning fast food businesses coming to the entry of Pahoa, Hawaii, a truly …unique village in the lower Puna district on Hawai’i Island. A fellow, Mike Middlesworth, writes this comment at the tail-end of a good discussion:
All of this begs the real question:
If local businesses are so much better, why don’t more people shop at them so they can succeed?
Why are WalMart, Target, Costco, McDonalds, Longs, etc. so successful?
Could it be it’s because they offer things more people want at good prices?
Isn’t that what Free Enterprise is all about?
In this instance of degradation of a community’s natural heritage in the name of “free enterprise” perhaps the real question is:
Should capitalism be regulated (by gov’t) such that the public good of a community is dominantly expressed politically, to determine pono (righteous) policy?
An old rivalry: private property vs. public (democratic) government.
Actually, the Capitalist dogs, and the dreaded Commies have merged: institutionally co-opted consumption is the great imperialistic leveler. Community engagement becomes defined — educated — to be that of consuming: food, entertainment, education, health care, information, mileage, and of course lots of stuff: homo economicus is born.
This is where the Chamber of Commerce-types get nervous — but they shouldn’t really. We’re really just talking about an insane imbalance that need be recognized.
Imbalance balanced with what?
Doing stuff, essentially. Doing stuff that produces something. Doing stuff that establishes friendships; doing something that might avoid our tax-money financing slaughter for driving the FreeWay™ !
You know what? The big secret that you never hear? This doing stuff — as opposed to sucking stuff into our spectacular SuckHoles™ — doesn’t require ABC/Disney or McDonalds or yikes! even broadband. What it requires is renouncing all that shit — giving it up. No more DiGiornos. No Hoggy Dog..
Sounds pretty boring huh?
You’re darn right it’d be pretty boring! Hell, I might just rather drive my car way too fast off a cliff with a big ol’ spoonful of RockyRoad hangin’ out my face! No stuff?! Ya right. I’ll just sit on my stump, entertaining myself watching cardinals. …fuck cardinals anyway! They don’t even come from here… bastards…
See what I mean? It seems as though we’d be entirely unprepared to just casually step off of our little program we’ve been raised — conditioned — educated — to… quite like. (I’ll admit it. I actually want to see Paris Hilton driving a MonsterTruck™…like a hundred miles an hour into a vat of grease being fondled by horny leprechauns — don’t know why exactly, its just there…why deny it?)
I digress. What I was getting at is that, in order to adopt widespread advocacy, upholding, sharing, and appreciating of locally self-reliant use-values (doing, producing), as opposed to the thoroughly entrenched, behemoth, lobbied, corporate/institutionally directed, consumption paradigm (our status quo), we would need to develop organizational efforts that have heretofore not existed. The fragmenting and isolating quality of consumer-reality is just too pervasive.
And yet, if you are a corporation/institution profiting quite well from people having your Produkt™ stuck in their Faces™, are you really gonna have a concern for changing this?
This organization to balance, integrate, and foster our doing and producing together as a community must involve: political participation, non-commercial media, and recognition of appropriate business practices and appropriate technology application for optimum community health.
A case in point. I live in a Puna subdivision (Eden Roc). There are 1800 1-acre lots here — perhaps what, 400 homes? A guy around the corner recently puts up a sign indicating that he will sell his locally produced eggs for a reasonable price. You know what? His once overwhelming supply can now no longer keep up with the demand of his now aware customers. The innovation for his new successful business model? A little frumpy sign hiked up onto an Ohia tree on his lot next to the street — it works — a giant pulsating neon egg-sign just isn’t necessary — an appropriate level of technology.
Okay. That’s eggs. But what about social, educational, and other material deficits being met locally with just the appropriate level of organizational technology? Guaranteed, get choke! (translation: The current status quo has people sitting on their asses, conflicted about: “Gee, must I get in my motorized crutch (car) once again to go: buy, eat, watch, play, talk, heal, learn, drink, or generally make whoopee?” (Not necessarily ALL, or in that order — however, I can think of worse itineraries…)
Um, ya, so organization is the thing.
Some of our new digital gadgetry would seem to have great potential as local community organizing tools. However, in the obfuscation that accompanies the marketing of these things (keeping you as a screen-staring client), there seems to actually be more fragmentation — whereas integration of community is our highest goal.
And not to put off the enterprising types out there — this doesn’t mean vilifying business at all. Organizing for self-determination regarding our community wellness has no conflict with businesses that support this. It doesn’t take long to see that the barometer for measuring a company’s appropriateness is, “Are we as a community gainfully using the product/service, or is the business concern a parasite with very little benefit to the community?”
Am I missing something in such a yardstick?
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention austerity, which, from where I live, seems almost unnecessary. Nevertheless, the more that you think you might have some God-given right to accumulate as much stuff as you possibly can, or consume like a CokeWhore™ in Miami Beach at a Bacardi convention, the more you would be… deemed problematic in this call to community organization.
Community radio for Hawaii Island — simply advocating for community wellness, public dialog, local government service, synergy, and self-reliance — would be an extremely sensible development at this time. I ask anyone reading this to refute such an assertion with a compelling reason.
More importantly, I hope we can organize to make it happen.
Why doesn’t it happen?
It’s too sensible?
Are we that lame?
I know of a lot of competent people on this island as I’m sure you do too. The idea that we can’t organize around this development to create something decidedly of great value to our community would seem to be absurd.
Don’t you think?