Colonels and Kings Through the Pono Prism: What Do You Think About the Pahoa Woodland Center Development?

Doesn’t matter to me what your position is on the Woodland Center development. My feelings and opinions are conflicted anyway. At this juncture not much will surprise or offend me.

When I decided to write about this I cleared my mind then furiously made a list of every angle I wanted to cover. Then I had an epiphany and asked a fundamental question: Who the hell cares about my opinion anyway?

Then another epiphany: collectively our opinions matter. Sort of. Most of the time. Hopefully…

I’m not one to simply bash something then move on without any ideas on how to improve. My intent in covering this topic is to strike a balance between critical analysis and productive optimism. With that in mind, I thought that a more productive approach would be to encourage others to look at the Colonel and King through the “Pono Prism” and (hopefully) tell me what you come up with–other than mediocre food.

I have some opinions that I’m happy to share at a future date, but for now I’m interested in hearing how others see it.

To the multitudes who are too shy to post, I only ask that you be honest with yourself.

To those who are kind enough to play the game and post here: same request.

So here’s a chance for my readers–all two of you–to tell me how the Woodland Center development looks through the Pono Prism. The 5 key pono questions are:

1) How does the activity make Hawaii a better place?

2) How does the activity create opportunities for prosperity for all segments of the community?

3) How does the activity help connect the community’s past to its future?

4) How does the activity bring dignity to the community and the people who live around it?

5) How does the activity insure that the people who live in and around it can continue to live there?

I look forward to hearing your opinions.

Final comment: in the future it would behoove all of us to start asking these questions well in advance of any developments planned in our communities. Consider this our practice run.

Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2009


17 responses to “Colonels and Kings Through the Pono Prism: What Do You Think About the Pahoa Woodland Center Development?

  1. Questions 1 through 5, seems so interdependent to each other, it will be hard to answer one with out complementing any of the other questions.

    So, here is my (na) mana’o on your questions:

    1) Opportunity: The Woodland center will create jobs. Hawai’i gains by creating Jobs. In a declining economy, job creation is key to making Hawai’i self sustainable. While corporations have planted a flag in Pahoa, individual entrepreneurship is certainly not dead, but is an inspiration to others that could become the next Luquin’s. The inspiration to bring to the starving masses (snark) food and services so unique to Hawai’i, and to Pahoa in particular, are clearly seen in the expansion of the Pahoa Market Place. This can also be seen at the Maku’u and Pahoa (Luquin’s parking lot) Farmers Markets where the potential for opportunity overflows with potential.

    2) Prosperity: Employment: The Woodland Center will have a Longs that will offer groceries, toiletries, and a pharmacy (beer). Two Fast Food joints that would employ Pahoa youths with badly needed jobs. However, corporations have already been here in Pahoa. The Subway and the 7-11 in Pahoa town which are already mainland corporate logos already embedded in Pahoa and are thriving businesses. Convenience and value, something you look for when you go shopping.

    3) Past and Future: Accessibility: Lower Puna residents that would have had to drive into either Kea’au or Hilo for provisions and employment now have local alternatives. This makes for less vehicles on the highway and makes for less pollution. Shorter drive times saves gas and less traffic along Route 130. With the influx of newcomers (myself included), what did anyone expect but the need for growth and services. The desire for services and infrastructure to support a growing population. The past can be preserved, people just have to work to make it happen. Put down the pakalolo and pick up “Ka ‘Olelo o Hawai’i”. If we really wanted to live like Ni’ihau, then that should have happened long, long ago before any of us ever arrived on what we have as our version of paradise. Hawai’i’s largest commercial industry is tourism. By that nature, Hawai’i’s future has already been determined. It is up to us, the indigenous and transplanted residents to embrace and preserve the culture that is Hawaiian. Do by example.

    4) Dignity: This is a hard question without the clarity of the definition. Dignity for whom? What defines dignity? I mean in the context of the question. Quality of life? Standard of living? Respect for Culture? Respect for each other? Respect for opinion? Is the question a matter of logic or emotion? Does the Woodland center suggest a lack of dignity?

    5) The future is ambiguous at best. I live here and will continue to do so, regardless. Woodland Center is not in a residential area, it’s in a zoned business area. It seems conveniently located off of Rt. 130 adjacent to other businesses that stand to profit also. I see it as a benefit to all the residents by offering choices.

  2. 1. It makes puna a better place because at least one child will have an opportunity at employment that they might not have had before.

    2. I’ll be saving money by eating there at least once a week. That money I save I can put to other more useful community things.

    3. I guess you’ve never been to the Keaau McDonalds at 7:00 in the morning. You will find at least 80% of the people in their over the age of 60 having breakfast and talking story to those who wish to talk to them. It was also like this at almost every one I visited on Oahu.

    4. Dignity is in the eye of the beholder. What is right to one person could be totally wrong to another. Dignity is a belief system that some like to uphold… while others could care less.

    Do we criticize those without dignity? Should we?

    5. You know any activity here in Puna is susceptible to going down the drain all at once. How many of our local businesses in Pahoa town have come and gone… not because of who they were… but because of the simple economy. People will pick and choose where they want to eat at. Just as they pick and choose where they want to shop at.

    There wasn’t a time too long ago that Hilo’s had a Wendy’s.

    Disclaimer: KFC was one of my first jobs!

  3. There it is, all two of my readers have posted, which means the masses have spoken! It’s official: the Woodland development is all lollipops and rainbows! 🙂

    Just teasing. A sincere mahalo to both Kini and Damon for taking time to post. Truth is I can’t argue with many of your points. But my Asian-influenced analytical eye sees shades of gray extending out onto the distant horizon…where you might be seeing black and white? Put another way, I’m seeing positives, negatives, mixed feelings, uncertainties, potential positives and potential negatives. Yet even with all the negatives and the doubt, my optimism and practical nature wants to find ways to make it work for the community.

    But I have to fess up here: while part of me envies anyone who can take an absolute stand on these kinds of issues (for or against), another part of me gets suspicious when there’s no attempt at any “critical analysis”. For example, neither post mentioned even ONE negative. It makes me wonder: is your conviction that strong? Are you that much smarter than me? (Very possible since I’m not very smart.) Or…perhaps I put you on the defensive and made you want to list only the good? (If so, my apologies; it wasn’t my intent to put anyone on the defensive.)

    By the way, the “Pono Prism” questions are not mine, they are the intellectual property of Peter Apo. All questions are standard boilerplate, including #4; which means it was not posed with any underhanded implications that “Woodland Center lacked dignity”. I used the Pono Prism because it’s got a common-sense, Hawaiian flavor that covers the basic issues imho. It’s not scientific, and it obviously will render different outputs depending on the cultural filters of the person applying it. The point is to stimulate thought and discussion, not produce definitive answers. The more points of view I get from this post, the more informed I’ll be about my community. (But still just a fraction of the whole picture.)

    It’ll be interesting to see what people with different backgrounds and cultures see through the Pono Prism. Thanks again for your input.

    Almost forgot–how to define “dignity”? All words are subjective when you pick them apart, but this one has, I believe, a strong cultural bias. Personally I’m interested in looking at it through the host community’s (indigenous and newcomers alike) eyes. Since you’re part of the host community, feel free to take a stab at a workable definition.

    For the record, I harbor no illusions that we can or even should undo the Woodland development. (I’m not one to waste my time looking for things to undo; I’m too busy doing stuff.) But I am interested as hell in getting as many opinions as possible. And maybe learning a thing or two about the views of my community.

    BTW, anyone privy to what the architecture will look like at Woodland?

  4. My impression is that you do not approve of the Woodland center. And that is your right to do so.

    However, I get the sense from many folks in Pahoa that anything bearing the logo of Corporate America is somehow bad. Given the current administrations view and the state run media’s position that runs with stories of how evil American corporations are, it lends a sense of hostility towards any business considered a “corporation”.

    I take a optimistic view of the world as a whole. I am a glass half full kinda guy. So, yes, I strongly stand by my opinion, my convictions, that only good will come from the Woodland center. That’s my conservative view of how the world of business works.

    That’s not to say that some businesses will be the bad apple in the barrel. The bad apples are few, but they get the lions share of public scrutiny. Which is unfair to the thousands of other businesses that do play by the rules and strive for the trust of their customers and the public. After all, we all want to make a profit. Whether that is in business or in spirit.

    What I believe the Woodland center will bring to the community is a chance for employment and prosperity for many local folks. That is to be commended for that only helps the community grow as a whole and prosper and share in the American dream. And it’s not bad for the Businesses also.

    What I do not understand is why there wasn’t the same hostility towards the Long’s Drugs that also happens to be part of CVS Caremark, a large American corporation. So, I see a bit of hypocrisy there. In reality, we should be looking at how the Congress is going to tax us into oblivion. The real Evil in America.

    Maybe the definition of what dignity is, in this context, should be what adopts the local culture in the best way to promote the culture. It might be worth while for BK & KFC to serve rice in the menu, besides fries.

    Just saying.

  5. Tim,

    You are certainly hosting this discussion in a very well-behaved fashion.

    Frankly, I find the discourse to be full of convoluted poppycock.

    1) Opportunity? Creation of a few minimum wage corporate fast-food restaurant jobs is key to sustainability? Um, you sure about that?

    2)Prosperity? The twisted logic I hear would suggest we might want to advocate for bringing a nuke plant to Pahoa — it’d be convenient AND a great value — talk about saving money!

    3) Connections? To this I’d add that, we as community members have been conditioned, educated, and marketed to behave as a species: homo-economicus. To take that as an undeniable, unchangeable reality is plain crapola. And no, Hawaii’s future hasn’t been determined — certainly not entirely by corporate “free-market” capitalism. Malama aina does not exist in that paradigm. Community participation/organization is actually a threat to many global capitalist concerns. Part of community empowerment is determining those corporations that are truly useful to a community, and not the other way around.

    4) Dignity? Well, this is where ethics would seem to come into play, and we, as a society, are all over the map on this one. The map we call the U.S. Constitution is the only one we have. And yet, unregulated “free market” capitalism succeeds when the people and the public good become merely things to be exploited as much as possible. Is “free market” health care dignified? I ask you.

    5) Sustainability? Well, is it? I tend to think of local self-reliance as sustainable, particularly in terms of energy and food..

    Having said that, I acknowledge that our current status quo supports these business pursuits. They are perfectly legal. I even patronize such establishments. Still, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t discuss how we, as a community, want to develop.

    As such, thanks to Tim, Kini, and Damon for their participation in such a significant discussion.

  6. Darren: Is “free market” health care dignified? I ask you.

    Yes it is. Especially in this country. I can say that as a cancer survivor. The other half of my family comes from Europe and Canada. Where I have an uncle that has been waiting for two years for a simple procedure that could have been done in two week here in the states. Where I have a Aunty that died due to the Canadian government bureaucrats denying her treatment for breast cancer that could have been easily been treated in the United States.

    I just learned my wife has melanoma and is going to have surgery try and eliminate the cancer. What part of dignity do you not understand about the problems with health care in this country? When Canadians and Europeans come here for help.

    You are only listening to what the State Run Media is telling you to believe in.

    The folks here in the Hilo Medical Center have been the best in Class. My insurance companies have not denied my claims. Everyone have been very helpful in our time of uncertainty.

    Yet, people like you would run down this imperfect system as it is, but the only system that has tried to help and is doing a God Damned Good Job at it.

    People like you, that have never lived without freedom can spit on freedom. You, that have never lived with the government run health care bureaucracy, you have no idea of the nightmare coming.

    You worry about Fast Food. Shucks.

  7. Kini,

    To reiterate, I believe that government should regulate administration of citizen health care as a non-profit entity.

    Sorry to hear of your family’s illnesses.

    Btw, you might be a tad presumptuous in your characterizations and assessment of my motives and history.

    best of luck,


  8. Darren,

    By allowing government to regulate health care in any fashion will be the death nail to the best system in the world. It is not the job of government to get involved in free market enterprises. If you do not believe me just look at the state of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Veterans health care systems in this country. The systems are bankrupt and poorly run.

    Our private health care system as it stands is not perfect. I defy you to show me one that is. If anything, tort reform legislation is needed to reduce the amount of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. Laws against allowing bad doctors from getting a license to practice in another state after loosing their license in another state.

    I have personal experience in dealing with government run health care. It does not work. If what the Obama is proposing gets enacted, then every employer in the country will drop its private insurer. Why, because that will immediately take employee health care costs off of the employers bottom line.

    I do not want some pencil neck Washington bureaucrat determining if can get a procedure or not. But that is exactly what will happen if the government gets its grimy paws on it.

    As I said, you have no idea of the nightmare coming.

  9. Thanks for returning this to a civil tone, Kini. How about we avoid emotional, personal attacks–expressions like “people like you”…”running down the system”…”spitting on freedom”, etc–all emotional, inflammatory words. Reminds me of talk radio where the lefties and righties take joy in bashing each other. I really hate it. It’s as if the popular media conditioned us to disrespect others who disagree with us politically. Inflammatory remarks block the exchange of ideas, and undermines (imho) the speaker’s credibility.

    If you feel Darren was out of line, then go back and re-read his post: he was definitely attacking your ideas, but not you personally. That’s where I draw the line.

    In keeping with the theme of the post, mahalo in advance for keeping it pono.

    And it’s tempting as hell to get sucked into a debate on health care, perhaps a discussion for another day. For now I’m on a mission to take the pulse of our community regarding the Woodland Center development. I’m happy to post any idea or point of view, as long we stay focused on the issue at hand.

    P.S. Best of luck to you and your wife. It’s heartening to know you’re getting good medical care at Hilo Hospital–you don’t hear a lot of good things about our medical care here in the islands. But I have had good experiences at Hilo Hospital.

  10. Kini-

    Equating our nation’s health care with “free market enterprise” speaks for itself. Run that up a flag and see who among your neighbors salutes such a community plan.

    And it’s knell: death knell.

    Your precious “free market enterprise” has gotten much too involved in government.

    Remember Iraq? Our insane military budget?

    Do you think that people unable to afford private health insurance (due to their personal irresponsibility, right?) should just go off somewhere and die?

    I think our government, not “free enterprise” should be regulating for the PUBLIC GOOD — including health care.

    Actually, I’ve lived in Japan for six years with SOCIALIZED health care. My experience was that it worked quite well and reflected and reinforced a society that values the collective wellbeing AND the economic sensibility of such a system.

    Tim — Sorry to get off the track. I assume you might not mind some public discourse on such an important issue.

    For others reading this, and if inclined, you can peruse more of Kini’s and my world views at:

    I won’t speak for Kini, but me, I espouse what might be referred to as “progressive” viewpoints. In any case, I can assure you that our world views are seemingly quite different. I am concerned with how such different views might cooperate rather than take the contemptuous route — the stakes are too high. Mahalo.

  11. I think what is beautiful about this discourse… is it shows a bit where I come from in trying to bring the FBI Blogs together.

    I knew ahead of time what both Darren’s Views and Kini’s views are on the world… Well I can’t say that I exactly know.

    But if you read ones blog long enough, you get a general feeling about where that person’s views come from.

    I assembled the FBI Blogs on purpose for people of all views and sides of this island so that we would all be able to express our views and educate others on the way we feel things “Should” and “Should Not” be.

    Bringing this back to the subject of Woodland Center…

    Does anyone notice that less then maybe about a half mile to a mile towards town from the new fire station they are also clearing some land on the Kai side of the Highway? Anyone know what that is for?

    Ulupono Shopping Center in the middle of the new Bypass is going up soon next to the Credit Union.

    Will people be bitching about that as well?

    I find it ironic that one of the spear headers of the keep Pahoa Heritage District Movement, is running a surf shop in town with posters all over the side of the building with neon lights in the windows.

    Like I said before… dignity to one person is one thing. Dignity to another is something else.

    I think some of the run down, beat down vacant boarded up houses through town are more of an eyesore and a distraction then a new shopping center will be.

  12. Simple and to the point. As a new resident, I am sorry to see this development underway. I believe that, in the longer term, this development will prove to have been bad for Pahoa and the Puna district in general.

  13. *update* Drove by that surf shop tonight, and I need to correct myself to say that I did not see any Neon Lights. But did see a few skimpy bathing suits in the window. 😉

  14. A concerned citizen who goes by the name “Mr. Trolz” would like you to know that anyone who would dare criticize Woodland Development is a “complainer”. Here are his exact words:

    “all the complainers will be shopping at longs because it will be cheaper than malama market and that gets more bang for the EBT.

    all the complainers will purchase 99 junior whoppers as well because its cheap.”

    The world has far too many Mr. Trolz; folks who project their own shortcomings on others–complainers who look around for other folks they can label “complainers”. (Takes the pressure off them.) And what kind of person would call himself “Mr. Trolz” anyway?

    I find it fascinating that so many American compatriots can’t discuss more than one side of an issue. Our culture seems to encourage us to take one of two dogmatic extreme positions. No room for debate or discussion, let’s just call each other names and act condescending toward those who disagree with us. Comments on this post–especially by the pro-development crowd–really back this up. All came across as angry and defensive (even though development seems to be “winning”).

    And it makes me wonder: why do we Americans feel compelled to lock ourselves into one of two silly extreme options? (In this case “unbridled development” or “hippie tree hugging?”) Are we not capable of processing more than two extreme choices?

    Thanks to everyone who posted–even poor Mr. Trolz. You gave me some good ideas to chew on.

  15. I’m curious as to why Mr. Trolz’ comment didn’t appear in its entirety, if for no other reason than the mediation aspect/choices for these “discussions”.

  16. Darren, didn’t leave a word out; that is the entirety of what he said, punctuation mistakes and all. I didn’t “approve” his direct post because he just doesn’t seem…I dunno… “mature enough” for unsupervised posting privileges at this juncture.

  17. One of the reasons I moderate EACH and EVERY comment is because I have folks that are obviously comment just to bring people to their own site or sell something in their comments.

    Mr. Trolz one comment on my site seemed more like something to instigate something as well.

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