TAKING MY CHEW TOY AND GOING HOME: The second Kookaburra-Kangaroo, Kookoo4CocoPuffs, Jimmy-Jonny-Jabber-Jam event will actually be taking place tonight in Kekaha despite attempts by Surfrider co-honcho Diana LeBedz’s to sabotage the community event so she could preach to the choir about GMOs instead of having a dialogue within the community.
The preparations for the “big tent” event has tuned into its own big-top side-show in recent days after LaBedz saw that she would be unable to control the event she had glommed onto and that the whole community- including the people who work for the GMO companies- would be invited to talk about things like the way they are poisoning our kids in school.
Without any consultation LaBedz sent out an email/press release yesterday “canceling”
the event saying that there were “insurance” problems and that instead they would be holding a session in Hanapepe with two anti GMO speakers she had invited
But it turns out nothing was cancelled. The problem is that a community dialogue was not what LaBedz wanted but rather she envisioned having her speakers preach to the choir, what the local community wanted to talk about be damned.
It all started yesterday mid-afternoon when LaBedz, apparently without talking to the original organizers, sent out the following to dozens of participant and members of the press:
Our speakers will be at a new location tomorrow 7:00 The Big Tent has been POSTPONED
Because of insurance, security and permits needed, the big tent will be postponed
Jimmy Torio will let us know the new date. The Kekaha Community Center is not available on April 30.
The Community Gathering's new location is United Church of Chris Hanappe. Right off the freeway next to the Hanappe Library across the street from the Fire Station.
Time 7:00 to 9:00
No need to bring chairs
Call if you have questions. Thank you. Diana XXX-XXXX
It's going to be wonderful. Please tell your friends, neighbors and family.
The Big Tent Event POSTPONED
Well this was certainly news to everyone else and after an apparent flurry of phone calls from the other angry organizers LaBedz sent this email to the same group:
This has been quite an ordeal. I changed the place because of the concern over the permits, insurance, security etc that Jimmy did not have, and only a day to make the changes happen for our guest speakers.
Jimmy is still going to have his event. Below is from an e-mail he sent about Dr's Pang and Valenzuela. He gave them both only 15 minutes to speak, we were quite concerned. Now I understand why. People reported that they heard Jimmy say on KKCR that Sygenta and Pioneer will be speaking.
"Although we may not have the EXPERTS.. We happen to have something we feel is better at the tent to discuss GMO. The representatives themselves whom many of us happen to know on a personal basis. We had planned to have both at the event but not this time. We had all along intended to invite the companies to participate and they are!"
I am so sorry about all this. I had no idea this would get ugly. Diana
Well this was all too much for Jonathan Jay who originally joined with Jimmy Torio who owned a big party tent and they both envisioned setting it up around the island for talk-story sessions about the issues in the community in a grassroots manner as opposed to the Mayor’s Ka Leo highly controlled and exclusionary community sessions.
The original session in Hanama`ulu was a bit of a success according to those who attended and it was stressed that all opinions views and persons were welcome and no one would have their views tossed aside as so often happens at meetings with an agenda.
But LaBedz insisted on making the Kekaha session into an anti GMO rally. And when all speakers- including representatives from the GMO seed companies- were invited and were going to be given equal time with the anti GMO-speakers she decided to sabotage the big tent and hold her own event.
Jay finally wrote to clear things up a bit:
Clarity - would that be a nice thing to have right now. Evidently we don't get to have that right now - too much waters stirred. Speaking only for moving forward, and not dipping back into the present mud flats, please do not take the wrong lesson from the present snafu. Here is a clarification of the purpose of the BIG Tent:
The primary purpose for the BIG Tent is COALITION BUILDING. As such, the BIG Tent IS available for community events, and CAN be used to prioritize a particular issue of import to the community.
This embracing focus on a particular issue will be placed into a context
of issues to the community. This way, the focused issue will not exist in any kind of artificial vacuum. This way, the opportunity for coalition building and strengthening the community's ability to make progress is brought to the fore - the WHOLE POINT of the BIG Tent.
The BIG Tent is NOT available for EXCLUSIVE focus on an issue that excludes all other matters and perspectives. To do so would be to take the issue out of context and then only look at half of it, not a helpful approach to expanding coalitions. This can be exclusive rather than inclusive, and IS ONE OF THE PRIMARY BARRIERS TO COALITION BUILDING WITHIN OUR CONTROL. This can define ourselves in opposition to others, locking in our problems rather than finding new ways to reach out and come together with solutions. Aole!
To review and amend Judie's earlier statement:
General Community Events: yes, BIG Tent!
Embracing Focus on an Issue in Context: yes, BIG Tent!
Exclusionary Focus on Issue in Vacuum: `a`ole mahalo!
please try come to at least one of the events tonight - either the larger community event in kekaha or Diana's event in hanapepe. The split is unfortunate, but either or both will still be worth your while.
Respected local Kekaha leader, kupuna Jose Bulatao had been key to organizing the event, trying to bring the local community to the event after many of them- some of whom owe their livelihood to the GMO seed companies- have been up-in-arms over the obvious, reported-yet-ignored-by-authorities poisoning of their children and neighbors by Sygenta and Pioneer- to the event .
He wrote everyone on the email list saying
I concur and wholeheartedly agree with Jonathan's statements articulated (in Jonathan Jay’s letter).
Now exposed as having fraudulently tried to sabotage the event and replace it with her own little event LaBedz wrote the following response to Jay
For clarity. This event was organized by the west side community members. The Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi, GMO Free Kauai, People for the Preservation of Kauai, members of the Sierra Club, Malama Kauai, the Surfrider Foundation, other organizations and individuals all had a shared vision. Our purpose is to help parents understand the abuse of chemicals around schools and the gmo plots spreading in our west side neighborhoods.
The tent's agenda, although good, distracted from our mission, diminished our goal and their leaders dropped one of our important speakers.
I had little time and choice when told that the red tape was not in order. So, it is what it is.
People can come to the Big Tent and hear the song sung by Pioneer and Sygenta and all the rest. Or, hear the honest truth from professionals that care deeply for Kauai's people and the land. ~Diana
To which Jay responded:
a hiccup with permits and insurance did indeed happen, but rather than resolve a very simple matter, a TREMENDOUS confusion has been sown.
now there are two worthwhile events (at the same time) rather than one, terribly garbled communications and altered plans at the last minute.
this is more than unfortunate; it is very junior high school.
Great team work is how as an Island we will resolve problems and move forward - evidently we need to work on our team work building skills.
We did hear from the voice of sanity on this, Katy Rose, who was not involved in the event but said this in an email to Jay today. It sums up a reality that LaBedz doesn’t seem to get.
I imagine you've already thought about this. If the discussion of gmo companies on the westside isn't taking into account the concerns of those dependent on the jobs, it will be a terrible discussion.
One way to frame the issue that centers it in the concerns of working people, rather than in the concerns of "elite" environmentalists: no one should ever be forced to choose between the health and safety of their families and putting food on the table.
This is just food for thought - put out there in the hopes that whatever discussion about gmo arises it will allow for the wisdom and creativity of those most impacted by their presence - in positive AND negative ways (ie the workers and their families) - to inform the search for alternatives. My fear, I suppose, is that the potential there might be lost by an elitist approach that alienates such people.
LaBedz and her husband Gordon live in Kekaha and founded the national Surfrider Foundation.