The Oprah show today covered poverty (with a capitol P). She visited some homes near here home and saw people without water. Anderson Cooper talked about Hurricane Katrina survivors and their woes and finally, Maria Shriver interviewed people in the South.
The Shriver report especially caught my attention because I used to live in between the two cities she visited. Coeburn Virginia was right next to where I went to college and Hindman Kentucky was 38 miles from where I was a DJ in Jenkins. I watched the report closely to see if I recognized any landmarks, but did not.
There are some similarities between where I live in Hawaii and those places in Appalachia. Here many people live in homes that would not be considered livable. On my island, there are developments, which have no running water, some with no electricity or phone service (and cell phones may not work).
We have one if the highest tax rates in the country. Some products here are expensive because they must be shipped in.
There are major differences though. On the mainland, the employment rate in those areas above is low. There are few jobs available and they are far away. Because of the weather, people may not be able to grow their own food.
Here luckily, we can grow just about anything we want and in fact, it is almost impossible NOT to have a green thumb here. If you want to trade vegetables to neighbors or make some money for odd jobs or working on a farm, it seems pretty easy. Just in the reasonably small town of Kona there are at least 3 outdoor farm markets.
Entrepreneurs can make jobs in this area because we have a high tourism industry. A few miles from me guys help put kayaks in the water and get paid to do it. Up county a fellow turned a water causeway into a water ride and charges a ton of money to tourists.
If you enjoy fish, you are just a few miles from the ocean. If the climate bothers you, there is a place on the island that would better suit you and you may be able to find a different place to live.
So I have to admit that I feel blessed to be able to live here and I don’t mean to say that everything is great here, just that we have a few more opportunities than they do back on the mainland. In an area that is not a tourist area, it is difficult for people to create jobs and to better themselves easily.
I have no answers or solutions, I just have the ability to write and hopefully get people to think.