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Regardless of TMT outcome, help shape Mauna Kea’s future

Updated: 
April 6, 2017 - 9:12pm

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Mayor Harry Kim will lay out his vision for an Aloha for Maunakea World Park.

Kim has been vocal about his dream to create a space on the sacredly held mountain for a park that would symbolize people sharing and working together to achieve the impossible.

“Mauna Kea can be and should be a monument for the world, especially at this time, for mankind’s quest of knowledge to make us a better people,” he said.

The talk session is hosted by the International Lunar Observatory Association, themed “Maunakea and Hawaii 21st Century Astronomy” at Galaxy Forum Hawaii 2017 at King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.

How feasible the park idea is, only time will tell.

But it’s just one idea for Mauna Kea and there’s a group of people who wants to hear as many other ideas for the mountain as possible.

EnVision Maunakea, a 10-member volunteer committee — the Hui Ho’olohe — has recently started meeting with interested communities in closed-door sessions to hear feedback on what people would like to see on the mountain generations from now.

Susan Maddow, executive team leader for the nonprofit Friends of the Future, spearheaded the effort along with Gregory Chun, who has lived and worked on Hawaii Island since 1999 with Parker Ranch, Kamehameha Investment Corporation and Kamehameha Schools.

In a recent editorial board meeting, the group said their sessions started in Kona recently when they meet with several kupuna. The goal of the sessions is to gather as many perspectives as possible for the future of the mountain. What they gather over the course of the year, they want to put into an official document from which officials, agencies and the governor’s office can gain insight to inform future agreements and policies.

We applaud the effort, and hats off to Hui Ho’olohe members Rob Pacheco, Noe Kalipi, Michael Chun, Kanoa Withington, Ku’ulei Bezilla, Don Mitchell, Kihei Seto, Grant Hill, Reggie Lee and Bobby Hickcox for volunteering their time on such a serious topic.

It is a monumental task they have before them.

Mauna Kea, as most everyone here well knows, is in the middle of a controversy over the proposed construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, which is being contested by some who believe deeply the sacred mountain shouldn’t be the site of such structures.

The contested case around the project has dragged on and an end date seems far off. With TMT leaders announcing recently they’ve landed a backup deal with Spain to relocate to the Canary Islands should construction not resume on Mauna Kea, it all but feels the telescope has one foot out the door.

So, the listen group might be a little late, at least in regards to TMT, which, incidentally, also had the unhelpful timing of being the first telescope constructed on the mountain during the social media age, where organization is swift and outrage, for whatever reason, is given weight.

But Maddox and Chun don’t expect TMT to dominate their conversation. Their project is much more than just one project, they said.

They’ve started to hear a wide range of feedback, including what people would like to see for recreational opportunities for the mountain. The listen group, they said, is for every idea under the sun and stars.

But they are familiar with the passions around TMT and the mountain, which is why the listening sessions are closed-door, so people can feel safe sharing their ideas without worry of interruption or rebuttal.

For those looking to become part of a listening session, visit www.envisionmaunakea.org or contact Maddox at Friends of the Future, 885-8336 or susanm@envisionmaunakea.org.

Regardless of what happens with TMT, other ideas, proposals will pop up, and leaders, whoever they turn out to be, will have to decide if it belongs on the mountain. What’s being done now can help shape what insight those leaders have when they begin to consider.

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