In KSR’s Pacific Edge, an ecological utopia has been reached in a near future California where company sizes were limited; land, water and energy were nationalized; green ideas were respected and taken seriously; people did town work; they lived in common houses; and they took shifts taking care of the neighborhood kids. Yet greed and exploitation still existed. As we read on the story revealed members of a community and their fight against the conversion of “the last parcel of wild land” into a commercial complex. Thus throughout the novel the importance of personal relations in local politics and the intricacies of water law were prominent. I then thought to myself, how different is this utopia to my own home. Except ancient Hawaiʻi is the utopia we are trying to get back to.
In ancient Hawaii, life revolved around the ʻohana or family which included extended family, a group of both closely and distantly related people and community who share nearly everything: housing, land, food, children (yes even children), status, and the spirit of aloha, helping one another out in any aspect they could. Remind you of anything? Our communities were also arranged in land divisions called ahupua‘a. Although of many shapes and sizes, they all shared a common factor, streams. These streams provided the people living in the ahupua‘a their resources, their wealth. They realized the health of their community relied on water. Thus they treated it with reverence. Protecting precious streams and practicing conservation.
Hawaiʻi has since changed and the current constitutional, statutory and common law protection given water rights is largely the result of manipulation, argument, and purported reconciliation of Hawaiian and Western values pertaining to water use. Thus Hawaiʻi in its present is pretty much the plot of KSR’s novel, a battle to preserve our people and our natural spaces, specifically water, from exploitation and greed.