Dustin Barca vs The World('s Largest Chemical Corporations) in "Aloha Aina Warrior"
Barca and Kauai locals take on the dirty world of agro-chemical and GMO testing in new documentary premiering tonight on the North Shore
When I make a new acquaintance on Kauai, after they learn what I do for a living, it's common for them to follow up with, "So... do you know Barca?"
I do not. I may have spoken with him on the phone once or twice (I think, at least), but I can't claim to know the man. Not even in a passing fashion. We both surf, we both live on Kauai. That's where the connection begins and ends.
I tell people as much, then brace for what follows. Barca's brash persona means everyone out here has a strong opinion about him. Either very good or very bad, almost nothing in-between. The reasons stem from any number of issues. Maybe he was a jerk to them back when they were kids. Maybe they support his much publicized anti-GMO crusade. Maybe they take issue with what they consider a fast-and-loose approach to science.
Maybe they're a racist transplant who sees every word in favor of Hawaiian self-determination as a blow struck against whiteness. (It isn't.)
I try my best to stay out of local of politics that don't affect me directly. Because a lot of time my opinion doesn't really matter. Back when the TMT (Thirty Meter Telescope) was in the news everyday I could understand both sides. The conscienceless White Man in me can’t believe any ground is sacred, for any reason. But the good liberal inside me believes indigenous peoples have a right to self determination, local beliefs should be taken into account when building massive structures, etc. I’m not exactly about to take up arms with anyone, but neither would I stand in their way.
I defer to local opinions, do my best to fence-sit, and try to keep everyone happy with me.
Aloha Aina Warrior—which premieres tonight, December 5th—looks like it'll give me more opportunities to keep my big yap shut. On a socio-global scale I'm okay with genetically modified food. Food security is a good thing. I buy mostly local produce, because it tastes best and I can afford it. I'm aware that without GMOs there wouldn't be a single papaya left in Hawaii. If I had a family full of hungry mouths to feed I might pass on the local tomatoes in favor of something cheaper.
Now, I don't trust Dow or Sygenta. Who does? If the locals want to band together and kick a couple evil corporations out of Hawaii, I'm cool with it. Whatever the reason. Even if the science behind the movement isn't air tight.
It's starkly apparent from the trailer that Aloha Aina Warrior is pushing an agenda. One that'll inspire you if you agree, make you angry if you don't.
But it's not that clear, who takes sides with who. (I'm not going to side with Dow or Monsanto, ever.) For years Barca's harshest on-island critic was Joan Conrow, who is a shill. As a haole transplant, I defer to local judgement.
My advice, if you take a trip of Hawaii this winter—keep your opinions to yourself. Locals have a connection to this place that we haoles never will. Smile and nod, then turn the conversation towards something everyone can agree on. Like how Foodland poke looks good while tasting like garbage, or how tourist drivers are the absolute fucking worst.