I joined a hopeful group of people in the Council chamber alongside my partner, Dr. Addison Bulosan, to testify in favor of budget set to fund the Lihue town core projects. Here is my public testimony:
Aloha Council Members, Chair Mel Rapozo, Vice Chair Ross Kagawa, Council Members Mason Chock, Gary Hooser, JoAnn Yukimura, KipuKai Kuali`i, and Committee Chair Arryl Kaneshiro.
I'm Juno Ann Apalla, a graduate of Pacific University of Oregon, and an alumni to Kauai High School, Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, and Wilcox Elementary School. After four years of undergraduate study, I traveled across the nation to New York and to Europe under a scholarship for Media Arts and Spanish Literature, only to find that my heart is in Kaua`i, and I want to be welcomed home because I am the most happy and healthy here.
In fact, with your encouragement, I am inclined to participate in the conversations about my future and the healthy growth of our island without fear of expression and innovation. I thank you for enabling me to do so by sincerely listening to my testimony asking you to approve the budget allocation of the TIGER Grant (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) towards the revitalization of the heart of Kaua`i, “the urban core of our county seat, Lihu`e” (1). This place needs to be a safe and dynamic place to live, work, visit— and like most of my peers, a place welcoming us home. I testify before you to give echo to an under-represented group here in this chamber, and I speak because I want to serve the very community who raised me alongside my loving parents, Dr. Antolin G. Apalla, Jr. and Mrs. Nancy Apalla.
I admire the culture I learned on Kaua`i. Our ability to live lovingly and coexist with each other in what most people in the world call “paradise” is a very important characteristic I sorely missed while I was gone, and this cultural aspect is what we have to share with our MOST valuable asset, our future generations. Our culture is Ohana, and it is a unique value to us, including the values of community service and community building, which is aligned with the purpose of the TIGER grant program: a recovery and reinvestment effort back into our community. I can only hope for a more affordable lifestyle at home, close to my loved ones, yet I prefer to do more than just hope for relief from a stifled lifestyle on Kaua`i, and rather, send you this testimony.
I am 27 years old and in my brief lifetime, I learned to be frugal with my finances because of the hardships I endured and because of the financial crisis in 2007-2008, which is the very years I graduated High School and entered College. The crisis is comparable to the magnitude of what my grandparents called The Great Depression. People were totally displaced and they took to the streets in poverty. Today, social services and non-profit organizations act as safety-nets, masking the actual state of our individual financial turmoil. I did not see the crisis on our streets like our grandparents, however the symptoms were felt within our Ohana, and I am unafraid to disclose that ever since entering college, I have yet to live a lifestyle worth more than poverty. I am hopeful that the burden of poverty is not a permanent one, but a solvable one through creative means.
The proposal in front of you is earmarked for revitalizing the Lihue town core, which gives me hope for a more affordable housing situation as an independent working adult. It enables me to cut down on personal vehicular expenses via shared-use paths and bike lanes on highways, and stimulates my interest in a more connected community. We need to change perspectives and notice that there is a different lifestyle choice that majority of us want to make, and we need your help to enable us to make these choices by approving the proposed budget allocation towards the revitalization of the Lihue town core projects.
On this note, I end my testimony, with deep and cordial respect.
Sources: http://plankauai.com/participation/, http://www.kauai.gov/Government/Office-of-the-Mayor/TIGER-Grant
Watch the testimony by clicking HERE.
(1) From an E-mail addressed to members of the Lihue Business Association