POSTED: 15 APRIL 2008 - 7:00am HST

A gathering interested in a movement

image above: Jimmy Torio's Big Tent pitched at Hanamaulu Beach Park. Photo by Jonathan Jay

by Rachel Gehrlein on 15 April 2008 in The Garden Island News

On Sunday, more than 50 residents gathered to talk about issues important to Kaua‘i in a large red-and-white-striped tent at Hanama‘ulu Beach Park. Issues including sustainability, food security and quality of life were discussed during “Uncle Jimmy’s Big Tent Kukakuka.”

Uncle Jimmy Torio, who donated the use of the tent, said the philosophy behind the tent is a type of in-your-face community outreach.

“It’s a building with no walls,” Torio said. “Everything should be expressed in an open way.”

The meetings in the tent are not confined to one issue, Torio said. Instead the meeting is to benefit the people and a benefit to those who listen to the issues expressed.

“Everybody gets to express one time before anybody can express two times,” Torio said of the main idea behind the tent.

“The response was very enthusiastic,” event organizer Jonathan Jay of Pono Kaua‘i said. “People were really surprised they could gather under the tent and not be lectured. It was very refreshing.”

For Jay, the best part of the day was the opportunity to work with the people, some he knew and some he didn’t.

“(I) was working alongside others, some whom I knew, and others that I met for the first time to physically build the tent in the first place,” Jay said. “It took lots of people, and we all had to work together to make it happen — a great metaphor for how a community can come together to accomplish important things.”

In order to keep track of what issues were most important, organizers had a form for everyone to fill out their top three concerns.

According to Jay, some of the biggest issues discussed were sustainability, including curbside recycling and locally-owned power; Hawaiian cultural issues, including sovereignty and cultural preservation; and the quality of life and affordability for those on the island, including cruise ship pollution and the loss of open space.

Another popular issue discussed was the military and the militarism of the police department.

“Another big issue was lack of police accountability,” Jay said. “If there were accountability, there would be greater community trust.”

Calling it a “mobile meeting hall,” Jimmy Trujillo, also an event organizer, said the event was a great setting to share space, food, aloha and concerns for the island.
“It was a spiritual gathering of sorts,” Trujillo said. “It was being of one people to create a better Kaua‘i.”

Trujillo said the crowd was diverse as far as locale was concerned. One person from Kekaha spoke about landfill issues, while another person spoke about issues specific to Koke‘e.

Representatives from various groups around the island came to the tent, Trujillo said, including Malama Kaua‘i, 1,000 Friends of Kaua‘i and the Sierra Club.
And because this is an election year, Trujillo said people discussed who they would like to see running for County Council and who should run for mayor, or if there should be a county manager instead of a mayor.

Trujillo said he did approach some county officials about coming to the Big Tent, but none showed.

“There was a tremendous amount of fellowship,” Trujillo said of those who were there. “There were deep and heartfelt sentiments that we need to work together for solutions.”

Though Big Tent organizers are unsure where the tent will go next, they are hoping to set up the tent in Nawiliwili Beach Park in August, marking the one-year anniversary of the “Superferry Standoff,” Jay said.

“Maybe the next time we do this, it will be closer to the election,” Trujillo said. “Maybe some (of the candidates) will come and talk story.”

For more information on the Big Tent, visit

Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or



POSTED: 10 APRIL 2008 - 4:00am HST

Uncle Jimmy's Big Tent Kukakuka

image above: Graphic by Jonathan Jay

by Jonthan Jay 10 April 2008

Grassroots Coalition Building

Hanama'ulu Beach Park

WHEN: Sunday 13th, 12pm-4pm.

Building Grassroots Coalitions

The end of one era, and the beginning of a new. After more than ten years of telling like he sees it, Uncle Jimmy Torio is stepping down from KONG AM radio. Will he pop up elsewhere on the FM band? Time will tell. One thing's for certain: It's gonna be fun!


Bring grinds, bring musical instruments, bring your kids, bring goals, and bring your good ideas for Kaua`i. We are all this together!

*SPECIAL NOTE: some folks should come early - 10:00am for coffee,
comradery, and to help set up "da big tent." You know who you are.

Bring a mug for java, and gloves if you have tender hands

We don't agree on everything, nor should we - some disagreement is healthy. The main tenant of a 'BIG TENT' philosophy is to come together where we DO agree, and build coalitions. Together, we are ALL stronger.

We can also agree to disagree - AMICABLY. Less friction in intertia-land is a good thing! When we work together, we form working relationships that are extremely helpful in getting stuff done, AND resolving our outstanding conflicts.

EXAMPLES: Sustainability, Protecting Kalo, Curbside Recycling, Hawaiian Sovereignty, Charter Amendments against Over-Development, for District Elections for the County Council, Walking Dogs on the Coast Path, Renaming the War Memorial Hall to Peace and Freedom Hall, Plastic and Styrofoam Bans, Resisting GMO, Banning Burning Bunker Oil, De-Militarizing the KPD, Food & Energy Security, Solar Water HeaterMandate, Ending Herbicide Spraying of Keikies, Full Spectrum Affordable Housing, Da Bus, solid waste solutions, the Superferry, protecting the trees still left in Koloa, Mahelpu, Koke`e...

... if you SEE your issue here, PLEASE RSVP: w/a topic near and
dear to your heart... chances are there are others who agree with you willing to work to make progress and positive change. Show up on Sunday down at Hanama'ulu Beach Park Sunday @ noon with an open heart to pitch-in, and provide your leadership.

see also:

Island Breath: Big Tent - New Math 5x2=10 2/17/07