Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Volunteer Vacations in Hawaii: Do the Right Thing

One odd thing that I came to realize after 8 years of a fascist Junta controlling the White House was that the right's criticism of the left as ethical relativists was, like so much else from the right for a long time now, complete bullshit. The ethical relativists now defending torture, illegal spying on Americans, and other unitary executive adventures in totalitarianism have made it quite clear that on issue after issue, it is the left that stands up for some absolutist ethical or moral standard, while the right argues that it's OK, for example, to pollute and degrade the environment in some situations (when jobs might be lost, or when God said it was OK).

You're either doing the right thing or your not. Of course there are shades of gray on some issues (for all you philosophical mucker-uppers). But when it comes to things like torture, the world community long ago decided on a basis for what constitutes that definition, and even the Obama administration, much to my continued disapointment, seems to want to stretch that definition too far.

When it comes to the environment, the choices are just as stark. It's a huge, multi-faceted problem, and the best each of us can do is try to live a lifestyle that reduces our impact on the environment. Every little thing counts.

Hawaii Vacationers Volunteering: restoring native Hawaiian plant species for the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration PartnershipSo it is in that spirit of environmental ethical absolutism that I am happy to announce today that, along with my friend Cherie Attix (owner/operator of the Hale Hookipa Inn Maui Bed and Breakfast, and author of the Maui Hawaii Blog Hookipa Aikane (home sharing friend)), all you Hawaii vacationers who would like to do a little to help the Hawaiian environment, culture, and community can now sort through our list of Hawaii organizations that have ongoing volunteer opportunities at Volunteer on Vacation in Hawaii.

Volunteering is one of the cornerstones of American culture. The recent push for more National Service, which includes many enticements for young people to volunteer (like help with money for education), led Cherie to come up with the idea of making a web site with information about volunteering in her community (Maui). Most of the vacationing volunteer opportunities are environmental in nature, like eradicating invasive plant species, planting native species, clearing trails, and cleaning beaches. As we continue to build the site, we will add other cultural and community volunteer opportunities.

Cherie is offering a 5% discount to any guests of her B&B who volunteer for one of the listed groups. She will also donate 5% to the organization for which you volunteer. Nothing like a little incentive.

The idea of voluntourism is not new to Cherie, who was recently recognized by O Magazine for her efforts to get vacationers to Maui to volunteer while they're there. Her guests have all praised the projects for which they volunteered as fun, educational, and worthwhile. After all, if you really want to get a feel for the place you're vacationing in, what better way than to lace up your boots, pull on some gloves, and get out there and make it a better place?

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