By Pooch Harrington
A public notice has been posted at Uncle Robert’s Awa Club and is circulating social media outlets, offering an apology to patrons of the Outer SPACE Ho’olaule’a for the fact that EBT/SNAP can no longer be used at the Saturday farmers market. The notice points to two individuals specifically for the electronic system allowing people to use government benefits for vendors’ fruits and vegetables.
“Important notice,” the posting reads. “EBT/SNAP will not be available for several weeks due to the result of malicious, false, and vindictive complaints to various government agencies by local terrorists, RJ Hampton and Sativa Sultan. We are dealing with the situations as quickly and as best as we can. We deeply and sincerely apologize for the interruption of this vital community service, especially during the holiday season.”
The notice goes on to urge those affected to “address any concerns or complaint letters to Mayor Billy Kenoi or to the editor of the Tribune-Herald.”
“We do not tolerate any acts of hatred or social terrorism at this market as we highly value peace, love and community connection,” the notice states, before signing, “Thank you for your understanding. Outer Space Ho’olaule’a Staff.”
Six months ago SPACE Farmers Market, which was founded on Belly Acres at the Seaview Performing Arts Center for Education, relocated to Uncle Robert’s Awa Club and was renamed the Outer SPACE Ho’olaule’a.
The farmers market move came after a select group of Seaview residents launched a highly publicized campaign against the Belly Acres artists’ eco village. Spearheaded by Hampton and Sultan, who own a home together in the Seaview subdivision, the complainants made all sorts of accusations to various government agencies, which in turn depleted market organizers’ resources and wore down their community spirit. There were complaints about the noise of community functions hosted at SPACE and the traffic generated from these functions, and there were also allegations made that members of the Bellyacres commune chopped down Ohia trees and encroached upon the adjacent state conservation land. The Department of Land and Natural Resources has told the Tribune-Herald in recent months that the tree cutting and encroachment allegations are under investigation. In those newspaper articles, Hampton and Sultan are quoted, applauding DLNR for following up on the allegations.
Hampton and Sultan in recent yeas have run a sugar cane juice and sorbet business at the Maku’u Farmers Market. Hampton worked as a legislative aide for then Councilwoman Emily Naeole in the 2008-2010 council term. She ran for Hawaii County Council this year, and lost in the Aug. 9 Primary Election.
Pooch Harrington is a writer in Puna.