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Thursday, March 22, 2012


A little more than two years ago I suggested in the Huffington Post that Honolulu (because it takes the initiative of a city to plan for one) attempt to secure the World Expo for 2020:

The Sustainable Expo for 2020

Click on the above to read.  Only Ron Shook (you don't know him) and Guy Toyama (enterprising Big Island guy) showed any interest.  Guy recommended that instead of only showcasing Oahu, the whole state should be served.  So, I expanded the posting accordingly:  Hawaii Sustainable Expo 2020: Visions for Blue Planet Earth.  More specifically, as we are in the middle of the largest ocean, our expo can set the stage for the utilization of the riches of the sea for clean energy, next generation fisheries and marine biomass plantations, green materials and exciting habitats in harmony with the blue environment.

Here is the problem, and, amazingly enough, the solution.  Hawaii is broken.  You can blame politics, personalities, lack of industry, unions, manini thinking, whatever, but nothing monumental is possible in this state anymore.  From the sinking of the Super Ferry to the debacle that will become the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, we just can't do anything awesomely wonderful.   

In my world travels, I have been through Atlanta, Seattle, Vancouver, Tokyo, Tsukuba, Osaka, Seoul, Barcelona, Seville, Munich, Helsinki, Montreal, Shanghai (photo to the right), Beijing, Paris, Moscow, Rio de Janeiro, London and a few other metropolises, where I noticed that each hosted the Summer Olympics or World Expo, and usually both.  In each case, the people experience became enlightening, for they learned that rivals in unison can, indeed, accomplish miracles.  Cooperation led to success, reinforcing credibility, cascading into a progressive municipality.  Hawaii needs to re-think itself, and I can think of no better way than to host...well, certainly not an Olympics, but a World Expo, sure.

Okay, first, we can't afford to host something so grandiose as an Expo.  Ironically enough, the suffocating rail transit could well be the solution.  Why not combine both into an international partnership,  where a good portion of the total budget could come from foreign countries?  Here is the simple solution to greatness for Hawaii:

  1.  Many of you have visited EPCOT Center in Florida, and roamed the international villages around the lake.  Pattern the "new" Honolulu mass transit line like EPCOT.

  2.  Instead of using Federal and State funds to build the rail stations, develop a mechanism for awarding international consortia the rights to them, allowing developmental jurisdiction a hundred yard radius surrounding each site.  

  3.  There could be a China station (where they would build a hotel, several restaurants, a cultural center, and maybe bring in two pandas), and similar venues from Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Africa, South America, etc.

  4.  Most mass transit systems are only used during the morning and evening traffic periods.  If the very best hotels, restaurants, public attractions and entertainment centers are at the stations themselves, people will utilize rail for a good part of the day and weekend.

  5.  In keeping with the state-wide theme, the Hilo, Kailua-Kona, Kahului and Lihue (one of the stations will be nearby in Honolulu) airports can be upgraded into Expo stations.  Also, too, each major island could have another Expo site where tour boats dock, for these harbor facilities are essentially today dumps and can use a re-awakening.  These attractions would then well link with the symbol of the Expo...

    6.  ...the Pacific International Ocean Station, the showcase focus of the entire exposition, for this Expo will feature the ocean around us.

  7.  When the EXPO is over, the stations remain in place, except by then branches of international corporations would hopefully establish residence in or near them, as there is  convenience in critical mass.  Hawaii, in one grand EXPO can become the international headquarters of the world.  Well, that would be too much, but certainly on a mini scale.

Is it too late to compete for the 2020 Expo?  Realistically, yes.  But....  Last year the Expo was in Shanghai.  Seventy three million visited.  This year Yeosu (South Korea, to the right) hosts.  In 2015 it will be Milan.  Nothing has been decided for the follow-on years, although Canada and Spain seem to be the leads for 2017.  Manila, Brisbane, Copenhagen, Sao Paulo and Ayutthaya are in the running for 2020.

Maybe it's best to consider more creative options for the current mass transit effort and start fresh linked to a World Expo.  The Year 2020, so perfect and visionary, might be impractical.  Let's plan for the Hawaii World Expo of 2022!   If global leaders choose not to come, what have we lost in trying?

The Dow Jones Industrials dropped 78 to 13,046, with world markets also mostly decreasing.  Gold fell $6/toz to $1645, while the WTI crude is at $105/barrel and the Brent Spot at $124/barrel.


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