By Rich Figel
PROGRAM ALERT: The new September episode of Career Changers TV premieres Thurs., 7:30 PM on OC16 (channel 12/high def 1012). For daily viewing times, please visit www.CareerChangers.TV. You can also watch segments from past and current shows on the CCTV YouTube Channel, which now has over half a million views!
August was crazy busy for me so I didn't have time to weigh in on the elections (no surprise Neil got trounced -- I've written in this blog that right after he got elected, he and his "team" promptly alienated supporters by ignoring them), Kawainui Marsh plans (I live next to the marsh and can tell you the same objections being raised now were raised over 10 years ago by residents -- and ignored by the bureaucrats who get paid to do these pie-in-the-sky fantasy park plans), or UH athletics/football problems (again, same old obstacles ignored by the State Legislature and public at large).
And yet, my latest show is about people who are doing positive things without government help or involvement! What started as a short feel-good piece on Seed Restaurant in Kaimuki, near Big City Diner, grew into something much bigger once I started talking to the couple behind the venture. I was a bit leery when I first read that it was affiliated with a religious ministry because I consider myself an agnostic and have issues with organized religions in general. However, Jordan and Sonya Seng, the couple behind Seed and Bluewater Mission in Palama Settlement are... well, different than what you might expect. They met at Stanford University. His background was in academia -- he wound up at Harvard, writing papers on nuclear proliferation/WMDs and warned about meddling in the Middle East back in 2001 before we invaded Iraq (his analysis was quite prescient). She studied music, sang professionally (Jordan taught himself to play instruments so he could back her up) and acted in commercials, TV shows, musical theater productions. Jordan's stories about growing up on the run with his fugitive father is pretty incredible too.
None of that stuff is in the two-parter we're running this month. I'm saving their personal back story for a future show because I want people to hear why they started Seed Restaurant and understand that this is how change happens. They had no experience whatsoever in the restaurant biz. But they were trying to help the homeless, survivors of domestic abuse, sex trafficking and prostitution, ex cons... people who have largely been left to fend for themselves without the tools or resources to rebuild their lives. And here they are half a year later, with a thriving restaurant that sticks to their core principles of "justice." They are accomplishing more with far less money than city, state and federal agencies have spent on countless studies and pilot programs. Yes, it's on a small scale -- but that's how you tackle big problems: one person, one step at a time. I love what they're doing. Check out my show, and I think you'll be impressed too. Maybe even moved, like I was.
Speaking of tackling, I have to get in some last licks about the UH home opener against Washington. Months ago when it was announced season tickets were at an all-time low, I used that opportunity to upgrade our seats at a decent price. We've been there at Aloha Stadium, rain or shine, win or lose, and stuck with them through the tough times, which made the winning seasons even more special. When Ben Jay commented that football might be dropped, I knew he was talking about a hypothetical scenario set in the future -- not something imminent. But I hoped it would light a fire and make people realize you can't take things for granted. Sure enough, there was a much bigger crowd for the first game than was projected. And the stadium management blew it.
My wife and I got there around 2 PM for the 4:30 PM kick-off and we could already see the parking lots were nearly full. Traffic was backing up around the stadium. Hundreds of people waited hours to get into the lot, then waited in lines for tickets, or gave up and went home. Not a great way to entice fans to come out to future games. Inside the stadium, it was obvious the management expected the dire predictions of a small crowd. There were fewer concession stands open than we've ever seen at a UH football game, including during the Von Appen Era.
This is what negativity and pessimism does. It creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. The team is expected to be bad, so people won't come, so we'll plan on them not coming, and then when they come, we won't be ready to handle the crowd, so they'll have a bad experience... and then the future crowds will meet their initial low projections. Sheesh.
My one gripe about the UH effort on the field was a moment of indecision by the coaching staff during the first half of a tight game: fourth and one inside the Red Zone. The Bows had Washington on their heels. Joey Iosefa was plowing over people. We had already scored twice on the Huskies defense. Now, if this was Navy or Georgia Tech, which runs triple option, they don't hesitate. They line up with the QB under center. Sometimes they snap it quick. Other times they try to draw the defense offsides to get a "free" first down. If the defense doesn't bite on the hard count, they'll call a time-out or take a delay of game penalty, then kick the field goal.
So why didn't we at least try to draw Washington offside BEFORE calling the time out, instead of running a trick play AFTER the Huskies had a chance to regroup? That's also what I don't like about the shotgun in short yardage situations. It literally limits your options on running plays and takes away the QB sneak. Heck, even back when I played high school football, the quarterback and center always had an "automatic" tap on the butt play to snap the ball if there wasn't a defensive lineman covering the center. With a running QB like Woolsey, that should be part of the short yardage package.
Anyhow, I still liked that they went for it on fourth down instead of just settling for the field goal. Like the folks who started Seed Restaurant, sometimes you have to take chances and have faith in people to make things work.