Iselle Lessons And A City With Flair

A few views of Kensington Market in Toronto. JADE MOON PHOTO COLLAGE

A few views of Kensington Market in Toronto. JADE MOON PHOTO COLLAGE

My heart goes out to the people in Puna and Pa hoa, Hawaii, who took the brunt of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Iselle. If you can, please volunteer to help. If you are able, please donate to the relief efforts. Two good places to start are Hawaii Island United Way at, and Hawaii chapter of American Red Cross at

I wonder how many others were as shocked as I was at one of the causes of so much destruction: a type of tree that has spread across the Islands like weeds. Albizias were brought to Hawaii to provide shade and have taken root on all islands. We see now how that’s working out. Just imagine if a hurricane slams into population-dense and albizia-rich Oahu. The havoc wreaked by this invasive tree would be devastating.

I hope we heed the lessons provided by Iselle. We have a chance to do something about the albizias in advance of another disaster. Shame on us if we ignore the warning.

Iselle and its impact on our neighbors on Hawaii island also have me thinking it may be time to buy a generator.

“Head in the sand” is not an effective emergency strategy.

I came back from a quick vacation right before our state’s encounter with Iselle.

I had planned to write about some of my adventures, but for obvious reasons decided to shelve that idea.

I do want to say, though, I have found a new city to add to my list of favorites: Toronto, the most populous city in Canada, is a gem. It’s everything I like — clean, beautiful, diverse. I love the brash mix of old and new architecture. Almost half its population was born outside of Canada, which gives Toronto an exciting cosmopolitan, international flair.

My favorite part of the city is Kensington Market, which isn’t a market and isn’t a mall. Rather, it’s an older, multicultural neighborhood in downtown Toronto that in 2006 was designated a National Historic Site of Canada.

And it really is like venturing into another era. This Old World sensibility is on display in the Victorian homes, and also in the tiny, eclectic shops and multicultural cafes, especially in the “heart” of this charming neighborhood, Augusta Avenue.

The residents of Kensington Market — who include a number of artists and writers — are so protective of their unique neighborhood that they’ve forced businesses trying to move in to either transform themselves to fit or move out.

According to a community website, titled, appropriately enough, Toronto is Awesome, “Residents and store owners (of Kensington Market) have rallied against companies like

Nike and Starbucks from entering the ‘hood. In protest of a bid by Nike to open a storefront in Kensington, shoes with red paint were hurled onto the streets in demonstration of the disagreement with Nike’s child workforce.”

Nike went away.

Kensington Market feels to me like living, breathing art. Everything is beautiful — the people, the streets, the buildings, the flowers.

It’s the kind of place I’d want to live if I had to (heaven forbid) leave paradise.