In late August 07, the Washington Post Magazine commissioned me to shoot a documentary on Clayton Beaver, a 40-year-old Waianae resident who was joining the Army. Last year, the army raised its age limit for new recruits allowing Beaver to join. Hardship and a sense of patriotism drove Beaver to follow this path the military attractively sold. Large bonuses and increased benefits also enticed Beaver, along with many others to consider the path of the military.
I covered the Hawaii side of the story examining Beaver, his background, and his family. Another photographer met Beaver at boot camp and covered his initial training. My documentation found what I describe as “Island hardships.” Whether this term makes sense, I find it descriptive of how live in Hawaii can be so far away from the advertisements in the travel magazines and tourism boards present.
With a very high cost of living including sky rocketing real estate prices, below national average salaries don’t allow for a comfortable living. Affordable housing costs can be found in Hawaii but sadly many of these neighborhoods are plagued with socials ills and bad schools. Hawaii is a trap for many…anchoring many locals here with family, friends, and as Michael Leahy described, aloha.
So many here are trapped by large families, low pay, and sadly, drugs. What most tourist encounter on the beaches of Waikiki and Maui are fantasies that a majority of local people will never afford.
Here is the link to the Honolulu Advertiser from November 23, 2007. The story was syndicated locally and is easily accessed.
The Advertiser published the powerful story along with my photos. The other photographer could not be reached by publication.
The Washington Post Magazine link:
You have to register to see the original story and images from both myself and photographer Brett Flashnick.