Lead by example to make Hawaii better for us all
Kanu Hawaii is a movement of everyday people working to make Hawaii a model of environmental sustainability, economic resilience and compassionate community.
We are driven by a deep love for Hawaii. We hope that our grandchildren can fish, surf, hike and experience nature the way we have; that they live among people who celebrate different cultures rather than strive for "equality" through sameness; we hope they live in a Hawaii that uses its own resources - its year-round growing season, its wind, waves and sunlight, and its home-grown human talent - to make our people less vulnerable economically. Most of all, we hope Hawaii continues to be a place where the impulse to "go anywhere, do anything" is balanced by a strong sense of ohana and home, and where individualism and materialism are tempered by aloha and kuleana.
But how do we get there? When it comes to the big issues - such as the economy, environment and education - many of us are reluctant to get involved. It's easy to feel uninformed or powerless. It's also easy to be frustrated by the cynical, angry, egotistical voices that tend to dominate public discussion. Most of us do not express opinions or settle disputes this way, after all.
Kanu Hawaii utilizes a different brand of activism that is informed and courageous yet humble and respectful. We start by declaring our own commitments - "I will recycle," "I will help my local school," "I will practice and share something from my own culture" - that describe how we will address the issues we care about in our personal lives.
We can build an education system that prepares students for service in a diverse world. We can spend less time blaming and testing public schools, and more time learning how to turn pockets of excellence and innovation into practices that benefit all students.
We can use local resources to build an economy better protected from a risky dependence on imports and visitor dollars, an economy that gives communities a measure of self-reliance through local production of food, energy and other essentials.
We can protect precious resources and treasured natural assets by maximizing conservation and minimizing waste. We can re-engineer construction and production processes to reduce environmental impacts.
We can take personal responsibility for each other. We can get more informed, view voting as an obligation and testify on important issues of the day. We can rebuild the public trust by separating personal wealth from political influence and drawing more island voices into civic conversation.
We can promote an island culture built on a common foundation of aloha and kuleana. We can continue to live our diverse cultures, taking pride in our heritage, and working hard to understand one another's histories, experience and perspectives.
The time for a new creed and a new dream for Hawaii has come. The definitions of Hawaii as bridge between East and West, as exotic visitor destination, as military asset or simply a far-western American outpost no longer suffice. They fail to draw on what we know is special about Hawaii and ask too little of us, its people. We must define a new destiny for Hawaii that is worthy of our place, our culture and our moment in history.
This vision will call on a powerful community of purpose lying dormant in these islands. Our kuleana calls. It is a personal and communal calling, a local and a global calling to which we can all respond.
We invite you to stand with us.
James Koshiba is a co-founder and community organizer of Kanu Hawaii. He is a former faculty member of the University of Hawaii-Manoa and Chaminade University. Andrew Aoki is a community organizer for Kanu Hawaii.