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KĀKOU: HAWAI‘I'S TOWN HALL – Join the Conversation

 

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Don’t Just Wait for Your Turn to Speak, Listen!

 

CEO Message

Don’t Just Wait for Your Turn to Speak, Listen!

 

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOWas it an “Only in Hawai‘i” phenomenon?

 

Talking with me on Long Story Short back in 2008, Hawai‘i Island Mayor Harry Kim singled out a barrier he faced in settling contentious community issues.

 

The problem isn’t getting people to the table, he said. They show up, all right.

 

But too often, they’re interested only in telling their side. Mayor Kim has seen the abyss between hearing and listening.

 

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim: "Will you at least listen?"

 

“Will you at least…listen?” he would ask assembled opponents. “Will you listen to the other side, then talk?”

 

Author Stephen R. Covey put it this way: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

 

Or as John Wayne commented drily to a big talker in one of his cowboy movies, “You’re short on ears and long on mouth.”

 

Hardly a new phenomenon, this practice of not listening has picked up steam. Talking heads on cable television have made it a tradition to shout over each other, and political town halls devolve into parallel rants. Courtesy is a quaint notion.

 

Here at PBS Hawai‘i, we don’t claim to have the answers. We believe that a path to understanding is civil discourse. We’re convinced that listening is as important as speaking.

 

That’s why we’ve become a trusted space for roundtable forums, one-on-one interviews and diverse group discussions.

 

The idea is to rely on active listening and grow a conversation that is far more illuminating than the setting forth of respective opinions.

 

If nothing else, listening guides you in knowing what to say and when, to best effect.

 

As 2017 comes to a close, I think of competing strident voices I’ve heard over the year; of many simmering issues in this country; and of people facing each other to talk, not listen.

 

My wish for the new year is a leavening of respect for others and understanding.

 

I’m not saying this will cure our ills, but I bet we’d have some breakthroughs.

 

We can start by being short on mouth and long on ears.

 

Wishing you peace,

 

Leslie signature

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO
PBS Hawai‘i

 

Different Strokes in Our Hawai‘i Canoe

 

CEO Message

Different Strokes in Our Hawai‘i Canoe

Participants at KĀKOU - Hawai‘iʻs Town Hall: Solomon Alfapada

Solomon AlfapadaTop row: Jim Dooley, Ulalia Woodside, Sean-Joseph Choo, Tracy Alambatin, Shayne Shibuya.
Bottom row: Denby Fawcett, Ryan Ozawa, Burt Lum, Ku‘uipo Kumukahi

Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEOWas it an “Only in Hawai‘i” phenomenon?

 

Before the red camera lights signaled the start of last month’s two-hour live KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall, our studio chief Jason Suapaia asked the 70 participants with diverse perspectives to “keep the discussion civil.”

 

He needn’t have worried. The discussion was interesting and it got lively, but as it turns out, the participants had a higher standard than civil. They were polite and even generous.

 

As participant Donne Dawson said afterward, “I deliberately did not raise my hand a second time even though I had lots more to say because I wanted more of the diverse group to weigh in.”

 

PBS Hawai‘i named our new Town Hall program KĀKOU because it means “all of us,” as in: All of us in these isolated islands – no matter how different – are in the same canoe. The question up for discussion: “Have you fact-checked your truth?”

 

In reflecting upon the experience, PBS Hawai‘i Board Member Aaron Salā wrote: “Probably nowhere else in the world would you get so many different kinds, and colors, of people in the same room at the same time to discuss a series of rather intimate thoughts and beliefs. Only in Hawai‘i…”

 

He harkened back to plantation times and the exorbitantly long, hard work days.

 

“That drive to survive caused us to figure out how to live together and rather than feign color-blindness (a concept that continues to baffle me), we celebrate a color-consciousness that helps us to really see each other,” Aaron said.

 

“So,” he continued, “we started this process in survival mode and, in many ways, we still choose to negotiate our peace every day because we know that we must survive. In a sense, we are the American dream come true.” And yet, he believes, “we are probably also the most outwardly racist community in the world.”

 

Participant Burt Lum, co-host of Hawai‘i Public Radio’s Bytemarks Café, was among several people who went home and kept wrestling with the topic of the discussion, about the idea of truth vs. reality.

 

He pictured a stadium full of people.

 

“There is some degree of shared reality, like the fact that you are all watching a football game,” Burt wrote me. “But for the most part everyone there has their own sense of reality, a result of inherent being, accumulated experiences and moral compass.”

 

Two hours on live TV and live streaming flew by. As we signed off, I thought how glad I am to be in the same canoe with these fellow Islanders who can directly address their differences, don’t pretend to have all of the answers, and actually listen to each other.

 

A hui hou (until next time),

 

Leslie signature

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO
PBS Hawai‘i

 

KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall
Have You Fact-Checked Your Truth?

 

Original broadcast date: Thursday, October 5, 2017

In this first live discussion, we ask: “Have You Fact-Checked Your Truth?” We take on the meaning of “truth” and how we view truth in an era of “fake news,” “trolling” and filter bubbles on social media. Is there one truth – or is truth in the eye of the beholder?

 


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