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Latest KĀKOU Town Hall Hits a Nerve

 

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Latest KĀKOU Town Hall Hits a Nerve
KĀKOU Town Hall Guests: Māhealani Perez-Wendt, Mike Irish and Aaron Salā

KĀKOU Town Hall Guests: Māhealani Perez-Wendt, Mike Irish and Aaron Salā

 

We did something a little different at the second KĀKOU Town Hall, televised and streamed live for two hours on PBS Hawai‘i April 19.

 

Mostly, we let the conversation unfold naturally. This wasn’t a shout-‘em-down event; it was a respectful Hawai‘i discussion in which people from different backgrounds and perspectives mulled quality-of-life answers.

 

Our topic was The Global Squeeze: How Do We Keep Hawai‘i Hawai‘i? Thirty-eight thoughtful invitees gathered, 16 of them Neighbor Islanders.

 

Participants were quick to point out that many residents, especially Native Hawaiians, are feeling that they need to leave Hawai‘i, as they weigh earnings against sky-high housing prices and a heavy burden of state and local taxes. Some characterized tourism as a perpetual engine that is running unchecked.

 

Back row, from left: Hank Adaniya, Rob Stephenson, Edward Wendt, Māhealani Perez-Wendt, Keoni Lee, Lori McCarney, Kealoha Hooper, Sabra Kauka, Mike Irish, Maenette Benham, Puna Dawson, Kepa Maly, Jan Harada, Tom Raffipiy, T. Ilihia Gionson, Corie Tanida, David DeRauf, Danny Goya and Peter Adler. Middle row: Denise Laitinen, Kit Zulueta, Mark Doo, Jon Osorio, Mike Buck, Kainoa Horcajo, Marlene Booth, Aaron Salā, Candy Suiso, Mark Suiso, Daphne Barbee-Wooten, Jay Fidell, Olin Lagon and Ekela Crozier. Front row: Jennifer Suzuki, Leslie Wilcox, Rebecca Meyer, Eric Enos, Skylark Rossetti and Craig Takamine.

Back row, from left: Hank Adaniya, Rob Stephenson, Edward Wendt, Māhealani Perez-Wendt, Keoni Lee, Lori McCarney, Kealoha Hooper, Sabra Kauka, Mike Irish, Maenette Benham, Puna Dawson, Kepa Maly, Jan Harada, Tom Raffipiy, T. Ilihia Gionson, Corie Tanida, David DeRauf, Danny Goya and Peter Adler. Middle row: Denise Laitinen, Kit Zulueta, Mark Doo, Jon Osorio, Mike Buck, Kainoa Horcajo, Marlene Booth, Aaron Salā, Candy Suiso, Mark Suiso, Daphne Barbee-Wooten, Jay Fidell, Olin Lagon and Ekela Crozier. Front row: Jennifer Suzuki, Leslie Wilcox, Rebecca Meyer, Eric Enos, Skylark Rossetti and Craig Takamine.

 

A high school junior, Rebecca Meyer, expects to move away. She noted that she’s never visited some special places on her home island of O‘ahu, because tourists are overrunning them.

 

The Dean of the UH Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, Dr. Jon Osorio, said, “We need to have political and economic change if Hawaiians are going to stay here. And honestly, if Hawaiians disappear from here, it isn’t Hawai‘i anymore.”

 

Dr. Maenette Benham, UH-West O‘ahu Chancellor, said that what keeps Hawai‘i Hawai‘i is the cultural values that young people hold in their na‘au, or gut, and how they use them as a driving force to uplift community.

 

Jay Fidell reminded everyone that cost-of-living anxiety dates back decades. “How do you convert that into recognizing the sea change and doing something about it?”

 

T. Ilihia Gionson of Kona said a good next step is voting in the upcoming election for a worthy candidate – “and if you don’t see one, maybe it’s supposed to be you.”

 

Māhealani Perez-Wendt of Hana, Maui, prefaced her answer by saying it’s “sensitive” and usually not discussed “in mixed company” – meaning Native Hawaiians and non-Native Hawaiians.

 

“What I hear in this room is a sense of resignation,” she said. She advocates Hawaiian sovereignty as an “agenda of survival.”

 

Her husband, taro farmer Ed Wendt, agreed: “This is deep, deeper than you think.”

 

A younger Hawaiian by a generation, Keoni Lee, offered that sovereignty should be viewed by non-Hawaiians as an opportunity, not a threat, as Native Hawaiians can lead the way in sustainability practices that once made their homeland flourish.

 

Maui’s Kainoa Horcajo preferred to call this “home rule” rather than sovereignty. He said, “It’s not just a kānaka thing, it’s a kākou thing…That is the way we truly solve all of these problems.”

 

Peter Adler, a professional in conflict resolution, listened intently during the program but chose not to speak. He told me later: “In certain settings, a shut mouth gathers no foot.”

 

You can find this discussion online at pbshawaii.org. Look for our next KĀKOU Town Hall this fall.

 

Aloha nui,

Leslie signature

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO
PBS Hawai‘i

 

 

KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall
The Global Squeeze: How Do We Keep Hawaiʻi Hawaiʻi?

 

In our second live town hall, we pause to consider where we are, and where we want to be. Change is inevitable. Some changes come quietly, incrementally, over years; others seem to emerge all of a sudden and nearly full-blown. How is Hawai‘i changing – for better, for worse, or both?

 

This is not a conversation about major controversial events that have been dividing our community. This is not a conversation about pro-this, or anti-that. This is a discussion about the finer details of life in Hawai‘i that affect our sense of place. What details compromise the core essence of Hawai‘i – and where are we willing to draw the line?

 

We’ve invited 40 individuals from across the state to participate in this frank, respectful and community-based discussion in our studio. We invite you to join the conversation through email and social media, using the hashtag #pbskakou. You can watch the live broadcast on PBS Hawai‘i, or the live stream on pbshawaii.org and PBS Hawai‘i’s Facebook page.

 


<< Return to the KĀKOU home page.

 

 



PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Living Your Dying

PBS HAWAII PRESENTS: Living Your Dying - Rev. Mitsuo “Mits” Aoki, a pioneer of Hawaii’s hospice movement.

 

Rev. Mitsuo “Mits” Aoki, a pioneer of Hawai‘i’s hospice movement and founder of the University of Hawaii School of Religion, passed away in August 2010. This film from 2003 highlights his own transformative near-death experience; his therapeutic work with terminally-ill cancer patients; the death of his wife Evelyn; and thoughts about his own mortality. For over 40 years, Rev. Aoki attempted to take the terror out of dying, and showed others how to experience death as not just the end of life, but as a vital part of life, as well.

 

For inquiries about “Living Your Dying” email the Mits Aoki Legacy Foundation at:
MitsAokiLegacy@hawaii.rr.com

 

 

INSIGHTS ON PBS HAWAI‘I
Have We Changed?

 

The 2016 Presidential Election will be remembered for many things. The ongoing rancor that drove the energy of this election may be a force that’s here to stay.

 

What about us? Has the meanness movement reach our shores? Locally, issues like rail, homelessness and GMOs have created disagreement and division among Hawai‘i people. Real tension among families and friends. Dissent between island communities.

 

Our own political campaigns have become meaner and increasingly negative. Voter apathy is attributed to a loss of confidence and trust in our leadership and the political process.

 

Have we changed?

 

Your questions and comments are welcome via phone, email and via Twitter during the Live Broadcast.

 

Phone Lines:
462-5000 on Oahu or 800-238-4847 on the Neighbor Islands.

 

Email:
insights@pbshawaii.org

 

Twitter:
Join our live discussion using #pbsinsights

 


INDEPENDENT LENS
The Revolutionary Optimists

 

Amlan Ganguly is a lawyer-turned-social-entrepreneur who has transformed some of the poorest slums of Kolkata, India by empowering children to become leaders in improving health and sanitation, using street theater and dance.