values

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Lois Kim

 

Strength and grit were the two values that Lois Kim’s Korean American parents instilled in her from an early age. But when tragedy struck, she turned to drugs, which took her down a dark path that resulted in prison time. She’s since served her time, and is now using the power of storytelling to share her exploration of vulnerability – and a new source of strength.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Sunday, Dec. 9, at 4:00 pm and 11:30 pm.

 

Lois Kim Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

I remember this one time, right before my mom passed.  I think it was maybe two or three months I’d been out on the streets, and she saw me on Kapi‘olani Boulevard.  She had lost a lot of weight by then, and she started crying and she said: I thought you were dead.  You know, where have you been?  And you know, I was dressed kind of scantily clad, and … I remember feeling a little embarrassed to see her.  And the only words that could have come out of my mouth at that wasn’t: I’m sorry, Mom, I’ll be home, I’m sorry what I did to you.  It was: Mom, do you have money?

 

She was a young wife, mother, and assistant vice president at a local bank when events in her life triggered a downward spiral: drug addiction, life on the streets, and a spot on Hawaii’s Most Wanted List.  Lois Kim candidly shares her story, next, on Long Story Short.

 

One-on-one engaging conversations with some of Hawai‘i’s most intriguing people: Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox.

 

Aloha mai kākou.  I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Recovering addict Lois Kim describes her childhood as growing up in a stable middleclass family environment, surrounded by siblings, a grandmother, an auntie, and her parents, who were immigrants from South Korea.  Her father was an engineer who later become involved in local politics, and worked on behalf of the Korean community in Hawai‘i.  She says her mother was a workaholic, an entrepreneur whom some referred to as the Godmother of Korean Restaurants.  Kim says her mother would take a struggling business, and turn it around with her instincts, reputation, and cooking skills.  And it was not unusual for her busy working mom to send a taxi to pick up her children at school.

 

With all that work she did for so long, were you close to her?

 

Not growing up; no.  I remember always longing to have what I saw on TV, the Western family.  Longing to have a mom that would pick me up every day, go to like after school practices with me, hug me, say I love you; all that cheesy stuff.  I remember longing for that.  But today, in retrospect, I think she did the best she could. She came from a different culture than I was brought up watching on TV.

 

She was busy providing for you.

 

Yes.

 

So, that means when you were sick from school, you were alone.

 

My grandma; my mom had brought over my grandma to watch over us from Korea.

 

So, you always had somebody in the house?

 

Yes; either grandma, or before that, there was this auntie that my mom trusted with us.

 

You said your dad was a politician.  And was he a strict father?

 

He was very quiet.  Extremely strict; he would make my brother and I uh, meditate at night. You know, he’d sit us in front of him, he’d sit on the couch, and he’d watch us for an hour.  And I think we were like … I was ten and my brother was six. You know, for a ten-year-old to sit there with their eyes closed and meditate for a whole hour was impossible. But my dad just grinded it into us. He tried to teach us a lot about discipline and being strong.  He wasn’t very loving in a sense, only because, you know, traditional Asian family; he was the man of the household.  But when he spoke, you listened.

 

He would spank you?

 

He did, at times.  I remember being afraid of the golf club at times.

 

He would hit you with his golf club?

 

Yeah.  For me, looking back today, it’s just discipline; a different type of discipline. I wouldn’t call it child abuse. Maybe some might today, but it was just to make me a stronger person.

 

What were you like as a kid?  Besides being bratty.

 

I was an introvert.  Childhood was kind of rough for me, only because you know, I couldn’t really fit in well.

 

Did you speak Korean, or what was your language like then?

 

My first language was Korean.  So, going into school, I really couldn’t converse with the other children, the culture was different.  So, I was kind of an outcast.  And then, I think later on, as I got older, I turned to food to comfort myself.  And this is back when childhood obesity wasn’t that prevalent.  I was extremely overweight.  I remember being the biggest kid in class, bigger than all the boys and the girls, height wise and weight wise.

 

Did you get picked on?

 

I did.  I got picked on, but because of my size, I was able to stop the bullying right there.

 

How were your grades?

 

My grades were mediocre, only because I think it bored me; high school didn’t really challenge me.  At some point, my father thought that maybe it would be a losing investment to put me through college, only because my grades were pretty low.  I was determined and stubborn.

 

What made you determined?

 

I think a little bit of my dad refusing to pay for my college.  ‘Cause I knew in the back of my head that, you know, that’s what parents are supposed to do.  They’ve provided for me up until now.  They haven’t provided a loving family style, but they’ve always provided financially. And it goes without saying, they’re gonna provide for my education.  But that day when he told me that he’s not gonna put an investment into my education, is when I realized: Hm, what?  I’ll show you.  My father paid for everything for my brother.  ‘Cause in our family—and I think it’s typical of all Asians, you know, a son you take care, he’s like the king of the family.

 

Yeah. So, I can see how there were a lot of reasons to feel resentment and worry.

 

M-hm.

 

As a child.

 

I did; I did have a lot of resentment, a lot of anger.

 

But somehow, you said: I’m gonna go to UH.  How did you pay for that?

 

I worked at the bank as a teller, and I got grants and loans.  I’m still paying off my student loans now.  But I made it happen; I made it happen.  Yes.

 

You enjoyed college?

 

It was challenging, and that’s where I excelled, because it was something that mentally stimulated me.  And when I graduated, I graduated on the Dean’s List.  So, I was holding down a job, paying for college, and getting good grades.

 

What happened next?  At some point, you met somebody that you married.

 

A gentleman I was working with at the bank introduced me to his friend.  He said: Hey, look, I’ve got this friend, he lives in Guam, but I think you guys would match; you guys are both intellectuals, you’re both Asian, both Korean. And that’s an important thing. So, I started emailing him.  We emailed back and forth.  He came down to visit for about ten days.  My family met him.  He was the perfect son-in-law my mother and father had always wanted.

 

What about you; were you in love with him?

 

Well … I loved how happy my mom and dad were. And he was a good man.  You know, he is a good man.  He’s good on paper, accomplished.  I think he was pre-law at that time.  So, love was probably the farthest thing from my mind.  He just made logical sense.

 

And at some point, you had a baby.

 

About a year or two into our marriage; yes.  The right thing to do; right?  The typical thing to do.  I had a daughter.  I remember giving birth to her, and just instantly falling in love, and thinking: I’m gonna do everything in my powers to protect you; and at the same time, I’m gonna do everything in my heart to love you and show you the love that I’ve always longed for.  But time will tell.

 

What happened to change your daughter’s life, your life, your husband’s life?

 

Those turning points in life; huh?  So, I was at the top of my career, doing so well. My father and I were finally building up a relationship.  You know, he called me just because he was lonely or bored.  I’ve never had that.  It was amazing.  I remember receiving a phone call saying: This is St. Francis Hospital; you need to come here right away.  I asked for more information, but of course, they couldn’t give me any information over the phone.  I remember driving up to St. Francis, and the first person I see is my mom.  She runs to me, and she collapses in my arms.  She tells me that my dad passed out, he’s on life support, and he’s in the ICU.  Speaking to the doctors, they told me that he’s got like, ten percent brain activity left, and prepare yourself.

 

Shortly after Lois Kim lost her father, her mother was diagnosed with cancer, and the grandmother who looked after her as a child passed away.  It seemed that just as her life was finally coming together, those she loved were being ripped away.  She says she couldn’t cope with so much loss, and that’s why she spent more time away from home, at bars and clubs, where she met someone who introduced her to cocaine.

 

It did a weird thing.  It alleviated some of the pain; it made being conscious and awake a little bit more bearable.  And that’s when the downturned happened.  You know, of course, the more your body gets used to something chemical, it needs a little bit more.  And then, that’s when I started to experiment with crystal methamphetamine.  I can handle it.  This drug will never bring me down.  I’m just gonna use it for now to get over this hump, and then get back on track. You know?  I’m not an addict.  This drug is not gonna consume me.  Couldn’t have been more wrong.  It took everything from me.  And I let it.

 

So, I need to ask you.  You still had family; your husband and your child.

 

Yes.

 

So, you didn’t lose all your family.

 

Not at that point; no.  My mother was still alive, as well.  But I acted selfishly at that time.  I told my husband that I don’t love him anymore.  I moved out.  I stayed with my mom, and then I remember just going out frequently.  And it was this perpetual snowball.  Like, I wouldn’t come home ‘cause I was embarrassed because of my drug use.  Then I’d feel guilty, and do more drugs.  Then, it would prolong my stay out on the streets, you know, staying at strangers’ houses, drug dealers’ houses, just trying to get high.

 

What was a day like for you when you were on crystal meth?

 

It’s hard to demarcate when the day starts and ends, because crystal meth is a stimulant and it’ll keep you up for days on end.  So, I guess to describe, let’s just say, okay, in the morning, my day would start with having nothing in my pockets, and wondering in my head: How am I gonna obtain this high?

 

And where were you waking up?

 

Sometimes, in stairwells.  Sometimes in game rooms.  Sometimes … at strangers’ houses, being woken up to man on top of you.  It was an adventure, to say the least, I guess. So, I’d wake up with nothing in my pocket, with a goal in mind.  My only priority at that time was to obtain more drugs.  So, I’d go out on a quest.  For a lot of women, there’s only a few ways you can obtain drugs out there. It’s either you sleep with a drug dealer, or you obtain something worth something, to sell.  And because I was Asian, I could fit in with the tourists. I quickly got drawn into what we called boosting, which is essentially shoplifting from stores, and obtaining items that a high demand on the streets.

 

How did you learn to do that?  I guess your native wit takes over.  How did you do it?

 

You have to learn to survive.  So, you know, in the dark world of the drug world, there are some people known as professional boosters.  So, I would go to them, pick their brain, learn from them. And they taught me a few tricks and things that I could do to get past sensors.  And then from there, I took that and just melded my own theories into it. So, I was able to support my habit that way.

 

And all this time, what were your thoughts about your daughter?

 

There would be moments she’d creep into my head.

 

But generally not?

 

No.  I knew she was safe.  I knew she was well, she was happy.  Well, in my head, I convinced myself that she was happy, and that me being in her life might just be worse.  So, I kinda tricked myself into justifying why I wasn’t there for her, or staying out on the streets longer.

 

Did you think of the future?  Like, I’ll just do this for a couple more days, and then I’ll stop.  Did you have that feeling, like it was not gonna be what you did forever?

 

That’s how it began.  It did.  I told myself: You know, it’ll be just until I get over this, or I’ll wake up someday.

 

Get over what?

 

The grief, the pain, the loss.  But then, it slowly turned into … towards the end of my drug addiction, I was hoping that it would be the end of it.  Like, I would die high.  Like hopefully, this drug will do so much damage to me that it’ll just take my life from me.  Towards the ending of my drug use, I was shooing ice intravenously, using needles.

 

Well, how did it get to be in your past?  What happened to change this, where you’re hoping to die high?

 

So, naturally, I got in trouble with the law.

 

I remember seeing you on Hawaii’s Most Wanted.  And it said that loss prevention officers at a store, you were a known person to them, and they followed you and they caught you with a couple of items.

 

Like, five of them just jumped out of the bushes, called me by name, and you know: Drop what you what you have in your hands and don’t move.  Something out of a movie.  But yes, they took me.  It was enough to convict me with felony charges.  I think I had drugs on me, so another felony charge.  I got into OCCC, and that’s when I learned that … my mom was in a coma.  I guess the reason why when she saw me on the streets and asked me to promise to come home that Thanksgiving was because she needed to tell me that she needs me there for her when they’re removing the tumor.  I wasn’t there.  So, in OCCC, I got a phone call from my brother saying that Mom’s on life support, we’re taking her off.  I begged and pleaded, and asked him to bail me out, let me be there for her.  You know, I wasn’t there for her when she needed me the most, let me be there for her now.  He said, no.  So, eventually, I did get put on probation.  But it’s the weirdest thing.  The judge knew I had nowhere to go.  So, at that time, my mom passed, her funeral happened.  I thought my daughter and her dad had moved back to Guam. Nobody communicated with me while I was incarcerated.  And then, the judge let me out on probation, out on the streets.  So, I went straight back to the game rooms, got high within an hour of getting released.  And I think that’s when you saw me on Hawaii’s Most Wanted, ‘cause I absconded. They were looking for me.  I think I was on the run for about two to three months. They found me in a game room, took me in.

 

While serving time in prison in Kailua, Lois Kim was enrolled in a mandatory drug rehabilitation program.  She recalls a life-changing moment of clarity.  During an exchange with her counselor, she declared that since she lost everything and everyone she loved, she just wanted to die high.  The counselor wasn’t buying any of it.  She looked Lois Kim dead in the eye, and challenged her to get off her pity pot.  Something clicked.

 

I was like: What?  I was on a pity pot.  I’m better than this.  I’m stronger than this.  I was bred to be strong, through my upbringing.  Why am I acting this way?  And that’s when that proverbial turn in your life happened again for me. You know.

 

It’s interesting that that got to you, because you probably knew that at some level already.

 

I knew it; I knew it.  But she said to me in a challenging manner, just like how when my father had told me: I’m not paying for your education.  Oh, I’ll show you.  Oh, get off my pity pot; you don’t think I can?  I’ll show you.  Well, getting over addiction and all that trauma in your life is never a one-day thing, or one-thing thing.  I remember just, you know, beginning my healing process at that time.  But again, I was incarcerated, and then sobriety was hitting me.  And when you’re sober, all this guilt just comes rushing back into your life, into your wellbeing.  I remember having recurring nightmares of seeing my mom and my daughter with their back towards me, and me screaming out to them, but they wouldn’t turn around. I didn’t know where my daughter was. I knew there was so much I needed to say to apologize, so much I needed to explain, but I didn’t know how.

 

How many years had gone by since you left the home?

 

Maybe two years straight, and maybe … four years altogether, where I’d come home once in a while.  So, a straight two-year absence from my daughter’s life.

 

And how old was she then?

 

She was probably about six when I started.  And then, through seven, eight, nine is when I was gone.

 

Did you feel like you owed your—was he your ex-husband by that time, an explanation?

 

He knew.

 

So, no need to have words over that?

 

I remember apologizing to him, ‘cause I knew that was what needed to be done.  But as for an explanation; no.  He knew what I had gotten myself into.  I mean, it was plastered all over the news; he knew.  He knew exactly what grievance I was going through too, ‘cause he was there when my father had passed.  He was there through the whole thing.  So, he knew why I did what I did.

 

What was it like between you and your daughter when you were reunited for the first time?

 

It was kinda … you’d like to think it was like a storybook ending, where we ran into each other’s arms, and lived happily ever after.  But it was kinda awkward in the beginning.  She had her wall up, and I didn’t know how to get past that without offending her.  It was kinda like two strangers meeting … but they’re family.  So, it was baby steps.  So, from the first meeting, we started talking on the phone every day, ‘cause I was allowed to talk on the phone for fifteen minutes at a time.  I’d call every evening.  We started to play this game that we made up, where she likes to act out a role, and we’d role-play.  And then from there, it went into her coming and staying, and sleeping at the furlough house on weekends.  And then, when I graduated from the furlough program, her father actually allowed me to come and rent a room from him.

 

So, you had regained, if not his trust, at least a second chance.  And your daughter, too.  You know, your daughter had to be onboard for that too; right?

 

I think what happened was, he knows that who I was while high or addicted isn’t who I am.  He knows the core being of me is responsible.  And I think that’s the thing; responsible.  Maybe not so loving, maybe not so caring, but he knows I’m a very responsible person.  And I remember before he allowed me to rent that room, we had to interview with his landlord.  So, what took me off guard is my ex-husband telling the landlord: You know, I don’t back anybody up, but I’m backing her up; she’s very responsible, she’s changed, she’s a good person.  That’s the first time I’ve ever heard him say anything nice about me.  And that‘s when I knew I’m doing well.  When I got reunited with my daughter, I shared every part of my life with her: the embarrassing parts, the hard to swallow parts. So, she understands.  But the importance is that I told her it was a bad choice, and we come up from that.  I didn’t alleviate any of my wrongdoings, I didn’t wash my hands saying it wasn’t my fault.  I told her: Yes, it was Mommy’s fault, Mommy made bad choices, but I can fix it.

 

At the time of our conversation in the Spring of 2018, Lois Kim told us she was employed fulltime, and continued to work on her recovery and rebuilding her life with her daughter.  She was also committed to earning a relationship with a son, who was born during the years of her addiction.  He lives with his paternal grandmother, who still isn’t ready to permit Kim to establish a bond with her son.  Lois Kim says she understands, and sees this as another opportunity and challenge to prove herself.  We wish her personal peace and sobriety, as she shares with everyone her first published work, Mommy Loves You, a heartfelt message she wrote for her daughter during a critical period of her journey back.  Mahalo to Lois Kim of Honolulu, O‘ahu, for sharing your story with us.  And mahalo to you, for joining us.  For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox.  Aloha nui.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org.  To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes Store or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

What did she make of your book, Mommy Loves You?

 

The book helped open up the discussion.  She told me that she had thought I abandoned her. She thought it’s because I didn’t love her.  And at one point, she thought I was dead; she thought I had passed.  The lucky thing for me is, I got sober while incarcerated. I also got to heal while incarcerated. So, I was speaking about having all that guilt and turmoil inside of me.  That’s when I got granted an opportunity to write a children’s book.  At first, I didn’t want to do it, because I thought it hurt too much.  Like, who am I gonna write to, who am in gonna give it to; I don’t know her address. But someone encouraged me to.  I wrote it within two, three minutes of sitting down.  It just … flowed straight out of me.  Did the artwork.  And that’s when I think I really began to heal.

 

And if I’m her, my question is: How do I know you’re not gonna go right out and do it again?

 

You don’t.  You don’t.  I don’t. I would like to think I won’t. You know, addiction is a very scary thing.  I would say ninety-five percent of my sisters in addiction has gone back.  And like you brought up earlier, the whole relapse thing. I haven’t relapsed.  I hope I never will.  But statistically, it’s likely.  Those times when I think about relapsing, I remember how horrible my life was back then.  I remember everything I’ve earned today, and how hard I’ve worked to get it.  I think before I get high, I think about my child, my children.  I need to be responsible.  That’s a part of my past that, you know, been there, done that.  Let’s never, ever revisit that.  But it’s a notch under my belt.  You know, I’ve been there, done that, I’ve lived through it, and hopefully … I can forever remain a success story.

 

 

 


INDEPENDENT LENS
Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky

 

Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky Experience the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of award-winning writer and farmer Wendell Berry, back home in his native Henry County, Kentucky.

 

 

POV
Dalya’s Other Country / 4.1 Miles

 

In Dalya’s Other Country, follow a family displaced by the Syrian conflict, walking the line between their Muslim values and the new world they inhabit. Afterward, the short film 4.1 Miles features a Greek Coast Guard captain caught in the middle of the biggest refugee crisis since WWII.

 

4.1 Miles

 

 

 

PACIFIC HEARTBEAT
Ever the Land

 

This film explores the sublime bond between people and their land. For the past 150 years, the relationship between the Tūhoe Maori tribe and the New Zealand government has been defined by longstanding grievances over severe colonization experiences. The film captures a period of change in 2014, when the Tūhoe’s ancestral homelands were returned, the New Zealand government issued an official apology, and the Tūhoe built the first-ever “Living Building” in New Zealand as a testament to their values and vision of self-governance.

 

On March 8, Whole Foods Market will donate 5% of Hawai‘i net sales to PBS Hawai‘i

PBS Hawaii

For questions regarding this press release, contact:
Liberty Peralta
lperalta@pbshawaii.org
808.462.5030

 

Download this Press Release

 

Students from Waiakea High School in Hilo are among those from the 90 public, private and charter schools across the Islands in HIKI NŌ, PBS Hawai‘i’s flagship digital learning initiative, which will benefit from Whole Foods Market’s Community Giving Day.HONOLULU – Whole Foods Market Hawai‘i has selected PBS Hawai‘i as its statewide nonprofit partner for its upcoming Community Giving Day on Wednesday, March 8.

 

Pictured: Students from Waiakea High School in Hilo are among those from the 90 public, private and charter schools across the Islands in HIKI NŌ, PBS Hawai‘i’s flagship digital learning initiative, which will benefit from Whole Foods Market’s Community Giving Day.

 

That day, five percent of net sales from all three Whole Foods Market locations in Hawai‘i – Kahala and Kailua on O‘ahu, and Kahului on Maui – will go toward supporting PBS Hawai‘i’s mission of advancing learning and discovery through its video programming.

 

Whole Foods Market hosts Community Giving Days twice a year to benefit local nonprofits. These initiatives are part of the company’s core values and commitment to serving and supporting local and global communities.

 

“We are thrilled to partner with PBS Hawai‘i, as we have a shared interest in providing the highest quality products,” says Annalee England, Whole Foods Market Kahului Store Team Leader. “Whole Foods Market does so through our selection of the best natural, organic and locally sourced foods, and PBS Hawai‘i through their incomparable programming for the whole family.”

 

PBS Hawai‘i’s statewide digital learning initiative, HIKI NŌ, will benefit from the Community Giving Day. Through this program, PBS Hawai‘i offers free digital storytelling training for the program’s 90 participating public, private and charter schools across the Islands. The student video stories that result from this training are showcased online at pbshawaii.org, and on Thursday nights at 7:30 on PBS Hawai‘i.

 

Since its launch in 2011, HIKI NŌ has served more than 4,800 students. More than half of HIKI NŌ schools are Title I, the federal designation of schools with at least 40 percent of students coming from low-income families.

 

“With HIKI NŌ, PBS Hawai‘i is bridging serious educational and socioeconomic gaps,” says Leslie Wilcox, PBS Hawai‘i President and CEO. “This partnership with Whole Foods Market will help us with this important work in our island communities – some as near as those in PBS Hawai‘i’s own neighborhood of Kalihi, and as far and remote as South Point on Hawai‘i Island.”

 

Other programs produced locally by PBS Hawai‘i include the live, weekly community affairs program Insights on PBS Hawai‘i, the half-hour interview program Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox and the Hawaiian music series Na Mele.

 

As the Islands’ only member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service, PBS Hawai‘i carries flagship PBS programs, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Independent Lens, NOVA, Frontline and educational children’s programming on PBS KIDS.

 

PBS Hawai‘i is also one of a handful of PBS stations in the country to carry a live feed of English-language international news coverage from Japanese public broadcaster NHK World.

 


PBS Hawai‘i is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization and Hawai‘i’s sole member of the trusted Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). We advance learning and discovery through storytelling that profoundly touches people’s lives. We bring the world to Hawai‘i and Hawai‘i to the world. pbshawaii.org | facebook.com/pbshawaii | @pbshawaii

 

Strategy from a Swordfighter

Musashi Miyamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitaki Tsunejiro

 

Musashi Minamoto, right, as depicted by artist Yoshitake Tsunejiro.

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiOne of the greatest swordfighters in history comes to mind as PBS Hawai‘i sets out to draft a new strategic plan to guide us in a rapidly changing media environment.

 

“Do nothing which is of no use,” wrote samurai Musashi Miyamoto, when he wasn’t roaming Japan wielding two swords, facing enemies in the Edo period.

 

Yes, Miyamoto-San, we must decide what skills and habits of mind we need to take with us into the future, in order to serve up great content on the many viewing screens in people’s lives. Folks might want to lean back for an hour-long documentary on a big wall monitor; catch a one-minute clip on their smartphone; or participate in a globally interactive discussion on their tablet. In fact, it’s already become common for people to use two digital devices at the same time to access content.

 

“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy, it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.” So true, Minamoto-San, as we clear the bias of the present moment and attempt to see with clarity how we and fellow Islanders will want to use media and storytelling in the years ahead. Our organization used to peer ahead five years; now, even trying to pin down the next three years in this industry seems foolhardy.

 

In meetings held so far, our Board of Directors, Staff and stakeholders agree that PBS Hawai‘i must create a far-reaching system of touch points for people to encounter our programming. We’ll go where people are, rather than wait for them on a television monitor. We’ll continue to broadcast. However, many more people will want to engage in content online, selecting what they want to see when they want to see it. We want that, too.

 

First and foremost, we’re storytellers. We can and will adapt, to meet the need for quality stories and interactivity in different ways on different digital devices.

 

“Fixation is the way to death. Fluidity is the way to life,” wrote Miyamoto, who was known for anticipating an opponent’s moves and unleashing unexpected moves to bring victory.

 

However, the future isn’t all about fluidity and change. Like many of our viewers, we intend to hold onto our mindsets of curiosity, discovery, resilience, fairness; our belief in exposure to diverse viewpoints and civil discourse; and the value of universal access to education and reliable information.

 

When our Board of Directors adopts a new strategic plan at mid-year, we’ll share the plan with you and count on your feedback as we evolve. As Miyamoto-San said, “It may seem difficult at first, but everything is difficult at first.”

 

At least we don’t run the risk of sword injuries! We do stand a fighting chance of creating richer and more versatile viewing experiences for you.

 

Aloha a hui hou,
Leslie signature

 

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Biography Hawaii: Maiki Aiu Lake

PBS HAWAII PRESENTS - Biography Hawaii: Maiki Aiu Lake

 

Maiki Aiu Lake was one of the most widely recognized kumu hula of the 20th century. She was passionately devoted to learning about Hawaiian culture at a time when such interests were often discouraged. Maiki helped preserve and pass on crucial components of Hawaiian knowledge and tradition through difficult times. In her school she trained many of the most respected kumu hula who teach and practice today. This documentary combines interviews with her students, family and friends with photographs and moving images of one of the major contributors to the 1970’s cultural reawakening that has come to be called the Hawaiian Renaissance.

 

HIKI NŌ
Hawaiian Values Compilation

 

This episode is a compilation of stories that express the six Hawaiian values featured in the first round of the 2015-16 season. Here are the Hawaiian values featured and the stories that represent them:

 

Ho’omau (to persevere, perpetuate or continue) is represented by a story from Maui High School, which follows former UH Wahine Volleyball star Cecilia Fernandez as she battles Adenocarcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer. As a former athlete, Cecilia is used to battling opponents by following a carefully devised game-plan. But because so little is known about this disease, Cecilia must persevere against an enemy she is not familiar with – uncertainty.

 

Kuleana (responsibility) is represented by a story from Waianae High School in West Oahu. Waianae High School graduate and UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) fighter Max Holloway feels it is his kuleana to represent the Waianae community in the most positive way possible when he competes. Max also takes his responsibilities to his wife and young son very seriously. Having been severely neglected by his own parents, Max wants to make sure his son does not have to suffer the same sort of childhood that he had.

 

Ha’aha’a (humbleness and humility) is represented by a story from Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School on Kauai. Kauai resident Moses Hamilton learned humbleness and humility when he had to start all over again after a car accident that left him a quadriplegic. While undergoing rehab, Moses took up mouth painting (painting by holding and manipulating the paint brush in one’s mouth), and is a now a successful artist who sells his paintings in Hanalei.

 

‘Imi na’auao (enlightenment and wisdom) is represented by a story from Moanalua High School in the Salt Lake District of Oahu. Lars Mitsuda, Moanalua’s culinary arts teacher, who combines his passions for food and education by enlightening students on the many life-lessons cooking can teach. From multi-tasking to management skills, to business planning, to working with people – learning the culinary arts fosters a wisdom that students can use for the rest of their lives.

 

‘Ike Pono (to know what is right) is represented by a story from Maui Waena Intermediate School about Christopher Malik Cousins, owner of the Farmacy Health Bar in Wailuku, Maui. Cousins had been a troubled youth, often on the wrong side the law and even living on the streets. Being fed at Saint Theresa’s Church in Kihei eventually inspired him to do the right thing and open his own health food restaurant. He encourages his customers to “pay-it-forward” by contributing to a program that helps to feed the hungry with healthy foods.

 

Mālama (to care for, protect and maintain) is represented by a story from Aliamanu Middle School on Oahu, about the efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its community of volunteers to mālama the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Mālama is also represented by a video primer from Kauai High School on how to “take care” in the event of a hurricane.

 

This episode is hosted by HIKI NŌ alum (and current Political Science/ Communications double-major at UH Manoa) Shisa Kahaunaele.

 

This program encores Saturday, Jan. 7 at 12:00 pm and Sunday, Jan. 8 at 3:00 pm. You can also view HIKI NŌ episodes on our website, www.pbshawaii.org/hikino.

 

LONG STORY SHORT WITH LESLIE WILCOX
Sabra Kauka

 

Sabra Kauka strives to honor the place Hawaiian values have in our modern world. As a cultural practitioner and teacher on Kauai, she helps sustain and perpetuate Native Hawaiian traditions by sharing her knowledge with future generations.

 

This program will be rebroadcast on Wednesday, Aug. 17 at 11:00 pm and Sunday, Aug. 21 at 4:00 pm.

 

Sabra Kauka Audio

 

Download the Transcript

 

Transcript

 

My cousin had a science project, and he collected pupu, the kahuli, the land snail. And they have the most beautiful coloring. And it is said that they sing. And what really happens, though, is when they move to edge of a leaf, and the breeze is blowing, it catches in their shell and it hums, it whistles. It does make a sound; it’s a lovely sound. We didn’t know at the time that they would become endangered, and he has a collection now of several hundred shells. And he called me the other day from Maui—he lives on Maui, and he was kinda picking my brain. What should I do with this collection? And you know, we thought about Bishop Museum, but they have quite a big collection already. I said, Find a school on Maui, and continue the story there. Yeah.

 

Wow. And don’t keep them in your house, ‘cause now everybody knows he has them.

 

No. Well, now, everybody knows he has them. But they all tell a story. And I’m so glad, because I was up on the range a few years ago, and the kahuli—bless the Nature Conservancy and their project up there to shelter them, and make sure that they continue to live. They’re so beautiful in the wild. So, all of these outdoor experiences, you know, just kinda made who I am today.

 

Sabra Kauka experienced many different cultures living around the world as the daughter of an Army officer, and then the wife of an Air Force pilot. She was enjoying her career as a photojournalist in Alaska when the calling of her Native Hawaiian community brought her home. She landed on Kauai, where her knowledge and care for the environment and perpetuation of Native Hawaiian traditions have made her a respected cultural leader of the community. Sabra Kauka of Kauai, next, on Long Story Short.

 

Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox is Hawai‘i’s first weekly television program produced and broadcast in high definition.

 

Aloha mai kakou. I’m Leslie Wilcox. Sabra Kauka is the go-to person on Kauai for almost anything to do with Hawaiian culture. She’s a master kapa maker and kumu hula, and she’s called on as an expert in natural resource management, be it marine mammal protection, preservation of historic sites, or ethnobotany. She will even bless your home or new canoe. But Sabra Kauka was not always a Hawaiian cultural practitioner. For much of her early life, she lived away from Hawai‘i, in places with very different cultures.

 

Dad was in the Army. He was the University when World War II broke out, and so then he had to join the service, and he joined the Army and became an officer. And so, we lived all over the world. It was really a wonderful experience. I didn’t realize how unusual it was until I came home and met people who had never left Oahu.

 

Where did you live?

 

Dad’s first assignment was in Bremerhaven, Germany. And the cool thing is that I am still in touch by Facebook with the granddaughter of a woman who was our nanny there. She’s still alive; she was my mother’s age, she’s in her nineties. And after Bremerhaven, Dad was assigned to San Francisco, and we lived at Fort Mason at the end of Van Ness Avenue, and my brother and I went to school there. And then, after that, Dad was assigned to Saigon, Vietnam, and we lived there for a few years. So, a couple of years ago, I went back to Vietnam, and my guide found the old house that we lived in. It was amazing; it was still in really good shape. Following Vietnam, Dad was assigned to the Pentagon in Washington, DC, and we lived in Chevy Chase, Maryland, a beautiful area. And then, after that, there was a reduction in force, and we moved home to Hawai‘i.

 

What was your family life like as a kid?

 

Phenomenal; really, really phenomenal. I didn’t know how great my family life was until high school years, and I’d bring friends home, and they’d say, Wow. You know, they’d look around, they’d just …

‘cause they didn’t have that kind of support. You know. So, it wasn’t really until high school or college that I realized that not everybody had the support that I did as a youngster.

 

What kind of support?

 

A safe place, a home. You know. Food, education, adventure. Because wherever we moved in the world, it was an adventure. They enjoyed traveling, my parents; they enjoyed learning, they enjoyed going to all these great different places. And they made it an adventure for us, as well. But they were also very cognizant of the community around them. My dad’s first assignment after World War II was in Germany, post-war Germany. And I think it was integral to him as a Hawaiian to feed people, and he brought people home for dinner. My mom never really always knew who was coming home for dinner. And one particular family that he invited home for dinner, they returned the next day with some of the most beautiful crystal, ever.

 

And wherever you lived, your family went outside a lot. You were outdoorsy.

 

Yeah, we did; very outdoorsy. Because when we lived in San Francisco, we went camping up in the Sierras, and that’s the first camping trip I can remember. It was really cold, but really fun, and catching trout in the stream, and cooking it over a campfire, and the trout was as big as the pan. Yeah; good fun stuff. So, ever since then, I’ve loved it. I mean, I love the outdoors; I love camping, hiking.

 

You’re comfortable with just a few things around you.

 

Very comfortable. Very few things; yeah, minimal.

 

Did your family even go hiking in Germany?

 

Oh, yeah; skiing, in fact. Tobogganing, skiing. I was still pretty young, but I can remember the skiing and tobogganing, and the snow activities in the Alps.

 

And what about back here in Hawai‘i?

 

Our recreation was either in the mountains, hiking in the mountains with my uncle Elmer Williamson, or playing at the beach, like down at Queen’s, in canoes and surfing. Mom and Dad were both University of Hawai‘i graduates in the early 30s, I guess; in the 30s. And it was always emphasized that we would get our educations, and graduate.

 

Where did you decide to go?

 

I was first at Oregon; I went to Linfield College for a couple of years. And then, I wanted to major in anthropology; they didn’t offer it there, so I came home to University of Hawai‘i here at Manoa.

 

And why anthropology?

 

It just put together everything that I was interested in. I was interested in different cultures, I was interested in different people, and I had a lot of questions.

 

And you’d had a lot of experience watching people from around the world.

 

Oh, to the max; yes.

 

So, you did graduate with a degree in anthropology?

 

I did.

 

Kauka means doctor.

 

Kauka means doctor.

 

Does that mean you come from a line of doctors?

 

I come from a line of traditional healers. And the name Kauka, though, was given to them when they lived in Waipio Valley. And I have a Chinese grandfather who very quickly learned laaulapaau, or Hawaiian medicinal herbs, and people came to him to be healed, and they called him Kauka Lau; Dr. Lau. And from then on, his sons all became called Kauka.

 

Have you gone into healing at all?

 

Just a bit. I studied with Levon Ohai for a year, and I grow the iplants that I need for some basic healing, like olena, like mamaki. And uhaloa, I know where to find it, you know. I haven’t done as much as maybe I should in that area to explore it a little more, continue it.

 

After finishing college, Saba Kauka got married, and once again, left Hawai‘i, eventually settling in Alaska to raise her family and pursue a career. She was in remote village in Alaska when she saw a newspaper article about the Hawaiian people. That changed her life.

 

I was married then, ’67, and my husband at the time was … this was during the Vietnam Era. Then the Vietnam War came along, he also had to join the service, so he went into the Air Force and became a pilot. And we lived in various places, upper North America over these years, eventually ending up in Alaska, for fourteen years.

 

You were raising two children.

 

Yes.

 

You also became a photojournalist along the way.

 

I did, because I was looking for a way that I could make a living as an Air Force wife, because you move every couple of years, and still be able to stay at home, take care of my children, too. And I had a friend who was editing a magazine. She said, Can you do a story on something? I said, Sure. So, I started writing, started publishing. And every time I wrote and published, they’d want photographs to go with it, so then, I’d start providing the photographs. And then, very quickly learned that one photograph can bring in a lot more money that maybe a story can, even though the story takes time, takes effort, takes refinement, takes skill. They both do; both fields.

 

That was a good call; but it’s not what you do now, at all.

 

No; no, it isn’t. But what happened was, in 1983, there was a Native Hawaiian Studies Commission report that was published. It came out in Associated Press around the world. But in Alaska, there was a fantastic AP writer called Ward Sims, and Ward expanded on this report. And it came out on the front page of a native newspaper. And I was working in the bush at the time; I was working lower Kuskokwim River Delta, photographing the salmon processing ship. And there were Japanese on the ship who totally pre-purchased all of the salmon roe, and they treated it like gold, because it was worth quite a bit of money. But as I’m sitting there on the dock of a little native store reading this story about Hawai‘i, about the poor condition of Native Hawaiians in Hawai‘i, I said, What happened to everybody? What do you mean? And so, it talked about the high rate of high school dropouts, teenage pregnancies, diabetes and cancer, high blood pressure, all of these things. And I went, Oh, yeah, that’s right, isn’t it? Not all of my cousins had the opportunity or the support to continue on to college, like I was, quote, required to do, expected to do, supported to do. And oh, that’s right, my grandmother had diabetes, you know. So then, I began to turn around and look very closely at things that were happening in Hawai‘i. And it just goes to show the power of a written or a spoken word, the power of words. Because that was a turning point for me, is reading that article and beginning to inquire, What happened in Hawai‘i? Because it’s hard to believe now, but in the 60s, I don’t feel that we were really taught the true facts of history, of what happened here in the islands. And when I began to ask questions about it, my mother would, you know, send me books and things.

 

Was she one of the old-timers who wouldn’t give up secrets, they wouldn’t tell you, they wouldn’t explain?

 

Definitely, my grandmother was one of those. Whenever she had things that she didn’t really want us to hear when she was talking to her sisters or her family, it was in Hawaiian. And you know, we’d catch a few words here and there, but not the deep meanings of them. And in Mom and Dad’s time too, they were products of the 20s, 30s, 40s, it wasn’t talked about as much. Even though we visited Iolani Palace; Iolani Palace in the 60s was some office building. There desks and file cabinets, and offices in there. It’s not the beautiful place that’s respected today.

 

It’s true; it took the Hawaiian resurgence.

 

It did; it did.

 

The renaissance to bring to light the details of history, when and what.

 

It did; it did. And that renaissance, and you know, the beginning of Hokulea, and all of that stuff. I have classmates, you know, quite involved with all of this. And I had to ask myself, and my friends were asking me, What are you doing in Alaska? I said, Well, I’m raising my family.

 

Had you planned on staying in Alaska indefinitely?

 

I was in Alaska for fourteen years. I was in Fairbanks for elevens years, and Anchorage for three.

 

And were you happy there?

 

Very happy. Great job, working for the statewide system of University of Alaska, and freelancing quite a bit on top of that. And I took some post-graduate classes there in journalism, had some awesome, awesome professors who encouraged me and believed in me.

 

So, you didn’t feel a call at that time to go back.

 

No; not necessarily. Not until I read that article in AP. You know. And then, I started pitching ideas to magazines here. Well, national magazines, of ideas that I could do in Hawai‘i. And Hawaiian Airlines; I asked Hawaiian Airlines, Hey, can I come home and do the story on something on Molokai? They said, You’re in Alaska; please do a story for us up there. So, I pulled out those three interviews that I had in my files, and wrote about the kupuna there who are related to people from Hawai‘i from, you know, over a hundred years ago. And so, I started pitching more and more. Those were the days that you’d write a query letter, and put it in an envelope and send it off or at the most fax, because we didn’t have email.

 

M-hm.

 

And darn if, you know, you didn’t get phone calls back or, We like that idea, go for it, here’s X-amount of time, X-amount of money. I liked that stuff.

That was fun. You know.

 

You’re in Alaska.

 

Right.

 

And you’re concerned about what’s happening.

 

Oh, yeah. Every time I came home, my friends here would ask me, you know, What are you doing up there, besides making money and raising your family, and this kinda thing? They said, We need your help at home. I said, Lawdy me, what can I do? I mean, good grief. But my focus and my interest returned here to Hawai‘i. And eventually, I moved here.

 

When did you move back?

 

Oh, it was after ’87, ’88; in that area, in that time zone. Yeah.

 

When Sabra Kauka moved back to Hawai‘i, she didn’t have a specific career plan in mind. She took one step at a time, trusting that the right path would reveal itself to her when she was ready.

 

I had an assignment from a national magazine to do a story on Kauai. And that was one of my transitions. So, it enabled, supported part of my transition home, and I chose to return to Kauai on my return home to the islands.

 

Did you know anyone, have a job there?

 

I had some friends there. Really, it was the beauty of Kauai that I said, This is where I want to live, this is where I want to make my contribution, for the rest of my days.

 

But you didn’t make a living the same way. I mean, so many things changed.

 

Yeah. I didn’t want to leave Hawai‘i anymore. And what I found in Hawai‘i in the 80s was that it was almost like there was somebody with a camera behind every coconut tree. So, the day rates and the pay that I had been getting in Alaska, or from national, it just wasn’t the same here in Hawai‘i. And then, I realized that I didn’t want to do commercial work; I didn’t want to do weddings, I didn’t want to do portraits and studio. Even though I appreciate that, I admire good work, I wanted to continue to learn and to, you know, share stories. And you know, you reach a stage in your life where you ask yourself, What are you gonna do? You know, you’re in your thirties or like forties, whatever, in there. iWhat are gonna do with the rest of your life? Where are you gonna put your energies? You know. Can you make a difference, and if so, how, when, where, how, why? You know. And so, I returned home to the islands, and I freelanced for a couple of years. I had some fun projects that I worked on. But then, I was very, very honored and very lucky to be appointed as the first public information officer for Mayor Joanne Yukimura, her first term in office. And through that job, I learned quite a bit about the community, I learned lot about protocol, what to say, what not to say, when to say it.

 

And you got connected all over the island of Kauai.

 

Very much; yeah. When I was working in the Mayor’s office, there was a band of merry music makers that came through during Christmas; they were Christmas caroling. And they were mostly Hawaiian, and they were having fun, and I said, Well, who are you people? Well, we teach Hawaiian studies in the schools. I said, Oh, do you, now? Tell me about that. And there was a woman who worked for them, Wilma Place who started to come by my desk once a week, for weeks, and she’d drop off something for me to read, or she’d tell me about something interesting. And I said, Oh, this is cool stuff. So, she said, Well, when you’re finished working here, maybe you want to come work for us. I said, Yeah, let me think about that. And sure enough, you know, the day after I left the Mayor’s office, I went to work in Hawaiian Studies.

 

Why did you leave the Mayor’s office?

 

Because my heart was leading me over there to Hawaiian Studies.

 

And you had a Hawaiian upbringing in many ways, but were you trained to be a Hawaiian educator at that point?

 

No; no. As a matter of fact, my mother was a teacher, and as a child, I thought, No way, I’m not gonna do that. Lookit, she’s always got papers to correct. She had a long dining table, you know, and there were always projects on that table. And I said, No way; I’m not gonna do that, that’s too much paperwork. And she’s working all the time, you know. But it turned around, and I found my calling as a Hawaiian Studies kumu, teacher. I was offered a job at Island School, I think in ’95, after the hurricane, to teach Hawaiian Studies, kindergarten through fifth grade. And uh, it’s a great schedule, because I teach there every other day. And on my even days, then I go and support Department of Education, the public schools, and I have a great job of coordinating the Hawaiian Studies Cultural Personnel Resources, they’re called. They’re known as kupuna and kumu in the schools all around the island, from Hanalei to Kekaha.

 

Did you go to school?

 

No; it’s all been on-the-job training. I mean, I picked up classes here and there. Like, I took evening classes in olelo Hawai‘i, in the language. So, at this stage of my life, it’s also my objective to pass it on. You know, to share with the next generation, as well.

 

You’re known for many things; your lauhala weaving.

 

Oh, I love lauhala.

 

Kapa.

 

I love kapa.

 

Which is just …

 

I love kapa.

 

I mean, you beat the kapa, but it beats you up too; right?

 

Really does; it really does. So, that’s why when I have a project now, I open it up to anyone who wants to learn.

 

So, Sabra Kauka, who at the time of this conversation in 2016 doubles as a Hawaiian studies teacher at Kauai’s private Island School in Lihue, and as a public school coordinator of Hawaiian cultural personnel, found her passion and her livelihood in sharing the Hawaiian culture. With her students, she embraces the Hawaiian value of observing silently first; not the Western style of students piping up with questions as they occur.

 

As part of my lesson, I always begin with an oli. And there are so many to learn. And then, they go to looking, actually, the lesson itself, what the basis of it is. But at the end of it, I do observations. And my classroom is adjacent to a reservoir, and in that reservoir, we have alae ula, which is endangered; alaekeokeo, the ones with white head; I have aukuu, the heron that come in.

 

Those are beautiful.

 

And there’s fish in there. I mean, you know, it’s tilapia; it’s not a native fish, and there’s bass in there. But they observe, and I have them record what they observed. And they point out butterflies, dragonflies, birds. We have kolea that come on our campus. So, our campus, we have two or three, four, endangered species that lay their eggs there, nest there. I was always a curious kid, and always observant, and always asking questions; sometimes too much, as a child. ‘Cause in a Hawaiian home, you’re kinda raised to not be niele, not be too inquisitive, not just ask what, what, why, why, why everything. So, it took me many years to kinda curb that.

 

Why is that, anyway?

 

It’s polite; it’s not being nosy. Don’t ask people too many questions. Oh; oh, my god. Okay. When I first came home, I was in a halau with Roselle Kaniihonipua Lindsey Bailey; right? So, I’m getting this new chant that we’re learning, and I’m asking all these questions. And the answer came back … don’t ask too many questions, the knowledge will be clear to you when you are ready for it. I went, oh, man, this reminds me of my childhood, you know. But she was right, and if you just keep quiet and observe … in other words, observe, listen.

 

But that was very different from how you were trained in the other areas where you lived and traveled.

 

Oh, golly. Oh, yeah. I mean, you know, that’s Western world. Western side, and then Hawaiian side. Yeah. It was like, yeah, be inquisitive, ask your questions, da-da-da-da-da.

 

Be proactive; right?

 

Be proactive. But this Hawaiian side which is, observe, listen, the answer will come.

 

The knowledge will come to you.

 

The knowledge will come to you when you’re ready to understand it.

 

How do you teach? Is that how you feel, too?

 

Yeah; yeah.

 

You do? You switched?

 

No; no, no, no, no, no. Yeah, there are different times in the lesson and different times in the class, there’s different techniques. You know. I’m like, Save your questions for the end, or Save your comments, I’ll give you time. Yeah. Yeah.

 

You’re a person of tradition, and then you’re completely open to new ways that don’t conflict with your values.

 

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I think you have to be. You have to maintain some flexibility, or you’re gonna break. You know, someone years ago told me, You gotta do what brings you joy. You know, whether you get paid or not, do what you love. And so, when I have high school seniors or whatever come to me, and you know, need a letter of recommendation for college, or need advice on their senior projects, that’s what I tell ‘em, that’s what I tell my grandsons. Find out what it is that you love, and follow that path. I certainly have.

 

Mahalo a nui loa to Sabra Kauka of Kauai for sharing your stories of keeping Hawaiian culture alive through traditional practices, and inspiring the next generation on Kauai to find their own passions. And big mahalo to you, for joining us. For PBS Hawai‘i and Long Story Short, I’m Leslie Wilcox. Aloha, hui hou.

 

For audio and written transcripts of all episodes of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, visit PBSHawaii.org. To download free podcasts of Long Story Short with Leslie Wilcox, go to the Apple iTunes store, or visit PBSHawaii.org.

 

I did a lesson recently on ha, on the breath of life. And I asked the children to tell me what words they knew that have the letters H, A in them. And they were good; they were pretty good. They said, Oh, aloha, mahalo, Hanalei. You know. And then, I had them hold their hands to their mouth like this, and exhale. What does that feel like? Oh, it’s warm, it’s moist. I said, That is your ha. Then we continued, and I said, Where does it come from? The air, oxygen. I said, Where does that come from? Oh, the trees, the plants. So, they’re making these connections. And then, I had them blow bubbles, ‘cause they could see it. And it was just a fun lesson; it was a quick and fun lesson. But I think it’s important that our children know that they have a place here in Hawai‘i, that they have a purpose here in Hawai‘i. And it is my hope that the children that I teach grow up to appreciate the beauty that we have here, the unique communities that we have, the unique cultures, and that they want to come home and take care of the place.

 

[END]

 

Taking Our Cue from the Kukui Tree

 

Architect Sheryl Seaman created these kukui designs for our NEW HOME. The designs are featured on PBS Hawaii's new t-shirt.

Architect Sheryl Seaman created these kukui designs for our NEW HOME. The designs are featured on PBS Hawai‘i’s new t-shirt

 

Leslie Wilcox, President and CEO of PBS HawaiiIf you pluck just one nut from a kukui tree, you will have oil to illuminate the dark for more than three minutes. That’s one of many reasons that Polynesian voyagers brought kukui saplings aboard their canoes to this new land more than 1,500 years ago. Almost every part of the kukui tree was useful in the settlers’ everyday lives. Today the kukui tree is our state tree.

 

Our PBS Hawai‘i team looks forward to seeing the kukui represented on our soon-to-be NEW HOME on Nimitz Highway. Group 70 International architect Sheryl Seaman has designed an artful metal screen to enfold the building, depicting historically important Hawaiian plants of the area.

 

The kukui is a particular favorite of ours because it does what we try to do in our own way – be useful every day and illuminate.

 

At last month’s meeting of PBS Hawai‘i’s statewide Community Advisory Board, Maui member Kainoa Horcajo called out a recent illuminating Insights on PBS Hawai‘i program. Three individuals who’ve been diagnosed with stage-four (advanced) cancer spoke candidly on live television about what they think about and what their lives are like as they face the prospect of death.

 

“What is more shrouded in darkness and needs more illumination than death?” Horcajo asked. “(Hawaiian) sovereignty and death – those are the elephants in the room in Hawai‘i.”

 

Lei Kihoi Dunne of Hawai‘i Island spoke of activists in her rural county. A Kona attorney, Dunne said, “They need to know how to access and participate and properly conduct themselves in advocacy that truly advances their cause.”

 

“Right now, people feel outside the process,” Dunne said. “They can be empowered to make a difference and bring, for example, a contested-case hearing to protect natural resources and culture.”

 

Horcajo agreed that knowledge of procedure counts: “Knocking on the wrong doors engenders apathy – a feeling that nothing will change…You don’t go to a shave ice store to buy a loco moco.”

 

Oahu member Cheryl Ka‘uhane Lupenui said that civics education is important for good citizenship: “It’s wayfinding.”

 

Long ago, Polynesian voyagers brought the means to create light. The kukui tree design on our new building will be a constant reminder to shed light on things that matter.

 

Aloha a hui hou,

Leslie signature

 

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