“The Value of Hawai’i 2” edited by Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua

The Value of Hawaii 2

“How can more of us protect and enhance what is precious about Hawai‘i for coming generations?”

This is the foundation of “The Value of Hawai‘i 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions” (2014), edited by Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Ka‘ōpua. They have collected 40 essays, stories, and poems about “everything we value about Hawai‘i.” The collection is divided into five parts: aloha, mo’olelo (stories and storytelling), kuleana and developing Hawaii responsibly, huakai (finding your position and your way), and pu’uhonua (creating safe and sacred spaces).

“The Value of Hawai‘i 2” is at times interesting, frustrating, and thought-provoking. There are four main themes in the collection: 1) we can gain a deeper understanding of Hawaiian values through mo’olele (story) – Royan Oishi; 2) we can become powered and feel connections to each other and the past through mele (song) – Kainana Kahaunaele; 3) “You cannot be a sovereign people if you cannot feed yourself” – Hi‘ilei Kawelo; and 4) the language used in public schools is a milestone to achieving political autonomy – Tiny Grandinetti.

Here are some of the themes and ideas that resonated with me:

* I felt chills at the spiritual purpose and dedication of Kia‘ī, the star keeper, in Mailani Neal’s “Eyes of the Night Lights.”

* I enjoyed the reminiscences of a 15-year old “bag boy” at Taniguchi Supermarket, who practiced carrying 10-pound bags of rice on his shoulders and later became the Executive Vice President of KTA in Derek Kurisu’s “Honoring the Family of KTA Super Stores.”

* I was intrigued by the challenge to redefine urban living as “island living” and how traditional Hawaiian urbanism was linked to water (not markets, as in Western cities) in Sean Connelly’s “Urbanism as Island Living.” He explains, “The ahupua‘a, in many ways, was the Hawaiian version of a city or town. Hawaiians thus lived among the places where they grew food and obtained resources, sharing surplus resources with other ahupua‘a.” He offers three starting points for island living: 1) maintain healthy watersheds by reclaiming residences/development along stream edges; 2) encourage food production and water conservation by requiring city blocks to have access to common farming areas; and 3) sharing water and electricity resources with a shared system, such as homes in the valley harvesting rainwater and homes along the shore generating electricity.

* I like Hunter Heaivilin’s suggestion to follow Hawai‘i Island’s example and create “reuse centers at many dumps which accept and then resell items that would have otherwise been landfilled” in his essay, “A Way With Waste.”

* I was bothered by Eri Oura’s admission, “When I first learned about the evictions and history of injustice in Kalama Valley, I felt ashamed to be someone whose family settled in that contested area” in “My Journey as an Ally for Social Justice.” It made me wonder how much guilt we are supposed to carry about the past and other people’s wrong-doings.

What do you value in Hawaii? How can values and practices from the past help us build a better future for Hawaii?

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