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  • Writer's pictureWayde Allen Fishman


We can learn a lot from Hawaii’s history and the “Kanaka Maoli” (Native Hawaiians). The Kanaka mastered sustainable living with their Ahupua’a, a self-sustaining resource management systems made up by land subdivision found along water ways that reached from the mountains to the sea. This is where their use of the sun, water and aquaculture came highly into play, along with their gardening and farming of live stock. The Ahupua’a was the perfect example of self-sufficiency and a way of life that many of the Native Hawaiians still practice today. For Hawaii to sustain its future it must learn from its past.

So what can we learn from our Past?

For us to bridge the gap between the past and the future looking into learning and recreating the Hawaiian Ahupua'a System of sustainability is essential. Our resources are depleting because of the selling off of AG land and the complacency of Hawaii's politicians.

Hawaii today is incapable of sustaining itself...Something Hawaii and it's people are not proud fact we are embarrassed! Hawaii is capable of sustaining at least 50% of the current population if it puts the effort into it and in the future could sustain the entire current population if it made drastic changes to the current downward spiral Hawaii is heading down. However, lets not dream...Hawaii at it's current populous is NOT SUSTAINABLE if it continues to grow...How we get this under control in a Free and Capitalistic society will be the ultimate Q&A here in Hawaii. Today's challenges are far different than those of the old Native Hawaiian days and so we must learn from the past and use the technology of the future to sustain us in a modern world. Hawaii needs to change it's thinking, it needs to focus on doing the right thing and moving forward in a Pono Way. We MUST bring the local community into the forefront, build it with environmental nonprofits and other sustainable management systems and work together to solve these hard challenges in front of us.

We all need to make this our Kuleana...our responsibility. A community can not truly function correctly if individuates don't take responsibility for their own behavior, like a weak link in a chain the community can break and that is why to the Hawaiians Living PONO and making that your KULEANA is so important to live together in a sustainable concept.

To live a sustainable life style sacrifices must me made in the community and it's essential each one of us live up to what the community expects of us by taking responsibility for ourselves because others will expect that from us, they will be relying on us to come through, to follow the rules and call people out who don't. Doing so makes us a part of the productive community in helping and planning a future with our brothers and sisters.

One of the major issues we have today is with ALOHA AINA...The Love of the Land. Our youth today are NOT a part of the land...they have separated themselves from it. It is the current social structure that most of our children find themselves in...They can put a video came in the XBOX, but they have no clue how to plant TARO or hunt for food.

Unfortunately getting our Youth to go from sitting in their bedroom and playing video games to getting knee deep in mud to plant Taro will be a monumental task...SOME ARE DOING IT because those around them, parents, grandparents, teachers and others are not only educating them on the positive nature of these changes, but motivating them to take on traditions of their ancestors so that their future can once again be sustainable and easier instead of more expensive and harder to manage.

This is all easier said than done and for real change to happen something must shock the system. A disaster or cataclysmic event would certainly quicken the pace for drastic change, because for the youth to get it they have to see it and feel it to make them change their ways...Education, motivation and incentive to make change is helpful, but that may not be enough to get things quickly moving in the right direction. We are WAY BEHIND when it comes to living a sustainable lifestyle here in Hawaii...of all the places you would think Hawaii is well equipped and well prepared and ahead of the game...NOPE...we are way behind!

If we are able to bring Sustainable Living down to it's roots...meaning, if we are able to divide and sustain each town, each valley, with the community that lives there we have a fighting chance and getting involved with your towns board would be a great start to help your community out and build a sustainable plan. We can't rely or expect the Political system and it's leaders to make these changes...We need to make them ourselves.

This as well sounds like a possible plan, but we need a foundation and we can't just expect the people in the community to do it on their own unless they have some form of support system to guide and help them. That is where Environmental Nonprofits come into play. Empowering our community CAN HAPPEN if they have the support and foundation to achieve their goals. Communities are very capable of taking on a burden if they know they have the support system there to help them when they need it the most. Nonprofits who's focus is the environment and sustainable living can be the foundational changes Hawaii needs and they should be looked up to to help in the process of of changing the mind set Hawaii currently has.

The fight to preserve Hawaii as a sustainable resource has to start happening TODAY! The sooner we start treating towns and communities they ways the Hawaiians treated ahupua’a's the sooner we can go down the path of taking care of ourselves here in Hawaii. Each and every one of us live in a community and if we do then we live in an ahupua’a. Although it's not the traditional land division of the past it is a modern version, but we need to start managing our resources in the same traditional ways the Hawaiians did. History has taught us that we need to learn from our past and if something works and isn't broke don't change it...The Hawaiians had that perfect system in place and it still works today...Just like living off grid, it's all about taking care of your own, creating a sustainable source of energy, food and water and leaving a system in place for future generations to succeed with.

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