Aloha friends, ‘ohana and supporters,
Usually in this space, the story we tell is a collective one. In this moment, the story of this time is by its nature very personal. What is this time for you? Caring for elders or keiki? Essential work? Virtual school? Work from home? The loss of a business, work, reduced hours? Are you getting out? In the water? On the ʻāina? More? Less? Not enough?
Since March of this year, across our community networks at KUA we have all seen each other primarily as tiny squares on a screen. Yet, we still strive to hear each other’s voices. We continue to share, listen, and strive to alu (to move together). But then, when we turn off our screens, we go back to the reality of our physical lives and the separation vibrates. We each experience something individual–hope, overwhelm, joy, fatigue, anxiety, peace.
I’ve been reflecting on the enduring cycles and rhythms that, despite our separateness, we continue to share in together. That we are pulled by the same moon, warmed by the same sun, receive the same changing of seasons, overseen by the same fundamental energetics–Lono, Kanaloa, Kū, Kāne… They persist. As do we. (*Photo by Kim Moa)
The kuaʻāina (grassroots, rural) people and organizations of Hawaiʻi–those who called what is today KUA into being nearly 20 years ago–have stepped up in this time, as they always do. Our community first-responders–providing food boxes, kupuna care, health care, child care, place-based school curriculum/learning pivots, and creating positions where unemployed folks can find meaningful future work with dignity. Kuaʻāina people are going hard and proud in doing.
YET. In this time, I believe our kuaʻāina people and organizations also need and deserve resources for rest and renewal–for more of us in the broader community in Hawaiʻi to step up and ʻauamo kuleana (share the burden). All things in nature need fallow seasons in order to renew and continue to give and grow. Sometimes stepping up means reaching out to volunteer or donating to a kuaʻāina organization in your community… We are over a million people in Hawaiʻi. We are many more in the Hawaiʻi diaspora. We are many hands that can make the impossible possible. (*Photo by Ginger Gohier)
If you have the capacity to step up in this moment, that is a gift to this collective movement to care for our people and ʻāina. If you need a pause or breath in order to continue in this movement, claiming that space for renewal is a gift to this movement.
A system where nature endlessly gives and humans take, where some are expected to give without limit and others are entitled to take without accountability or reciprocity–these are the global and systemic imbalances that have brought us to where we are. Climate change, sea level rise, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, pollution. That it’s more difficult to farm, fish, and gather than it once was. That environmental justice disparities persist in Hawaiʻi, ranging from where our rubbish dumps are sited, to who receives the brunt impact of tourism vs the lion’s share of economic benefits. That despite the fact we continue to build and build, more and more of our people can’t afford housing. That every child in Hawai’i does not have access to ‘āina-based learning and the wisdom of our kūpuna (elders) in building their own future.
In re-discovering and innovating balanced cycles of our own, we can create a community-based, place-centered Hawaiʻi where we each have a role and we each have seasons. Times when we give energy and times when we renew. Times where our places (plants, insects, fish, birds, soil, water) give energy, and times when they renew. Seasons, balance, reciprocity–I continue to believe that these are fundamental to healing some of Hawaiʻi’s most difficult and wicked issues. (*Illustration by Nikki Oka)
ʻŌlena (turmeric), a powerful medicinal canoe plant here in Hawaiʻi, has seasons. It grows green; it goes dormant. In its cycles of dormancy, it builds its potency and power. The struggle we are in for our shared future is long-term and intergenerational. It is sacred work. We stand on the shoulders of giants. We humbly build with generous imagination the future of the next generation, and the generation who comes from that.
We have seasons. Our work is sacred. We persist.
me ka haʻahaʻa,
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