Committing To Hawaii’s Future

By James T. Koshiba
Wednesday - July 15, 2009 Share

By James T. Koshiba
Executive Director

Kanu Hawaii is a movement of everyday people working to make Hawaii a model of environmental sustainability, economic resilience and compassionate community.

We are driven by a deep love for Hawaii. We hope our grandchildren can fish, surf, hike and experience nature the way we have; that they live among people who embrace diverse cultures and practice aloha; that they work in Hawaii using its own resources - its farms, wind, sunlight and homegrown talent - to make our economic lives more secure. Most of all, we hope that a sense of shared kuleana continues to keep greed and individualism at bay here in the Islands.

But hope alone is not enough. We must change ourselves and work together to change the world around us if our grandchildren are to live in this future.

Members of Kanu start with ourselves, making specific commitments to change: “I will give up bottled water to reduce trash and pollution.” “I will involve my kids in community service.” “I will practice and share something from my own culture.”

We declare these commitments publicly online at We hold each other accountable by building a sense of community. There are no membership dues; the only requirement is a commitment to change.

Kanu Hawaii volunteers gather at the State Capitol to demonstrate how small actions, such as checking a car’s tire pressure, can add up to big changes

In the 18 months since launching this online community, more than 7,700 people have joined. More than 1,200 do not live in Hawaii but are spread across the continental U.S. and 12 countries. For them, joining Kanu is a commitment to live island-style wherever they are.

And though commitments are about individual kuleana, members also come together offline to demonstrate shared responsibilities. In April we gathered at the State Capitol, urging lawmakers to pass important energy and environmental bills. In June, hundreds of us worked alongside residents of public housing to draw attention to difficult conditions in their communities. Next month we’ll challenge ourselves to eat only local-grown food for one week, highlighting the importance of securer food supply.

We’re trying to practice a kind of activism that combines strength, humility and leadership by example - one different from the cynical, angry voices that tend to dominate public discussion. Most of us don’t express opinions or settle disputes this way, after all.

By accepting kuleana,we hope to persuade those with the power to change things - our lawmakers, executives, leaders and neighbors - to join this movement for a more sustainable, compassionate, resilient Hawaii.

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