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Building Relationships for a Brighter Future

By Sage Yamashita, Intern Reporter

Photo by Sage Yamashita

Last Saturday, community event Lā Pilina created relationships between community and local organizations’ planning efforts for Molokai. Sust’ainable Molokai hosted the event creating interconnection and rapport, as the meaning of Lā Pilina is relationships. Held at Mitchell Pauole Center, residents engaged in learning about future planning, ongoing efforts and how to live a more sustainable life. 

“Growing up on this island, relationships are important,” said Tehani Kaalekahi, executive director of Sust’ainable Molokai. “Culturally it’s part of our kuleana, our responsibility to create these relationships. In many of the things we do here, it’s the relationships we build that helps us get to the end goal.” 

Many community planning organizations on Molokai took the opportunity to implement community engagement through a booth at the event, talk story style. Many included games, visuals and lots of information on each topic. 

“We are ‘meetings’ our community to death, instead of being together in one event,” said Cheryl Corbiell, a representative for Sust’ainable Molokai’s Clean Energy Hui. 

The Molokai Clean Energy Hui (MCEH) is a community initiative by Sustʻainable Molokai focusing on community-led conversations about understanding and advancing a clean energy future for Molokai. Its booth offered attendees a board with green, yellow and red post-it notes allowing community members to express their enthusiasm or opinions on possible future energy plans. 

Photo by Sage Yamashita

Sust’ainable Molokai featured MCEH and the Climate Change and Sea Level Adaptation and Resiliency  (CCSLAR) Master Plan. Detailed maps projected each sea level-rise probability and affected area on Molokai in the next 80 years for the community to see. The maps display the impacted areas from a calm 3.2-foot sea level rise to a 10-foot level rise with indications of on-site wastewater disposal systems, sewer mains, fishponds, schools, streams and residences. 

The Mobile Market’s mission is to permanently align the local food supply with our community’s needs, increase the total food production on Molokai, and ensure that everyone has access to affordable, local, healthy food.

Jamie Ronzello, a representative for Molokai Mobile Market, explained the Eggs to Market program. 

“We give local homesteaders all the supplies they need to start their chicken egg production farm, then we purchase their eggs back and put them back into the community,” she said. 

“Sust’ainable Molokai is about creating a future we want, not fighting one we don’t,” said Matt Yamashita, the nonprofit’s board president. 

Lā Pilina not only highlighted Sust’ainable Molokai’s efforts but those of other agencies and organizations as well. 

“We started hearing from a lot of our homesteaders who live on the shoreline that they are having a lot of erosion problems, particularly in Kapaakea,” said said Nancy McPherson, a planner for the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. “We know we needs to respond, to do something.”

The organization is creating a Shoreline Erosion Management plan for Kalamaula, Kapaakea, Kamililoa and One Alii regions. After working on it for several years, a draft plan has been created and before beneficiaries review, they brought it out to share with the community. 

“Everything we do compliments the work being done at Sust’ainable Molokai.” said McPherson. “You can see tonight how how amazing this community is on working together to become more resilient. It’s amazing example to how the rest of the world should be.”

Stephany Vaioleti is the community engagement navigator for Hawaiian Electric. The company held a booth at the event ready to bring energy efficiency into each Molokai home.  

“We are talking about energy efficiency and really encouraging people to sign up for Energy Smart for homes,” said Vaioleti.

The free program brings a contractor on island and switches out light bulbs to LEDs, gives water regulators and water-saving shower heads to manage water flow, and smart strips for energy saving with all electronics. 

“This is an amazing turn out, it started even before 4 p.m. today! We’ve actually had over 60 people sign up for energy smart for homes with lots of people wanting to learn more,” said Vaioleti.

Community members expressed gratitude for the event’s resources. 

Photo by Sage Yamashita

“I am here to support the people putting on the event and to also get the youth involved,” said attendee Kimberly Lani. “Now that I am here, I am learning a lot of great information from the climate change and sea level rise booth and Blue Planet. I lived off the grid for 10 years so I understand conserving energy and being mindful of our resources. From the information being presented, it seems like we are in some sort of crisis which should not be ignored. Younger people are the ones that really need to be aware because they are the future. The youth needs to be prepared to address the needs of their island.”

The youth of Molokai showed up not only to learn, but to also run their booths and share their knowledge. 

Blue Planet’s Climate Crew called attention to clean energy, climate change, and youth advocacy towards a better future. Run by three Molokai High School students, the booth taught keiki about clean energy and tips through a memory game, and adults took a pledge of practicing three clean energy practices. 

Molokai Hunting Club also had youth representation. Youth member Kahenawai Hirata said she thinks it’s important to include youth voices because the youth are the next generation. 

The Molokai Hunting Club is a grassroots club assisting in game management plans, protecting, restoring, and preserving natural and cultural resources for the island of Molokai. The club provides free deer meat to community through free meat drives and distribution through Sust’ainable Molokai. 

Along with informational booths, the community enjoyed free food and musical entertainment, making Lā Pilina a successful event. 


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