Earth Day Celebration Returns
By Jack Kiyonaga, Reporter
For the first time in three years, Molokai residents gathered at Mitchell Pauole Center to celebrate Earth Day as a community.
To the backdrop of the Kalaupapa Backyard Band and smells of laulau, residents visited booths hosted by dozens of organizations. These exhibits ranged from clean energy projects to health and wellness to sustainable hunting. Taxidermy birds, erosion run-off demonstrations and more adorned the tables and engaged residents.
“Look at all the groups here…to me, this is the glue that really defines us as a community,” said Ho’ahu Energy Cooperative Advisor Todd Yamashita.
Throughout the night, Molokai residents were able to share with each other both a love of Earth Day and their own specific knowledge.
For example, an Earth Day recycling volunteer offered tips on reusing less commonly considered materials.
“Reusing our resources, like the food that we waste, can feed our animals instead of putting it to waste in a landfill,” he explained.
Earth Day this year also celebrated three recipients of the event’s annual Malama Kuleana Honua Award. Due to postponement, the 2021 and 2022 winners were recognized as well as the 2023 winner. These recipients were the late Collette Machado, Dr. Noa Emmett Aluli, and this year’s Malia Akutagawa.
Program Coordinator for Nature Conservancy Molokai, Jowell Guerreiro, explained that these recipients represent “three pillars of unity for this community” and exemplify this year’s theme of “unity forges a pathway for Earth’s survival.”
Akutagawa spoke to the crowd, expressing her thanks.
“I am touched and honored to be here and to be recognized for this award,” said Akutagawa. She added that she is “looking forward to many more years of advocacy and working towards restoring ‘aina momona.”