Meet the Molokai Dispatch Again for the First Time

Kids, Politics and Hawaiian Culture – the foundation of this island newspaper.

By Todd Yamashita

The first time I had my picture printed in a newspaper I was 15 years old and crazy about skateboarding. George Peabody of the Molokai Advertiser News snapped a shot as I was doing tricks off a launch ramp in Kualapu`u. I’ll never forget how proud I felt featured in print for all of Molokai to see.

Almost two decades later, I don’t really launch off of anything anymore, but I am still excited about newspapers and the positive changes they can make within our community. This is precisely why you’ll find news in the Molokai Dispatch that focuses on youth, culture, history, leadership and community voice – the foundation of a healthy community.

A few months ago I was visited by Leslie Florea whose mother, the late Myrle Florea, started the Molokai Dispatch in 1985. She said that when her mother had first created the paper, its focus was on the keiki.

“It would be nice to see the kids come back, to see the children write stories again,” was Leslie’s friendly advice to me.

We’ve always done our best to include youth news, but the inclusion of the Keiki Dispatch page added several weeks ago, has helped us come full circle.

The Keiki Dispatch is a collaboration between Kamehameha Schools and the Department of Education showcasing the poetry, art, and writing of elementary students across the island. It is a fine example of the beauty and inspiration of which Molokai children are capable.

The initial years of the Dispatch were also steeped in politics. This was not strictly an indication of its owners or editor, but more that the Dispatch reflected Molokai’s spirit of activism and cultural awareness of the time.

A quarter century later, our island views have remained, and the Molokai Dispatch returns to honor those roots.

I always tell people not from here that Molokai is the most political place on the planet for its size. Where else can you see tailgating, T-shirts, hula, chanting and prayer involved in public meetings that can go until midnight and span the course of days?

The beautiful thing about Molokai politics, besides the occasional hula, is that it is democracy at its finest. Grandmas, uncles, youth and the everyday person show up to speak their mind because in the end, our voices are heard and corresponding change is made.

When did “activism” and “activists” become bad words? We owe the birth of the Hawaiian Renaissance to a small group of renegades who had a vision for a better future. Many of these activists came from and still live on Molokai.

In fact, those who know Molokai’s history can tell you that this island is defined by consistent activism. Before western contact, Molokai was known for its political, economic and spiritual independence. That tradition remains unbroken today.

Too often, mainstream government is over-manipulated by the agenda of individuals or profit driven corporations who seek to gain at the loss of the community or the environment. More times than not it is community activists – community advocates, who bring accountability to the selfish motivations of others. This balancing act is a true gift.

The Molokai Dispatch supports and celebrates Molokai’s spirit of politically active and informed groups and individuals who are striving to find a better way.

Hawaiian Culture
Pidgin English is a combination of Hawaiian, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, Filipino, English and other languages. But the intonation and sentence structure are mainly Hawaiian. Molokai is the same way.

With a 60% indigenous population, Molokai is predominantly Hawaiian. Although Molokai is made of a patchwork of ethnicities, Hawaiian culture is the underlying foundation which unites us all.

Everyone loves Molokai, whether they live here or not. There are many reasons to love Molokai, but above all the Friendly Isle is cherished for the beauty of its land, the warmth of its people, and the richness of its culture.

For over a thousand years, Hawaiians have prospered on this 38 mile long and 10 mile wide island. In the process they’ve created a framework for aloha `aina, aloha `ohana, and aloha Ke Akua. This set of values is augmented by their rich culture and tradition.

The Molokai Dispatch believes that in celebrating and perpetuating Hawaiian culture, we are supporting a framework for all other cultures and traditions to flourish within. Imua!

A Biased Newspaper?
The Molokai Dispatch is biased towards the betterment of Molokai. We seldom print news that does not directly affect Molokai readers. Nor do we choose to print slanderous advertising or letters that forward personal agendas.

We aim at printing news and information that contributes to a healthy and informed community. We prefer news that is reported in a positive manner, and feel subjects that are challenging and passionate in nature should be accompanied with solutions.

At the end of the day our viewpoint and opinion will side with the greater community. Time and again, this island has democratically decided what is best for itself. The Molokai Dispatch will always support Molokai’s spirit of self determination.

Molokai News, Molokai Style
While you might not find stories covering every event in the week, you will find quality news that is comprehensive and insightful, written in a way that is meaningful to our Molokai readers. We value quality and depth above quantity and volume.

Above all, we attempt to report information that will inspire new ideas and encourage dialogue which will result in the empowerment of our community, thus perpetuating Molokai’s unique cultural legacy.

Leslie Florea paid us perhaps the best compliment when she said, “I give you a lot of credit for reporting honesty instead of just what people want to hear because it’s not one in the same. At the end of the day it’s not necessarily what we leave behind it’s what we inspire in others.”

Mahalo Nui Loa to Leslie, our new and longstanding advertisers who make this newspaper free, and to our loyal contributors, readers and their families who are the ultimate inspiration of the Molokai Dispatch.


One Response to “Meet the Molokai Dispatch Again for the First Time”

  1. Manoakua says:

    Aloha kakou,

    There are many news venues, many styles of reporting, and a broad diversity of both content and intent to be found in printed public communication today. I for one was quite interested in and pleased to see this recapitualation of the core values ‘The Dispatch’ is dedicated to, since context is often just as important as the information being relayed. If the keiki are the hope for the future (as they are and ever have been), then The Dispatch’s goals and objectives reflect much wisdom and mana.

    I cannot help but share your regret that ‘activism’ as an important community activity is a dynamic that has recently received much bad press and many disparagements, for without vigilant activism and ‘protectors’ (of the greater kauhale that is Molokai, to keep an eye open and ever watchful), beautiful Molokai nui a Hina would have long since been paved over and overrun with outrageously priced tourist havens inhabited by uncaring malihini and owned by disconnected speculators. As someone recently pointed out, today’s despised and criticized ‘activists’ are often hailed as tomorrow’s cultural heroes, once time and distance from the immediate emotional volatility of pressing issues have allowed for objectively cooler and more enduring comprehensive assessments to be made.

    One of the most difficult problems I see Molokai being impacted by is the fact that there is no longer a true sense of ‘community’ on the island, hence no easy prospect of a coherent consensus in terms of how the future shall develop. Instead there are now several distinct ‘camps’ of individuals, each with different backgrounds that reflect their origins and their varying aspirations. When one of those ‘camps’ (comprising as much as a third of the island) is owned by vested interests located in and operating from somewhere else (i.e. off island and far away), the effect is considerably compounded.

    On the mainland, one of the worst developments in American culture over the past 40 years has been the continually increasing polarization of political sentiment into two distinctly antagonistic political parties (Republican and Democratic). This schism has become so pronounced (on the mainland) that pressing domestic concerns are often totally engulfed by strident party doctrines, never mind how much a domestic matter affecting many cries out for balanced and immediate socio-economic redress. The result has been that broader-minded wisdom and fair regard for the national good is now typically subordinated to highly partisan and powerfully influential special interest groups. It is sad beyond belief to see people consistently take ‘party-line’ stands on issues, rather than consider things on the inherent, basic merits implicit in an issue. Yet this politically reactive approach to domestic problem solving is now almost a standard national predilection.

    Mindful of that developing disaster on the mainland, what Molokai appears most to need is a reestablishment of the old sense of community that once existed on the island. Some of the island’s wise kupunas have pointed this out, in urging people on the island to put their severe disagreements aside and come together in unity for the common good, but the traditional sense of Hawaiian collectivity that was the great strength of the ancient culture runs contrary (in a great number of ways) to the spirit of individualism that America was founded on, and which exerts so much unhealthy influence on Hawaii today. America is a nation of unconnected individuals who occasionally may come together on issues. Molokai needs to become the opposite of that: an extended ‘kauhale’ of ‘ohana members who may occasionally voice individual concerns, but who never fail to acknowledge that greater need of achieving the best possible result for everyone.

    I see signs of this here and there on the island, but the effect must be magnified and people need to know that activism is not an intrinsically bad word. It is merely a descriptive term for knowledge that what is best for some, who have disproportionate power and money, is usually not the best for those who have little or none. It is an expression of strong belief that that untenably narrow-minded dichotomy shall not continue to obtain at the expense of the many.

    Obviously, despite that understanding, there must be a serious attempt to bring all together in an ongoing colloquy in which everyone may participate, in which everyone’s voice is respected—-no matter how far off the mainstream thought it may be—-but one in which the broader beneficial outcome must always take precedence. This was the original Hawaiian expression of ‘democracy’ on a local basis, as practiced by the ancients. How sad that it has been replaced by the philistine mainland concept wherein ‘democracy’ has become simply another term for an oligarchy of wealth and powerfully vested economic interests.

    Mahalo for reminding us that today, ‘ohana means more than simply immediate family. If you will excuse a reference to that Disney animated film that came out a few years ago, as the central character (a little Hawaiian girl named Lilo) so perfectly put it: “’Ohana means NO ONE left behind.” That applies to all of Molokai, as much as to individual groups of directly related individuals. Mahalo for listening.

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