A two-year sustainability project for Maui has been initiated by the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College and its partners. Thirty community leaders gathered at UH Maui College in May for the soft launch of Hulihia, which means “complete change.” The pilot project aims for Maui County to have clean energy and transportation, food security, clean and sufficient water for the future, protected ecosystems, waste reduction, sustainable tourism, green employment and a green economy.
The initiative is a partnership between the college and the Kamehameha Schools’ Maui, Molokaʻi,and Lānaʻi Community Strategies Team. The public is invited to learn more at the Hulihia website and encouraged to provide input.
At the kickoff event, UH Maui College Chancellor Lui Hokoana greeted the participants with a chant and a charge.
“We must take the challenges and the lessons of the last year and turn them into collective action,” Hokoana said. “The way to begin is to engage with everyone across Maui Nui. Because every one of us has a stake in the future of this ʻāina.”
The half-day long conference was lively, thought provoking and universally saluted as a successful first step … with a long way to go.
“The launch of Hulihia was an exciting and inspiring day with so many community partners joining us to begin to develop a shared vision of sustainability for Maui,” said Nicolette van der Lee, program manager for the Sustainable Living Institute of Maui at UH Maui College. “By starting the day under the clear skies at Kauluwehi, our campus ethnobotanical garden, I think we were energized by a collective sense of responsibility for the health and vibrancy of our islands. I feel honored to be a part of this collaborative effort and look forward to engaging in this critical work for transformational change.”
Attendees represented organizations that run the gamut of the community–with diverse and distinctive points of view and visions for possible solutions. Almost all acknowledged that this past year has offered unprecedented opportunities along with the challenges it brought.
“As we come out of this pandemic, we are all asking ourselves, ‘What changes have we as a community actually made to better Maui and Hawaiʻi?’” said Laura H.E. Kaakua, president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. “Hulihia offers a process by which community issues can be mapped at the system level, and everyone from the average Kimo to the mayor can see what would happen if one thing were switched in the equation. Hulihia can take on an issue, such as how do we reduce imported food from 85% to 25%, and map all the factors to get there, as well as all the consequences, good and bad…Hulihia’s process really does require input from every sector of the community. It is time for Hulihia, and I mahalo UH Maui College and Kamehameha Schools for taking this leap.”
Community input needed
Nicholas Winfrey, president and chief professional officer of Maui United Way, said, “With so much effort these past 15+ months to ensure our community has a hand up, I think we’re all pretty exhausted. Being part of the Hulihia kickoff has reinvigorated my energy for what’s on the horizon as UH Maui College and the entire community looks to become more sustainable, equitable and resilient for generations to come. There’s a long road ahead, but with the collaboration shown within this group I’m confident that we can be a leader in this space and set an achievable example for the rest of the world to follow.”
Facilitator Jonathan Stenger, a Kamehameha Schools analyst, worked with colleagues and with the UH Maui College chancellor, faculty and staff for many months to bring the launch to fruition.
Stenger said, “Often in dealing with big issues we’re asked to do very difficult things. Our ask is very simple. Share your thoughts. Tell us what is important to you.”