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  • Navin Tagore-Erwin

Tell us a little about yourself.

I grew up in Northern California and settled on O‘ahu after finishing up my BS in natural resources and environmental management from UH Mānoa in 2017. I was spurred into action in 2017 after serving as a waste-reduction fellow with the UH Office of Sustainability and learning about the intersectional nature of climate and justice issues, locally and abroad. My experience at UH inspired me to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA at Windward Community College, where I got involved with agriculture, zero waste, climate literacy, Native Hawaiian sovereignty, and overall environmental and socio-economic justice issues in Hawai‘i. I now work as the VISTA program manager at the UH Office of Sustainability, where we are working to roll out a UH system-wide sustainability coordinator program to help actualize UH’s role in Hawai‘i’s post-COVID economic diversification efforts. Aside from my time with UH, I help compost and tend to the goats on my aunty’s small farm in Waimānalo. Eventually I’d like to dedicate my time to woodworking, farming and feeding my community. 

Why is joining the JCI VISTA Fellows program important for you and your future?

While I am not currently serving as a JCI VISTA fellow, I do see the impact of this year’s VISTA cohort as an extremely important part of my life. I am infinitely grateful to be granted the kuleana to support the VISTAs during their time working with the Office of Sustainability. I believe it is up to our office and the campuses to assure that the VISTAs are able to use their year of service to cultivate valuable skills and build the relationships they’ll need to make change in our communities and navigate our changing world.  

What kind of work do you hope to do after the program wraps up?

I hope to continue working with the Office of Sustainability and eventually work toward achieving my master’s degree in the Political Science Futures program. I can’t say where my time with the Office of Sustainability will take me, but I know that I will stay firmly committed to serving the past, present and future of Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i has healed me in countless ways. I am committed to helping heal Hawai‘i in whatever capacity I am granted.  

If you could change anything about our world, what would you change and why?

I would change the dominant perspective of resource management from one of extraction to one of reciprocity and respect. I would like to see us end anthropocentric views of resource use and understand our role within the ecosystems in which we live.