Book project explores the Value of Hawaiʻi

October 20th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Campus News, Multimedia  |  2 Comments

A book conceived during an early morning run is creating a buzz across the state—in local radio talk shows, through social media and in a growing number of organized forums.

That’s music to the ears of University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Professors Craig Howes and Jonathan Kay Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, the editors of The Value of Hawaiʻi: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future published by University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Released in August 2010, the 256-page book is a collection of 28 essays on topics of social, political and environmental interest from the arts to water.

Howes, director of the Center for Biographical Research, and Osorio, a professor of Hawaiian studies, came up with the book idea last October during one of their routine jogs through Oʻahu’s Mānoa Valley.

“We started discussing the kinds of things that are really important to the people of Hawaiʻi,” says Howes. “It was about 6:15 when we ran past UH Press and decided there needed to be a book written by people who know what they’re talking about, and it needed to be completed before the primary election.”

Later that day the pair contacted fellow faculty members Mari Matsuda, Neal Milner, Deane Neubauer and Meda Chesney-Lind. They understand sectors of the community that Howes and Osorio were unfamiliar with and are strong public advocates for a more equitable Hawaiʻi, Osorio says. Moreover, they knew others who could be contributors.

In early January, the six met to identify topics and possible writers. Contributors were asked to cover two things—how we got into our current situation and two or three pragmatic suggestions for improvement. Author and documentary producer Tom Coffman, for example, writes on reinventing Hawaiʻi.

Additional contributing UH Mānoa faculty members are Carlos Andrade (Hāʻena), Susan M. Chandler (social services), Kathy E. Ferguson (military), Chip Fletcher (climate change), Susan Hippensteele (domestic violence), Karl Kim (transportation), Sumner La Croix (economy), Melody Kapilialoha MacKenzie (law and the courts), Davianna McGregor (Hawaiian sustainability), John P. Rosa (race/ethnicity), D. Kapuaʻala Sproat (water), Ramsay Remigius Mahealani Taum (tourism) and Phyllis Turnbull (military).

Other authors include journalist Chad Blair (government), lawyer Lowell Chun-Hoon (labor), environmentalist Henry Curtis (energy), cultural preservation advocate Dana Naone Hall (sovereignty) and farmer Charles Reppun (agriculture).

The book went to press in May and was in the hands of readers three months later.

“Even though the idea was to get it done prior to the primary election, we also wanted it to create discussion for the next few years. The emphasis of the book is believing and investing in the idea that we can determine our destiny,” stresses Howes. “There were three phases to this project: get the book done, spread the word about it and organize forums where people can discuss the issues.”

Discussion is underway around the state via blog—the book’s own and at The Honolulu Civil Beat, which is running excerpts—and in public forums.

“This book is meant for everybody and will resonate deeply with those who have been in the islands for at least two or three generations, but it’s also very much for the newcomer,” says Osorio.

“Many people believe policy is made by government—that you elect leaders, and what they do is what they do. We feel it’s time for people to start talking about these issues and doing something proactive. We hope this book provides the catalyst.”

Order the book or join the discussion.

Coming public forums

  • Evening panel discussions, Chaminade University, Ching Conference Center, Eiben Hall 2nd floor. 7:00-8:30 pm
    • Nov. 10 on homelessness
    • Dec. 9 on prisons
    • Jan. 13 on public education
    • Feb. 10 on social services
  • UH Mānoa lunch series at noon in Kuykendall Hall 410
    • Oct. 21 on ka nohona: the arts, homelessness, race and agriculture
    • Oct. 28 on ka ʻāina: the land, health, preservation and politics
  • Civil Beat Beatup session, 5:30 p.m. Oct. 28 on energy and water in Hawaiʻi, Kaimuki Plaza, 3465 Waiʻalae Ave. #200; email RSVP required.
  • HI IssuED: Contemporary Explorations of Hawaiian Womens’ Issues, an event organized with Girl Fest Hawaiʻi. A panel of women activists and writers on prisons, homelessness, domestic violence, and sovereignty, also featuring other community organizations and creative performance. Halau o Haumea, UH Mānoa Center for Hawaiian Studies. 3 – 6 pm., Nov. 10.

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  1. scott kaalele says:

    October 22nd, 2010at 11:58 am(#)

    What a great story. I thought the book was great and Osorio is a real asset to the Hawaiian and University of Hawaii community. I also liked the link to Malama on the UH web page and the slide show type presentation of Malama stories as well. I found it that quite dynamic.


    October 23rd, 2010at 7:20 am(#)

    This seems to be a MUST book for my “library.”

    Plan to go to NA MEA HAWAI’I next month and pick up a copy.