Hulihia — A complete change


In order for the monumental challenges we all faced — and largely overcame — in the last 14 months to truly mean something, we must embrace opportunities revealed and make enormous and lasting changes. UH-Maui College intends to be at the forefront of a complete change for our Maui Nui. Complete change — “hulihia” in Hawaiian — is necessary for our community to thrive.

To that end, we have partnered with Kamehameha Schools’ Maui, Moloka’i and Lana’i Community Strategies Team to launch a two-year pilot project we have named “Hulihia: A Maui Sustainability Systems Center.” Many members of our faculty, staff and the UH Foundation spent months working with Kamehameha Schools Analyst Jonathan Stenger (who happens to have been our first Sustainable Science Management program graduate) and his team to draft a positive way forward. Our vision for Maui County by 2040 is 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.

Yes, we’ve all heard these words, phrases and promises before. Many past initiatives have fallen short, usually because of narrow focus or attempts to address a specific short-term problem. The theory of change we have set forth in our white paper is that “if we engage the community by providing sustainable modeling rooted in cultural ‘ike, then we will see better informed decisions throughout Maui Nui that lead us toward a more balanced relationship with the ‘aina.” The idea of interconnectedness — that human beings are not separate from the environment — is many thousands of years old. It is the basis of Hawaiian culture.

Looking at the sustainability of our islands through that cultural lens is, perhaps, the most significant aspect of this initiative.

“The first on the list of Hulihia’s sustainability understandings is Hawaiian ‘ike as a backbone to inform levels of sustainability,” said Hokulani Holt, director of Ka Hikina O Ka La, Hawai’i Papa o Ke Ao. “The overarching goal is to collaborate and to seek ways to be a systems approach to the idea of sustainability. It also seeks to be inclusive and to address the interrelatedness of the issues to overall community health. This is what Hawaiian cultural outlook on the health of the ‘aina and the kanaka was and should be again. To reach that balance and recognition that we are all connected. I hope to be able to learn the science of it as I hope to contribute the ‘ike Hawai’i of it.”

Our Sustainable Science Management Program and Sustainable Living Institute of Maui here on our campus will play considerable roles.

“I’ve been working on the concept now known as Hulihia since 2013,” said Tim Botkin, our SSM program coordinator. “While it is still complex and formative, the good news is that academic research and professional experience have validated its approach. To date, continuation of disconnected approaches, no matter how passionate, have kept us from achieving the success we seek. But we now have tools to assimilate our community knowledge, technology and visions of the future into solution-building which pushes our Maui needle closer to sustainability. That is Hulihia.”

Nicolette van der Lee is our SLIM program manager.

“We have the potential to bring the community together to cultivate hope and systems-driven decision making as we face the pressing challenges of climate impacts, social and economic inequities and conserving our natural resources for future generations,” she said. “It is an exciting and ambitious initiative for Maui to lead and serve as a model for innovative island communities.

As for our college at large, we will be the convener, providing a neutral facilitative table at which the community can come together. And we will be the overseer, providing computer modeling that allows stakeholders to anticipate possible unintended consequences which will lead, ultimately, to more informed decisions on the path forward.

Within in the next 60 days, a group of between 30 and 50 stakeholders — members of the community with firsthand experience in all the critical disciplines — will convene. After that, the community at large will be invited — and urged — to participate.

“The momentum towards sustainability is strong in the Maui community,” said Stenger. “At Hulihia, we want to strengthen that momentum by bringing sustainability expertise and a holistic approach so that the initiatives and efforts of our community achieve a perpetual balance between natural resource use, human prosperity and well-being.”

To learn more about Hulihia, please visit hulihiamaui.com.

To learn more about all the programs offered at UH Maui College, please visit https:// maui.hawaii.edu/. Early registration for fall 2021 is underway.

* Dr. Lui K. Hokoana is chancellor of the University of Hawaii Maui College. Ka’ana Mana’o, which means “sharing thoughts,” appears on the fourth Saturday of each month. It is prepared with assistance from UH Maui College staff and is intended to provide the community of Maui County information about opportunities available through the college at its Kahului campus and its education centers.


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