Aloha mai kākou,
A few days after Thanksgiving, I sat overlooking the loʻi reflecting on all the things I am thankful for. My marriage to Michele, our four children, and our collective health and well being jumped out first. Included with this is the life we live, the work we do with Hoʻokuaʻāina, and the many people who have come alongside and journeyed with us these last eleven years. To me, there is little separation between the life I live and the work I do. I am truly so blessed and thankful.
2018 has been quite a year for Hoʻokuaʻāina! We were able to work with close to 4,000 people from all walks of life, facilitating an experience that we believe goes much deeper than the mud we work in. Whether hosting schools, community organizations, disadvantaged youth, businesses, exchange visitors from all around the world, or neighbors in the community, Hoʻokuaʻāina at Kapalai has indeed become the gathering place we’ve long envisioned.
Our goal is to make deep connections with each individual we meet, not to produce numbers; however, some 2018 numbers give us a sense of how we’re doing:
- Our Kūkuluhou mentoring program for youth ages 12-18 had 35 weekly participants who learned valuable life skills through Hawaiian values-based coaching and hands-on ʻāina based learning.
- We provided 11 paid intern positions and 7 of those individuals have continued as a valued part of our team.
- Student groups from kindergarten through college visited the loʻi 45 times.
- We hosted 87 community events where individuals and organizations experienced the lo‘i and strengthened their connection with the ‘āina.
- We are on track to harvest 30,000 pounds of kalo this year, something we have worked hard to accomplish. And while we remind others that we are first and foremost in the people business, we are now a go-to resource for those wanting kalo (which significantly contributes to sustaining Hoʻokuaʻāina.
One of the highlights for the year was our team trip to Rurutu. To experience a place that in many ways is a living actualization of the values that we at Hoʻokuaʻāina seek to live and promote—such as culture, language, food security, sustainability, and community health—was inspiring for all of us who went. The hoʻike fundraiser following the trip gave us the opportunity to share the stories and food of Rurutu and to express the many takeaways of our experience. We trust that all who came and supported our expedition felt the impact the trip had on all of us and how it has enhanced our organization and the larger aloha ʻāina movement here in Hawaii moving forward.
Looking to next year, there are many exciting opportunities on the horizon. We are currently pioneering with Windward Community College to create a pathway to post high school education, where students can earn an associate’s degree in Sustainable Agriculture while interning at Hoʻokuaʻāina. We will be recruiting first-generation college students from Windward O‘ahu high schools as well as those who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity to attend college. Students who qualify will receive free tuition and a stipend for living expenses. The goal is to pilot the program at Hoʻokuaʻāina during Summer 2019 and eventually build the program with other ‘āina-based organizations in Ko’olaupoko to provide students a wide range of hands-on experiences to complement course requirements in all subject areas within the ahupua’a such as lo’i, fishponds, streams, forestry, and coral reefs.
We continue to improve our infrastructure at Hoʻokuaʻāina to better meet the needs of our many guests. Plans are underway for a new bathroom facility, showering stations, and an office so that Michele can move out of our living room! In addition, we are working on plans to build a traditional hālau in the loʻi as a place to foster greater learning.
Although taking on these plans in addition to the work we are already doing is daunting, we believe these are opportunities that we must pursue. Your continued kōkua and support are of great value to us. As we move into the new year, we pledge to continue to improve the lives of individuals as well as our community at large. Mahalo nui for valuing the work we do and believing in us. We hope you have also had an abundant year. May 2019 be filled with many blessings.
Me ke aloha nui,