We started with this goal: "Build a movement for sustainable, compassionate, self-reliant communities rooted in island thinking and personal commitments to change." In February 2008 - a little less than one year ago - we launched kanuhawaii.org
and began active outreach to anyone who would listen. At the time, a few dozen people were part of a fledgling effort. Growing Our Ranks
Over the course of a year, Kanu Hawaii grew to a community of 6,200 strong
. By December, new members were joining at a rate of 600 per month, and making new commitments every 15 minutes.
Members came from every populated Hawaiian island (except Niihau) and 1,000 people also joined from Japan, Canada, Puerto Rico, half-a-dozen other countries, Alaska, and 200 communities across the Continental U.S.
A diverse group, we were drawn together by a shared belief that living more 'island style' - wherever you are - can make communities more compassionate, self reliant, sustainable places. And, we shared a commitment to start with ourselves before asking others to change. Commitments with Impact
The commitments we made in 2008 will have continuing impact
: 1.3 million pounds of trash kept out of landfills and incinerators; 7 million gallons of drinking water saved (enough to sustain 36,000 people); 690 tons of CO2 emissions prevented (what 36,000 trees absorb in a year); $24.5 million we're trying to spend with responsible, sustainable companies; 18,000 hours volunteered. These conservative estimates remind us that even small steps, taken together, make a big difference.
Of course, some of the most inspiring pledges of 2008 can't be put in numeric terms: "I will not buy new clothes for one year"
by Kelly Buscher "I will start a garden with my 1st Grade students"
by Caryn Chan "I will sell my gas guzzling Jeep and purchase a smaller automobile"
by Rob Kinslow "I will organize a service project every 3 months, with family and friends"
by Jan Harada "I will grow some of my food"
by Natalie Mims
And, the last commitment of 2008: "I will continue to live the values and morals I grew up with in the Islands and take them everywhere I go."
This pledge, written on New Year's Eve by student member Mariana Cole
captures the local roots and global potential of island power in a way that numbers never will. Group Power
Members also formed more than 130 online groups, setting goals, tracking their commitments and impacts: employees of AIG Hawaii
, Actus Lend Lease
, the Westin Maui
and other companies; HGEA
members; students from Kealakehe High School
, Punahou School
, Chaminade University
, Seabury Hall
and scores of other schools. The group Tough Guys Who Care 'Bout the Environment
has volunteered every month since first turning out for the Key Project recycling day back in July. Coming Together
As membership grew, we tried to create new ways for people to come together to build community and join forces to make a bigger difference.
In August, Tanna Dang
of The Wedding Cafe
and Divas Doing Good
threw Kanu a remarkable fun/fund/awareness-raiser. Green Is The New Black drew a crowd of 800 to Aloha Tower Marketplace for an evening of celebration and sustainability.
In September, we launched a first campaign. Partnering with Volunteer Hawaii
and Service Nation
, we asked members to participate in a single day of coordinated service projects across the islands. Almost 800 members participated in this "Day of Action" on September 27.
In November, we launched a second campaign (this time working with our friends at the Kokua Hawaii Foundation
) asking members to take actions that cut waste and excess, and Simplify the Holidays to reconnect with the true spirit of the season. This time, almost 900 members rallied.
When called to action, members responded. Momentum was building. A Look Ahead
In 2009, we hope to take this work even further. We'll focus on forging a stronger Kanu Hawaii community and creating new opportunities to band together for change.
We'll coordinate meet-ups on different islands and service projects that help members connect. We'll upgrade the website with space for discussion, tools that deepen relationships and commitment, and content to provoke thinking that leads to action. Campaigns in 2009
Most important, we will launch some ambitious campaigns in 2009–opportunities to use our power as a group to urge government, companies, and others to tackle important issues, and help make Hawaii the model of sustainability, self-reliance, and compassion it deserves to be. Campaigns will focus on the pillars of island life:
Building A Movement
- Environmental Sustainability including water conservation; waste reduction, reuse, and recycling; renewable fuels to cut greenhouse gases; green design and community planning.
- Compassionate Community including supports for mass volunteering and public service; programs that celebrate our diverse cultures, particularly our Native Hawaiian culture; and services for the needy.
- Economic Self- Reliance including more healthy, sustainable, locally-grown food; renewable energy that cuts our dependence on foreign oil; programs that encourage work and saving as a path to self reliance for our people.
These pillars cannot be preserved with our personal commitments alone. Strengthening them will require our collective resolve. We may need to come together to write our elected officials, to show up at the County Council or State Capitol, to send a message with our consumer dollars, or speak with one voice.
In 2009, we will wrestle with this central question: Are we a community of islanders working to change only ourselves, or are we an island movement striving to change the world around us? This year, there will be chances for us to act in force, to press for change. In those moments, we will answer the question together.
It is an exciting time. A Final Note
To our members: On behalf of the Board and Staff of Kanu Hawaii, mahalo. During this first full year of work, 128 of you donated
to Kanu, and dozens offered everything from free photography to pro bono web development. You've built an extraordinary community with your commitments, ideas, and most of all, with demonstrated aloha and kuleana that are the heart of Kanu Hawaii. We close our first year with a sense of gratitude, and open the next with hope and anticipation.
E Malama Pono,