But what if a group of people actively decided to put the power back in their hands and in a well thought out process could actually effect change in government? And what if that process could serve as an example for the rest of the nation and ultimately the power would be back in the hands of the people, equating to a government that actually was a government of the people, by the people, and for the people?
In the last several years, a street phrase became really popular in Hawaii. It was a word that translated people’s discouragement and disenchantment into fake “Hawaiianized” language. The word is “Ainokea” (eye-no-kay-ah). The word is local pidgin for “I no care” or mainland for “I don’t give a s#&t”!
So, a group of people wanting to make changes, decided to turn that phrase around so it would reflect hope and determination, not discouragement and apathy, and show pride in protecting the people and the aina (eye-na) (land) with aloha or the spirit of love and friendship.
There’s a bit of a back-story. The Hawaii Hotel Workers’ Union, Local 5, was besieged with a grave issue. The non-local, or mainland hotel owners were tuning their hotels into condominiums and laying off union employees in droves. Not much aloha spirit there was there?
So, about a year ago, the “Aikea” (I care) movement was launched when more than 150 local 5 members and nearly 90 community leaders convened a Community Conference and ratified Aikea’s platform. Today, Aikea is a growing alliance of organizations like local 5 and other key leaders from various faith, civic and community organizations, educators and students, who care about the future of Hawaii and are committed to building a larger social movement toward government changes. Aikea works towards making the platform a reality by engaging ordinary people in organizing collectively for social justice.
Since its launch in May 2012, they have spoken with thousands of people about Aikea and why they need to build a larger social and political movement to take back the power into the hands of the people.
They have built political power by engaging voters and asking people to vote together to win together. This has resulted in 2 allies on the City council and 1 in the House of Representatives.
They have raised critical consciousness on issues like the Public Land Development Corporation (Act 55) and are working hard to get the PLDC repealed.
The PLDC allows just 5 people to “fast track” our public lands – shoreline, harbors, parks, schools, and ceded lands – while removing adequate public input from the process.Laws like Act 55 are examples of why our political system is broken and why Aikea needs to build a real movement.
Repealing the PLDC is an opportunity to bring together and unite many diverse segments of our communities.
Whether you care about the environment or keeping good jobs for local people on island or where you live, or likely both, you too can be a part of a growing community of people who care and are willing to act together to make a healthier, more sustainable, compassionate and resilient vision for Hawaii and elsewhere possible.
I live in a valley called Aina Haina (eye-na hi-na). Aina means land, as mentioned above, and Haina is named after Robert Hind, the man who developed the valley. At the end of our street and at the beginning of the Hawaii ceded lands, there is a 5-hour hiking trail that allows one to go to the top of the mountain and view the other side and is breathtaking.
Not to leave well enough alone, a former politician allowed a developer named Jeff Stone to build a gated community at the end of the trail and block off the hiking trail. Through community efforts and despite government corruption, that project has been put on hold and the trail is still accessible to all. I shudder to think what would have happened had the people not freaked out and loudly voiced their objections.
While it is not the only way to make change, building political power is critical in the shift towards a people over profit driven policy. It allows the opportunity for thousands to be spoken to, building a larger and stronger movement and helps elect leadership who will stand with and support the people.
In Hawaii’s August 2012 Primary election, 4,134 “yes” votes were identified via a door-to-door operation, 31,680 doors were knocked on, and 12,331 voters were spoken to. In the General election, the 3 Aikea candidates were elected.
Aikea stands for the following:
HOUSING Aikea stands for healthy communities that provide affordable, safe and comfortable housing for all; a community that is well maintained, energy efficient, diverse, child friendly and community-centric. Aikea believes everyone deserves to live in neighborhoods where their voices are heard and where they have a say. Public commons are a critical aspect of a healthy community.
EDUCA TION Aikea stands for healthy communities that ensure safe learning environments that are free from threats, fear, and violence and where students and teachers have a voice. Aikea believes that beginning with early childhood and throughout life, free, high quality public education should be accessible to all. Education systems should unlock lifelong curiosity and love of learning, nurture critical thinking, build a sense of community and environmental responsibility, foster creativity, and establish a competent and confident generation that is willing and able to remain in our state and build healthier communities.
JOBS/ECONOMY Aikea stands for healthy communities that economically sustainable and put people before profit. A healthy community recognizes workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. Workers earn a living wage under safe working conditions and have a collective voice in their workplaces in an environment free from threats, fear and violence. Mutual respect in the workplace fosters labor equality. Our unions empower workers, build generations of strong communities, sustain businesses, and strengthen local economies.
EQUALITY Aikea stands for healthy communities that celebrate the contributions of all people. Embracing differing
backgrounds and experiences brings a richness to our lives. When people of all abilities, class, nationalities, races, ages, and the multiplicity of genders, faiths and sexualities forge strong alliances, everyone can thrive.
LAND-USE/ENVIRONMENT Aikea stands for healthy communities where thoughtful and well-planned development gives consideration to including open space, a clean environment and the careful stewardship of natural resources. In the native Hawaiian culture, all oceans, lands, and waters are finite. The “kuleana of malama aina” means that the people care for the land, and in return the land is bountiful and the people thrive. The over-representation of land ownership and occupation by the military, absentee landowners, and off-island corporations erode the reciprocal nature of sustaining “kuleana” (standing behind your conviction and belief).
HEALTH Aikea stands for healthy communities that promote health as a basic, human right. Healthy communities recognize that giving and receiving care are fundamental aspects of living. While high quality and accessible medical infrastructure are essential to a healthy community, care giving does not only happen in hospitals or professional facilities. All caregivers should be supported, including those at foster homes and care homes and people looking after relatives, companions, neighbors and friends. All who need care should have affordable, speedy, and reliable access to knowledgeable and respectful care providers who are sensitive to cultures’ and individuals’ histories and experiences. Language access and cultural competency are essential to quality universal health care.
ART & CULTURE Aikea believes that Hawaii’s artists, musicians, and cultural practitioners are Hawaii’s pride, and an integral part of a healthy community. Support for all the arts creates clean jobs, enhances quality of life for all, and keeps Hawaii’s dollars in Hawaii. Rather than importing entertainment, we should export Hawaii’s cultural production to the world. Arts education expands intellect and creativity, the building blocks for a productive, life-affirming future. We call for a New Deal for the arts that will fund cultural production, provide arts jobs, and bring art and music curriculum back to the schools.
HAWAIIAN SELF-DETERMINATION Aikea affirms that the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation, and the displacement of Hawaiians from their ancestral lands, is a wound on Hawaii’s history that has not healed. While just resolution of Hawaiian sovereignty claims will require considerable struggle and reconciliation within and with the indigenous Polynesian people of Hawaii community, we acknowledge Hawaiian claims in order to build a broad coalition for quality of life in Hawaii. We acknowledge and support the Hawaiian right to self-determination and join with the indigenous Polynesian people of Hawaii in the struggle to make Hawaiian values – including care of the land and care of one another – the core of public policy in Hawaii. A Hawaii that respects a better Hawaii for all of us.
We, the people of Hawaii declare that the 1% has the power until the 99% takes it back.
We are creating a new political movement that embraces our diversity, promotes justice, and rejects politicians who break their word. A movement committed to the simple idea that working families must lead so that everyone can work, everyone can learn, everyone has a home, and everyone respects and preserves our island home.
Our people are being pushed off our island because they cannot afford a home for their families; our kids are being robbed of school days while developers are being given handouts; our local jobs are given away while more locals aren’t being paid a living wage; our land is being turned over to mainland developers while our environment is spoiled by greed; and our sick and elderly continue to be denied access to the care they need.
We shall reclaim Hawaii for our future!
Obviously, Hawaii has a bit of uniqueness to it, being an island culture. But, in one way or another don’t we all share many of the same problems?
If Hawaii can take steps to make changes applicable to them, why can’t you take steps to make changes applicable to you?
It’s called uniting! I don’t care if the issue is GMO labeling, or Big Pharma dominance regarding health, or Big Food caring little for food quality and only shelf life and profits, if we all can come together on a common ground, we will prevail.
For insight on how to get started, please contact Allison Lum, Aikea’s community organizer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (808) 445-7157 (cell) or (808) 941-2141 (work).