Twenty-nine different solutions to fixing Hawaii’s economy

By Paige L. Jinbo

One of the solutions to alleviate the distress that Hawaii’s economy is suffering from lies with the native Hawaiians, this according to Jon Osorio.

“It’s acceptance of the idea that something must change or some things must change,” Osorio said at the Plaza Club during the ThinkTech conference, Aug. 25. “But I doubt whether people have the will to actually do it. However, native Hawaiians have that will.”

Osorio, professor of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai‘i Manoa and historian of the Hawaiian kingdom, is a contributor and one of the editors of “The Value of Hawaii.”

Although Osorio (pictured right) said Hawaiians hold the key to rebuilding the state’s economy, he and Craig Howes, the other editor of the “The Value of Hawaii,” are in firm agreement that a serious conversation within the community must take place before any changes are made.

In order to elicit such conversation, Howes and Osorio published their book. Subtitled “Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future,” the book consists of 29 essays on how each industry can do its part to fix Hawaii’s economy.

In the introduction, Craig Howes, one of the editor of the books, states that the content of the book is “a cluster of starting points for a larger community discussion of Hawaii that should extend beyond the choices of the ballot boxes this year.”

At the ThinkTech, Howes said that Hawaii hasn’t emerged from its state of economic distress since 1995.

According to Howes, to rise from these obstacles and rebuild Hawaii’s economy, it’s pertinent that certain perennial issues be addressed: understanding that controlling the direction of Hawaii won’t be possible until the issues of land and sovereignty are resolved, ensuring the government efficiently does its job, and establishing a compromise between the public and private sectors of the state.

The book covers a wide range of topics — reinventing Hawaii, journalism, poverty, public education, Hawaiian transportation, homelessness, terrestrial ecosystems — that Howes and Osorio want members of the community to weigh in on.

“It’s important for people to rededicate themselves to the notion of shaping what Hawaii’s going to be,” Howes said during an interview.

Twenty-nine different specialists, including Howes and Osorio, wrote the brief essays.

“We only selected people who knew their topics and people who we respected hearing from because they were experts in their field,” Howes confided during an interview.

For example, in the “Homelessness” chapter of “Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future,” Trisha Kehaulani Watson writes that the perpetual homeless issue will only be resolved when members of our community begin to treat others better. Watson is a professor at UH Manoa and wrote the “Homelessness” chapter.

“Homelessness in Hawaii is a community’s failing, not the failing of individuals,” she wrote. “I refuse to believe that any individual ever needs to be, or should be, homeless. The answers are to be found in people, not policies. We must be better. We must renew our commitment to stewardship of one another.”

Since its release, Howes and Osorio have been extensively promoting the book to launch the on-going conversation that they believe will restore Hawaii’s suffering economy.

The book is an ambitious attempt acknowledging that there is no one solution to remedying Hawaii’s tattered economy.

From students to state public representatives, they stressed how it’s equally important for everyone to be involved with the discussion.

Craig Howes at the ThinkTech Talk, Aug. 25.

“To bring about this change, we must have the will to make the sacrifice and the will to see things through,” Osorio said. “The notion that most of us don’t have that will is untrue because some of us do.”