On Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, “Seeds of Hope – Na Kupu Mana‘olana” was screened before an audience of 70 at the University of Hawai‘i – West O‘ahu campus. Co-sponsored by the UHWO Office of Sustainability, the UHWO Political Science Club, the UHWO Human Rights Club and the Hawai‘i Institute for Human Rights, the film drew an audience of UHWO students, faculty and visiting middle- and high-school students from the Native Hawaiian Charter School Halau Lokahi.
HRDC Boardmember and “Seeds of Hope” Executive Producer Kevin Chang introduced the film, explaining the organization’s motivations for sharing the story of Hawai‘i’s agriculture and food security. Afterwards, HRDC Board Chairman Alan Murakami participated in a discussion introduced by UHWO Agroecology faculty Albie Miles, along with UHWO Political Science faculty Monique Mironesco.
Miles emphasized the importance of moving away from an industrial monocrop agricultural model as Hawai‘i explores ways to rediscover and restore its traditional farming practices. He mentioned that part of what the Agroecology and Sustainability faculty at UHWO aim to do is train people to think about how to make this happen.
To one audience question, “What can we do to help?” Murakami responded “Know your history.” Referring to one of the film’s key messages – that it’s not a question of whether we can achieve food security in Hawai‘i, but whether we can do it again – he added that our obligation is not only to restore a system that once fostered 100 percent food security in Hawai‘i, but also to seek ways to improve it.
HRDC film forum coordinator Catherine Mariko Black added that supporting local farmers by making a conscious choice to purchase local food was another easy action that every single person in the room could undertake. She noted that the young people in the audience were lucky to have their entire lives and careers ahead of them, and that making the decision to study farming and food production was a powerful step they could take toward a more healthy and sustainable Hawai‘i.
Mironesco, who also works with the North Shore Community Land Trust – an organization that hosted the first annual North Shore Food Summit this past August – said that “figuring out how to participate in any way that moves you,” and getting involved with local efforts to restore sustainable food systems was another way to contribute. She also reminded people that there are a multitude of potential jobs that support agriculture in Hawai‘i, even for those who don’t wish to farm. “You can be an educator, a cultural practitioner, rooted in the food system you have the potential to change Hawai‘i’s future.”
Murakami noted that “the other benefit of insisting on local products is economic. The money you spend on a piece of fruit that was grown in Argentina or Chile goes back to those countries. Whereas the money you pay for something that was grown here stays in Hawai‘i and strengthens the local economy.”
Bringing the conversation back to the youth, Murakami reminded the students in the audience that “you are, actually, the seeds of hope that the title of the film refers to. Our hope is that this film inspires you to get involved, stay informed and participate.”