By Karli Rose Kalama
The ʻAha ʻŌpio Steering Committee has been working, since June 2021, on a plan to inspire ʻōpio to create and lead the next generation of policy makers and community advocates. The steering committee hopes to inspire ʻōpio civic engagement and provide resources and opportunities for us to take action and have our voices heard.
A survey taken in 2019 captured the topics ʻōpio were most interested in and the needs they felt needed to be addressed. Topics included climate change, food security, homelessness, traffic, and infrastructure (the rail, alawai, and flood mitigation). Some of the needs ʻōpio identified were acquiring the tools and resources to do the work for the future, engagement for opportunities to gain knowledge and learn about resources, and a network to work with.
The question, “How do we engage ʻōpio for advocacy?” has been a topic of discussion in light of the needs ʻōpio have expressed. This led to the creation of the mission for the committee to focus on next-generation advocacy. There are three pillars upon which the steering committee has focused.
- Pillar One: Aloha ʻĀina – Standing up for one’s land
- Pillar Two: Mālama ʻĀina – Taking care of ʻāina
- Pillar Three: ʻOihana – Career
The ʻŌpio Steering Committee is made up of three ʻōpio: Bronson Azama, Waiʻaleʻale Sarsona, and Karli Rose Kalama, and is facilitated by Ian Custino. Together we have taken the voiced thoughts and opinions of ʻōpio regarding opportunities and their place at events, and are working towards a five-year plan to engage ʻōpio. The steering committee has been meeting bi-weekly to discuss planning and organizing to get ʻōpio involved in the upcoming CNHA (Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement) Convention in October, and the AHCC (Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs) Convention in November.
There is a concern that ʻōpio may not be comfortable in the area of policy and advocacy, but the steering committee strongly feels that we can provide the necessary tools to educate and empower ʻōpio to prepare and take action through their personal experiences and through the experience of their kūpuna and mākua.
The ʻŌpio Steering Committee looks forward to the future and is very optimistic about the opportunities that will be available to ʻōpio to gain the resources for education, networking, and community involvement in the issues that ʻōpio are interested in and passionate about. There is no direction to go other than forward.
Karli Rose Kalama is the co-founder and board member of a student-run organization at UH Mānoa known as Ka Lau O Ka Lāhui (KLAU). KLAUʻs mission is focused on bringing the community together to learn of the history of our ʻāina through going to loʻi, loko iʻa and historic sites and offer our kōkua to mālama the island of Oʻahu.