The Ability to be Agile and Pivot

Ka Wai Ola
  • ʻeleu (vs. Active, alert, energetic, lively, nimble, quick, dexterous, agile, prompt)
  • ʻūniu (v.i. To pivot)

Photo: Sylvia Hussey

Aloha mai kākou,

Celebrating success is the focus of the August edition of Ka Wai Ola. We are taking time to pause in the midst of the chaos this pandemic has wrought, to take a deep cleansing and reflective breath between the extremely critical Primary and General Elections, and simply share inspiring stories from our l āhui. This issue celebrates a few of the creative people and innovative programs that are, individually and collectively, writing a new COVID-19 narrative, one in which Native Hawaiians don’t just survive, but thrive.

Our people have a history of being agile and able to pivot quickly as circumstances change and new opportunities are presented. We were early adopters of technology; one example of this is electricity. When King Kal ākaua visited the 1881 International Exposition of Electricity in Paris during his world tour, he was fascinated and quickly saw the potential. He later secured an introduction to Thomas Edison and, upon his return to Hawaiʻi, he pursued his vision of a city bright with electric lights. ʻIolani Palace turned on its lights for the first time in 1886. By 1888, Honolulu city lights became a reality, and by 1890 some 800 Honolulu homes had electricity at a time when most people in Europe and America still used kerosene lamps.

Albert Einstein wrote that “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.” At the end of the day, the ability to be agile and to pivot in a crisis; to reimagine processes or services, or to completely change direction if necessary, is what determines success.

In our cover story, the lockdown this past spring allowed Waimea Valley on Oʻahu and other natural places to rest. As a result, the current konohiki for the valley are looking for new ways to share the beauty and moʻolelo of this wahi pana in ways that are more meaningful to kamaʻ āina, reduce economic reliance on tourism, and preserve the renewed health of the natural environment.

We also share the stories of two schools that have adapted technology to meet the new, remote learning needs of their haum āna, kumu hula and kumu mele who are using Zoom in this time of social distancing, a rural health clinic that pivoted 180 degrees when the pandemic hit in order to m ālama their patients, two success stories from the Kahiau emergency financial assistance program, an innovative program that teaches job skills to youth who might otherwise fall through the cracks, a young ʻōiwi entrepreneur whose business is growing despite the recession, how Hina Hawaiʻi has modified it’s business to service clients, and more.

These are trying times and our ability to adjust and adapt will determine our individual and collective success. There is an ʻōlelo noʻeau, “makaʻala ke kanaka kāhea manu; a man who calls birds should always be alert.” The kaona for this saying is that if we wish to succeed we must be alert to every opportunity, like the kia manu (bird catchers).

On the journey ahead, regardless of it’s challenges, I hope we can all remain makaʻala to the opportunities that present themselves and find within ourselves the ability and the willingness to be agile and to pivot our way to strengthening our ʻohana, moʻomeheu and ʻāina.

Sylvia M. Hussey, Ed.D.
Ka Pouhana/Chief Executive Officer