(An update by Miki Tomita and students from University Lab School, O‘ahu)
Recently, we had the privilege to participate in a focus group to envision what the future of Kahoʻolawe might be through a process that explored our own personal relationships and experiences with the Island and each other.
During the different stages of the focus group discussions and activities, we all learned many things and got to know people; some people we already knew, but we got to know them better. We really enjoyed starting with “Guts on the Table”, where we shared deeply of ourselves; as the day progressed, we worked with one partner exclusively and shared much of our thoughts and ideas with them. At the end of the day, we shared everything we had built based on our partnerʻs visions and ideas, and they shared what they interpreted and learned from us. “I learned more about myself through someone elseʻs eyes.” -Baylee J.
Becoming part of this process was harder for some of us because of a lack of personally experiencing the Kahoʻolawe journey; however, it was interesting to hear about other peopleʻs experiences, and soon everyone was sharing ideas of what is important and special about Kahoʻolawe. “It was interesting to hear someoneʻs experiences of Kahoʻolawe even though they have never been there.” - Joey C.
We learned what others think about Kahoʻolawe and shared our thoughts on the island and our relationship to it; we learned deep things about ourselves and others; and we learned a unique history of Kahoʻolawe through everyoneʻs different experiences. It was very moving to hear about what others hold sacred and the deep emotion that people feel when they talk about the Island. “When another group member said: ʻYou see the sunrise every day but on Kahoʻolawe it is different because it hasnʻt changed for hundreds of yearsʻ, I felt it too.” -Kailee R.
Our groups were made up of high school and college students, teachers and other education professionals, a mother and daughter, cultural practitioners and experts on Kahoʻolawe, and a local government official. It was cool to see how our alumni could participate in this process too, through Google Hangout video-conferencing. It showed us that people near and far can experience and contribute to the future of Kahoʻolawe.
We are grateful for being involved in this process to continue the healing and restoration of Kahoʻolawe, and to envision the future of the sacred and beautiful island.
To view a recent news article and video about the 2026 Strategic Planning for Kaho‘olawe, click here.