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Episode 61: Aloha ‘?ina with Malia Akutagawa

When Malia Akutagawa founded Sust‘?inable Moloka‘i in 2010 she was determined to create an organization that would follow the will of the island’s people. She created Moloka‘ipedia—a play on Wikipedia—to find out what that was.

“We do is all these needs assessments, asking the community what it wants, then we do projects around that. We created this twelve-point sustainability wheel of what would make our community happy and healthy. We had different areas like education, agriculture, green industry, that sort of thing.”

Sust‘?inable Moloka‘i has already made strides in food, energy and green building; to the future Akutagawa dreams of a sustainability design center, a carbon-neutral energy footprint, a green-powered sailing vessel to transport farmers’ crops to other islands. Moloka‘i was traditionally known as ‘?ina momona, sweet lands, which produced copious amounts of food and Akutagawa wants the island to return to those days.

“We’ve been known historically as the poi bowl or the breadbasket of the Islands so that’s why we talk about Moloka‘i ‘?ina momona as this abundant land. So for us sustainability is really about abundance, it’s not coming from a sense of deficit, it’s more the way that k?puna designed agriculture and aquaculture was along this principle of providing more than enough—and if you provide more than enough, then your world will encompass everyone.”

researcher, writter, and narrator of Aloha Aina. She is currently an editor at Hawai‘i’s largest magazine, Hana Hou!, where she has written and edited numerous award-winning articles about Hawai‘i. She was the founding editor of Honolulu Weekly. She holds a BA in Pacific history and journalism from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa and a JD from Stanford Law School.
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