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Community Voices Call for Economic Action

March 15, 2021, 5:50 PM HST
* Updated March 15, 1:57 PM
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The ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures initiative is launching a policy playbook, “Growing a Stronger Hawaiʻi,” that outlines key approaches to transforming Hawaiʻi’s economy. The playbook makes 26 specific proposals which collectively establish a framework for a resilient and diverse economy. The policy proposals are grounded in a set of shared values and prioritize the well-being of communities and our natural environment in a post-pandemic future. The proposals in the playbook can be adopted now, and are expected to be given serious consideration in the next two years.

“Uplifting community voices and innovation is the foundation and starting point for this process. This playbook represents just a small portion of the collective intelligence embodied in the ideas contributed throughout our extensive community engagement process. Dozens of community volunteers have contributed their time and expertise to this expansive effort to elevate the voices of a diverse community of AAEF signatories,” said Dr. Kamanamaikalani Beamer, core contributor of the ʻĀina Aloha effort. The ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures initiative springs from the collective engagement of over 2,750 individuals, organizations, and businesses who, since April of 2020, have contributed their voices and time in a wide range of engagement efforts.

The ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures initiative has comprised a four part community engagement process that produced a values statement, an action agenda, a project assessment tool, and now a policy playbook. AAEF co-author, Dr. Noe Noe Wong-Wilson said, “When the pandemic hit, we quickly realized that our grassroots communities were not represented in discussions of economic recovery. We saw that the pre-pandemic economy was not working for a large portion of our community. And we knew it was urgent to amplify the voices of many, many individuals and organizations that could bring invaluable expertise to these discussions.”

The policy playbook was developed through a series of engagement steps that produced over 180 specific proposals. The playbook is representative of the proposals that were specific to policy. “There is still much work to do in filtering through all of the proposals and manaʻo that has been shared, there are recommendations that are centered around building community capacity and there are more that provide guidance for the private sector in diversifying our economy. We focused on policy recommendations first because our government plays such a critical role in setting us on a course for success, we need those decision-makers to see the amazing work happening in our community and to move boldly and quickly,” said Beamer.

The policy playbook provides a snapshot of what can be if various stakeholder groups align and commit to making change. Discussions and development of policy proposals continues within Hawaiʻi’s communities.

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“At the midpoint of the legislative session, we are very concerned that decision-makers are going to revert to what they know, the pre-pandemic status quo, and that is a huge problem. The status quo has failed to provide social and environmental justice and equity in our community. Itʻs time for our policymakers to make these changes now,” said Wong-Wilson.

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The policy playbook is accessible online at ainaalohafutures.com/policyplaybook.

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