Kāneʻohe native, Brandon Ing is a champion of Okinawan roots––not only his own roots, but those of many, discovered and rediscovered. With his music aimed at language revitalization, these roots are nourished. They are firmly planted, not only in his ancestral homeland, but in the fertile ʻāina aloha that he calls home.
In Hawaiʻi, “civic engagement” means more. When we understand civic engagement as a collective initiative that strives to define and better our community, we realize that the civic space goes beyond the town hall meetings, the legislative bodies, and the voting booth. To define and better our Hawaiʻi, we engage in a sense of place. We engage in aloha ʻāina. When we call Hawaiʻi our home, we are charged with a duty to aloha ʻāina. Ignoring this call––attempting to live passively in Hawaiʻi––renders one extraneous in this unique system of existence by which community and ʻāina thrive.
Our goal is to show what civic engagement can be when guided by the humanities and arts and unique cultural traditions and values of Hawaiʻi. We cannot strive to define and better our community without engaging ʻāina. Aloha ʻāina remains a guiding beacon––a fire we strive to maintain eloquently in the humanities and arts––and thus, in us all. The Why It Matters: Civic and Electoral Participation initiative is administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Why It Matters programs in Hawaiʻi are created in partnership with the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities, King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, the Civic Education Council, Kāhuli Leo Leʻa, Chaminade History Center, the Center for Oral History at UH Mānoa, and others.
Why It Matters aims to create spaces for true exchange and listening across our different viewpoints that will lead to continued productive discussion. The opinions expressed here do not represent those of Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, Federation of State Humanities Councils, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, or the National Endowment for the Humanities.