Tag Archives: Mauna Kea

Pro TMT: Didn’t Just Fall Off the Tomato Truck

Through their former attorney Richard Naiwieha Wurdeman, some of those who feel the Thirty Meter Telescope should not be built atop Mauna Kea suggest I helped form the pro TMT group PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, on the spot – that we just popped up out of nowhere.

You can read that in this Civil Beat article about the TMT Contested Case Hearing, which starts Tuesday.

From Civil Beat:

Apart from the TMT itself, the only intervenor that has taken a stance in favor of the TMT’s construction is a group calling itself PUEO, short for Perpetuating Unique Educational Opportunities, Inc. As described in its petition for standing, PUEO’s purposes “include furthering ‘educational opportunities for the children of Hawaii in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.’ Its board members and beneficiaries include native Hawaiians that reside in the Keaukaha-Panaewa Hawaiian Homesteads located in Hilo, Hawaii. PUEO’s board members include native Hawaiians who seek knowledge and understanding and exercise customary and traditional native Hawaiian rights on Mauna Kea.”

The original petitioners have objected strenuously to PUEO’s admission as an intervenor. In a memorandum opposing Amano’s decision to admit PUEO, the original petitioners’ attorney, Wurdeman, claims that PUEO was formed for the sole purpose of intervening in the case.

“[G]iven the timing of its formation, the P.U.E.O., Inc., was obviously formed solely to try and participate in the contested case hearing and the Petitioners submit that such an attempt is clearly improper,” Wurdeman wrote.

The Reality

The truth, of course, is that I have been a very vocal supporter of the Thirty Meter Telescope for many years.

For years I’ve written at my blog and elsewhere about the Adopt-A-Class program. We formed that program to help kids in schools that cannot afford field trips. The program, which expanded after awhile to cover every class on the Big Island, paid for buses and admission to send students to ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center once a year, where they learned about the world-class science on Mauna Kea as well as our traditional Hawaiian culture. My first of many posts about Adopt-A-Class was nine years ago, in 2007:

My friend Duane Kanuha and I have this big idea, and we’re asking for your help: We want to send Keaukaha students on excursions that broaden their horizons and help them develop excitement for learning and positive attitudes about their place in the world. It’s my opinion that if Hawaiian kids are comfortable with their place in the world, they will not hesitate to participate in that world.

I’m specifically thinking about excursions to Hilo’s new astronomy center ‘Imiloa. ‘Imiloa is particularly powerful because it situates the Hawaiian culture and scientific knowledge in parity with the highest level of astronomy. It is a “discovery center” that celebrates both science (the world-class astronomy atop nearby Mauna Kea) and Hawaiian culture (including the marvels of traditional Hawaiian voyaging, navigation and much more).

It’s a place where Hawaiian kids see that there are careers and avocations directly related to their culture, and that these cultural traditions are important enough that they are celebrated in a world-class museum. And that the people pursuing these careers and passions are people who look just like them and their families.

I’ve written about Kumu Lehua Veincent asking me “What about the rest?” (of the students) since at least 2009, and many times since:

What I keep coming back to again and again is what Kumu Lehua Veincent told me the first time I asked him what the TMT should offer the Big Island as an introductory, good faith gift. I asked him if it would be appropriate to ask for “full ride” scholarships for at least five native Hawaiians to attend the best colleges in the nation.

He asked me, in a very sincere way, “And what about the rest?”

I felt so stupid that I could feel my ears getting hot.

That is the essential question: “What about the rest?” This is about the keiki, the future generations—all of them.

Three years later, University of Hawai‘i President McClain has announced that if the TMT comes to Hawai‘i, in addition to its other negotiations there will be an annual, $1 million benefit package for education emphasizing K-12. It will be effective for the life of the project—50 years—and will begin as soon as all the permits are in place.

It will be set up to address Kumu Lehua’s question: “What about the rest?”

The Process

The first time I wrote about Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, and what I learned from him about how important the process is as we talk about TMT, was also in 2009:

We talked story in the community a lot, and over and over we heard from Patrick Kahawaiola‘a, President of the Keaukaha Community Association, that the most important thing was “the process.”

And as we thought about this, we realized that if the process is most important, then all contributors to the process, no matter what side of the issue they are on, made for a better product. And so we always need to aloha the loud voices, too, who early on told us that things were not quite right. It was about us. All of us. Not me against you.

So when we had our first sign waving in support of the TMT, nearly 150 people showed up. We told everyone that we were meeting to celebrate the process and told them to bring their kids, and they did. It was very significant.

I also wrote about it six years ago in this 2010 post:

As we went around visiting people, Patrick Kahawaiola‘a,
 president of the Keaukaha Community Association, told me that it’s about “the 
process.” And since the process would result in the best possible result, we
 need to aloha everyone who participates in the process, no matter which side of 
the issue they are on. Therefore, we must mahalo Kealoha, Nelson, Debbie, Paul,
 Ku, Hanalei, the Kanaka Council, Jim, Cory, Moani and many others. We would not 
be here today had it not been for their passionate advocacy.

The whole state has noticed that we on the Big Island are
 doing this differently. Our approach is based on mutual respect, collaboration 
and trust. The TMT folks, led by Henry Yang, did it the right way. It
 would not have worked any other way.

And I’ve been writing about the TMT’s money for education, which became the THINK Fund, many times since 2009:

If we teach our keiki the values they need to make a society that is successful and thriving “when the boat no come,” we will have done our jobs. This $1 million that will be dedicated to keiki education annually is key to the survival of future generations. It is no longer about us – it is about the future generations.

We must learn and perpetuate what it was that allowed Hawaiians to survive for hundreds of years out in the middle of the ocean without boats coming in every day with goods from someplace else.

In the future, our values will need to revolve around aloha. We will need to assume responsibility—kuleana. We need to make more friends and stay closer to our families.

We live in the modern world, so how do we use what we have and meld it with the values that worked? We need to have a balance of science and culture in order for all of us to do what we do to help our greater society.

My Pop told me: “There are a thousand reasons why ‘No can.’ I only looking for one reason why ‘Can.’”

What it really all boils down to, as I wrote above, is the process. In the last six years or more, I’ve spoken and written about how it’s all about the process many, many times. If the process is pono, and we aloha everyone on all sides of the issue, then we’re good.

Let’s proceed with the process.

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It’s Not All About Kapu Aloha

Some Thirty Meter Telescope protestors are writing angry comments saying I’m too military-minded, and I’m inciting violence up on the mountain. You can see them after this post. What I don’t understand, they write, is that they’re all about kapu aloha. It’s all about peace.

I remember being that age. I was invincible, and smarter than my parents back then.

Listen, I’ve been around for a long time. I’ve been there and done that. I don’t have anything against conviction, or fighting for what you believe in. I like all the energy, to be honest. I have a lot of energy, and I fight for what I believe in, too.

But I am against doing it in an unsafe situation.

Strategically it would be much smarter for the protestors to move their protest off the mountain and onto the flats. Then they could bring in as many people as want to be involved. They would not inadvertently get into a situation where someone – a loose cannon they don’t know who’s from somewhere else, maybe – causes a situation that goes very wrong because they are in such an unforgiving landscape. Loose gravel. Steep grades. Boulders.

It’s all about terrain. When the government looks at the situation on the mountain, they have to look at the road and the safety issues. It all comes into play, and to pretend it doesn’t is naïve.

If they were on the flats, no matter what the Supreme Court rules, the protestors could still protest. But if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the TMT and the protestors continue to hold their ground on the mountain and someone gets hurts, they’re going to look especially bad and people are going to get really angry at them.

There’s another issue now, too. Once I asked Lanakila, one of the spokesmen for the protestors, why the TMT protestors align themselves with the Kingdom of Hawai‘i. He told me they use the kingdom as a tool. He said those exact words: “as a tool.” What that told me was that it wasn’t about ethics. It was about the end justifying the means.

Now one of the kingdom’s kings has sent a letter to the governor and law enforcement agencies, as well as to the White House. It reiterates a message from a letter he’d previously sent, threatening to send marshals with weapons up to protect the protestors on the mountain:

If you truly are not willing to engage in negotiations to settle this matter, I am contemplating the deployment of my Marshals to Mauna a Wakea and Haleakala to support and protect my people from unlawful arrest and harassments by State law enforcement officers under your authority or the authority of State agencies. My Royal Marshals are Federal Officers of the Kingdom sworn to uphold and protect the Kingdom Constitution and Laws and the Orders of their King. Their protective services would be called upon to respond to violations of Treaty Law, the Laws of Nations and International Law, and to enforce domestic Kingdom Law. 

The Royal Marshals are professionals holding the authority and power issued by me to carry side arms and other weapons to enforce the laws of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. Enforcement includes making lawful arrests to which the arrestees will stand accountable to the proper jurisdiction within our Courts. Anyone acting in violation of treaty law will be subject to arrest and prosecution within the Kingdom. 

There’s no clear leadership in that protest. Who’s running that ballgame up there?

The bottom line is that the TMT is going to be built. The protestors are unwilling to compromise, which is hard to respect. They have no leadership, which I do not think is wise. And now there is a threat of someone coming in with weapons, which will always hang over their cause.

I mentioned before that, early on, when I was up on the mountain for a TMT ribbon-cutting ceremony, the protestors surrounded us in an L-shaped military ambush, and that never should have been allowed to happen.

Most of the people practicing kapu aloha on the mountain probably don’t know much about the military, but if the government ever called in assistance on the mountain, you better believe that sort of thing would be noticed. And whether intentional or not, it would make armed guardsmen nervous. That’s only one example of the sort of thing I hope never becomes an issue, and another reason I hope the protestors move their protest off the mountain.

Vietnam is where I learned basic military principles. Any Army or Marine veteran knows what I am talking about. There were three infantry companies in the valley we were in, and every so many weeks we’d rotate up to this firebase for about a week. It was up high, overlooking the valley with artillery to support the infantry companies. We could see all around in every direction.

I was 27 and it felt like R & R to us when we were up at the firebase, but it wasn’t. One day when we were up there, I was talking to the Colonel and he got all over my case because I wasn’t wearing my steel helmet. I got really irritated, but I had to swallow it because he was the Colonel.

Now I look at what’s going on up on the mountain and realize I’ve grown up. Somehow, I’ve become the one who sees the possibility of danger when the young, invincible, ones don’t. I’ve become the one who wants the young kids to wear the steel helmets so nobody gets hurt. This is what kupuna do.

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A Disaster in the Making

This situation on Mauna Kea continues to be a disaster waiting to happen. A Star-Advertiser reporter asked me what I would do about it.

I’m just a banana farmer, but one that happens to be a military veteran and knows a bit about military tactics. When I was up on the mountain early on for a TMT ribbon-cutting ceremony, I saw right away that the protestors had us in an L-shaped military ambush. That should never have been allowed to happen.

If this continues, more and more protesters will be up there. Are you willing to take the chance that no one rolls a boulder down the mountain? And then the situation escalates, we bring in the National Guard, and somebody shoots? If this keeps going on, somebody is going to get killed.

It’s so clear to me. We need to get our law enforcement people involved and plan for the worst case scenario. Or we can continue to be gentle and somebody will get killed. I have seen this in action in Vietnam. It’s something to see. It is so much better to be safe than sorry.

From the beginning of this situation on Mauna Kea, I’ve been very clear that this is very serious. What’s important – no matter which side of the argument you are on – is safety. We have to maintain public safety.

photo Vadim Kurland / CC  by 2.0 

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False Alarm, But Let’s Keep Our Cool

Richard Ha blog

An article posted online by the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on June 8th says that, according to a Subaru Observatory spokesperson, the hole I wrote about in the last post was caused by the door “hitting a bolt sticking out from an intake manifold next to the side entrance.”

Thank goodness it was a false alarm. It’s a huge relief.

This warning did cause us to all pay closer attention to what is going on around us. It also made us realize we are all in this together, and that we need to dial down the temperature of the discussion going on about Maunakea.

The protectors are doing their best to  maintain kapu aloha on the mauna.

As we go forward, let’s all choose our words carefully as we engage together.

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Bullet on the Mountain – Where are the Leaders?

Someone seems to have shot a bullet into the door of the Subaru Observatory at the summit of Mauna Kea over the weekend.

Richard Ha06-07-15_7 Bullet hole

06-07-15_1 View of east door-2
Richard Ha
This is what I’ve been talking about when I say we need Hawaiian leaders to dial down the temperature on the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) issue in the anti-TMT camp for the sake of safety.

Now it looks like someone has shot at one of the observatories. What next? Where are their leaders?

We have also seen posts like these:
post#1

 

post#2

I contacted Lanakila and he told me he advised the police about that second post. We are both concerned about safety for all on the mauna.

My concern is not the folks from the Big Island, but people who may come from off-island.

This is really getting out of hand.

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Dialing Down the TMT Temperature

Here’s a sample of some recent comments I saw about something I wrote about the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) on Facebook:

Richard Ha

Richard Ha

I’m certainly not trying to tell people they need to change, or think like I think. Everybody can have their own opinion and say what they want to say, but I’d like to see the communication be more respectful than this. We need to keep the spirit of aloha with us.

I cannot remember a time when Hawaiians were attacking other Hawaiians loudly and in public. We need to dial the temperature down. Our native Hawaiian leaders need to step forward and lower the temperature.

I do know the Royal Order of Kamehameha stepped up early on and prohibited the use of the war god Ku up on the mountain. Before they did that, Lanakila was running around with an image of Ku. We need more such positive leadership examples.

If folks want to protest or engage in civil disobedience, that is their choice. People have given their lives so they can do that. But we all know that the TMT will start construction and it’s important to remember that it’s a dangerous environment on the mountain. We all need to be careful and respectful and abide by kapu aloha.

What some of the anti-TMT people are not hearing is that my point is really about the maka‘ainana. I always, always advocate for the maka‘ainana, the “rubbah slippah folk,” who are a huge part of Hawaiian culture.

I often wonder how many of the anti-TMT folks have studied up on and understand why so many of us consider geothermal, GMOs, and the TMT important to the Big Island’s future. We hear so many of their arguments based on incorrect assumptions.

We’re also hearing a lot about sovereignty and Hawaiian Kingdom issues wrapped up in the TMT. I don’t take a position on those issues. They will be decided over time. We’re talking here about the TMT.

Too often in the discussions surrounding geothermal, GMOs and astronomy in general, the consequences to the rubbah slippah folk are not taken into consideration. Too often the end justifies the means whether it makes sense or not. I don’t agree with that.

I’m open to discussion about any of these topics. My Facebook page has always been set to public. I’m pretty active there and also respond here at my blog. But for safety’s sake, we need to see the temperature dialed down a bit.

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TMT: Common Ground Meeting, with Video

by Leslie Lang

Last week, I attended the second of four TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meetings. The Hilo-Hamakua Community Development Corporation is putting on these meetings to bring together the community to hear about the culture, history, science, safety, economics and other issues regarding the Thirty Meter Telescope.

The announced speakers were Paul Neves, speaking on culture, Peter Adler on sacred spaces, and Michael Bolte on the TMT approval process. Paul Neves called and cancelled, though, citing a possible conflict of interest re: an ongoing lawsuit he is involved in. Hawane Rios, who is active in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna protest movement, spoke in his place.

Perhaps a hundred people attended the meeting, which was held at the Kula‘imano Community Center in Pepe‘ekeo. It was a respectful crowd comprised of people on both sides of the issue, and I found it a very worthwhile and interesting evening.

PETER ADLER ON SACRED SPACES

Click here for the video of Peter Adler speaking or you can read a transcript of his talk.

Peter Adler, who authored the 2007 Keystone Center report Assessment of the risks for sitting the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea, spoke about what is sacred, and I could almost see the hackles start rising on the backs of some of the Hawaiians as he began. Who was he to pontificate on what is sacred?, I imagined they might be thinking.

But his was no off-the-cuff dinner chatter. He has thought deeply about this subject for years, he said, and it was apparent. Watch the video and you’ll hear him talking about how hard it is to understand the sacred places of other people. He also spoke about the whole issue we are discussing also has to do with leadership and about building bridges between cultures. He showed a short film clip from the movie Invictus, in which Mandela was trying to build a new country and build a bridge between cultures and make a place for everyone. He added something about not necessarily comparing Ige to Mandela. At that there was murmuring.

He talked about India where there are communal riots, he explained, between bored, angry, alienated young zealots, some of them Hindus and some Muslims, often over cows, which are considered sacred there. He told a very thought-provoking story about an  accidental injury to a bull in India and how he saw the aftermath unfold. That story right there is worth watching the video for. It makes you think about how sacredness means different things to different people.

He spoke of what makes mountains like Mauna Kea and Everest and others sacred, and then about how sacredness does not lie within a thing, but how something being sacred always comes down to behavior, protocol, ritual. Watch the video to hear more about what he means by that.

I’m finding it hard to summarize Peter Adler’s talk adequately. He’s a really interesting thinker and I found it unexpectedly fascinating. I highly recommend watching his talk above. I found him to be a great speaker.

MICHAEL BOLTE ON HISTORY OF THE TMT APPROVAL PROCESS

Click here for the video of Michael Bolte speaking.

Michael Bolte, president of the TMT Board of Directors and a professor of astronomy at UC Santa Cruz, has been involved with the TMT from the beginning.

He talked about two topics. First he talked about the history and wonder of telescopes, and it was a neat overview. Until the year 1609, people did amazing things just with the naked eye. They developed calendars, and clocks, and figured out when to plant their crops. He talked about the tiny telescope Galileo created in 1609, which just had a three-inch lens, and what he was able to discover with that and how it changed humankind’s whole view of the universe. Bolte talked about how, as telescopes got larger, we learned not only that our sun was not the center of the universe, but, eventually, that our galaxy was not even the center of the universe. And they keep getting larger. Now, with the much larger Thirty Meter Telescope, he explained, we will be able to actually look back in time.

His second topic was to give an overview of the whole TMT process, since Mauna Kea was first considered as a site in 2004. He talked about how the TMT board spoke to both supporters and opponents here in Hawai‘i, and found lots of people who were “vaguely negative” about the idea of the project because of how previous telescopes had been handled. Every single person involved with the TMT wanted to do right by Mauna Kea, he emphasized, with not a single exception. He outlined all the things they needed to learn, to ask, to hear, to make right.

He finished his talk with a couple of quick stories of very interesting interactions with people that happened along the way. I’ll let you listen to those at the end of his video, above. They are worth a listen. Great stories and I was glad I heard them.

HAWANE RIOS ON CULTURAL PERSPECTIVE

Click here for the video of Hawane Rios speaking.

Hawane Rios is involved in the Ku Kia‘i Mauna movement. At the eleventh hour, after learning that Paul Neves had cancelled, she volunteered to give a cultural perspective about Mauna Kea. She is well-spoken, did a great job, and you would never have known she didn’t have time to prepare ahead of time.

She opened with the chant Malana Mai Ka‘u. Then she spoke about Hawaiians having a relationship and exchange with Mauna Kea, which teaches them how to navigate the ocean, when to plant food, when to step into the ocean, when not to, and more.

She pointed out that before the construction of the observatories, the reason not many archaeological finds or artifacts were found at the top of Mauna Kea is because that place was sacred and they were not allowed to go to the top.

She said the world is calling out now to protect Mauna Kea but our government is not listening, and talked about what is sustainable for our island communities. She said the earth and land are suffering, and wondered aloud if there will be water and food that has not been demeaned, fresh food, for seven generations. She spoke about being native, about community, about who is making the decisions, and how come they gave those people that power if they are abusing it.

She said she finds this TMT process very disturbing but is thankful for it too because it is awakening her people. We are small but we are mighty, she said. “We have people standing with us and saying, ‘We are Mauna Kea.’” She said that although Governor Ige made his announcement, he made it out of fear, and she has compassion for him because he has fear. There is much more at the video of her talk (above).

COMING UP

The final TMT & Maunakea: Common Ground meeting will be next Tuesday from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. and refreshments will be provided.

A correction to the published information below: Art Kimura and Richard will not be speaking. Cultural Expert Hank Fergerstrom will be speaking instead.

common ground.png

Another way to make sure you’re up to speed on the facts is to read The Facts About TMT on Maunakea, which the TMT put out. It is very straightforward, clear, and easy to read. Definitely worth checking out.

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Why I Have a Problem With the Anti-TMT Movement

I have finally put my finger on exactly what bothers me about the anti-TMT movement.

My entire career has been about planning for the future and adapting to our changing energy needs. It’s been about finding a way to force change in order to get us from here to there, and doing it in such a way that we take care of all of us, not just a few of us. That’s the fundamental principle we go by.

We know that it’s not the biggest or smartest or strongest who are going to survive, it’s the ones who adapt to change.

But they, the ones who are protesting the TMT, have made it clear that they absolutely refuse to compromise. They refuse to adapt to change.

This is the fundamental problem.

They have no plan for adapting to our changing energy situation, and I don’t know what their end goal is. My disagreeing with them has nothing to do with race or racism, but everything to do with their refusing to adapt. I’m waiting for them to make a plan, but what bothers me the most is their unwillingness to adapt to change.

We need solutions that will take care of all of us, not just a few of us.

***

There’s quite a discussion going on over at my Facebook page. A spokesman for Ku Kia‘i, the movement blocking the TMT people from going up to the summit of Mauna Kea, has filed a complaint of war crimes – of unlawful confinement, deprivation of a fair trial, and destruction of public property – in Canada. These war crimes refer to 31 protestors being arrested last month on Mauna Kea, despite what the group considers the illegal occupation of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the United States, as well as the building and erecting of thirteen observatories currently on the mountain. More about this on the Hawaiian Kingdom blog.

Clearly this controversy is about the Hawaiian Kingdom, which is not due to any fault of the TMT. I am not against the Kingdom of Hawaii, but it appears to me that that process will take a long time to come to any ruling. Nothing has been decided yet. I will abide by a ruling, whatever it may be.

In the meantime, the TMT has followed all the appropriate U.S. laws, all of which allow them to start construction. We are a nation of laws, and we are following the laws of the USA. If we didn’t, we would have anarchy. Our leaders need to lead. The safety of the people is of number one importance.

It’s fine to save the world, but shouldn’t we take care of our people first? Why should our rubbah slippah folks forego 300 construction jobs, 120 full time jobs at first light, $1 million youth education, workforce development programs and $1 million in rent of which $800,000 would go to malama Maunakea and $200,000 would go to OHA? And, $26 million additional to the Big Islands economy – all because we want to make a point?

And all this is free money. No one else will ever give us this much free money for our rubbah slippah folk.

Interesting comments follow my Facebook posts about it:

One person noted that this is why the anti-TMT advocates have “lost all credibility – because they let the pro-sovereignty people hijack the movement and turn it into a completely irrelevant issue.” (He also posted a link to the Department of State’s procedures about how one legally renounces U.S. citizenship.)

Other commenters said:

• Any Hawaiian government, king or otherwise, would need revenue, and would probably jump at any opportunity involving a billion-plus dollar project. I really don’t think many TMT opponents have thought things through to the logical end.

• TMT and self determination are two separate issues. I believe the reason the self determination movement did not catch fire with most part Hawaiians is because tens of thousands of them are employed, own homes, have families, are retired, collect social security, pensions and are covered by Medicare. In other words they already have self determination.

• Most have not considered the loss of things like Section 8 housing, SSI, AFDC, Food Stamps, students loans and tax credits, the loss of tourism that would be inevitable if Hawaii were not under the aegis of the U.S. government, the huge loss of DoD dollars once the separatists kick the military out, the instasbility that would lead many of us to draw our assets out and park them in a safe place, government grants, etc., etc., The federal government expends $17 billion more in Hawaii every year than it collects in taxes. Is that what you call war crimes? The withdrawal of that money and the loss of other revenues resultant from separation would create a death spiral of deflation that would destroy the economy.

• Those that haven’t studied history (and I get the feeling there are far too many of them here) don’t realize that one of the reasons why Hawaiians lost their lands is because it was so hard to raise capital here, and easy to get it elsewhere. When someone needed cash, they ended up selling their property cheap to someone (usually a foreigner or someone who had access to foreign funds) at tremendous discounts, because there was so little capital in Hawaiian markets. If sovereignty happens, it is very likely to repeat that pattern again. Princess Ruth sold Paauhau ahupuaa to Samuel Parker for $1300 because she needed the money and no one else had any funds to buy it.

And it goes on from there.

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What the TMT Controversy is Really About

All the controversy about the Thirty Meter Telescope is not about the TMT. What it’s become is a convenient vehicle for focusing on the Hawaiian sovereignty movement, and on the University of Hawai‘i not doing a good job in the past of caring for the mountain.

When celebrities got involved and the TMT subject went viral, it galvanized the energy of the younger folk. These folks were only in middle school when the TMT project started, so there is a very steep learning curve.

Over the last seven years, the TMT has gone through all the legal requirements and the judge ruled that it is the telescope project can begin construction.

Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that in order for a project to be sustainable, it needs to be socially, environmentally and economically sustainable. The TMT fulfills all these requirements.

I think people have the erroneous view that the TMT is a big, investor-owned, money making corporation. It is not. It’s a non-profit organization and Henry Yang, its president, doesn’t even draw a salary. He does it because he knows it will bring benefits to our community.

I recognized this from early in the project and it’s the reason I’m such a supporter of the TMT. I’m also a big supporter of the TMT’s THINK education fund, which will allow our youth to dream big.

The problem with dreaming small is that your dreams might come true.

We want our keiki to feel proud of themselves. We want them to dream big!

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TMT Launches Scholarships, Grant Funds for STEM Students

Richard Ha writes:

This is terrific.

As we’ve been talking about all this time, the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) people are giving a million dollars per year for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education. That’s more than $50 million altogether through the life of the TMT project, and all that money stays on this island for the education of our Big Island keiki.

They’re calling it the THINK fund: The Hawai‘i Island New Knowledge fund.

I wrote a 2010 blog post that explains how TMT President Henry Yang came to understand that keiki education was the lowest common denominator that folks on all sides of the TMT issue could agree upon. That is what led to the THINK fund.

This fund benefits all Big Island keiki, and all Native Hawaiian students will have an additional opportunity for scholarships and grants, as well.

The details:

TMT Launches The Hawaii Island New Knowledge (THINK) Fund

$1 Million Annually to Benefit Hawaii Island Students Pursuing STEM Disciplines

Hilo, Hawaii (November 13, 2014) – The Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) has launched THINK (The Hawaii Island New Knowledge) Fund to better prepare Hawaii Island students to master STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and to become the workforce for higher paying science and technology jobs in Hawaii’s 21st century economy. TMT’s founding gift of $1 million marks the beginning of the construction phase of astronomy’s next-generation telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii.

TMT’s THINK Fund initiative benefits Hawaii Island students pursuing STEM endeavors with an annual contribution of $1 million over its existing 19-year Mauna Kea sublease with the University of Hawaii-Hilo. Two Hawaii foundations were selected by TMT, Hawaii Community Foundation and Pauahi Foundation, to administer THINK Fund distribution in scholarship and grant making platforms. The two independent foundations are defining their award criteria and decision-making process.

“During our numerous meetings, TMT and the community discussed how to collaborate to fulfill the shared dream of building the world’s most advanced telescope. The idea for the THINK Fund to invest in the education of students in the STEM field was germinated,” said Henry Yang, Chair of the TMT International Observatory Board. “With the launch of the THINK Fund, we are embarking on two transformational adventures – exploring the frontiers of the universe and providing educational opportunities for Hawaii’s students, both now and for future generations.”

The Thirty Meter Telescope initiated dialogue on the formation of THINK Fund in 2008 by asking a group of community volunteers to outline the mission, vision, purpose and implementation strategy of an education fund benefitting Hawaii Island students. The Organizing Committee that developed TMT’s THINK Fund structure was comprised of Hawaii Island residents.

“After years of THINK Fund planning and reflection, the aspirations of dedicated community members are being realized with TMT’s first annual $1 million contribution, set in motion by the start of our construction phase,” said TMT Community Affairs Manager Sandra Dawson. “As a mother of two teachers, I am so pleased with the THINK Fund’s potential to furnish Hawaii Island students with an easier path to reach for the stars. TMT’s THINK Fund initiative will not only help Hawaii Island students with the tools to excel in STEM areas and the channels to get into college, it can also provide students with the means to get through college.”

The Organizing Committee determined that scholarships, grant making and the establishment of an endowment would ensure the sustainability of improving educational opportunities for Hawaii Island students in STEM disciplines. It further recognized that an emphasis be given to improving opportunities for STEM education for Native Hawaiian students, not as an exclusive preference, but focusing on addressing the needs of Hawaii’s host culture.

TMT’s annual $1 million contribution allocates $750,000 to THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation and $250,000 to THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. The foundations will administer their respective THINK Funds independently and will have autonomy in administering grant funds, determining scholarship recipients, and the selection and governance of Advisory Committees.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation

Grants are available by application to THINK Fund at Hawaii Community Foundation beginning November 20th and will support a variety of Hawaii Island STEM student activities in and after-school, internship programs and teacher-generated STEM classroom projects. Scholarships will support current and future STEM teachers on Hawaii Island as well as students pursuing STEM degrees and training. Scholarship applications will be available online on December 1st, 2014.

“For the past 98 years, Hawaii Community Foundation has had the privilege of serving our island communities across the state,” said Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of the Hawaii Community Foundation. “We’re honored to be the stewards of the THINK Fund at HCF that will support STEM education on Hawaii Island for generations to come.”

Advisory Committee members of THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation are Laurie Ainslie, Roberta Chu, Mary Correa, Kaeo Duarte, Hiapo Perreira, Doug Simons and Barry Taniguchi. The Advisory Committee, facilitated by Hawaii Community Foundation staff, will assist with strategy development, review grant proposals, make grant decisions and encourage STEM education for Hawaii Island.

THINK Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students including Native Hawaiians, teachers with STEM classroom projects and organizations providing STEM and internship programs that directly benefit Hawaii Island. Learn more and apply at www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org.

The Hawaii Island office of Hawaii Community Foundation is located in Waimea.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation

Scholarship Programs will be the initial focus of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation. Grant making is being considered for the future.

“With Hawaii Island having the second largest population of Native Hawaiians in the state of Hawaii, our partnership with TMT provides much-needed financial support for Hawaiian learners from Hawaii Island to pursue educational opportunities in STEM,” said Hawaii Island resident and Pauahi Foundation Executive Director Keawe Liu.

Advisory committee members of THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation are Roberta Chu, Kaeo Duarte, Leinaala Enos, David Kaapu, Bob Lindsey, Gail Makuakane-Lundin and Maile Wong.

THINK Fund at the Pauahi Foundation is open to all Hawaii Island students with a preference given to applicants of Hawaiian ancestry to the extent permitted by law. Scholarship applications will be available online on February 4, 2015 at www.pauahi.org.

THINK Fund Collaboration

THINK Fund was designed as an initiative to encourage and attract other funders who align with the mission and goal to improve STEM education and strengthen Hawaii Island’s workforce, and TMT is serving as the founding member of the THINK Fund initiative. The vision of this collaborative approach is to bring together the island community with funders in a partnership that strives to help Hawaii Island students long term.

What’s Next For TMT?

Construction activities in Hawaii include site preparation and grading.

Offsite work has begun in earnest as well. In China, partners are designing the telescope’s fully articulated main science steering mirror system and developing the laser guide star system. Japan has produced over sixty special zero thermal-expansion glass mirror blanks for the main mirror and is designing the telescope structure in detail. Fabricating the mirror support system is ongoing in India. The adaptive optics facility is in final design and the enclosure is ready for construction in Canada.  The primary mirror and mirror control system is in final design in California.

The advancement of TMT to this stage of imminent on-site construction has been made possible by the support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. The foundation has spent $141 million to date to fund the design, development, and construction phases of TMT.

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