Our name: Kua’āina Ulu ‘Auamo (KUA). KUA means back, ‘ĀINA means land.
Like a backbone that connects and supports. Kua’āina are the grassroots, rural people of Hawai’i nei; the backbone of the land and the backbone of most of our work. Ulu means to grow. ‘Auamo is the carrying stick held on multiple shoulders of laborers who shared the burden of carrying something of great weight forward. By taking up the ‘auamo, our kua’āina communities share the sacred responsibility, or kuleana, to achieve ‘āina momona- literally “fat lands” – an abundant, productive ecological system that supports community well-being. KUA envisions a backbone of powerful and connected communities transforming Hawai’i through their stewardship of Hawaiian lands, waters and culture.
Increasingly common and broadly encompassing terms used in conservation science circles to describe the work of E Alu Pū communities include “community based natural resource management” or CBRM and community co-management. For Hawai’i as it is for many predominantly indigenous communities, this activity also embraces the value and idea of lōkahi, unity of humanity and the greater environment; it also uniquely addresses long held community struggles for justice through praxis.
KUA has a 10-year history of social and environmental justice movement-building, strategic support, and capacity building for community biocultural -cultural and natural- resource stewardship across the state of Hawai’i. KUA connects communities together, growing a network of practitioners who learn from each other, and share their strengths. We provide short-term and long-term assistance to communities who invite our help. We provide facilitation, consultation, training, networking, and tools to help communities reach their goals for an improved quality of life through caring for Hawai‘i’s biocultural heritage.
KUA’s core initiative and the source of many of its other projects is the coordination and facilitation of a statewide network of grassroots community groups called the E Alu Pū network. E Alu Pū means “move forward together.” In 2013 on the island of Moloka’i over 100 E Alu Pū participants convened to celebrate its 10th anniversary, honor its founders, learns about the culture and resources of the island and to discuss two issues of importance to the evolution of the collective: 1) an agreement among participants on values and what it means to be a member of the network 2) their first resolution as a group. These discussions are now shaping agreements of solidarity to help E Alu Pū move forward to influence our collective futures.