LIHUE — Leaders from around the state have formed a new nonprofit that builds on the recent successes of local communities against trans-national chemical corporations operating in the islands, according to a release.
The Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action is a Kauai-based, statewide organization, with Kauai County Councilman Gary Hooser serving as its board president.
“HAPA is committed to a solutions-based vision that values health and the environment above corporate profits, and most importantly, fostering grassroots democracy and community engagement in local governance,” Hooser said. “We are at a critical point in time, with both corporate influence over politics as well as citizen discontent and engagement at all-time highs.”
Hooser said HAPA is an action-oriented organization that believes the people must act now to preserve and leverage recent successes for democracy, social justice and long-term sustainability.
“Now is our opportunity for residents across the state to claim their government, participation and power,” he said.
HAPA’s first action is to launch its “Campaign to Protect Hawaii’s Future,” which focuses on defending the islands from efforts by a small group of international chemical companies to undo protections gained through local legislation, including Kauai’s Bill 2491/Ordinance 960.
“Rather than comply with our laws, these companies are suing our county for the right to spray poisons next to Kauai’s schools,” Hooser said. “They are lobbying at the state level to take away the counties’ powers. However, the people of Hawaii are energized and determined to fight back, and HAPA is determined to help them.”
HAPA launched its initial fundraising drive to support its campaign. Donations will go to support citizens’ initiatives that are defending against marketing campaigns, lobbying and lawsuits by the chemical companies. HAPA seeks to fund its programs through grassroots outreach and support from likeminded people from all walks of life.
HAPA invites residents from around Hawaii to get involved, donate and join the movement at www.HAPAhi.org.
HAPA Board Member Aria Juliet Castillo said the coalition has a diverse board of directors whose composition is a reflection of the rainbow of cultures that make up the state of Hawaii.
“Our board members come from every county, with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise, but all hold a strong commitment to support grassroots democracy and core progressive values,” she said.
Founding board of directors includes: Paul Achitoff of Earthjustice, Andrea N. Brower, Aria Juliet Castillo, Malia K. Chun, Bart Dame, Laura Harrelson, Gary Hooser, Ikaika M. Hussey, Bianca K. Isaki, Lorilani Keohokālole-Torio, Katie McMillan, Joshua Mori, Walter Ritte Jr., Karen Shishido and Cade Watanabe.