HCSN believes that communities’ success in ensuring the health and vitality of local environmental heritage lies in their ability to plan, implement, fund, evaluate, and adapt resource management practices over the long term.
HCSN helps communities who request our assistance to articulate and achieve their goals for an improved quality of life through environmental and cultural stewardship. We bring together partners, tools, and our own professional expertise to support community efforts in the following focus areas:
Community networking: HCSN’s strength lies with the relationships and the trust we have established with our community partners. HCSN convenes and facilitates a network of more than 25 communities from around Hawai‘i to strengthen their mālama ‘āina efforts through sharing ideas, skills, and lessons learned with one another. This network, called E Alu Pū (Move Forward Together!), began in 2004 out of a request from communities. A truly community-driven organization, HCSN is led by this network. Not only does E Alu Pū give HCSN our mandate, but our organization’s leadership is comprised of one person from each island represented in E Alu Pū. These communities join with others to share what they know, strengthen one another, and contribute to one another’s success. HCSN supports their efforts toward a condition of ‘āina momona—an abundant, productive ecological system that sustains community well-being.
Natural and sociocultural resources management: Hawai‘i is an extraordinary place home to 10,000 species found only in Hawai‘i, an indigenous living culture, a globally diverse human population, and about 100 distinct ecosystem types. Hawai‘i is also the “extinction capital of the world.” Pressures in the last century such as coastal development, habitat destruction, pollution, the introduction of alien species, irresponsible resource extraction, and changes in management approaches have caused severe declines throughout Hawai‘i’s ecosystems. Without strong action to reverse the degradation, Hawai‘i’s people will lose our food security, our economic base, and our way of life.
For many communities in Hawai‘i, improving the future for our environmental heritage means looking to the past. Ancient Hawaiians practiced sound management of land and ocean resources, which in turn sustained the people physically, socially, culturally, and spiritually. Combining effective resources management methods from the past and the present, communities are caring for their environmental heritage.
Youth engagement: In ancient Hawai‘i, children learned how to hunt, fish, plant, gather, and practice sound resource management from shadowing their elders. Today, elders often work while children sit in classrooms or in front of technology. Many of Hawai‘i’s children are losing their connection with the ‘āina (land and sea). Communities cited this as one of the greatest threats to Hawai‘i’s natural resources. In response, HCSN is working with communities throughout Hawai‘i to ensure that young people learn the practices that will nurture the ‘āina and, in turn, their communities.
Community advocacy: HCSN empowers communities to participate equally in making the decisions that impact their quality of life. HCSN informs communities about policy initiatives that may affect their resource management efforts, and we provide communities with access to education and assistance related to community organizing, advocacy, and policy-making processes. We are committed to providing our community partners with relevant, accurate information and do not promote specific positions related to legislative or other political action.
Community-based economic development: HCSN believes that communities have the right to define their vision for economic development in their community and participate equally in the economic decisions that affect their livelihoods. We promote a form of economic development that is community-driven, place-based, respectful of cultural and traditional values, and supportive of healthy, sustainable ecosystems. HCSN brings together tools, resources, and partnerships to enable community-based organizations to expand economic opportunities and achieve measurable financial and economic benefits in their communities.
Monitoring and evaluating program impacts: Our shared work is effective only if we and communities respond to new information, changing conditions, and lessons learned. At the same time, communities tell us they rarely have the time or patience to work through confusing and cumbersome evaluation systems. So HCSN is working directly with communities to develop and use a framework and tools tailor-made for communities to better understand, improve, and tell the story of their impact.
Capacity-building for community-based organizations: Most of HCSN’s community partners are small, grassroots, community-based organizations. Many of their efforts begin in response to specific threats, and they galvanize their neighbors to improve community conditions. As they grow to recognize their own ability to affect positive community change, they start thinking about how to sustain a long-term effort. Many communities turn to HCSN for help, so we provide or link them to assistance in strategic planning, organizational development, and administrative and fiscal management systems.
HCSN promotes fair and equitable partnerships. HCSN is committed to integrity, transparency, and accountability in all of our actions, and we partner with organizations and institutions that demonstrate a shared commitment to these values.
HCSN employs a community-driven approach to our work, and we provide assistance only in communities that request our support.
HCSN builds local capacity for community-based management of local environmental heritage. We seek to empower and strengthen community-based organizations to identify their own resource management goals and develop the expertise, knowledge, and skills necessary to accomplish these goals. We encourage collaboration and connect community resource managers with a network of knowledgeable practitioners and professionals in a broad variety of disciplines.
The Hawai‘i Community Stewardship Network was founded in 2003 as the Hawai‘i Program of the Community Conservation Network (CCN). In 2009 the Hawai‘i Program became the Hawai‘i Community Stewardship Network, or Ka ‘Ahahui Hoa‘āina O Ke Kaiāulu Hawai‘i, a name selected for our organization by our community partners.
The Hawai‘i Community Stewardship Network partners with the Oʻahu Resource Conservation & Development Council (ORCD), an independent, tax-exempt Hawai‘i non-profit entity that serves as our administrative agent. ORCD is dedicated to their mission of improving the quality of life of the people of Oʻahu by encouraging and assisting local leadership to develop and carry out activities that conserve and sustain our natural, human, cultural, and economic resources. Click here to learn more about the ORCD.
Help us take care of Hawai‘i's environmental heritage. Join the growing movement to ensure healthy communities through a healthy environment by making an investment in communities who are actively caring for their environmental heritage.Donate today. Mahalo! »