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New Book: 'The Value of Hawaii 2'

A new anthology grapples with the big questions.


Co-editors Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua are finding fresh perspectives.

The book’s cover was designed by John “Prime” Hina, and incorporates the elements that create land, says Yamashiro.
The new volume is scheduled to publish in April by UH Press. A series of discussions and events will coincide with the release of The Value of Hawaii 2: Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions, and will be announced at thevalueofhawaii.com.

photos: david croxford, Courtesy UH press

When Randall W. Roth’s The Price of Paradise came out in the early ’90s, it was one of the first books to really focus on the harsh realities of life in Hawaii. Essays about the smoke and mirrors of Hawaii’s government spending, the ballooning population, the high cost of living, the claims of native Hawaiians and the challenges of rapid transit all put a new twist on the phrase, “Lucky we live Hawaii.” And, although they’re now more than 20 years old, many essays read as if written today.

The Price of Paradise started an influential social criticism debate. In 2010, The Value of Hawaii: Knowing the Past, Shaping the Future drew acclaim when it continued the deeper discussion with contributors who were well-grounded in their topics. “These were old warriors who have been fighting the issues forever,” says Mari Matsuda, who wrote about public education in that edition. “I felt the absence of young energy in the first volume.”

Craig Howes, who co-edited The Value of Hawaii with Jon Osorio, says it came from seeking out contributors who had a lot of experience. “To get people to write the chapters on business was to ask people who would have been working in it for years. [...] It also worked out that people really knew what they were talking about, but were probably older.”

This is why, for The Value of Hawaii’s second volume, subtitled Ancestral Roots, Oceanic Visions, Howes and Osorio enlisted younger editors—Aiko Yamashiro and Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua—to generate ideas from the perspectives of the generation who will live with the issues discussed.

Looking at the first book as a guide, Yamashiro (a UH English instructor) says she and Goodyear-Kaopua made a “conscious effort to address things we felt the first volume didn’t address at length: gender and spirituality, for example. We also made an effort to re-center Hawaii in the great Pacific Ocean, and not as a tiny island connected to the Mainland U.S.”

Authors in the sequel include Erin Oura, who writes about militarism in “My Journey as an Ally for Social Justice,” James Koshiba, co-founder of Kanu Hawaii, with an essay titled “Defending Hawaii Without Machine Guns,” Mark Patterson and his rethinking of prisons as a place of healing, and Sean Connelly with an essay about urban architecture and design.

Goodyear-Kaopua, a professor in UH Manoa’s Indigenous politics program, says editing the book proved a powerful experience. “Neither [Aiko nor I] have cried and been so emotionally moved by such pieces as those in this project.”

Like its predecessors, Values 2 provides another opportunity for insightful discussion of our relationship to Hawaii’s paradise. We would do well to pay attention.


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Honolulu Magazine February 2020
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