Pono Research

Aloha from Hawai’i!

I wanted to share with you a little of what I’ve been doing here while on break.  For the past two and a half years, I’ve been working with the community of Waimanalo on the island of Oahu.  We have developed a community advisory group which we call Hui Pono o Waimanalo.  Hui means group, Pono translates to “right” or “just”.  Using a community-based, participatory research model, we have been having ongoing dialogue with community members about the needs and priorities of the Waimanalo community.  We hope to translate those needs into productive interventions and research that meet those needs.




One of the needs that we have been working to address is health equity.  In Waimanalo, this translates to food access, healthy eating, physical activity, and motivation for improving one’s health.  One of the first projects we embarked on is our aquaponics program, which we recently received funding for and beginning to implement.  Another project we have developed is the Ola Kino program which is a summer program for youth that involves growing food in aquaponic systems, engaging in physical activity on the land and sea, and infusing cultural values and traditions.  And finally, we developed another group called the Waimanalo Limu Hui, which is focused on replanting limu or seaweed that has been depleted due to the lack of fresh water run-off which created the brackish water that limu needs to thrive.


The Hui Pono o Waimanalo meets monthly to discuss our ongoing projects and plan for future events.  At this month’s meeting, we implemented a work day to tend to the organic la’au lapa’au mala or medicinal garden on the property of the Waimanalo Agricultural Research Station, owned by the University of Hawaii.  The Ag Station has opened space for the group as a way of increasing community engagement with residents of Waimanalo.   One way they are working on this is by hiring a community engagement specialist, Ms. ‘Ilima Ho-Lastimosa, MSW, who is the driving force behind our group.  She is joined by Dr. Jane Chung-Do, ‘Ilima’s brother, Kenneth Ho, and myself as the leadership for our group.

Here are a few words from ‘Ilima, Jane and Kenneth:


Here are some pictures from our work day:


This is Jane showing her racking skills.


Here are some local youth who came by to participate.


The group awaiting instructions.


We were surprised by a visit from Professor Edie Kieffer who was in town for a vacation!

In addition to lunch, we also had a doctoral student from UH, Samantha Herrera Scott share with the group her intentions for working with the group as she reviews the mission and vision.


JoAnn Tsark, long time community advocate, shares her thoughts on university-based research in the community.

Ikaika Rogerson, the keeper of the garden, shares news of a new coloring book he developed to share with children who visit the farm.  He is currently looking for funding to publish the coloring book.

Thanks for checking out some of the things I’ve been involved with while I am away.  Look forward to hearing your comments!!