Kalani Souza is founding director of the Olohana Foundation. Olohana focuses on building community capacity, cohesiveness, resilience, and emergency preparedness around food, energy, water, and knowledge systems.  Kalani is a storyteller, singer, songwriter, musician, poet, philosopher, priest, political satirist, and peacemaker. A Hawaiian practitioner and cross-cultural facilitator, he has experience in promoting social justice through conflict resolution.  Kalani’s native roots allow him a unique perspective of the collision of two worlds: one steeped in traditional culture and the other a juggernaut of new morality and changing economic and political persuasion. He is a messenger of integration and collaboration in a world normally rife with exclusion, oppression, and hopelessness. His work in behavior modification research, leadership, team-building, and political strategy gives him generous insights into group dynamics and systems of governance. He is a Coastal Community Resilience Trainer, a cultural competency consultant to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Pacific Services Center, a consultant to the Presidents Ocean Policy Task Force, and has taught Conflict Resolution at the University of Hawaii. Find him at www.http://olohana.org

In this conversation focused on relationships and re-localization, Kalani speaks about how:

  • In a multi-faceted life, his center is “the community, the home, the children—the relationships…I work right here, within arm’s reach.” You have an impact by doing what you do in your local place.
  • The simplest way to ensure a community’s well-being is to: “make sure the children are fed, the old people are comfortable, and the women unafraid”—these achievements require solid infrastructure, healthy relationships, access to resources, healthy sources of energy, and a healthy environment.
  • “Since we’re going to have adjustments [with climate change], we should strengthen our communities with food, fresh water, energy, shelter…gather our people in place and create real regional place-based capacity that is micro-sized and focuses on women and children’s well-being in their place.” “We do this thing as family, deeply in relationship with each other.” We talk about how permaculture and Transition are crafting re-localization.
  • We are now able to contrast the colonialist “Doctrine of Discovery” focused on ownership with the “doctrine of relationships” among people and between people and nature. Kalani speaks to economic injustice and our priorities as nations, questioning why we are not acting more forcefully.
  • A prayer he recently composed acknowledges our relationships with nature. He speaks it in Hawaiian and then English, explaining its focus on “the relational aspect” of our existence with the natural world, who is The Family You’re Never Without.
  • “We are spirits having a physical awakening, so to me, the coffee is sacred, the red wine, these very physical things”
  • “I believe conflict is the opportunity for positive change. We need the conflict to change; it doesn’t have to lead to war or violence; it can lead to a sharing of needs and desires for the future…The answer must work for everyone!”