HAPA awards inaugural Kuleana Academy fellowship

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The Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) awards its inaugural Kuleana Academy Fellowship to Ernesto “Sonny” Ganaden

Focus will be on criminal-justice reform and education.

Human rights attorney and journalist Ernesto “Sonny” Ganaden was awarded HAPA's inaugural annual Kuleana Academy Fellowship, geared to support grassroots community work.

Ganaden’s fellowship will focus on criminal-justice reform and education. 

The Kuleana Academy fellowship is new, and open to all graduates of the organization’s leadership training program.

Anne Frederick, Executive Director of HAPA, describes how the fellowship is a natural expansion of Kuleana Academy that will enable graduates to pursue grassroots organizing in their field of expertise. “When we have hired former Academy graduates in the past as grassroots organizers, we saw tremendous positive community impacts.” She adds, “We are thrilled to support Sonny’s community work through this inaugural Kuleana Academy Fellowship."

As an attorney, Ganaden represents indigent defendants, local businesses, juveniles, and survivors of domestic violence. As a community organizer, he has worked with youth groups, the faith community, and the contemporary arts community. As a journalist, he has worked internationally, and won numerous accolades from the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and The Hawaii Publishers’ Association. Ganaden also teaches ethics, writing skills and the history of local-justice movements at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Ganaden elaborated on his focus area: “Mass incarceration in Hawaii has historic roots in social inequalities that have been codified into law. Our criminal justice system is too expensive, too ineffective, and creates outcomes that perpetuate cycles of trauma and inequality for residents of all ages. Our current adult inmate population is at least double what it should be. Our county and state criminal codes have criminalized poverty at the expense of human rights and local values. The current plan to build a corporate prison on Oahu for half a billion dollars must end, in favor of a plan based on public safety and the needs of our diverse island communities in the 21st century.” 

The mission of HAPA, which administers the fellowship award annually, is to  “catalyze community empowerment and systemic change towards valuing ʻāina (that which feeds us) and people ahead of corporate profit.”

The Kuleana Academy Fellowship is a continuation of HAPA’s initiative to nurture and support Hawaii’s community-rooted leaders.

The call for 2020 fellowship applications will be announced in November 2019.


HAPA Responds to Governor Ige's Support for HB1326 HD2

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HAPA Responds to Governor Ige's Support for HB1326 HD2

Today Governor Ige issued a statement urging lawmakers to pass HB 1326 HD2, a bill that would extend the holdover of temporary water permits for another 7 years. Of particular concern, the HD2 version of the bill, which the Governor advocates for in his memo, would allow A&B to continue to operate under revocable permits that have already been invalidated by a Circuit Court ruling. In response, HAPA’s Executive Director, Anne Frederick has issued the following statement…

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WIN! People power defeated the water theft bill!


On April 9, 2019, a broad coalition, literally hundreds from across Hawaiʻi, filled the Senate chambers and rotunda to advocate for the protection of our precious waters and to say no to corporate water theft. And for the moment, it appears that HB 1326 - the water theft bill – is dead.
Congratulations and a huge mahalo to everyone who has engaged around this issue - to all of you who took the time to submit testimony, fly to the capitol and/or outreach to lawmakers. Your persistence made a difference!
However, we will be keeping a watchful eye. Because when large corporate interests are at stake, we have seen the lengths they will go to, to protect those interests. 
People Power Works!

It is worth noting that exactly one year earlier, many of us gathered in the same place, at the Capitol, to fight for the passage of SB 3095, the first bill in Hawaiʻi to regulate industrial pesticide use and the first in the nation ban on the neurotoxin pesticide chlorpyrifos. As was the case one year ago, it was people power that made the difference. Let’s keep it up!

Exactly one year prior to the apparent defeat of the HB 1362 water theft bill, many of us gathered in the same place, at the Capitol, to fight for the landmark passage of SB 3095, Hawai’i’s first pesticide regulation.

Exactly one year prior to the apparent defeat of the HB 1362 water theft bill, many of us gathered in the same place, at the Capitol, to fight for the landmark passage of SB 3095, Hawai’i’s first pesticide regulation.

To affect change in this arena we need people power, but we also need legislative champions who are willing to stand up for justice. 

It is important to take a moment to mahalo all of the brave lawmakers who stood up to some powerful corporate interests and who helped to dispel misinformation. 
Senator Kahele’s leadership, as the Chair of the Senate Water and Land Committee cannot be overstated. He did his due diligence to get a firm grasp on the issues, balance the concerns of all parties involved, and shine a light on the truth.
Senator Gil Riviere has been a steadfast ally through out the course of the legislative session, his commitment to justice for communities impacted by water theft never wavered. His hard-hitting questions through out the WTL/WAM hearing held the bad actors accountable.
Senator Clarence Nishihara was the vote that tipped the scales in favor of justice on the Water and Land Committee.
It is also worth noting that during the marathon 6 hour long WTL/WAM hearing last Tuesday, Senators Keohokalole and Thielen also contributed to the line of questioning that helped to dismantle misinformation and offer common sense, pragmatic solutions.
And Senator Russell Ruderman’s concise opening remarks for yesterday’s Senate Floor Session said it all: “In the words of Spike Lee"..."Do the Right Thing”.
Please take a moment to mahalo these Senators for doing the right thing:
Senator Kaialiʻi Kahele
Phone 808-586-6760
Senator Gil Riviere
Phone 808-586-7330
Senator Clarence Nishihara
Phone 808-586-6970
Senator Jarrett Keohokalole
Phone 808-587-7215
Senator Laura Thielen
Phone 808-587-8388

Senator Russell Ruderman
Phone 808-586-6890

Although the leadership of these Senators has stood out over the past weeks, it is important to mahalo the entire Senate for not resurrecting HB1326, please take a moment to thank them all. 

We also want to mahalo all of the House Reps who stood strong early on in the session to stand up against water theft. Representative Tina Wildberger was the first vote in opposition in the House, but was later joined by Reps. Perruso, DeCoite, Gates, D. Kobayashi, Eli, McKelvey, Kitagawa and Thielen. You can find the contact info for our House Repʻs here. Please send them a quick note in gratitude as well. 

Yesterday the scales of justice tipped in the right direction. Although we know this is only one battle in a much longer generational struggle, let's take a moment to acknowledge each others efforts, and express our gratitude.
Mahalo for taking action. Ola I Ka Wai, Water Is Life!
In Solidarity,
The HAPA Team 


H.A.P.A. closes out 2018 celebrating public recognition of founder, Gary Hooser


H.A.P.A. closes out 2018 celebrating public recognition of founder, Gary Hooser

The Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) has much to celebrate in 2018. From working with a broad grassroots coalition to finally putting in place regulations to protect the public and the environment from restricted use pesticides, to the training and education of over 50 emerging community and political leaders, several of whom won election in 2018 public office at the state and county level, the young nonprofit made great strides in building greater civic engagement.  It is with much joy and pride therefore that we announce that H.A.P.A.'s founder, former Kauaʻi State Senator and Councilmember Gary Hooser was honored recently at a gathering hosted by the statewide environmental advocacy group, Hawaiʻi’s Thousand Friends.  

The 2018 annual “Unsung Heroes” event was held at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki on November 11, and attended by several hundred including environmental advocates, legislators and friends from across the state.  Lea Hong, executive director of the Trust for Public Land was also honored, and the keynote speaker was Hawaiʻi Supreme Court Justice Michael Wilson speaking on climate change. 

Chuck Prentiss, President of the Board of Hawaiʻi Thousand Friends said the organization was recognizing the former State Senator, Majority Leader and Kauai Councilmember, “for a life dedicated to reversing the environmental, social, economic and political degradation happening in Hawaiʻi.”

Also offering accolades from Washington D.C. was Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard whose certificate of recognition stated, “Throughout his career, Gary Hooser has been fearless in standing up against environmental threats to our community in the face of powerful interests.  He has sacrificed personal and financial gain to serve the public interest and has succeeded in mobilizing many people in Hawaiʻi to become involved in public policy decisions that affect all of our lives.”

Certificates of recognition and remarks acknowledging Hooser’s role in founding the non-profit educational and advocacy organizations, the Hawaiʻi Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA) and Pono Hawaii Initiative (PHI) were also offered by members of the Hawaii State Senate and the office of Senator Mazie Hirono.

In brief remarks, Hooser said that he was “both motivated and extremely humbled by the recognition and thanked the many people on every island who are increasingly stepping up, getting involved and taking ownership of their local government. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and that sometimes get me into trouble," he said, laughing.

"But I hope everyone understands that my heart is always with doing what is right, first and foremost for the people who need someone to advocate for them. When money so dominates our politics, the only antidote is people-power. And I have been thrilled to be in the midst of the growing people-power movement on these islands. This award gives me hope that perhaps people do understand what drives me. I want to keep helping to grow people-power through H.A.P.A., through PHI, and through my work with other organizations dedicated to the same goals of making life in Hawaiʻi better for everyone."

Hawaiʻi’s Thousand Friends is dedicated to ensuring that growth is reasonable and responsible; that appropriate planning, management, and water and land use decisions are made that protect the environment, human health and cultural and natural resources; and that decisions are made and proposals are implemented in conformity with the law.  In addition, Hawaiʻi’s Thousand Friends has been at the forefront of environmental litigation since its inception in 1980, successfully fighting legal cases focusing on land use planning, the Public Trust Doctrine, and native land and water rights.

Hooser joins an illustrious list of prior Unsung Hero awardees over the years that include staunch environmental advocates such as attorney David Kimo Frankel “1998”, Earthjustice Hawaiʻi Director Paul Achitoff “2007” as well as Kauaʻi residents Barbara Robeson “2000” and water rights attorney and advocate Kapua Sproat “2007”.

H.A.P.A. is a 501c3 whose mission is to catalyze community empowerment and systemic change towards valuing ʻāina and people ahead of corporate profit 





Governor Ige signs SB3095 into law, banning all use of chlorpyrifos.


Governor Ige signs SB3095 into law, banning all use of chlorpyrifos.

Honolulu, Hawai‘i: Hawai'i made history today when Governor David Ige, watched by representatives of the community from across the islands, signed into law Senate Bill 3095, banning all uses of chlorpyrifos, a neurotoxin that has been banned for home use for over 10 years because of its known impacts on the developing brains of children.


Hawaii Did What Pruitt's EPA Wouldn't.


Hawaii Did What Pruitt's EPA Wouldn't.


Hawaii did what Pruitt’s EPA wouldn’t.

Hawaii did what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Scott Pruitt had failed to do: it banned the neurotoxin chlorpyrifos that can trace its genealogy to nerve agents used in World War 1. It took several years of grassroots activism, ongoing court battles, and a high profile advocacy campaign by a determined coalition, as well as leadership from key legislative champions like Senator Russell Ruderman, Rep. Richard Creagan, Rep.Dee Morikawa, Senator Mike Gabbard, and Representative Chris Lee.

“There is much to celebrate,” said Gary Hooser, Founder President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.). “This was a compromise in which everyone’s voice was heard, and most importantly, the community’s well-founded fears about their health were addressed. Our families have some much-needed protections against powerful neurotoxins that we know are harming our children, pregnant women and families living close to test fields.”  

“In addition to banning chlorpyrifos, we fought hard for comprehensive reporting and no spray zones, and I am so pleased we got them,” said Lauryn Rego who serves on the advisory board of the Hawaii Center for Food Safety. “We have shown that toxic pesticides like chlorpyrifos can and should be phased out of our environment. And agrichemical companies that use Hawaii as their open laboratory now must report to the Department of Agriculture what is being sprayed, how much is being sprayed, and when and where those applications occur. This reporting will create a wealth of valuable data for decision-makers and researchers. What we have had so far has been woefully inadequate,” she said.

Molokai mother, lawyer, activist, Keani Rawlins-Fernandez, whose child goes to an immersion school on Molokai that is across from Monsanto fields, welcomed the news. “At last! This is the beginning of the end of our worries about what our children are being exposed to,” she said.

The ban will take effect in January 2019. Companies that need more time to respond to the chlorpyrifos ban may apply for extensions via temporary permits which will be available only until 12/31/2022. After this date there will be no exceptions and chlorpyrifos will be banned from all use in the state of Hawaii. 

Legislators listened to scientists and doctors

In the lead up to this vote, the coalition had showcased the views of several scientists who have studied these pesticides, and doctors who have long advocated for a ban on chlorpyrifos. Doctors wrote and spoke of their first-hand encounters with various health conditions known to be linked to pesticide exposure in large studies.   Several physicians last year co-signed an appeal to the governor urging a ban on chlorpyrifos based on their concerns. They cited the findings of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) who noted that “the risk to infant and children’s health and development is unambiguous.” The Hawaii chapter of the Academy offered testimony in support of this measure.

Robust reporting requirements and public disclosure will enable better research and improved protections for public health and the environment.

The quantity and quality of the “individual entity reporting data” gathered annually has significant potential value for research, studies, and testing needs.  The Public Report Summary itself will provide the average resident and visitor with data to make basic decisions such as where to live or where their children should attend school.

“We have moved a step closer to addressing the huge risk posed by the spraying of restricted use pesticides. This is real progress in safeguarding the health of the community,” said Hooser. “We thank the legislators for doing the right thing to protect public health and we count on their continuing vigilance in managing and reining in reckless corporate behavior,” he said.  

“This was a law that was years in the making. Its time had come.” said Senator Ruderman, the bill's primary introducer, who along with co-introducers Senators Josh Green and Rep. Karl Rhoads, were among the earliest supporters of the bill.  “We have been guided by the belief that we must always put our keiki first. On that we should all agree.”

SB 3095 represents a turning point for Hawaii, and marks a new chapter for its residents and advocates in the Protect Our Keiki coalition who have repeatedly demanded protection against pesticide harms. The world’s largest agrichemical companies, such as Monsanto, Dow, and Syngenta, experiment and develop their genetically engineered crops in Hawaii. Because the majority of these crops are engineered to resist herbicides and pesticides, testing and development of these crops result in repeated spraying of dangerous chemicals. Many of their operations are adjacent to schools and residential areas, putting children and public health at risk. Voluntarily reported pesticide use data shows that these companies apply thousands of gallons and pounds of RUPs in Hawaii each year.




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DowDuPont is sponsoring a conversation on the future of food at the Atlantic

I recently learned that the Atlantic, a publication which I read on a regular basis, is hosting a conversation on the future of food called, Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat sponsored by DowDuPont. We at HAPA felt that it was important to express our frustrations to the Atlantic that a publication with such high journalistic integrity would choose to align itself with DowDupont, a company that has so recklessly endangered members of our community, by spraying large quantities of restricted use pesticides next to homes, schools and other sensitive areas. Below is our response in a letter to the editor: 

February 11th, 2018

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my concern about an event this week, hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten by DowDuPont. The event is billed as a conversation about the future of food called Harvest: Transforming the Food We Eat

I am the Executive Director of the Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). HAPA is a statewide organization HAPA that emerged out of the community-led movement on Kaua`i to enact greater regulations around pesticide use and disclosure.

You may not be aware that Hawai`i, and in particular the island of Kaua`i, where we are headquartered, is the world epicenter for the testing of pesticides and genetically engineered seeds. The largest chemical corporations in the world, including DowDuPont, are using lands across Hawai`i to test pesticides and genetically engineered seeds near residential communities, schools, streams and the ocean. In many cases fields dedicated to generating experimental pesticide-resistant crops sit directly adjacent to schoolyards. Native Hawaiian communities are disproportionately impacted.

At this time, our communities do not have the most basic right to know what pesticides we are being exposed to, and when. We do not have the right to protect our children from Dow manufactured chemicals known to cause developmental delays by enacting modest buffer zones around our schools. Our communities located adjacent to Dowʻs test fields suffer disproportionately higher level of health impacts associated with pesticide exposure.

There are at least 27 schools in Hawai`i within a mile of commercial agricultural operations that apply large volumes of restricted-use pesticides (RUP), including DowDuPont’s. The American Academy of Pediatrics has found there to be a significantly increased health risk for children exposed to pesticides, and additional precautions must be taken to protect them from unintended exposure.

Your event sponsor, DowDuPont, is the lead manufacturer of chlorpyrifos, a dangerous neurotoxin. This pesticide is particularly concerning because several peer reviewed epidemiological studies have found that chlorpyrifos causes neurodevelopmental delays in fetuses and children. There is no safe level of exposure for children. This pesticide and many dangerous pesticides linked to adverse health outcomes are sprayed in large quantities next to schools, residences, waterways and other sensitive areas. In fact, the EPA was poised to ban chlorpyrifos for agricultural use prior to the Trump administration.

On two separate occasions in 2006 and 2008 Waimea Canyon Middle School on the Westside of Kaua`i was evacuated, and approximately 60 students were hospitalized, demonstrating symptoms of acute chlorpyrifos exposure. On each of those days, the pesticide application was so close to the school that teachers were able to capture cellphone videos of spray trucks from their classroom windows. In 2015, farmworkers on Kaua`i were sent to the hospital for chlorpyrifos exposure, leading the EPA to levy fines of $4.8M for farmworker safety violations.

Our community has repeatedly attempted to enact common sense regulations at the county and state level, only to be thwarted by DowDuPont and the agrochemical industry. In 2014, thousands of residents rallied on Kaua`i, Maui and Hawai`i Island to pass county level ordinances to regulate the agrochemical industry.

These regulations were not radical. For example, on Kaua`i, Bill 2491 required the largest users of restricted use pesticides to simply disclose what pesticides they use, to provide pre-notification prior to application, to respect modest buffer zones around schools and other sensitive areas, and to conduct environmental impact and health studies.

Following the passage of these county ordinances, DowDuPont and other agrochemical companies sued to overturn these regulations. In 2016, the Ninth Circuit court determined that only our state has the ability to regulate pesticides.

Our communities, healthcare providers, scientists and public health organizations continue to advocate at our state legislature for the basic right to know what pesticides we are exposed to and to protect our children and precious natural resources. However, this industry wields powerful political influence in our state government. Industry lobbyists outspend our grassroots community advocacy efforts and run their own slate of candidates. Industry representatives hold powerful positions in local government and on important regulatory boards and commissions.

As a reader of your publication, it is unsettling to learn that The Atlantic would align its brand with an industry that has so recklessly endangered the health and safety of our communities. I hope you will reconsider DowDuPont’s sponsorship, and stand in solidarity with our communities who are living on the frontline of these environmental injustices.

Thank you for your consideration.


Anne Frederick, Executive Director

Hawai`i Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A)


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Leading with Integrity

In these times, it is important to find beacons of hope. The graduates of HAPA’s second Kuleana Academy class shine a very welcome and bright light. By nurturing a community of thoughtful and accountable leaders, we are investing in a pono future for Hawai‘i. READ MORE


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The Court has Ruled. It's time to take it to the state.

Federal Court Ruling Places Responsibility on State to Protect Communities from Pesticides: Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals invalidated county ordinances in Kaua‘i, Maui, and Hawai‘i Counties that sought to enforce public health protections associated with the high volumes of pesticides used by experimental genetically engineered seed operations in the Hawaiian islands. We expect immediate action from both the State legislature and the governor to enact protections. All of the energy that went into passing these laws on the neighbor islands will now be united and directed to the State.  People aren't going to stop until our islands and the people are protected.  READ MORE.

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HAPA Now Accepting Applications for 2017 Kuleana Academy!


HAPA Now Accepting Applications for 2017 Kuleana Academy!

HAPA launches the 2017 Kuleana Academy leadership and candidate training program, in partnership with other leading progressive Hawai‘i organizations. The four-month Kūleana Academy is designed to educate and train emerging leaders who have a desire to serve in public office, organize in their communities, or serve on one of Hawaii's many boards and commissions. The program will give the participants a well-rounded introduction to the critical issues in Hawai‘i, leadership skills training and base knowledge of the ins-and-outs of campaigning.  All travel and participation costs are covered.