There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain

—John Lennon

Perhaps the most important thing that distinguishes special places in Hawaii are the stories that surround them.

The diverse people who created our heritage all had stories to tell about themselves and the places that defined them. While some of our stories are well- and often-told, others are not.

We’re all familiar with Iolani Palace and World War II sites. But what about places like plantation camps, ethnic neighborhoods, temples and language schools?

They certainly have stories, too. Unless those stories are preserved, memories may fade and the places that defined our heritage may be forgotten. 

Preserving history: The Honouliuli Confinement Camp National Monument on Oahu.

Historic Hawaii Foundation

On Jan. 26 and 27, the nonprofit Historic Hawaii Foundation will host a forum: “Identity and Place:  Celebrating Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Heritage in the Hawaiian Islands.”

The forum is an opportunity to identify stories and sites that are significant to these communities, stories and sites that are often under-represented in our history.

Drawing inspiration from a national theme study developed by the National Park Service, the AANHPI Hawaii Forum provides a platform for Asian-Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders to share their voices by relating under-represented narratives about the sites in Hawaii that have shaped their communities, and how those communities in turn helped shape those sites.

Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Park on Hawaii Island.

Historic Hawaii Foundation

The outcome of the forum is to collect these stories in order to facilitate the designation of the sites as National Historic Landmarks where appropriate and list them on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The forum kicks off on Friday evening, Jan. 26, with a Youth Video Project, featuring short films that provide student perspectives on history, culture, place and identity.

The videos are the result of a creative partnership involving the Academy of Creative Media at the University of Hawaii West Oahu and 11th and 12th grade students in Waianae High School’s Searider video productions.

Friday’s event is free and open to the public (though registration is required). 

The Saturday, Jan. 27, forum is a full day of activities including speakers and panel presentations.

Breakout groups and an action planning session are an essential part of the forum designed to capture input from all participants. 

While some of our stories are well- and often-told, others are not.

This forum provides a unique opportunity to learn about the importance of Hawaii’s under-appreciated places significant to Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities.

Below: A trailer recapping the Youth Video Project student films on Pokai Bay/Voyaging, Honouliuili Confinement Camp and Waianae Strong:

We hope that you will add your voice to help preserve the collective memories and places for your community.

A full list of the featured presenters and facilitators is available by clicking here.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Columns generally run about 800 words (yes, they can be shorter or longer) and we need a photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org.

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