Today is the 50th birthday of statehood for Hawaii. Paul Theroux has written an engaging op-ed on the the state and its traditions for the New York Times. I was particularly interested in the article because of work the Pew Partnership did there a decade ago. In our early leadership work, the Pew Civic Entrepreneur Initiative, Honolulu joined with nine other cities to recruit and engage new leaders in the future of the city and the state. The lessons we learned through that project still hold true. It was the forerunner to LeadershipPlenty.
We met some remarkable people in that time and began to learn about the culture that Theroux describes. It is rich and deep. I also learned of the challenges of separation from the mainland in terms of costs of goods and sometimes access in general. There are significant social problems in the state from poverty to health care. There is a concern about the eroding of native culture and language. In other words, it is complex and glorious setting that has greatly enriched the life and culture of its 49 siblings.