Punahou Project Citizen: Develop No More On Our North Shore

Alexanna ’16 and Paul ’16

June 27, 2012

This past spring, students in eighth-grade social studies learned about civic responsibility through participating in Project Citizen, a national curricular program from the Center for Civic Education that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. Below, a student team reflects on the project experience in an essay published by Civil Beat on June 21, 2012.

This year, Mrs. Anderson’s Social Studies class participated in Project Citizen, an activity in which we learn about important issues and about things that directly impact our community and ourselves.


Although we were presented with many possible problems to investigate, our class ultimately decided on the issue of overdevelopment primarily on the North Shore. We believe that the North Shore is one of the most beautiful places on our island and that we must “Keep the Country Country.” Not only would an increase in construction destroy our beautiful views and urbanize O‘ahu’s last primarily rural land, it would also impact our environment. Additional development would greatly affect our ecosystems and our native species.

To battle this growing problem on Hawai‘i, our class worked very hard to become educated on this issue and attempted to create a solution. We visited Maunalua Bay and the H-Power plant in Campbell Industrial Park to learn how overdevelopment is affecting our island. Our class was also visited by important figures who spoke to us about their views on this issue, including State Representative Gil Riviere of the North Shore and John White, executive director of Pacific Resource Partnership, an advocacy organization for unionized construction. 

As a class we decided that we should: first, oppose SB755, a bill that proposed to promote economic development by temporarily removing regulatory restrictions to the expeditious construction of state and county project; secondly, propose to limit the amount of permits given out per year for development on the North Shore. We opposed SB755 because we believe that environmental impact statements must be filed for all potential construction projects. Each of us wrote letters to members of the State Legislature and Honolulu City Council about the policies that deal with overdevelopment.

Many organizations and people support our proposed policy and action plans. Some of those organizations include Keep the Country Country, Defend O‘ahu Coalition, and Sierra Club – Hawai‘i Chapter. Individuals such as Gil Riviere and State Senator Jill Tokuda also opposed SB755. One good thing that happened in the middle of our project was that SB755’s progress through the Hawai‘i State Legislature ceased. We hope our letters of opposition helped make this a reality.

To help raise awareness, we created a Facebook page in order to gather support for our cause. It displayed everything we are dealing with and the things we are trying to do to help get as many people involved with our cause. We’ve tried to spread it by sharing it with our friends and family.

Overall as a class we learned a lot of skills and lessons from each other because we were all working together toward the same goal. We feel we created a great presentation on the issue and a convincing proposal to limit the development on O‘ahu’s North Shore.

Project Citizen, a national curricular program from the Center for Civic Education is a curricular program for middle, secondary, and post-secondary students, youth organizations, and adult groups that promotes competent and responsible participation in local and state government. The program helps participants learn how to monitor and influence public policy. In the process, they develop support for democratic values and principles, tolerance, and feelings of political efficacy.

The Project Citizen program is administered with the assistance of a national network of state and congressional district coordinators in every state and is conducted with the assistance of the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and by act of Congress. Additional funding at the state level is also provided by an increasing number of state legislatures.


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