The Kokua Festival 2007

posted by / News / April 28, 2007

Whether you know or not, right now at this exact moment, we are in the midst of cultural shift in America. The ecological revolution that has been promised since the 1970s seems to have taken hold and it couldn’t come at a better time.


It’s not the corporations or politicians who are leading the charge in this rapid change of consciousness, it’s normal people like me and you, little kids, educators and the not so “normal” people like Jack Johnson and Eddie Vedder who are riding the wings of change, as was evidenced at the Kokua Festival in Honolulu over Earth Day Weekend.

The two-day music and environmental awareness festival to benefit Johnson’s Kokua Hawai’i Foundation further compounded the point home: that the people have the power to make a difference.

“They said that last night was the easiest clean-up after a show they’ve ever had here,” said Johnson on Sunday as the festival winded down. “You should all give yourselves a hand and out-do last night’s crowd…”

And a hand they did give, as volunteers manned “Zero Waste” centers that were implemented to familiarize those with recycling and composting their waste. People actually stood in lines before exiting the venue to deposit their waste.

The Aloha State does not have mandatory recycling, but the efforts of Johnson and his wife Kim and their foundation may aim to change that, by focusing on future generations, or as Vedder said, “Jack’s like Whitney Houston without the problems. He believes the keiki (children) are our future.”

“Growing up in Hawaii was an amazing experience to be able to go hiking, surf in the ocean and spend all that time in nature I hoping that future generations will be able to enjoy that as well,” said Johnson.

Johnson is seeing tangible results from the programs Kokua Hawai’i have put in place in schools and communities throughout the islands. “The first kids who worked with us are now in eighth and ninth grades and they are now showing the way to the younger kids and more importantly their parents. It’s a chain reaction. We want to expand it and take it on tour with us and work with local non profits across the country.”

Johnson is speaking of the 3 R’s: reducing, reusing and recycling which he incorporated his in his setlist by changing the lyrics to the vintage “School House Rock” song “Three is the Magic Number.”

Even before Kokua, the winds of activism were blowing across the North Shore. “No Cement North Shore” read multiple signs along Kam Highway. “Keep the Country, Country,” seems to be on the back off most rusted pick-up trucks.

“It’s such a pretty place,” said Johnson, who still lives in the neighborhood he grew up in. “When you get a really strong community that fights for their place it maintains integrity. When you go to other places you can tell it must have been beautiful twenty years ago.

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