21 Jul 2016

Cultivating a Community – Malama Learning Center

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Malama Learning Center grows knowledge through arts, science, conservation and culture.

One coast. One community. And so much opportunity. That’s what Pauline Sato saw when she headed out to the Wai’anae Mountains to plant indigenous and rare plants with the Nature Conservancy almost 20 years ago. She knew that the Nature Conservancy’s efforts were in vain if the community didn’t understand the importance of the plants, the land, the cultural heritage, and she knew she had to fix that. So she did. Sato’s a doer, a fixer and an organizer who brings together people and ideas to make things happen. She finds solutions. On the Wai‘anae Coast, she found—and founded—the solution in the Malama Learning Center.

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“If the community doesn’t understand, if they don’t care, then we aren’t going to be able to protect these lands,” Sato says.

Now the executive director of the organization she started in partnership with Kapolei High School, community groups and dedicated volunteers, she’s making sure the community has a place to gather, share the history and culture of place, and connect in a meaningful way within the community they all share.

The Malama Learning Center is a small organization with big goals and big results. It’s a gathering place for West O‘ahu, an organization that brings arts, science, conservation and culture together to promote a sustainable, healthy lifestyle. “People care about these things—education, the environment, their health—but sometimes, they don’t know what to do or have the resources they need,” Sato says.“Our job is to bring a well-rounded vision for students, teachers and families, so they can live in a sustainable, healthy way.”

Sato’s early vision was simple: help these kids make the connections between what they are learning in the classroom and what they see in their everyday life.

For more information, log on to malamalearningcenter.org

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