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June 4, 2009
Debra Lordan

Today’s young adults have inherited the most stupefying challenges ever bequested to any generation. The short-sighted generations before them have failed, exploiting the Earth rather than sustaining it.

If this planet came with a set of operating instructions, we seemed to have misplaced them. So our latest crop of young graduates have to figure out what it means to be a human being on Earth at a time when every system is declining—and the rate of decline is accelerating.

As an increasing number of businesses and nonprofit organizations sprout new ideas and new green technologies as they work to restore our environment and society, our graduates will need to hone new skills. They will also need to confront greed, despair, power and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice and beauty to this world.

We can just as easily have an economy that is based on healing instead of stealing, but these changes are not actions taken by someone else “out there” somewhere. Maui’s small businesses and nonprofit organizations that place social and environmental values at the top of their strategic goals offer the learning opportunities necessary to reconstitute our social and physical environment. Mentored by people like you, our young students and graduates can learn, grow and thrive. And it won’t cost you anything.

As part of the president’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Maui Economic Opportunity (MEO) has received funds to employ 65 low-income young people (16 to 24 years old) for six weeks beginning this month. Part of the program involves classroom job readiness training, but the main goal is to provide meaningful work experience.

Youth who are interested in applying for these positions must meet low-income criteria. Six weeks of employment will not only provide much-needed income for families in these difficult times, but a relevant, meaningful job experience could plant the seed of a lifelong career in a new field that could help revitalize the planet.

If you know of a business or organization that is working on the most salient concerns of our day—green technology, climate change, poverty, deforestation, erosion, pollution, peace, water, hunger, poverty, childcare, healthcare, conservation, human rights and any environmental or social issues—contact MEO. Applications for employment and information about becoming an employer-mentor are available online at, by email at, or by calling 873-3101.

The solution to our self-made woes now resides in our willingness to restore, redress, reform, rebuild, recover, re-imagine, reconsider and re-educate ourselves. Help teach our youth to be good stewards of the Earth and move them toward a deeper sense of hope and connectedness.

As the most destructive creatures on the planet, we are the only species without full employment.

Let’s get to work. There’s a lot to be done.



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