Center for Getting Things Started works with students, teachers, and organizations to incorporate and live an ethic of sustainability in practice.

Education  for Sustainability (EfS) is defined as a transformative learning process that equips students, teachers, and school systems with the new knowledge and ways of thinking we need to achieve economic prosperity and responsible citizenship while restoring the health of the living  systems upon which our lives depend – Jaimie Cloud.

How to we Educate for Sustainability?

Self-Understanding and Commitment: Developing an understanding of self by: developing and articulating sustainability values and ethics; developing a personal education for sustainability philosophy; reflecting critically on learning and practices; and establishing a commitment to sustainability education.

Systemic View of the World: Developing an understanding of sustainability issues as interconnected and holistic by:  experiencing Nature’s Design; developing systems thinking; developing a historic and current understanding of the sustainability movement and sustainability education; and understanding and valuing the importance of multiple perspectives.

Bio-Eco-Cultural Relationships: Developing relationships and strategies for working collaboratively with diverse groups to affect change by:  understanding how power, privilege, and injustice impact relationships; developing sustainability networks and partnerships with diverse others; creating learning communities; and  developing a strong sense of place and ecoliteracy.

SOAR – Scientific Observation leading to Agricultural Responsibility

“The ʻiwa bird to me, is a beautiful depiction of soaring and is one of those native manu that can soar from the sea upwards to the mountains. Our manu transcends what we are physically capable of and I’ve learned that the ʻiwa are strongly associated with the goddess Kaiona who helps to guide those who are lost in the forest. Within the ahupua’a from mauka to makai, the kupukupu and ‘ohi’a give life to our forests. In the wao kanaka, where our food system supports us, we have kalo and ‘uala planted. In the kai, I wanted to  honor our limu forest. The limu include wawai’ole, ‘aki’aki, pepeiao, kohu, manauea. In the kai, the fish swimming upward are the ‘oama. ʻOama have been identified as indicator species, which means by monitoring their health over time you can estimate the health of the entire reef community.” – Aleysia Rae Kaha, SOAR image artist

SOAR’s objective is to equip K-8 teachers with the skills, practice, and understanding of kilo (deep, sensory observation and scientific inquiry) and social-emotional learning, resulting in a sense of belonging. Applied systemically to food systems education, SOAR seeks to inspire and prepare Hawaiʻi’s youth to become the next generation of sustainable agriculture and food system leaders.

Funded by a USDA NIFA grant, SOAR is a capacity building project that will run from 2023-2026. Starting with the deep internal work of kilo, SOAR will then support educators in building pilina (connection) with students, and ultimately kuleana (responsibility) for community food systems. We will do this work through creating and offering immsersive trainings, a toolkit, a manual, and a searchable school garden curriculum map.

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Koh Ming Wei aka “intellectual farmer” has insatiable curiosity, and is a researcher, educational consultant, curriculum developer, māmaki farmer, and distiller. Passionate about Education for Sustainability (EfS), she integrates education for sustainability benchmarks, standards, and ecological principles into State and National Education standards in the Pacific Region. Ming Wei, who co-founded Center for Getting Things Started and leads the EfS programming there, is also an independent researcher and was the Principal Investigator on two National Science Foundation funded projects, Geo-Literacy Education Micronesia (GEM), and Water Network Team STEM (WaNTS). Those projects are conducted in the Freely Associated States, including small low-lying atolls and isolated high-island communities, where developing a strong sense of place and banking on local ecological knowledge forms the basis for research, developing intellectual merit, and measuring community impact. Ming Wei whole-heartedly supports the development of climate change education projects, place-and project-based teacher practicums, and curriculum for use in the Pacific Region to build community resilience.

Ming Wei’s dissertation, Discovering learning, discovering self: The effects of an interdisciplinary, standards-based school garden curriculum on elementary students in Hawai‘i, is a useful reference for those interested in developing school learning gardens. Her research includes how the school learning garden experience is a context conducive to teaching core subjects, STEM, and foundational life skills, and has created the Pedagogy of Food to frame the kind of education she believes in and shares. Widely traveled, Ming Wei is interested in how different cultures and indigenous communities work with nature to resolve ecological and social challenges through community partnerships, agriculture, food, music and art, and place-based education.

Ming Wei believes she has to walk the talk and is an active farmer as well. Being engaged in the farm production industry along with education, grounds her design and research. She can then share perspectives from a practical and tested experience.