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"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."

-Margaret Mead

Detailed Synopsis

Anyone anywhere can make a difference, but combining that individual with other like-minded individuals can start a movement and cultural change.


Through this theme, we specifically look at the issue of single-use plastics. We highlight the key players in the single-use plastic ban that occurred in Honolulu in 2019, but took ten years of work leading up to its passing.


We look at why, at this point in time, legislation has become a necessary force to deal with human’s negative impact on the environment. Individuals, businesses, and government influence each other and when all three components work in sync to achieve similar goals we can change how society functions now and in the future.

We are heading into an election and NOW is the chance to ensure we have good people leading our states and counties. We have the chance to get involved with campaigns for candidates, to help folks register to vote, and to help them vote informed. We have the power to work with good elected leaders once they get in office so that we can effect change for the whole community.

The time is now, what are you waiting for?

Stop Animation of The Plastic Problem
Kahana Foundation

Stop Animation of The Plastic Problem

I began volunteering as a filmmaker to support the grassroots effort of the Bill 40 hearings. I knew that the media could have a powerful impact and that the local legislative process lacked participation from citizens. I didn't initially consider making a film; if I had, it would have been a quicker process with more polished footage!


As 2019 unfolded and the hearings progressed, I was captivated by the movement's momentum, and I continued filming and participating wholeheartedly. Along the way, I forged connections with fellow advocates and felt compelled to reshape my career and life to contribute to something more significant.


When the bill passed, it was terrific, but there was no plan for a film. Initially considering a short tribute, others encouraged me to recognize the significance of our community's achievements and share our story more widely.


As I began interviewing key figures, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, halting life as we knew it and stalling both grassroots activism and the bill's rollout. Despite the setback, I found myself blessed with unexpected time, albeit amid financial struggles. I noticed how much my Hawaii community was coming together to help those in need. I continued to feel inspired by the feeling of family, or "ohana," as we refer to it in Hawaii.

Though I lacked fundraising and filmmaking experience, I enlisted my mother's support, who embraced the project wholeheartedly despite not being involved in the initial effort. We already had a nonprofit aimed at environmental education through media, and she agreed that we could pivot our efforts and dive full-on into this film. Together, we navigated numerous iterations and challenges, grappling with the tumultuous political climate and societal divisions. This division seemed counterintuitive and dysfunctional, which is where the name finally came from. "ReUnite US," or "ReUnite the U.S.," is a cry for togetherness and community, which continues today.


With my mother off-island, I leaned heavily on the generosity of peers for footage and interviews. At the same time, our board members and a talented composer helped shape the narrative and music. Despite financial constraints, we persisted, relying on technology and sheer determination to bring our vision to life.


The amount of volunteer effort and use of unconventional methods was astounding and exhausting. We fundraised just enough to pay our composer and offset some of the film-related expenses, but my parents and I funded everything for the most part.


After four years of relentless dedication, juggling full-time jobs, and bridging vast distances, the film was finally completed in 2024. I take immense pride in our grassroots, remote team's achievements, a testament to the power of collaboration and perseverance.

Filmmaker's statement


In December 2019, Hawaii’s first single-use plastic ban was signed into law by Mayor Kirk Caldwell on the island of Oahu. Dozens of community members from businesses and nonprofits had been working for over a decade in an attempt to ban foam and plastic bags. Despite years of uphill battles and disappointing outcomes, these dedicated volunteers remained undeterred, persistently lobbying at the state and county levels.


In 2018, a new city council was elected, and with it came renewed talks about the possibility of a plastic and foam ban. Harnessing this newfound momentum, leaders from nearly a dozen nonprofits spanning Oahu forged a unified front, launching a multifaceted campaign that included educational workshops, outreach to businesses and schools, informational sessions, a strategic social media initiative, and a well-publicized press conference at City Hall.


The bill's passage into law stood as a testament to the unwavering collaborative work of so many volunteers of all ages and backgrounds. These efforts fostered newfound friendships, empowered previously passive community members to speak out, and galvanized students to lend their voices to the cause.


Yet, beyond legislative triumph, "ReUnite US" tells a story of human connection and empowerment. It celebrates the inherent capacity of individuals to effect widespread change, inspiring viewers to embrace activism, pursue their passions, and become catalysts for societal progress.


In addition, the film depicts the director's journey of self-growth and exploration. The filmmakers hoped to create a story that could impact people in different ways, regardless of their political views.

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