Pro-telescope group Imua TMT convened a talk at the Capitol today, aimed at finding ways that culture and science can co-exist on Mauna Kea.

The panel was moderated by Samuel King Wilder II, executive director of Imua TMT, and included Ret. Judge Walter Heen, the first director of the Office of Mauna Kea Management and a former Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee; Wally Ishibashi, Office of Mauna Kea Management cultural officer; and Makana Silva, a Native Hawaiian from Waianae who is studying graduate-level astrophysics. They touched on how best to solve the impasse between supporters and opponents.

“Why are we not allowing the protectors to be part of the discussion,” Ishibashi said. “It’s basic negotiation tactics. You’ve got to include everyone on the discussion. They’ve got to be part of the solution in order for any solution to be remedied. Right now we’re back to square one.”

“The governor, I think I see why he’s a little bit worried about talking to protesters,” King said, “because we don’t want to validate civil disobedience for this long. At some point the protestors do not have the right to be negotiated with all the time just because they’re breaking the law.”

“I think that’s the first step to any kind of compromise, is to get our voices out there and have everyone throughout the spectrum involved in this problem just talking,” Silva said. “Right now the main channel of dialog is social media, and you get attacks and it’s not really constructive. We’re just tearing each other down.”

“At this point with respect to the issue of Mauna Kea, we are lost,” Heen said. That protest is not just about Mauna Kea. It’s about everything that has transpired in the history of Hawaii, and to a large degree they’re correct, they’re absolutely correct. But that was then, this is now.”

“We have to develop our strengths, our education, we have to move forward,” Heen added. “You have to take this program of exploration of the stars down to the community of Hawaiians, get Hawaiians involved in the ancient history of their islands. The ancient history of their islands is written in the stars. That’s what brought us here. It’s what’s going to move us forward. But without that support it’s going to be a tough road, and they’re on that road now.” About 100 people filled the Capitol auditorium, a mix of people both for and against the project.