Navigating Humanity Towards a Sustainable Future
Pacific Worlds began in 2000 with a seed grant from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities to produce a community profile of the community in Hā‘ena, Kaua‘i. Launched in the fall of that year, Pacific Worlds has grown include seven other communities in Hawai‘i and the American Pacific, two versions of a curriculum for teaching Pacific Island cultures, and over sixteen teacher workshops to show educators how to use the project.
Today Pacific Worlds has expanded its mission beyond our original cultural documentation, preservation and education initiative to include three other pillars of action. Our second pillar is Social Justice: working to right some of the wrongs that have alienated Native Hawaiians from their lands and access to resources. Our mission includes research and development of a template for putting Hawaiians back on the land in a way that follows the traditional model. We are already manifesting this approach at our campus, and looking to foster this approach island-wide.
Third is education for Responsibility: helping non-Hawaiians understand, appreciate and engage appropriately with the unique environments and culture of these islands. Since the 1960s, the islands have been flooded with outsiders moving here, buying land (which drives up the cost of housing for local people), and imposing continental cultural values that are anathema to island living. For the islands to retain the values that make our communities work out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, those who come here need to be educated. In addition to webinars and online trainings, we host groups on our campus in Mountain View, Puna, Hawai‘i Island.
We draw our inspiration from Hawaiian tradition, wherein land was not privately owned, and all persons had access to the complete range of resources these environments offered. Where land and resources were managed sustainably, in recognition that what was here is all there was: if it wasn’t managed properly, survival was in jeopardy.
Fourth is Food and Environment: fostering greater community-level resiliency through promoting both traditional agriculture—to fight food insecurity—and better stewardship of our ecosystems. We are transforming abandoned agricultural land back into production of traditional crops, so that we can educate about Native Hawaiian tradition and provide food for the broader community. And we have responsibility (kuleana) for four acres of ‘ōhi‘a forest that is threatened by invasive species. Here we educate visitors about the islands’ unique environments and endemic species, and how they are threatened by introduced plants and animals.
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