Format: video with audio
Running time: approx. 7 min 5 sec
Summary: Kahoolawe may be one of the world's most dangerous places. After 50 years of bombardment by the U.S. military, the island remains littered with unexploded ordinance. So why would Pinky & Bunny want to go there?
Pinky: Kaho'olawe is a small island, right at the center of Hawaii. For most of its history, the island has been recognized by Hawaiians as a sacred place - a sacred place of learning, tool-production, and communicating with the gods. More recently, Kaho'olawe has been known as "that place that no one can go to", mostly because it's just way too dangerous to go there. The island is dangerous because, at the outset of World War II, the United States military seized the island and then proceeded to use the island as... a target. The U.S. practiced war on Kaho'olawe throughout World War II, then the Korean War, then the Vietnam War. As this small island was nearly bombed out of existence, the land and even the waters around the island became filled with unexploded weapons.
Last month, totally out of the blue, we received an invitation to go to Kaho'olawe with a small group of people - mostly high school and university students. We were allowed access to Kaho'olawe as guests of PKO - the Protect Kaho'olawe Ohana - the same grassroots group that led the decades-long struggle to stopo the U.S. from destroying Kaho'olawe. It took immense sacrifices, but eventually they prevailed; the bombing stopped.
We send our deepest respect to the PKO people, who took such good care of us, from the time they greeted us at the airport in Kahului, Maui, all the way till it was time for us to leave Kaho'olawe and they literally dragged us like luggage through the big waves to safety - cuz you know, cats can't swim. The PKO people are doing the most radical form of education possible - they are actually living according to the wisdom and knowledge of their ancestors. On Kaho'olawe, the Hawaiian cosmology creates all relationships, practices, and micro-practices. And it works, we saw it. The kua of PKO are doing everything they can to help the island heal, to become again a safe place of learning and growth. And in the process I think they are healing themselves too. It makes me wonder - what kind of world would be possible if this kind of love and knowledge were extended outwards?
Bunny and I made about 400 photographs while we were on Kaho'olawe. The most beautiful or important things, we decided not to photograph any of those things. And of course we also didn't photograph any of those things that we don't know how to photograph - like a vision, or a feeling, or a thought. Having said that, here's our slideshow.
[ start slideshow ]
13 Things I Learned at Kaho'olawe
You don't need classrooms or schools in order to have learning.
Computers and mobile phones and even running water are all very nice, but we don't actually need them like we think we need them. Also, bathing in the ocean feels good.
We can't always see it, but the ocean is filled with sea plants and sea animals. They were there first - that's their home - and we need to respect them.
A society that perpetrates the abuse of land and ocean is sick and needs help.
In the modern world, we've forgotten the meaning of sacred. Maybe this is one of the reasons why we are all lost.
The unseen world is full of motion and guidance, whether we notice it or not.
You can learn a lot from a rock. Like this rock, who told me: Just put me near the outside edge, I'm powerful and I'll find a way to get to the center.
If you find a respectful way to communicate with the land, it will respond.
If you don't know anything about a place's history, culture, tradition, symbolism - probably you'll just end up interpreting it according to everything you already believe. Which might be interesting or not, but mostly you'll be wrong. This also applies to people, dogs, and everything else.
Be careful of your eyes. They give lots of information, but seeing is not everything you need for understanding.
Be careful of photographs. They can make even open wounds look beautiful.
Information is not knowledge. Deep knowledge can only be acquired by living it everyday, for a long time.
Everything we do in our lives represents a set of values. Our actions should grow out of the values we desire, and not vice versa.
research: Pinky & Bunny
audio editing: Bunny
generic ocean sounds: Apple Loops
other sound effects: Bunny
maps & illustrations: Pinky
titles & graphics: Pinky
[ photo credits ]