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After a year and a half of work with this project from preparation tobackground research, participant observation, reflections on successes andmistakes, and writing of the thesis the itself, what can we now say about someof the basic potentials and consequences of GIS and its specific relevance tothe Nation of Hawai`i in particular? At this paper's conclusion, we invokesome important, additional voices, and reflect on a few of the deeper issuesunderlying this subject.
We originally undertook this research because we perceived a world exhibiting many signs of distress and imbalance, and thus we were actively looking for initiatives which gave signs of causing significant change, assisting in fundamental realignments and integration of humans' relationship with each other and with "nature." When we learned of Geographic Information Systems technology and the claims that were being made for its potential to help humans track and comprehend ever-expanding volumes of data about our world, we were immediately fascinated and began to learn more. Two general tendencies of GIS use we have explored can be summarized as follows: 1.) GIS can be implemented in a top-down manner and thus utilized to manage and analyze information about people and place in controlling and manipulative ways that serves elites, and 2.) GIS may also be utilized in a more open process, where people are empowered through access to information and contribution to the information gathering process, to participate in comprehensive sustainable planning for their home region. In the following few pages, we will discuss some of the forces that underlie these two very different uses of GIS, in order to gain some final insights from this material. We also include specific recommendations for the Nation of Hawai`i based on the analysis of our data.
We begin by invoking a philosopher-poet who has affected us deeply, boththrough our classes with him at the California Institute of Integral Studies,and through his books. William Irwin Thompson (1987) has suggested inPacific Shift that the main challenges Western society faces today arebased on the accumulated denial and repression of environmental problems overfive millennia of Western culture, from the advent of city-states. Assuch they are not at first "environmental" problems, but are instead culturallybased.
When we look back over the pattern of development from Riverine toMediterranean to Atlantic to Pacific-Aerospace [Thompson's terms for differentphases of Western civilization over 5,500 years], we can see that Westerncivilization is correct in its identification with the urban revolution of thefourth millennium B.C., for their story is our story, and not one of theenvironmental problems of civilization has been "solved" since 3500 B.C. Theproblems were simply deferred by moving into a new cultural ecology. But nowwe have come full circle, and all the problems are accumulating in what canonly be described as the climax of civilization itself. (Thompson, 1987: 85)
Thompson suggests that humans in the "Western" trajectory(and often those who happen to be caught in its path) have in the last 5,500years organized themselves into cultures which have time and time again spoiledor exhausted their resource base. Thompson implies that this is not anaccident, but rather is based on one hallmark of the "Western trajectory;" theattempt to control and organize "nature," and then to ignore or make invisiblethe resulting environmental problems. Thompson insists that pollution is notjust something to be feared, solved, or merely cleaned up, but rather feedbackto be listened to: as communication from ourselves disguised in the form ofsoil loss, acid rain, epidemics, desertification, etc. Millennia oftechnological fixes have helped us to avoid dealing with the negativeconsequences of our actions, he suggests, and thus, as a society we may besimultaneously facing daunting challenges and unprecedented opportunities.
Pollution, then, like a neurotic symptom, is a form of communication.To ignore the symptom, to thrust it to the side of awareness and push it backinto the collective unconscious, is to perform the same action that created thepollution, the dissonance, the neurotic symptom, in the first place. The endresult of ignoring the communication is to stimulate it to the point that thedissonance becomes so loud that it drowns out all other signals. Ultimately,the ignored and unconscious precipitates itself as the ultimate shadow ofcivilization, annihilation. This is another way of expressing what I havenoted before: If you do not create your destiny, you will have your fateinflicted upon you. The creation of destiny, then, depends on maintaining amore permeable membrane between noise and information, unconscious andconscious, nature and culture.
(Modern) Civilization, however, is not surrounded by a light,permeable membrane, but a wall ... The salinization of the soil was not seen orheard. A local technology, defined by the city's limits, created a problemarea larger than its political area of control. Any cultural attempt tocontrol an area rationally only seems to generate a shadow ... the fascinatingaspect of the cultural patterning of urban civilization is that the problem orcrisis, the dissonance, can itself be read as the signal of emergence of thenext level of historical order.
Like a shadow that does not permit us to jump over it, but moves with usto maintain its proper distance, pollution is nature's answer toculture. When we have learned to recycle pollution into potentinformation, we will have passed over completely into the new cultural ecology. (Ibid: 82) emphasis added)
If Thompson is right and the whole modern ecological malaiseemerges from the same cause - the consistent cultural repression, denial, anddeferment of environmental pollution-communication, the question we bring tothis discussion is: will we continue to use technology to try and control"nature" and insulate ourselves from the consequences, or will we attempt touse technology to help us to listen to pollution: and live and act in new waysthat contribute to the solution of problems? Specifically, how can GIS assistin this process?
Wolfgang Sachs (1992) rises to the level of Thompson's challenge andexplores one potential extreme in a discussion of technology's influence onglobal ecology.
Technologically, as often in the history of science, it was a new generation ofinstruments and equipment which created the possibility of collecting andprocessing data on a global scale. With satellites, sensors and computers, thetechnology available in the 1990's permits the biosphere to be surveyed andmodeled.
Satellite pictures scanning the globe's vegetative cover, computer graphsrunning interactive curves through time, threshold levels held up as worldwidenorms are the language of global ecology. It constructs a reality thatcontains mountains of data, but no people. The data do not explain whyTuaregs are driven to exhaust their water-holes, or what makes Germans soobsessed with high speed on freeways; they do not point out who owns the timbershipped from the Amazon or which industry flourishes because of a pollutedMediterranean sea; and they are mute about the significance of forest trees forIndian tribes or what water means in an Arab country. In short, they provide aknowledge which is faceless and placeless; an abstraction that carries aconsiderable cost: it consigns the realities of diagrams, but no actors; itgives calculations, but no notions of morality; it seeks stability, butdisregards beauty. Indeed, the global vantage point requires ironing out allthe differences and disregarding all circumstances; rarely has the gulfbetween observers and the observed been greater than between satellite-basedforestry and the Sueigaro in the Brazilian jungle. It is inevitablethat the claims of global management are in conflict with the aspirations forcultural rights, democracy and self determination. Indeed, it is easy for anecocracy which acts in the name of `one earth' to become a threat to localcommunities and their lifestyles. After all, has there ever, in the history ofcolonialism, been a more powerful motive for streamlining the world than thecall to save the planet? (Sachs, 1992: 18-19 emphasis added)
Sachs raises an essential point here which, for us, makes it clear thatthe primary question is not only whether technology can be used to help uslisten to the environmental communication resulting from our actions, but also,what will we use technology to help us listen to? Sachs suggests in a slightlydifferent way than Thompson, that environmental problems have their roots inculture, and that "listening" to satellite images may not give much insightinto these roots. Such global analysis points to a vast hubris of Westernsociety and technology, says Sachs, and leads to nothing less than attempts attotal planetary ecological management and engineering. Sachs implies that inthis case, technology is being used not to 'recycle pollution into potentinformation,' (thus assisting in the revitalization of our society), but ratherit is being used in an attempt to control and further manage the effects of ourculture's history of environmental control. Sachs suggests that the use ofpowerful modern remote sensing technologies, if employed and driven by an"ecocracy" charging itself with the management of the planet, can be veryproblematic, invoking the age-old tendency of Western society to control naturewhile distancing itself from the associated feedback/communication.Satellite-based forestry may give the illusion of comprehensiveness and power,but is it really possible to listen to the forest from miles above the Earth?
Aberley criticizes a science that deigns to control nature through'disembodied facts, and 'implies that the listening that is occurring isscience listening to and carrying out its own agenda. He offers a differentapproach to listening, which, in line with Thompson, suggests the creation of amore permeable membrane between nature and culture. Aberley writes inBoundaries of Home: Mapping for Local Empowerment that,
The mistake of science is that its goal is to describe nature as a complexmachine, and to replace the vagaries of nature's chaos with management.Bioregional mapping is about something else: processes and relationshipsrather than disembodied facts. (Aberley 1993: 5)
One of Aberley's implicit points is that not only has science "replacedthe vagaries of nature's chaos with management," and replaced "processes andrelationships" with "disembodied facts," but that scientific management is donebut by a select few! A more permeable membrane needs the involvement of morethan just experts and ecocrats - the first illusion to dispel is that otherpeople are the experts, have the knowledge, and should write the maps aboutyour home place.
The notion that only experts can map is the type of disenfranchisement thatreinhabitants confront and nullify. If it doesn't matter how well you draw, orthat you have the "best" pens, or that you don't have a college degree incartography, then what does matter? Simply the ability to try, to fill theworld again with personal and communal descriptions of time and space. (Ibid:5)
Aberley's work is filled with guidelines, insights, and practicaltechniques for empowering grassroots initiatives to "just do it" and becomefamiliar and acquainted with their home place through the process of communitymapping; he stresses the importance and power of collecting what you alreadyknow about a place. When a community comes together and engages in thisprocess a new, larger and more comprehensive picture of a place can emerge. Inaddition to the value and power of the data gathering process, Aberleyemphasizes the transformative effects of engaging in the subsequent process ofmapping.
In addressing the unprecedented environmental and social crises of ourage, we must seemingly come to grips with the question of whether to tacklethese crises on a global "comprehensive" level, whether to focus on localsolutions to global problems, or whether there is a middle ground. Aberley andSachs describe two approaches which encompass a range of possibilities for"listening" to feedback/communication, involving high-technology and large,global scale, and low-technology and smaller, human scale: two distinctapproaches with very different outcomes.
We believe that it is in the space between these positions that we mayfind the combinations of actions and technology that will allow people tolisten and hear the variety of signals necessary to redirect our lives to thedegree that pollution becomes potent information: perhaps a multi-regionalmeta GIS that is based on the linking and coordination of local communitymapping knowledge. Satellite images and observation and local knowledge couldperhaps inform and inspire each other at different levels of planning andmanagement. We believe in any case that it is important to explore a widerange of options in order to be familiar with the spectrum of possibilitiesthat exist to design a system which could support the development ofsustainable culture.
Central to negotiating such a balance may be a dynamic,supportive context of cultural wisdom. Schoenhoff states insightfully that
Focused as we are on information and data, we seem to rarely give wisdom athought in our high-tech society....
In the West, we have often gained knowledge at the expense ofwisdom. In traditional societies, wisdom must be achieved and therefore it isoften valued over education, wealth or physical strength. The elders areexpected to possess wisdom to a greater degree than younger members of thecommunity. Wisdom has to do with playing one's social, interpersonal, andinteractional roles successfully. It is seeded in the culture itself and isexpressed in qualities that allow one to survive, to form beneficialrelationships, to manage conflict, to present one's view persuasively, toconsistently make sound judgments, and to advance one's position in the culture- all with exceptional skill. One can have knowledge without experience, butone cannot have wisdom without experience. (Schoenhoff, 1993: 100, 163)
Schoenhoff suggests that developing the atomic bomb was an exampleof knowledge, and restraining from using it would have been sound wisdom (Ibid:100). How do we apply wisdom to our society's integration of technology?While ultimately a question that we believe must be answered in the future bythe Hawaiian people, the central question of this thesis may comes down tothis: how can the Hawaiians bring as much wisdom as possible to theirexploration and potential use of GIS?
On a less abstract level, with respect specifically to Hawaiiansovereignty and the Nation of Hawai`i, this research suggests that notonly is the control of the land of critical importance, but as we assert in theprevious sections, the Kanaka Maoli, the indigenous people of Hawai`i, existtoday in a context of displacement not only from the land, but also toinformation which has been gathered about the land. The displacement ofthe indigenous people of Hawai`i from the land has resulted in a substantialloss of detailed, intimate personal knowledge of the land and its processes,and has largely been replaced by systems of collected information abstraction,such as written records, maps, surveys, various digital databases, andbureaucratic institutions which coordinate government services, settle disputesover land and other resources, and maintain the collected information about thepeople and natural resources of Hawai`i. However, in this system, theacquisition by private citizens of specific, current, digitized informationabout the land from Hawai`i government offices is currently either costly orimpossible. It is also important to understand that digitized taxpayerpaid-for government information covers only some of the social, economic,hydrologic, geologic, historic, biotic, animal, and human possibilities onemight want or need.
Thus the Nation of Hawai`i's exploration of GIS represents its recognitionthat the original and often discussed "theft" of Hawai`i's land from the KanakaMaoli of the archipelago has been accompanied by a second theft: this time atheft of the public-paid-for information about the land. In response to theseperceived injustices, the Nation has staked its interest and claim both to theland and to the information about the land. The Nation is suggesting that bothin its struggle for sovereignty and in its potential for sustainability aftersovereignty, in claiming the land and the information about the land, GIS mayserve as an essential aid.
What we primarily want to emphasize in this thesis is that while a groupmay have the best intentions in creating a "next-generation GIS" for socialempowerment and sustainability, a historical and global context of mapping andWestern technology exists which has been and is currently not only oftenopposed to these goals, but is antithetical to them. Becoming aware of thishistory and context may be the first step toward freedom from the subtlevalues, rules, and power relationships that have existed or still do exist inthis tradition and context. However to identify the problematics of thecurrent system is merely the first step; following this, it is important tosolidify a positive, forward vision, filled with the attributes and values of aGIS that is appropriate for the people of this Hawaiian land.
At this early phase of the Nation of Hawai`i's GIS initiative, at which nofunding is presently secured or any definite plans finalized, we would like tosuggest some immediate actions; to offer a brief summary of how GIS can be usedto support the Nation's work toward self-determination and sustainability bothwhile the State claims power and in service to an independent Hawaiian nation;and to offer a series of questions to consider while exploring GIS in general.Before we do so however, we would like to acknowledge the non-native positionfrom which we speak. As much as we try to empathize with the indigenous peopleof Hawai`i, the Kanaka Maoli, our roots and education are still based in theWestern European tradition and therefore we will be unaware of many issues andsubtleties of Hawaiian culture. We speak from an awareness of some of our ownbiases, a brief exposure to the Hawaiian culture and an intense experience ofone year's research into the potential uses and implications of GIS. Withthese consideration in mind, we would like to offer these recommendations.
The development and evolution of GIS will occur with or without theparticipation of academia and other related critique. The main question wewould like to close with is - what will be the nature of the GIS of the future?What maps will be enabled and produced? And who will use them with whateffect? What data sets will be created, combined, and mined - for "sustainablemanagement," and for "surveillance and social control?" As Openshaw (1996)suggests, this is a time of many questions, and many opportunities.
"Can there be a socio-economic GIS?" or "What needs to be done to existing GISs to improve their capabilities in handling data about people?" "Can there be a qualitative version of GIS?" It is not too late to invent a new technology if there are good reasons for doing so. There are major developments underway in soft computing technologies that may be relevant.... (This) is an appropriate time to consider how to specify (and perhaps build) alternative systems rather than just moan endlessly about the problems associated with those that exist. (Openshaw, 1996: *)
From what consortiums and collaborations will "next generation" GIS forsocial equity, sustainability, and self-determination spring? What will be itssocial consequences? We don't claim to be able to answer this question at thispoint. We do agree that it is truly an important time to engage these issuesand possibilities, as Openshaw suggests.
GIS a is small part of a much bigger picture that is being driven by avirtually unstoppable process of technological change. An equilibrium statehas not yet been reached. The problem is that end user appreciation of what isnow possible is lagging far behind what is now feasible, and what is nowconsidered feasible is itself far behind what will soon become possible. (Ibid:*)
We would suggest one more area of specific study - that of aninvestigation into the use of GIS to support large scale resource managementand coordination of government services; and a look into how GIS is or has beenused to support small scale, cultural, bioregional integration with an area ofland.
After exploring the academic research to date, we would like to reiterateour excitement at the productive lines of inquiry raised thus far, and also tomake a call for this research to be expanded to many other disciplinesincluding anthropology (with its participant observation).
However, some may ask, what does it really matter whether theoreticaldebates rage this way or that, when GIS has been, and will continue to beapplied to practical, real world problems and issues, often distant from theivory towers of academia? Roger Miller (1995) explores this issue withsensitivity:
Most who work with geographic information systems (GIS), when they consider thesituation at all, think of themselves as technical analysts, blessedly removedfrom the pointless theoretical debates that seem to be modern-day equivalentsof the Scholastic controversy over the number of angels that can dance on thehead of a pin. More formally put, the current empirical and positivist basisof GIS has led to a general dismissal of the idea that the theoretical debatesrocking the human sciences have any relevance for "practitioners" or "appliedgeographers." However, such a blanket rejection appears increasingly unwiseand untenable, as is reflected in the growing chorus of calls for greaterintegration of technical and applied aspects of GIS. (Miller, 1995:47)
In L.A., Alan Crutchfield's impatience with academia and its frequentpursuit of knowledge for knowledge's sake led him to consistently de-emphasizeour role as researchers and stress our potential as business associates,(assistants, helpers, partners in development...), which perhaps reflects acommon dismissal of the relevance of theoretical debates, as mentioned above.Miller suggests that a central cause of the dismissal of academics is theirlack of immediate relevance to product development. As in many industries, GISapplications - the users' needs for GIS - drive development, not idealizeddiscussions.
Central to much of the current discussion is the fact that GIS technology hasbeen developed within an empiricist and positivist tradition, with a primaryemphasis on solving technical problems associated with data structures,integrating complex algorithmic modules within single "look-and-feel" userinterfaces, and simplifying data input, analysis and output processes. It isalso important to remember that much of this work has been the result ofcommercial product development, undertaken by private corporations servingrapidly growing customer bases, themselves usually in the public agency orcorporate sectors. In other words, most of the recent development of GIStechnology has been demand-driven, with the practical problems they wish toaddress using a GIS product. Small wonder, then, that there has been littleimpetus to examine issues that typically are raised by academics concerned withsocial critique and social theory. These are hardly the clientele to whom GISdevelopers and users address themselves in the applied worlds of facilitiesmanagement, land management, or geodemographics.
Nevertheless, the issues raised by academic social theorists are relevantto the ways in which GIS permeates contemporary life in advanced industrialsocieties. (Ibid: 51)
Are there additional arenas for the demonstration and contributionof academic relevance? Is it possible to bring these different groups togetherto reflect on what the future of this technology should be? The NCGIAinitiative is a good start with respect to GIS. But where are the otheracademic disciplines? Where are the GIS producers? Where are the GIS users?Where is the press? The process of technological change in general needs tocome under more intensive debate. Echoing many recent calls, we suggest thatit is important to continue challenging the notion that "all technology isgood" and should be adopted as quickly as possible, and that those who questionit are necessarily "Luddites," or lunatics: we reiterate Bronson's exhortationto find a middle ground between seeing technology as doom, or technology asutopia.
How this debate may be effected and given real power is an issue thatrequires initiative and direct action....
As in all studies, we were limited by many factors, including a certainshortage of time and resources in which to do all the research that we reallywanted to do. We felt that we did not get to spend nearly enough time with GISmodels in action, and we did not have the opportunity to communicate with othersovereignty groups, as we would have liked.
Space limitations prevented us from going more in depth into varioussubjects that enthralled us - actually nearly all the subject matter we coveredwas extremely stimulating, and we often wished we could offer all this materialto our readers, so that they too could share the excitement of the learningprocess we have gone through.
Most of all, we wished we would have more time and opportunities to learnabout Hawaiian culture before engaging in such research.
On a general level, our attitude towards GIS technology has shifted fromour initial optimism and excitement to a more critical perspective. We havelearned through our research that GIS, while having positive potentials, can bea very manipulative and powerful tool that must be understood thoroughly beforebeing applied to any situation. We have found that our original attitudetoward GIS was loaded with Western assumptions about the promise of progress,the neutrality of technology and the objectivity of the data, among many otherthings. Realizing this has been an important part of our "personaldecolonization process," which has opened us to various new perspectives andunderstandings. Below, we relate some reflections on how this research hasaffected us individually and together, and what we have learned from ourcollaboration.
This project has given us what we both asked for - a vision of asustainable society and much more. We were from the beginning impressed by thesystemic vision of a cultural transformation toward the development of aso-called 100% sustainable nation as it was proposed by Alan in L.A.. Throughthe development of a comprehensive mapping tool we believed this project wasthe grounded manifestation we had both been looking for, and in many ways itwas. This experience has in many ways been a learning process of how to keepthe flame of a demanding vision alive, without ourselves burning out. We havelearned the richness of being humbled in front of people, how it makes us seeour own stubbornness, and rigidity. But we have also learned to stand up forour rights when enough was enough and be proud of who we are and what we do.
Our eagerness to engage in fieldwork relating to systemic andtransformative change of our society, we believe, was an inspired reaction of aCIIS influenced mindset of cultural critique combined with a spiritually andecologically grounded perspective on the organization of society. The work hastherefore been a deeply personally motivated experiment of not beingintimidated by a big vision, but rather to take on challenges knowing that wewill grow according to the initiative we take ourselves.
What does it take and not take to inhabit such a vision in a world that isstill dominated by an exploitative colonial mindset of the West? Many issuesemerged and a lot of learning took place minute by minute in this reality. Wehave learned to be increasingly flexible in order to deal with unpredictableincidents in a reality that was always characterized by lack of both monetaryand personal resources. We became flexible to the point where our ownintegrity and needs were on the verge of being deeply challenged. We became soobsessed with the accomplishment of the constant pressure and demands of thevision itself that we at times lost the perspective of what we had originallyset out to do.
The loss of perspective was also fueled by our project leader in L.A., adedicated workaholic who had already seriously challenged the boundary betweenwork life and personal life. His work ethic challenged both of our lifestyleswhich have been an attempt to balance our life with spiritual practice,dedicated work, physical performance and nutritious diet. The notion ofcommitment to this vision was challenged by our personal needs. In the case ofour work in L.A., we labored for twelve plus hours per day for weeks at a time,and there was never a guarantee of being done, being rewarded, or for thatmatter, actually getting started with the GIS building phase. In other words,there was a sense of being over our heads in an environment that was itselfover its head. How much more to give to try to ensure the project's success,and how much to keep in reserve to ensure our own personal sustainability?This practice was radically changed when we regained the focus of our thesisand balanced our contribution to the vision with much more self awareness.
The demands that were placed on us required us to learn quickly as we wentalong. We soon became adept at taking on most challenges without fear, butwith an expectation of being humbled and taught by the process itself. In thatregard work pressure was an incredible teacher because it taught us tosurrender our shortcomings, gratefully, sooner or later.
The technologically optimistic, positivistic, and objectivisticassumptions of the well-intentioned and in many ways cutting-edge GIS designenvironment of L.A. had lasting effects on both of us. We were gifted in manyways by work in this world which rarely opens itself to researchers, but uponleaving, we struggled for months to shake off lingering impressed patterns andbeliefs about GIS that were incompatible with the much more multi-facetedcomplexities of the technology that we were being exposed to in the recentliterature, and in the field. While we may now be somewhat critical of theoriginal design culture, it is for the purpose of aiding it with our luxury ofacademic reflection; reflection which is so difficult to come by in thefast-paced, competitive, uncertain, always-behind-schedule world of innovationand entrepreneurship.
Overall, the collaboration between the two of us has added immensely tothis research, if not making it possible in the first place. Collaboration hasbeen an enriching experience of constant support and unquestioned commitmentfor both of us, which has been essential in times of stress, fatigue, andchallenges. The teamwork we have engaged in has also probably enabled us totake on more challenging endeavors than we could have individually. We havebeen able to experience greater endurance over the whole course of researchbecause we could help process each other's frustrations when they appeared, andconstantly seeking to make the best of each situation, we have each served asan inspiration to the other on many different occasions.
With regard to our interviews, we have noted that being a team creates amore significant "event," and have often been more dynamic because we bringdifferent perspectives, memories, and note-taking capabilities to thesituation, and in general more energy and enthusiasm to the exchange.
The discussion of our findings and literature, and the writing of ourfield notes and the thesis itself have generally been very inspiring andcreative intellectual processes because we both brought complementary ideas todiscussions. To some extent we feel that our collaboration has been an`anthropology of anthropology,' especially because one of us is a Dane and theother an American, which has given us the benefit (and the challenge) ofconstantly interpreting many incidents from different cultural perspectives.
We believe that the intense process and work with the material we haveundergone together has created a much deeper and more lasting learning processthan had we undertaken such work alone, though this process has not always beeneasy or gone quickly because we engaged in thorough discussions to align ourintentions. These discussions happened fairly frequently in the case of thispaper, which has gone through several drafts before it was actually finalized.Both of us have often had to swallow our pride, words and promises numeroustimes for the sake of moving forward in a constructive way - meaning a way wecan both accept. In such a process of compromise and give and take, we havelearned new ways to be, to study, to speak, etc.
We have been changed, enriched and expanded on many levels through workingwith each other. Our likeness has even got to a point that people we meetcontinuously ask if we are brothers!
In our fieldwork in Hawai`i we feel our collaboration has generally beenan asset both for ourselves and the Hawaiians. We have been able to sustainourselves at the village without the Hawaiian residents having to "take care ofus." From this position we have been able to build our relations with thecommunity members in a timely and non-invasive way while they had a chance tocheck us out without getting too involved (at least from our perspective). Apossible drawback is that it may be more complex for our Hawaiian neighbors toshare and reach out to a team, yet they were so inclusive, warm, considerateand caring that we have not felt it as a significant problem.
Getting to know the Hawaiians who we have been living with has been aninspiration. Shaken to the core by learning the details of their stories ofdiscovery, colonialization, exploitation, and now renaissance, we now deeplyrespect the strength, humor, warmth and solid determination that seem to be somuch at their core. We feel that their example of forgiveness, perseverance,and humility in the context of such a difficult history deserves, and will win,appropriate recognition.
By reaching out to an ambitious and visionary project such as this, I haveultimately reached deeper into the core of my own being. I have stretched,grown and expanded myself through tumultuous situations, stressful moments,leaps of faith and vital support. This experience has ultimately made me feelmore grounded and connected through the persistent exercise of committedperseverance combined with a substantial amount of flexibility.I learned that no matter what I do, my actions must be born out of integrity tomyself. When change is required I have learned again and again how importantit is to always challenge my own assumptions and actions before attemptingto challenge those of others.
I have been continually fascinated by the adaptability of my personalitywhich I have expressed in a multiplicity of roles and situations during thisfieldwork experience. This experience has ultimately helped me to experiencelife in a way that includes more and more diversity and contradictions andthereby expanded my perspective. But maybe most importantly, I have begun tolearn about the rich value of humbleness from all the times when mypreconceived ideas have been in the way of being present, in the moment.
Through our experience together Christopher has become a friend whomI can trust, and because of his commitment to supporting myself through thisproject, I have been able to grow, to improve, and to make mistakes, which Iam grateful for. The collaborative aspect of this research has further enabledme to integrate the anthropological emphasis on the permeable boundariesbetween myself as researcher, and the "researched," a process that hasincreased my understanding of culture as a participatory process, where everydetail of life has importance and relevance. This was also facilitated by mygood fortune in being with such alive, warm and caring people as the Hawaiiansliving at Pu`uhunua o Waimanalo.
Working in this collaborative way was for me, an "individualisticAmerican," a real opportunity with many benefits and challenges. Incollaboration I was forced to surrender "my way" often, and truly be open towhat could emerge out of "Ulrik's way" or often, a combination of ourapproaches. We often inspired each other when the other needed it, and hehelped me to see a lot of "stuff" that I don't see when working alone -stubbornness, old patterns, underdeveloped listening ability.... Ulrik helpedme continually grok the value in looking at an old situation with a freshperspective - what a concept!
I learned through this work that while I want to help create a betterworld, I can't help anyone much if I am not personally strong, if I am not inpersonal integrity, and if I don't keep about me a forceful discrimination tohear what is being said beyond the words, and to see what is being done underthe surface of things. The work of cultivating the personal qualities thatcould be useful in this and the next phases of history is a constant challengeand opportunity. Flexibility, intuition, networking, non-attachment, trust,responsibility, and a commitment to service are all qualities that I aspire to,and this project gave me lessons in all of them.
Perhaps most of all, I have been challenged to hold many differentcultural realities and even many different identities at the same time; thishas been a most exhilarating and yet bewildering process. The difficulties ofholding on to a core sense of self manifested frequently for me, as I seemed toget lost in the exciting, shifting cultural realities that beset us. Still, Iwould do it all over again as I feel that I have come away with a stronger yetmore flexible sense of identity. All in all, I would recommend theanthropological, ethnographic fieldwork process wholeheartedly, especially in acollaborative process of some sort. I strongly feel that this project wouldnot have been completed, or undertaken, without collaboration. However, it isimportant to emphasize the importance of the collaborators being of anappropriate chemistry to negotiate the potentially intense or even extremedemands which may be experienced during the research process.... In this way,Ulrik and I have been fortunate, for while not always enjoying perfectly smoothsailing/navigating, we have for the most part been verygood co-pilots togetheron this long and unpredictable journey.
We end by recalling a recent incident that occurred over dinner in thecommunity dining room at Pu`uhonua o Waimanalo village. While eating with therest of the village, a big screen television was tuned to the local news andweather, and we found ourselves feasting on cloud patterns over the vastPacific ocean from Channel 9. Suddenly recalling the legends of the Polynesiannavigators, we were struck by the extent to which the ways we know andcommunicate with our place have changed in the last few hundred years. Channel9 then flew us through the Hawaiian archipelago and then on out over thevastness of the central Pacific with a GIS-like landscape modeling program.
It seems so unreal that we are in the middle of the Pacific - we sorecently paid $130, sat in a cramped seat for five hours, and then got out ofthe plane in this place we were told was Hawai`i. What experience did wereally have getting here, and what wisdom did it lead to? How would ourexperience and wisdom change if we had to navigate here ourselves? What wouldit be like to ride the swells of the Pacific and use the waves, sky, and allsenses to arrive at a destination thousands of miles away? Contemplating this,we paused in our dinner and conversation, in awe at the no doubt totalimmersion and multi-sensory awareness of the Polynesian wayfinder who would useinformation from his or her immediate environment such as ocean taste, wavepatterns, star locations, and even his own testicles to move over thedynamic landscape of that gigantic body of water....
Our world will probably never be the same after the impacts of thevisioning and information technologies of this century. Until we have thebenefit of deeper experience, we cannot offer much in the way of grounded,time-tested wisdom beyond the emerging reflections contained in these pages.However, we can and do offer our life's energy toward the accumulation andintegration of insights, practices, and understandings which may in some smallway, help at some level to navigate in these tumultuous times.
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