On Maui, May of 2017, Malamalama Maui, an ArtPlace America grant project and When We Shine Foundation helped bring public awareness to the difficult problem of 111 freshwater streams that had been diverted for commercial use for over 100 years. This diversion, which many on the island felt was illegal, was prohibiting Hawaiian farmers upcountry from being able to grow their taro plants, a cultural food staple they had raised for 100’s of years.
Our Women’s Walk for Water event was created to help the water regain it’s natural flow from mountain to sea and to help the local taro farmers. Our walk began at a women’s Heiau, a sacred site at the top of Pi’iholo on Haleakala, and ended at Ho’okipa on the beach, 12 miles away.
Over 100 women showed up, dressed in blues and greens to symbolize water and together like a flowing stream, walking together in small groups from atop the mountain Ho'omanu sanctuary on Haleakala 11 miles down to the ocean, we chanted and sang songs praising the water. Upon arrival on the shore, we held a special Hawaiian ceremony on the beach, symbolized by bringing fresh water from the mountain top, pouring it back into the sea. The event was publicly well received with many photos, radio, TV and newspaper coverage, as well as social media. Though we have no way to knowing if our walk made the difference, nevertheless, within a year, after over 100 years of cut-off and diversion, this stream we walked plus nine others were reopened to their natural flow.
To further celebrate our connection to water protectors around the world, we recorded an album of songs for the Wai (water).
Using Social Artistry to compound our efforts as a tool for water awareness, When We Shine Foundation helped produce music recorded by women of Maui: ManaWahine, WAI, Prayer Songs for the Water Protectors. We wanted our voices to join those of all the women standing for clean water rights around the world.