When WE Shine Foundation recognizes the value and effectiveness of social artistry and its community building effectiveness when applied to broken social systems and all varieties of community concerns. It’s about creatively communicating and educating the public and building capacity of understanding in innovative ways.
Here are a few of the ways When WE Shine Foundation has participated in putting Social Artistry to use on Maui.
ManaWahine Walk for Water – Women’s Walk for Water on Maui 2017
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, walked ceremoniously like a mountain stream from the sanctuary on Haleakala down to the sea, Chanting and singing songs that praised the water we held a special ceremony on the beach, bring the 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 compound our efforts using Social Artistry as a tool for water awareness, When WE Shine Foundation also helped to produce a music CD recorded by the women of Maui, ManaWahine, WAI, Prayer Songs for the Water Protectors. We wanted our voices join those of all the women standing for clean water rights around the world.
The songs were sung in Hawaiian, Maori, Portuguese, Yoruba and English and carried with them our love for our island waters and our dedication to restoring & revitalizing the natural streams. The album is available on Amazon, Itunes and all streaming channels.
Na Maka O Ka ‘Aina Project – Awakening Environmental Stewardship in Children 2018
He keiki aloha nā mea kanu
Beloved children are the plants
(ʻŌlelo Noʻeau 684)
Awakening Stewardship of the Environment on Maui – Na Maka O Ka ‘AinaFrom April to September of 2018, When WE Shine Foundation and Malamalama Maui Project, an ArtPlace America placemaking grant, collaborated on a community awareness mission to awaken stewardship of the land and sea for the children of Maui. We chose this social artistry project to shine a light and open up discussions on the environmental impact of wasteful land usage practices by humans on our island home. The project was named Na Maka O Ka ‘Aina, meaning “the eyes of the land”. It was based on a song with the same title written a few months earlier by the 3rd grade class of Pomaika’i school during a songwriting residency with Melinda Caroll. The project focused on the children of Maui, ages 5 to 15 years of age.
Throughout the 5 month period of the project, we set up art stations at various school gardens, at community events and fairs and flower shows that allowed children’s activities. We provided a niu, a coconut, for each participating child. We then shared the story about the life-giving coconut as a canoe crop brought over by Hawaiians when they oringinally landed in the Hawaiian islands. We talked about stewardship as seen through a Hawaiian cultural lens, using the model of the Ahupua’a, from land to seen as naturally regenerative resources when we care for them properly.
After the stories, we would ask the children questions on what they observed in their own lives, adding small exercises that required them to observe their surroundings to gain the perspective of the eyes of the land that were watching them. They shared their experiences and observations. We then provided non-toxic water-based paints and colored pens and invited each one to create their own design of what the “eyes of the land” was saying to them. We would all then promise to do our best to become good stewards of the ‘Aina.
The outcome for teachers and students alike, was a deeper conversation and awareness about ways to care for their schools, their school gardens and home environment. The resulting artwork, beautifully imagined in the children’s eyes, became a choice of garden art or a living tree planted in or around their school garden. They were also invited to take their painted “eyes of the land” coconut home to plant to remind them of their promise.