September 29th, 2007
A magical and bittersweet journey to Hawai’i inspired the founding of Land For The People. I found beauty, power, unique landscape and ecosystems on my visit to the islands of Hawai’i and Kaui’i. As wonder-filled a visit my mate and I had, the shadow of over-development was always present. It didn’t stop me from enjoying the trip, but it did inspire me to create change in a more active and widespread way.
‘Aina is the Hawai’ian word for Land. The word is considered sacred and carries not just the mundane meaning of the ground beneath our feet, but also the living Earth and all its elements—the basis and interconnectedness of life. I am careful with my use of the word, knowing that it might be considered appropriating—I’m a white girl from the U.S. mainland, after all. I hope that my use of the word with respect and for the good of Hawai’ian peoples and the Earth causes no consternation.
A particular moment on Kaui’i stands out for me. On the recommendation of a local woman, we explored Maha’ulepu, a beautiful stretch of oceanfront land—beach, scrub, lithified sand dunes, wooded areas—that became my favorite place on the island. The next morning we heard the reason why there is a gate to the entrance to this land: it is owned by a private company. There are two resorts rumored to be proposed for this land. The moment I learned of this, my heart felt heavy and my anger stirred. When is enough enough? I am involved in my local community with protecting land. I have long known of and been angered by corporate and individual greed that pushes development as far as possible, sacrificing balance and sustainability.
I was not surprised about the development, since I know this is the state of affairs on all continents—from my local community to yours, to Hawai’i to Nanjing to Cairns. I should not have been surprised that most of the native peoples of the islands—once a sovereign nation—are not the landowners, and have most often been pushed into poverty to keep them from owning land. One idea that came to me about how to help this global problem is Land For The People.
When I say “The People,” I mean you, me and I very deliberately include all the remaining indigenous peoples of this planet. It is most often the surviving indigenous ways of living lightly on the Earth that help sustain and preserve land and should inspire us all. Consider this: every one of us has indigenous ancestors. For those of us of European decent, know that there were once indigenous tribal societies all across the European continent. Same for all other inhabited continents. I will include books and films in the Resources section of this site that can tell you more.
Returning from Hawai’i I urged everyone I came into contact with to read Shark Dialogues by Kiana Davenport. Now I urge you to read this important historical novel. Returning to the mainland, Land For The People began to take shape. When seeking an organization to contact to be our land trust partner, Trust for Public Lands (TPL) stood out for reasons mentioned in the About section, and also because a TPL project in Hawai’i that acquired and protected Wao Kele O Puna and returned it to Native Hawai’ian control was so very much like the type of work I wanted to inspire.
A final thought: ‘aina is contained within sustAINAbility. Won’t you help conserve ‘Aina by practicing sust’Ainable living and joining us to Conserve Land Now?
© copyright 2013, Bri at Land For The People.org.
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