Bellows AFS, Waimanalo
TYPE OF WOUNDED PLACE
TYPE OF STORY
• Waimanalo ↗
Story & Experience
Nine of us came together for our Global Earth Exchange. There were a couple who had participated previously but most were new to the practice. We started by sharing our names and why we chose to be there, and then talked about the past inhabitants of the place. I read an excerpt from a book by a reknowned Hawaii archaeologist Patrick Kirch who had actually conducted excavations in the area in the past. The passage I read was an imagined reenactment of a canoe arriving and landing on the shores from the Marquesas. An imaginary scene of the first people to step on land here. Then we had a short conversation about the place and the changes that have happened over time, including the current changes from climate change that we can see happening in our lifetime with the sea level rising. The we went off on the land for about half an hour. Some participants went towards the ocean and were enchanted by children at the beach, one particpant picked up a full bag of garbage during his time, some felt grief for the place and the loss of itʻs past inhabitants. Near the end of our practice, some kids started driving recklessly around the parking lot creating lots of noise and kicking up lots of dust. A couple of us felt immense grief for the lack of purpose these kids seemed to have and the disconnect there was between what we were doing vs what they were doing. It is very possible they were driving over sites that might have been sacred to early Hawaiians. Some also expressed sadness for a place just down the beach that is creating much upheaval, as the local government is in the process of developing a big sports complex despite the protests of most community members and island wide. To date, they have plowed through a large area cutting down several trees, some of which might be roosting sites for endangered Hawaiian bats. We had a set of experiences that were as diverse as the place itself.
Why this Place?
Bellows AFS, Waimanalo
We chose Bellows because it is a place we have held a few Earth Exchanges in the past. Bellows Air Force Station is at the site of one of the first known settlements of the first peoples to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands, and there arre ancient burial sites in the area. Over the eons, the native landscape has been heavily degraded. It was likely once an area covered with sand dunes, seabird colonies, and native lowland forests but as human impacts have taken a toll over time, the plant ecosystem is heavily degraded and there remaining. There is a small population of native endangered waterbirds, and endangered Hawaiian bats have recently been detected, but the only seabirds you can find on the ground are wedge tailed shearwater chicks that become disoriented from all the light pollution and collapse out of exhaustion on the ground or in the ocean, and many of them do not survive during the fledging season. Despite all the degradaed habitat and loss of species, ile Bellows is a beautiful area situated between the Koʻolau mountains and the sea. It is occupied by the military where the hold many trainings for soldiers, including RIMPAC, and also a site where soldiers and their families enjoy vacations in several beach cabins and camping grounds in the area. The location where we held our Exchange is open to the public on the weekends, but closed for wargames on the weekdays. It is a place that to me represents so much beauty and yet so much loss and is steeped in history, some of which is quite tragic.
Act of Beauty
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Once we shared our stories, we created our art offering to the place using stones, leaves, flowers, and some of the rubbish that had been picked up by one of the participants. There was some hesitation at first, but people started jumping in and getting excited as we created this act of beauty reflecting the place so deeply.
Although I like to think that taking my Climate Change Communication class is a rewarding journey, I know that can also be emotionally taxing. We spend the entire semester talking about climate change, obviously, so [...]