The Tracking Project Hawai‘i Mentor Program (TTPHI/NTR)
Our work in Hawai‘i took a giant step forward on all fronts in 2010. Through our Hawaiian Arts of Life programs, we continued our hikes and outdoor gatherings with hundreds of elementary and middle school youth on O‘ahu. We published and began to distribute Ha‘i‘o-lelo Ho‘omaika‘i: Ke Aloha i Ke Ao Nei—the Hawaiian language version of the Thanksgiving Address, a project that was many years in the making. Our Mentor Outreach programs shifted to the next octave with the graduation of 14 more artist educators from The Tracking Project Hawai‘i Mentor Program (TTPHI/ NTR). And this year we created a pilot program—a Masters level intensive training—within our mentor training which could open the door to yet another level of our teachings.
Funding for all these visits and programs was provided by a growing and diverse group of foundations and sponsors. We extend our gratitude to everyone who has assisted us in presenting these programs— participants, staff, mentors and funders—with special aloha to: the Aurora Foundation; Chieko Steele & Na Lei Aloha Foundation; Herb Lee & Pacific American Foundation; StrataScale; Ricky Kurihara; Ed Saunders & the Pagoda Hotel; Henk and Akemi Rogers; Duane Kurisu and all our ‘ohana in Hawai‘i.
Since our first visit to the Hawaiian Islands in 1985, our work has been guided by a group of Hawaiian advisors composed of cultural activists, educators and artists: Mililani Trask, Yuklin Aluli, Toshiko Takaezu, Walter Ritte, Miki Maeshiro and many others. For the last seven years, we have partnered with musician and educator Brother Noland Conjugacion, bringing his “Hawaiian Inside” curriculum together with our Arts of Life programs—“Hawaiian Outside.”
Inside and outside, here are some of the highlights from 2010, as we continued to deepen our work in the islands:
✿ Sitting down with Noland and creating a promotional packet for Hawaiian Inside and TTTPHI/NTR which his recording company posted to his pages on their website. The packet can be seen at: mountainapplecompany.com/.
✿ Joining Brother Noland to work with all the Grade 1 students from Kamehameha Elementary School (KES) on two separate days at Halona Point, east of Sandy Beach, where we took the skills of silent movement, tracking, nature awareness and meditation and applied them to the shoreline. Over several years, we have formalized a curriculum for this “mauka/ makai” training: Following Hawaiian protocol, the students greet us with a chant and we respond with a chant. We then circle for the Opening Words of the Thanksgiving Address and our Secrets of Natural Movement warm-up and stretch. Noland shares the names, meanings and history of the sites surrounding our “outdoor classroom.” We offer some awareness exercises, following which Noland demonstrates the art of kiloi upena (the throw net) and shares some teachings from the ocean.
Stalking to the shoreline, the students then learn the names of the most common fish near the shore and have time to explore the tide pools with their parents and teachers. These outings continue to be extremely popular with the students and the parents who join us at Halona. Thanks as always to the Grade 1 KES teachers.
✿ Walking the Upper Campus trail at Kamehameha Schools with the Grade 2 students and teachers, practicing awareness skills such as “deer ears,” soft eyes and stalking. Students also learn the importance of breathing correctly and the “power of silence.” Thanks to Joyce Ahuna and the Grade 2 teachers.
✿ Joining the members of our mentor group to see the movie Avatar and meet after to discuss the connections of the movie’s vision to the mission of our work in Hawai‘i. The movie’s global popularity seems to point out the great need for a more sustainable way of treating our Mother Earth. We all agreed: “It’s nice here on Pandora.”
✿ Joining Noland, Heidi, Miki Maeshiro and the mentor group for three days of training at Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kane‘ohe.
✿ For the third and final year of the TTPHI/NTR mentor program, the Hawaiians traveled to New Mexico to experience our high desert ecosystem and to track a wide variety of animals that are native to our area. As with our other NTR trainings, participants were immersed in the key areas of our curriculum: Thanksgiving, Traditional Tracking & Survival Skills, Nature Awareness, Peacemaking, Cultural Awareness, The Arts of Life, Personal Development, Community Education, International Community, Ceremony, Leadership and Renewal. In the first year, participants learn to apply these key areas to their personal life. In the second year, they apply the teachings to the organization, community or groups that they work with. In the third year, the focus is on how the teachings apply to the participant within the international community.
Our days in camp at the Circle A Ranch followed a standard mentor pattern with our Opening Words, a dream circle, a natural movement workout, morning teaching sessions, afternoon practical experience with archery, firemaking, martial arts, traditional tracking and survival skills and an evening of music, stories and the Arts of Life.
Everyone in the group was asked to bring a small container of water from some special place, and on Tuesday we all took part in a strong Water Ceremony which we dedicated to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, which were daily being fouled by the gigantic Deepwater Horizon oil spill which took place between April and July. We also rose well before sunrise on Friday and took part in another ceremony, using the E Ala E chant to greet the Sun.
The following day we traveled to Chaco Canyon where we visited the Anasazi ruins of Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Bonito and the great kiva known as Casa Rinconada. It was moving for the Hawaiians to see how sophisticated the architecture and the astronomical knowledge of the Anasazi was and how buildings from 1,000 years ago had withstood the passage of time. The camp was visited through the week by jackrabbits, deer, turkey vultures, hawks, and our walks around the Circle A revealed tracks of coyote, elk and bear. Several times during the week the black bears came to visit us, definitely something that doesn’t happen on O‘ahu! And what New Mexican outing would be complete without a visit from the Thunderers. We were blessed with a powerful visit and a good drenching rain.
✿ Expanding our work with Grade 7 at the Kamehameha Middle School to include a day’s hike with each of the three teams—Pu’ulu ‘Ohe, Pu‘ulu Koa and Pu‘ulu Lehua—330 students in all. Each day we hiked with approximately 110 students and their teachers on the trail above the upper Campus. Our focus was once again Sustainability. While Brad took half the group up the trail overlooking the Pali to tell them the story of the Battle of Nu‘uanu, Brother Noland spoke to the group about what traditional Hawaiian people must have known to be able to live sustainably in the Hawaiian islands, while John Stokes spoke about “cultivating an eye for sustainability” and demonstrated various survival skills. Special thanks to Brad, the teachers and Pua Ka‘ai, Middle School administrator, who believes in what we do and makes these outings possible.
✿ Gathering with the participants of TTPHI/NTR for a graduation ceremony and certificate presentation at Brother Noland and Heidi’s house in Nu‘uanu. Graduating from the program and joining our global mentor network are: Mele Coelho, Chandy-Ann Lopes, Richard Pi’ilani Miguel, Leiali‘i Naone, Emily Pualoa, Julie (Kaimi) Rogers, Jackie Seeley, Pomai Weigert, Jenny Yagodich, Palakiko Yagodich, and Jon Yasuda. Mentors for this training included: Brother Noland Conjugacion, Miki Maeshiro, Jade Stokes, and John Stokes.
Not long after the graduation ceremonies, our mentors were already on the job, helping at Na Lei Aloha’s Community Gratitude event in November and assisting at a party celebrating the opening of a new Patagonia store in Waikiki.
For all these events and visits we send our deepest aloha to Brother Noland, Heidi Ho, our partners, funders, friends and participants. Mahalo.
Mentor Outreach—Masters level intensive training
Ever since the seed of the mentor program was planted in 1991, the training has grown and evolved organically with each successive group. The Hawaiian training presented us with another opportunity to grow when, at the conclusion of the second year on Molokai, Kaimi Rogers asked if we might create a one-year intensive training which she could use toward a Master’s degree in education. Over the next few months, we assembled a year-long calendar of events which would include Kaimi in the third year of the mentor training, with meetings in February, March, June and October, in Tracking Project camps on the mainland (The Art of Seeing, Dreamtracking, Tracking in the Southwest), as well as a separate visit to New Mexico to visit dances and ceremonies in the Rio Grande Pueblos.
In the mission statement to her proposal for the intensive, Kaimi wrote:
“My goal for my intensive studies with The Tracking Project (TTP) is to help create a higher-level learning arena for its teachings. People today recognize that our own activities are destroying the planet, and there is a growing demand for change. I believe TTP has the formula to bring about that change. The long-term goal is to bring its teachings into the educational system. By making TTP more accessible to a larger audience and incorporating its values in our educational system, I believe we can help bring about a transformative change to make us sustainable….
“Through my studies with John Stokes, I plan to acquire the knowledge and the skills necessary to assist in creating a mainstream curriculum for others to follow suit…. I see my education in 2010 as my first step toward becoming an
instrumental part in moving our society in the right direction, helping to preserve the beauty of our planet and our own species.”
The year passed quickly. Kaimi has documented the training through papers prepared for each of the “plates” of the curriculum, photos and journals recording her dreams and the various trainings. We look forward to finding new avenues of study to assist Kaimi in realizing her long-term goals of spreading the message of The Tracking Project.
Land and sea, land and life.
Since our early work in the 1980’s with cultural activists, land issues and the sovereignty movement, our Hawaiian programs have continued to grow and adapt to island life. We have put together a package of survival/awareness skills that appeal to the youth, training their senses to experience the natural world in a way that cultivates connection, understanding and empathy with the remarkable environment of the Hawaiian Islands. Now, the young people we have met over the last 25 years are coming back to us as adults, helping to create a spiral of new possibilities. We send our finest thoughts and our deepest aloha to the Hawaiian people for their strength, ingenuity and hospitality.