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The Bow, The Charter, and The Soils - Ho'i Ho'i I Ka Aina Program

There are always times when we sit back and watch as an activity is taken up, indulged, loved, and indulged some more. An activity that in many way silences those taking part in it because they are impacted and tested by it. Archery was one such activity and it is becoming something we wish to bind onto our Akahiao DNA. Another is our tea times, where if we don’t offer it up on cue, there is the potential for a slight uproar.

We came to a gentle ending of our autumn Ho’i-Ho’i I Ka Aina program, which was as instructive to our team as it hopefully was to our participants. A five day and four-night inclusive bit of fun that focused on ‘kilo’ (observations), building (and maintaining) a charter which guided our entire time together, and two long sessions of archery with Uncle Biggie, Uncle Joe, and Talia. Our twice daily tea times introduced an Oolong from Lishan and a raw Puerh and these were lapped up in happy sessions.

The charter which guided our week was entirely conceived of and created by our 15-17-year-olds. A list of guidelines by which we all adhered to included: inclusivity, engagement, and communication. These were identified as the aspects that our youth felt were necessary and desired for their own charter. Also introduced was the ‘talking stick’, encouraging groups to recognize and respect anyone who had the right to speak. The idea here too was to promote the idea of listening and respect without interruptions.

Days began with simple morning breathing sessions and transitioned into garden time, values workshops, and archery sessions, which demanded as much focus as it did physical strength. It is always the idea of ‘progression’ and perception that is encouraged rather than performance. Garden sourced food was a part of every day, prepared by Jamie Perrington.

As with so much of what we strive to do, we measure everything by progression and the power of restoration.

Archery sessions using recurve bows outside in the winds and deep green brought a strange hush to our groups as competition and intimidation gave way to getting the ‘feel’ of a bow in hand. With breath, the sight, calibration, all amidst ever-changing winds slowly over long sessions, adaptations were made wordlessly.

The groups restorative efforts in our gardens balanced out each day regardless of what the sky brought down. By the time each day came to a close we would have spent 8-12 hours outside of walls, and that brings its own magic in of itself.

Discussion sessions followed problem solving exercises and ‘Design’ Thinking workshops, which were fueled by tea sessions. And the week passed in that strange way that time well spent does.

Each day was themed around a specific Hawaiian focus point. Our first day focused upon ‘Wahipana’ or ‘sense of place to begin the connection. The following days focused upon ‘Na’au’ (sense of self), ‘Akua’ (sense of connection or direction), a sense of challenge ‘Laulima’, and our last day was based on a sense of innovation, ‘Imua’.

Shared meals, time beyond walls, and connections were some of the resonating results and will continue (we hope) into the present and future tenses for all of our participants.

As a final bit of magic we had (after a solid afternoon tea session) a passionate talk from the brilliant minds at Terraformation who introduced us to their very integral efforts at forest restoration.

‘Endings’ always transition into new journeys, and so it was with our Ho’i-Ho’i I Ka Aina program.


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