DLNR News Release – FORESTRY PROGRAM EMPHASIZES STEWARDSHIP, ART, ‘OHANAPosted on May 10, 2023 in Latest Department News, Newsroom
(HONOLULU) – Community members from keiki to kūpuna gather to mālama ʻāina, learn the practice of carving wood bowls, and bond together as ‘Ohana. The final workshop called “Carving Out Our Future” was conducted last weekend at Kapapapuhi Point Park in ‘Ewa.
The idea is the brainchild of Dr. Heather McMillen, Urban and Community Forester for DLNR’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW), and Nalu Andrade, a local artist and traditional wood carver.
The pair discussed a need to develop a program that educates and empowers communities to care for and preserve the places they live and spend time in. Before long, driven by a purpose to bring together carving, stewardship, and relationship-building, a four-part workshop series was born.
McMillen leads Kaulunani, an urban and community forestry program under DOFAW. Kaulunani focuses on building community and growing the trees and forests all around us, in the places we live, work, learn, and play. Nalu came on board as Kaulunani’s first artist-in-residence and brought a holistic perspective to this effort.
“The program is about traditional carving, cultural practice, taking care of our trees and forests,” explained McMillen. “But it’s also about taking care of our ‘Ohana, our communities, our ahupua‘a and moku. It’s a way to connect people and place, where people can embody practices of mālama and restoration.”
Partners who gave time, funding, and technical support for the program included the U.S. Forest Service, Mālama Puuloa, and ‘Ohu ‘Ohu Ko‘olau, Inc.,the non-profit that works in collaboration with the Ko‘olau Mountains Watershed Partnership.
Last Saturday’s focus was stewardship. Participants worked together to clear invasive grasses and weeds, and to plant native maʻo and pili grass. It’s a gradual restorative process but a mindful approach to the work.
“If we make little pukas in the forest, five feet areas here and there, and plant small kou and kukui trees and nourish it, we can recharge the soil and provide more environmental benefit,” said Nalu. “It’s not a slash-and-burn method covering large areas, but something more thoughtful and sustainable.”
Miranda Hutten, a U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager and one of the workshop participants, appreciated the approach and shared: “The first day was about giving back to this wetland, planting natives and removing invasives. It’s a powerful message of sustainability and making an impact in the places you care about the most.”
Participants regrouped on Sunday morning, switching from the caretaker mindset of the previous day to concentrate more on what the forest provides. Nalu and fellow carver Miki Cook led the group in carving ‘umeke mana āi, or bowls, used as a baby’s first food dish. Participants dove right in, learning about the tools and different techniques to complete their own functional creations.
“There aren’t many opportunities to have hands-on experiences to make Hawaiian things,” said Cook. “I think it’s important for us to hold space for that and to educate people a little about what they were used for, the history, and the forests the wood comes from.”
Nalu’s vision for this program is more than passing on skills or education. At the end of the day, it’s the people and bonds created that are most important.
“At the start we did an aloha circle and invited our kūpuna to come with us in spirit, and everybody brought somebody,” said Nalu. “We’re all family here.”
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(All images/video courtesy: DLNR)
HD Video – Carving Out Our Future (May 7, 2023):
(Shot sheet attached)
Photographs – Kapapapuhi Point Park – Carving Out Our Future (May 7, 2023):
Hawai‘i Dept. of Land and Natural Resources