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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, February 19, 2002

You can't plug in on Kaho'olawe

By Burt Lum

Each year, winter brings cooling rains that revegetate the parched landscape of Kaho'olawe. This is when a dedicated group of Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana members travel to the island to celebrate aloha 'aina and the makahiki season.

Makahiki starts in late October and ends in late January. It is a time for remembrance of the year that has passed and for wishes of prosperity and renewal in the coming year.

Like many other people, I spend my day-to-day life in a protected environment sheltered from the elements. On Kaho'olawe, you are face-to-face with nature.

The relationship you have with nature is real — you feel the wind, the rain, the ocean, the sun and the Earth. These are all things we sometimes take for granted, but on Kaho'olawe, nature can be everything from a warm blanket to a harsh, tumbling surf.

In Hawaiian culture, there are signs or symbols in nature. These are called ho'ailona.

The symbols can be everywhere. The key is to be mindful and open to them. Whales breaching in the open ocean, meteors streaking across the starry night and the calling of the pueo, or owl. These all ho'ailona, symbols of life rejoicing.

Going to Kaho'olawe is a very centering experience. It is a temporary getaway from the world of technology.

Of all the places I visit, this is one place where I do not look for the nearest Internet cafe or the best form of broadband access.

There is no electricity in Hakioawa; there are no phone lines and no computers. Even fresh water must be brought in, since the balance in the water tables has long been disrupted.

Each year, as the face of Hawai'i continues to change, I ask myself: What makes Hawai'i Hawai'i? IMHO, I think it is sacred places like Kaho'olawe. Access to the island occurs monthly. Check out the Protect Kaho'olawe 'Ohana Web site at www.kahoolawe.org and the Kaho'olawe Island Reserve Commission at www.state.hi.us/kirc. Don't take my word for it. Experience it for yourself. ;-)

Reach Burt Lum at burt@brouhaha.net.